The stellar achievements of 13 students were celebrated at the 24th All Bahamas Merit & National Merit Scholars Award Ceremony, Thursday, August 9 in the Ballroom of Government House, Mount Fitzwilliam. The scholars, who are graduates of Queen’s College, St. Augustine’s College and St. John’s College, are recipients of prestigious scholarships that afford them the opportunity to attend accredited universities locally and abroad. The students were presented their awards by Governor-General Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling and Minister of Education, the Hon. Jeffrey Lloyd. Aaron Edgecombe, a graduate of Queen’s College, is 2018 All Bahamas Merit Scholar. He received a 5-year scholarship valued at $35,000 per annum and plans to attend the University of Miami to pursue a degree in Electrical Engineering. Derrica Ferguson, a graduate of St. Augustine’s College is 2018 All Bahamas Merit runner-up, pursuing studies at the College of St. Benedict.
The 2018 National Merit Scholarship Recipients are Solange Allen, Attiyyah Bethel, Darren Butler, Angel Culmer, Shawnte Curtis, Whittley Deleveaux, Serenity Hanna, Sean Knowles, Catharina Moncur, Aaron Ramtulla and Jayda Ritchie. Their scholarships have a maximum value of $25,000 per year for up to four years. In his remarks, Minister Lloyd said this year the caliber of merit scholars is “unprecedented”. “This group has taken more than 105 BGCSE exams and out of that, they have earned 90 A’s. Each of them has scored no less than 1220 on their SAT examinations. Each of them has achieved a GPA of over 3.7 over their high school years and they have been accepted in more than 20 prestigious colleges around the globe. “It makes me proud to be the Minister of Education because of what we are achieving and accomplishing in our young people in this country. I am pained when I hear so many of us put our young people down, speak ill, bad, condescending about them because it is not true. There are bad apples among our adults, but we do not discard our adults. There are bad apples among our young people, but by and large, an overwhelming percentage are doing wonderful work in our country.”
Minister Lloyd said young Bahamians are doing “phenomenally” well and boasted of more than 3,000 applicants for scholarships at the Scholarship and Loan Division all of whom are more than deserving to receive. He said, “sadly we have only $17 million in our budget which means we can only give 500-600 scholarships. What that means is that over 2,500 well deserving students will not be the recipients of some assistance from our government. It breaks my heart, but we are going to do something about it because we must do something about it.” He also cited another 2018 record of 160 public school students who are the recipients of scholarships because of the relationship of The Bahamas with over 30 universities in Canada and the USA. Additionally, over 1,000 students who will receive Bursary assistance to attend University of The Bahamas and other tertiary institutions in the country. Moreover, Minister Lloyd said the 2018 BGCSE and BJC examination results have been released and he happily reported that there is an “uptick’ in improvement since last year. He acknowledged the contributions of the Central Bank of The Bahamas, the prime sponsor of the National Merit Award, and the Lyford Cay Foundation.
He extended thanks to the parents of the scholarship recipients for their commitment to their children and contributions to the growth of the country. Minister Lloyd encouraged the scholars to be humble, give thanks. “Nothing you have belongs to you. It’s God’s. God expects you to bear fruit for the benefit of your human beings. Have manners – thank you, please, good morning, good evening, yes ma’am and God will take you places you’ve never dreamed of.” A special award was presented to Queen’s College by Ian Fernander, committee member/All Bahamas Merit Scholarship, for being the Top Performing School. Remarks were also given by Shannon Butler, 2013 All Bahamas Merit Scholar, Simone Cambridge, 2016 All Bahamas Merit Scholar and Paloma Cartwright, 2017 All Bahamas Merit Scholar; Derrick Ferguson, on behalf of his daughter Derrica Ferguson; and Aaron Edgecombe. Chilean Burrows, Acting Administrator, gave an overview of the All Bahamas Merit and National Merit Programme.
Music was provided by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Band.