Five students – three Bahamians and two Americans who hail from Detroit, Michigan, have a unique oportunity to do something that other scholarships may not avail them. They have the opportunity to become lifelong friends and maintain a support group that would bring them success in the future. That is because these five students are recipients of the Smith Pickard Friendship & Alliance Scholarship Fund.
Former Governor General Sir CA Smith and Dr William Pickard, multimillionaire among Michigan’s finest businessmen, met on a beach in Grand Bahama fifty years ago. They struck up a friendship that has stood the test of time. A part of the reason for this success was because they made a commitment to work together to create scholarship opportunities for young people.
Students chosen from The Bahamas and from Michigan would not only receive scholarships, but they would gain valuable internship experience together and in the process, they would gain strong friendships and alliances.
This spirit of frienship between Sir Cornelius and Dr. Pickard is one that is impressed upon the scholarship recipients, all high achievers, because strong alliances set early on in one’s professional career is the key to success. Over the years, the Smith Pickard Scholarship focused on areas such as hospitality, through a partnership with the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators & Developers (NABHOOD); climate change and agriculture.
The five Smith Pickard Scholarship recipients currently in the agriculture program attend the Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University (FAMU). They are: Dionne Jones, Hurbert Fernandez, and Aaron Francis of The Bahamas and Sydney Smith, along with Alexis Roberts, both Detroit residents. They were all in Nassau for a special luncheon at Wild Thyme Restaurant, where Smith and Pickard first had lunch. There, Sir Cornelius was able to spend a few of his first days having demitted office from Government House, meeting with students and talking about Agriculture.
During the luncheon, the university students made presentations about their experience as scholarship recipients.
Alexis Roberts of Northville, MI, a third year FAMU student in Business Administration with a minor in Agribusiness: “Through the Smith-Pickard Friendship and Alliance Scholarship, I have had the opportunity to intern at Greenstone Farm Credit Services where I worked as a Credit Intern. In my time at Greenstone, I was exposed to how farm financing works & assisted with impactful projects within the department that are still being used today. Additionally, I had the opportunity to attend and participate in the MANRRS (Minorities in Agriculture Natural Resources and Related Sciences) National Conference in Atlanta, GA. There I was able to build connections with industry professionals & students from across the country. Most importantly, Ive had the privilege of meeting and building relationships with my fellow scholars. Which in my eyes, is one of the most important takeaways from the scholarship.”
Aron E Francis, was the valedictorian of the Bahamas Agriculture & Marine Science Institute Class of 2020, is a Junior at FAMU studying plant and soil sciences: “I was sent to Kenya, Africa to work with students and faculty from FAMU and Kenya’s Egerton University. We were taked with solving problems surrounding food insecurity in Kenya. In doing so, we formed an international network between the schools that benefit me daily.”
Hubert Fernander, Bahamian and Golden Gates resident, FAMU Senior in Plant and Soil Science: “The blessing of this scholarship allpwed me to not only earn my degree, but to broaden my agricultural network. I have traveled to Michigan, New York, Ohio, and Vermont. I was a crop insurance intern, collected data and assisted farmers with maintaining their silage, and so much more.”
Sir Cornelius and the students were joined at the luncheon by representatives of the Ministry of Education; Ministry of Tourism and Aviation including former Minister Vincent Vanderpool Wallace, current Permament Secrerary Reginald Saunders; Ministry of Foreign Affairs; United States Embassy Representatives; President of the Bahamas Agriculture & Marine Science Institute Senator Dr. Erecia Hepburn- Forbes, and other officials. Representatives of Dr. William Pickard Scholarship fund were also in town for the luncheon, although Dr. Pickard was unable to attend. They include director Karl Bell, scholarship administrator Dr Le-Quitha Booth, financr manager Loston Rowe, and President of the fund, Dr Andy Ingraham. Dean of Agriculture for FAMU, Dr Robert and Mrs Taylor were also on hand to attest to the progress of the students and the impact of the fund. He also read a proclamation from FAMU President Dr Larry Robinson in suppport of the Smith Pickard Friendship & Alliance Scholarship.
The evening prior, Dr Ingraham hosted a dinner in honor of Sir Cornelius at Graycliffe Restaurant, where new friendships and alliances were made. Guests included British High Commissioner Tom Hartley, Sir Franklyn and Lady Sharon Wilson, and Bishop Neil Ellis. For more information, visit www.smithpickardscholarship.com.
Source: Felicity Darville