This is where dreams begin

by Glen Herbert

On the application for in-country scholarships this year we asked “What is your dream career?” Reading over those applications it’s delightful to see what young people in SVG are thinking of:

“My dream is to become a pilot

“I would love to work for a company that makes time saving and life enriching products that millions of people utilize every day.”

“I am fascinated by the designs of houses and styles of clothing and I’d like to make and create my own designs.”

“I would like to be an accountant because I can work in any industry, from fashion to entertainment, construction to non-profit”

“to become one of the best veterinarians in SVG … in my community there are a lot of strays … I want to be one who can make a difference for these animals”

I love engines, and would like to design and build them.”

” … being a nurse to help the sick

These students are applying for support in accessing schools on Bequia and on the mainland, including tuition, purchasing supplies, uniforms, and fare for the daily ferry trip between Bequia and St. Vincent. The scholarships are small perhaps—they aren’t worth tens of thousands of dollars at any rate—but they are important because they reduce the barriers between students and key academic programs.

Oh the places they’ll go …

But of course, the program is much bigger than that, at least in terms of what it’s able to do. Some years ago we profiled one student who dreamed of being a volcanologist, the need for which came into sharp focus this past year. She’s on her way. The scholarships are available through donors and an annual grant from the Brown Foundation in Houston, Texas.

For many, the scholarships are a first step toward even bigger things, and that was true for two students from SVG who arrived in Canada in the past weeks to begin degree programs. Last week, Rhea Simmons moved into her residence at the University of Waterloo. There she’s beginning the Honours Environment, Resources and Sustainability co-op program. That’s Rhea, pictured at right, on moving-in day.

Similarly, Kadeen Hazell has arrived at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, beginning his first year of an Engineering degree. He’s shown at right with his parents Fred and Cascita getting ready to head to board the plane in St. Vincent. He’s already become a licensed commercial pilot, having studied at Canadore College in North Bay, Ontario. When I helped him get settled there a few years ago, he told me“I think the biggest challenge will be cooking.” When I said that, actually, handling an aircraft might be a challenge of a somewhat different order, he said, “But I want to do that. I don’t want to cook.” Point taken.

Rhea and Kadeen are at school thanks to donors who have supported them through the Grenadines Initiative. Also through the support of donors, Jamell Ollivierre is beginning his medical residency in New EnglandWhen I profiled him for this newsletter, while he was completing his medical degree, he said “Some of my classmates, when I told them, a lot of them used to laugh,” he says. “Just the thought and the idea of becoming a doctor seems silly to most people,” he says. “But it wasn’t to me.” In a few weeks he’ll be starting his residency—he’s a doctor—at a hospital in the US.

It’s hard not to be moved by all of these students and the dreams they share. A chance to help others, to gain the skills necessary to make a difference in the world. To become pilot, a veterinarian, an engineer. Some students think they can’t. For them, the scholarships, and the examples that past recipients have set, are an indication that they can.

“You do better when people believe you can do better.”

Kadeen Hazell

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