THE family of the late Marcus Bethel, founder of Bethel Brothers Morticians, recently unveiled the Jane and Marcus Bethel Scholarship Award in memory of their beloved parents.
Bethel fathered seven children Justice Rubie M Nottage (retired), Dr Pamela F Etuk, Dr Marcus R C Bethel, Dr Paulette A Bethel, Michael Bethel, Marion Bethel Sears and Owen M Bethel. He and his wife, the late Jane Fitzroy Bethel (nee Butler) believed in the transformative power of education. Though the couple did not have the opportunity to graduate from high school, they instilled in their progeny the value of a sound education.
"My father ensured that all of his young girls would be educated, there were four of us out of seven and he said to each one of us, 'I may not be able to leave properties and land for you but if you have a good education, no man can take that away from you,'" recalled the oldest Bethel daughter, Mrs Nottage. "Holding his hand very strongly was my mother…together they saw this vision of educating their children."
An astounding decision for that time, the Bethels allowed their first two daughters to go to boarding school at the ages of seven and nine.
Surrounded by family, friends and University of The Bahamas senior administrators, faculty and staff, the family announced the scholarship fund. On behalf of the family, former parliamentarian Dr Bethel and his wife Chantal donated $100,000 to the university for the establishment of entry level scholarships for needy students and awards for student travel abroad experiences. Awardees are required to maintain a GPA of 3.00 and be full time students with 12 or more credits.
While celebrating his birthday, Dr Bethel expressed profound support for UB, reflecting on the many family ties to the institution over the years including the leadership of former attorney general, minister of education and College Council Chairman Alfred Sears - husband of Dr Bethel's sister Marion - and Mrs Nottage's contributions as a former member of the College Council and current law faculty member.
"Our family is connected in many ways to the University of The Bahamas and we as a family are all proud of the university, where it came from and where it is going. I want to commend President Smith and Provost Davis whom we worked with for the past few months on this scholarship. We want to congratulate you and the staff for the tremendous work you are doing. I'm amazed and so proud to hear that so many students in Grand Bahama and throughout The Bahamas who are eager to get into the University of The Bahamas; eager to achieve a degree that will be internationally recognised. Our giving is part of the process to help move this forward," Dr Bethel said.
University president Dr Rodney Smith shared his gratitude on behalf of the institution and touted the impact the donation would have on the expansion of learning experiences for UB students.
"By creating the Jane and Marcus Bethel Award, the Bethel family communicates a public, permanent and powerful message - that they believe in extending access to excellent tertiary education to an increasing number of students. This is truly nation building. At the University of the Bahamas, we believe that investment in study abroad experiences is essential to creating students who have a broader world view, which in turn can make them better nation builders. Education is so much more than a classroom and campus experience - it is global," said Dr Smith.
Proud spokesperson for the family Mrs Nottage said: "A culture of giving is very needed in this society, we must be able to give and give freely not counting the cost and not expecting anything in return."