The legacy of renowned preschool educator the late Helen “Annie” Russell is being kept alive through a memorial scholarship at University of The Bahamas, thanks to her son, Dr. Barry Russell and family. Dr. Russell, accompanied by his wife Mrs. Missy Russell; son, Logan; daughter, Raegan and sister, Barbara Mullings recently signed an MOU for the $25,000 “Helen “Annie” Russell, MBE Memorial Scholarship Award. This award will fund higher education for a deserving student enrolled in the Early Childhood Education programme at UB.
During the signing ceremony, Dr. Russell spoke fondly of his mother who was a compassionate preschool educator and philanthropist, while highlighting the fact that he is who he is today, because of the investment his parents made in his education.
“This warms my heart to be able to do this in honour of my dear mother who I am so indebted to for all of my accomplishments and success. She was an excellent example, along with my father, of being good stewards of resources and the need and importance of nation building and giving back, especially to those who were less fortunate,” shared Dr. Russell.
Upon reflection of his mother’s life and her impact, he felt the need to establish a legacy that would not only be sustained by him, but his children as well.
Dr. Russell expressed his family’s commitment saying, “She was a humble woman and I didn’t realize the impact she was having at that time. She has been gone for 13 years now and in reflection, I felt the need to honour her with partnering with University of The Bahamas in providing scholarships for students with needs who want to study early childhood education – her passion. And so, it gives us great pride; and I brought my children with me because I want them to see what I am doing, so that this could be a legacy and they can continue this even after we’re gone; because they have to understand that it is important to give back and we don’t have a choice, we are mandated to do so and I wanted them to witness this.”
Reiterating the sentiments of her husband, Mrs. Missy Russell thanked the University for the partnership and echoed his mandate to their children.
“First of all, I would like to thank UB for giving us this opportunity to partner with them. Mum Russell would be humbled by this gesture. We are all advocates of this University. Our eldest daughter, Lauren graduated from this wonderful institution and she could have gone anywhere, but she chose to graduate from the University of The Bahamas; and we expect our children to carry on this legacy. It won’t be an option, it will be mandated,” she stated.
Dr. Smith spoke to the importance of scholarships and the role they play in helping to accomplish the mission of the University. “Providing greater access to tertiary education is also a part of the mission of the University, and donations like this one, significantly help to increase access,” Dr. Smith said.
President Smith concluded his remarks by thanking the Russell family for their investment in the students of UB. “I would like to thank the Russell family, led by Dr. Barry Russell, for choosing to partner with us and investing in the University of The Bahamas and its students,” he said.
Mrs. Helen “Annie” Russell started Annie’s Nursery and Pre-School in the late 1950’s in the Wilton Street area, catering to children from 6-weeks to 5 years old. This compassionate and patient lady was also the founder of the Miss Hal Jackson Talented Teen pageant and was awarded an MBE by the Bahamas Government in 1996. Today, Annie’s Nursery and Pre-School remains a pillar in the Bahamian community and is managed by her daughter, Barbara Mullings and her daughter-in-law, Jesse Russell.
It was “Annie’s” passion to encourage all students to realize their potential and the establishment of this scholarship will help many young aspiring early childhood educators do just that.