One exceptional Grand Bahamian primary school student will join an elite group of seven high school scholars to have their secondary private school tuition fully funded by Caribbean Bottling Company (CBC) Bahamas Ltd. through the Carleton W. Williams Scholarship. The six-year award, which allows the recipient to pursue studies at the high school of their choice, has, since its inaugural 2016 year, allowed seven other talented, young Bahamian students to continue their education free of charge.
The six-year award allows the recipient to pursue studies at the high school of their choice – Queen’s College, Aquinas College, or St. Anne’s High School in New Providence; or Bishop Michael Eldon High School, Grand Bahama Catholic High School or Sunland Baptist Academy in Grand Bahama.
Annually, the scholarship review panel alternates between selecting a student from Garvin Tynes Primary School in New Providence, and a student from Grand Bahama. In 2016 and 2018, the fields were so exceptional that the selection committee was left with no choice but to award two students each.
This year’s Grand Bahamian student will join an elite club that includes 2016 inaugural scholarship winners, twin brothers D’Ron and T’Ronn Strapp; 2017 recipient Kailena Pinder; 2018 recipients Kennedi Knowles and Anajah Culmer; 2019 scholarship recipient Gabriel Hall; and 2020 recipient Angela Sands.
Nikia Wells, CBC marketing manager, communications, said the selection committee has begun receiving applications from bright students in a year when they can’t have imagined how they have been impacted by COVID-19, and the resulting virtual platform that education resorted to. In consideration, she said all of that will be taken into account when making their selection.
“Like years prior, we will be looking at the overall student, not just a single grade point average [GPA], or a single term’s worth of work. We will review each applicant individually and take into consideration their overall academic performance and community involvement – not just how they have performed over the last year,” said Wells.
Despite a challenging year for many, and students navigating a new educational experience in the wake of the pandemic, Wells said their current cohort of scholars – Angela, Gabriel, Kennedi, Anajah, Kailena, D’ron and T’ron – have continued to excel academically and personally.
Angela, a seventh-grade student at St. John’s College, finished her first semester with an A grade point average. Wells said she also performed exceptionally well in language, literature, information technolog and physical education.
Gabriel, an eighth-grade student at Sunland Baptist Academy, experienced a little more disruption than the pandemic during his studies. At the start of his high school years, Grand Bahama was impacted by the devastating Hurricane Dorian, which meant Gabriel had to temporarily relocate to New Providence. He has since returned to his hometown. Wells said Gabriel has been working hard to adapt to the many changes that impacted him.
Kennedi and Anajah are ninth-grade students at St. John’s College and Aquinas College, respectively. Anajah is preparing to take her Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) examinations. Kennedi is also preparing for her BJC examinations, and has maintained an A average with exceptional marks in language, literature, physical education, art and religious studies.
Kailena, a 10th grade honor roll student at the Bishop Michael Eldon High School, recently passed nine BJC examinations. She is a member of her school’s Vex Robotics Club and Interact Club. She is also the assistant chaplain of the Student Christian Movement Club and a member of Junior Achievement Bahamas. In addition to earning exceptional grades, Wells said Kailena has kept busy and recently competed in her school’s annual speech competition and the Toastmasters Youth Leadership Program where she was voted sergeant at arms. Ever community minded, Kailena volunteers at the Central Grand Bahama Community Garden and described one of her greatest joys as being a member of Grand Bahama’s Bee Co-Op.
Twin brothers, T’Ron and D’Ron, the first Carleton W. Williams Scholarship recipients, are currently preparing for their senior year at Aquinas College in the fall. While they both continue to work hard, D’ron said during the pandemic, life has not always been smooth sailing but that he has been working hard to remain focused on his studies while staying active in his community and school.
Wells said over the course of the past year, T’Ron has worked diligently to prepare to sit nine Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) examinations, in addition to continuing to work toward a Silver Award in the Governor General Youth Award (GGYA) program. He is also a peer tutor in his free time, and is currently participating in the National Center for Construction Education and Research program.
T’ron said the past year has been “exasperating to say the least”. Like his twin, he, too, is preparing to sit nine BGCSE’s. And despite the changes that the past year has presented, he continues to participate in a number of programs and activities, including an online construction certification course with the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI), the 30th Company of The Boy’s Brigade, the GGYA, and peer tutoring. And said he plans to once again become actively involved in more outreach ministries, sports, school clubs and out of school organizations once it is safe to do so.
The next Carleton W. Williams Scholarship recipient who will join this elite field will come from qualified applicants that will be accepted through April 30. Students must be Bahamian citizens, graduating from the sixth grade at a Bahamian government primary school, in need of financial assistance, have a 3.00 GPA or above, show evidence of involvement in community, plus extra-curricular activities, and be able to attend the required candidate interviews.
CBC officials said this year’s review process will undoubtedly be an emotional one for the company’s family as they remember the late Williams, CBC’s previous owner and chairman, who passed away in February.
CBC officials said not only was Williams a leader and pioneer in the Bahamian business community, but that he also actively supported the efforts of local charities as a donor and board member, and was committed to nurturing the growth and development of young Bahamians, through education.
“Carleton was not only a significant member of the Bahamian business community, nor was he just a colleague,” said Walter Wells, Caribbean Bottling Company CEO. “He was a mentor and dear friend to numerous individuals that he supported over many years. He genuinely believed in the people of The Bahamas, and always wanted to see others grow. Carleton created and explored opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs, and through the exposure to his open mindedness about business, facilitated and encouraged Bahamians. Many can credit their success to his influence.”
Wells said even though Williams knew he may not have gotten the chance to see firsthand the men, women, and children that he so selflessly helped throughout the years, and what they would become, he wholeheartedly believed that they would go on to do amazing things.
“He also ensured that they would not have to rely on the support of others to feed their families or improve their quality of life. His legacy will undoubtedly live on in the countless lives that he impacted in so many ways, the Carleton W. Williams scholars, and those that he has directly and indirectly guided.”