Jerry Butler Jr., Kiran Halkitis, Charles Hamilton Jr. and Savanna Gibson have been awarded scholarships to pursue studies at United World College (UWC). The quartet has joined a list of over 100 Bahamian students who have received UWC scholarships from The Bahamas’ national committee to participate in the global education movement that makes education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future.
UWC is the only two-year pre-university educational NGO that brings together students from 120 different countries to study at one of 13 campuses around the world.
Butler, 17, a graduate of St. Andrew’s School, said he decided on the UWC way to his post-secondary education studies because he knows there’s more to the world than he’s seen and he wanted to explore as much as he can while he has the opportunity.
“My entire life I’ve lived in The Bahamas, for 17 years, and I realize how much I love my people and my culture, but at the same time, I’m surrounded by the same beliefs and view points, and after seeing the same environments every day I got curious about whether there’s more in the world and wanted to learn about nationalities and culture,” said Butler.
“I knew there was more out there and wanted to see it and explore as much as I could. I feel every human should know what the rest of the world is like.”
Butler will study at UWC China.
Initially when he had to begin his research on post-secondary education, he searched for scholarships that allowed students to explore the world and represent their country and came across UWC, an avenue he and his parents explored and learnt that many other Bahamians had gone that route.
John Fowler, 1971-1973, was the first UWC Bahamian student. He attended the UWC of the Atlantic. Since then, over 110 Bahamians have graduated from UWC in five different countries.
Gibson, a Bishop Michael Eldon High School graduate, and Halkitas, a St. Augustine’s College graduate, will go to UWC Costa Rica.
Hamilton Jr., a graduate of St. Anne’s School, will pursue studies at UWC Germany.
Students are selected on merit, irrespective of race, religion, politics or the ability to pay, with the aim of fostering peace and international understanding.
The foursome is among UWC students who were selected domestically in more than 155 countries through UWC’s national committee system. Barbara Ann Bernard is The Bahamas’ UWC national committee chair.
Selection is based on demonstrated promise and potential. In accordance with the UWC ethos that education should be independent of the student’s socioeconomic means, 70 percent of students in their IB Diploma years receive either full or partial financial assistance, based on their needs. Full and partial scholarships are provided to students attending UWC Colleges. Full scholarships cover tuition, room and board.
The IB is a demanding academic program. Students are expected to both cope with the academic load, as well as participate fully in the life of the college. To be seriously considered by UWC Bahamas, students should have successfully completed BGCSE’s with a minimum B-plus average or to have done so by June of the academic year of application; along with competitive standardized test scores.
Central to the ethos of UWC is the belief that education can bring together young people from all backgrounds on the basis of their shared humanity, to engage with the possibility of social change through courageous action, personal example and selfless leadership. To achieve this, UWC schools and colleges worldwide deliver a challenging and transformational educational experience to a deliberately diverse group of young people, inspiring them to become agents of positive change in line with UWC’s core values – international and intercultural understanding, celebration of difference, personal responsibility and integrity, mutual responsibility and respect, compassion and service, respect for the environment, a sense of idealism, personal challenge and action and personal example.
The colleges teach the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma as their formal curriculum, a qualification that UWC played a major part in developing, while also emphasizing the importance of experiential learning, community service and outdoor activities.
UWC has 18 schools and colleges on four continents, the majority of which focus exclusively on the 16-to-19-year-old age group – a time when young people’s energy and idealism can be guided towards empathy, responsibility and lifelong action.
The UWC system of schools was founded in 1962 by Kurt Hahn, who believed that education should provide “an enterprising curiosity, an undefeatable spirit, tenacity in pursuit, readiness for sensible self-denial and, above all, compassion”.
Since the late 1970s, the Bahamas National Committee has been sending students to represent this country in Wales, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Italy and the United States.
The rigorous two-year program, which results in an IB diploma, requires well-rounded students who are academic, demonstrated a high level of community involvement and shown through an interview process that they are open to new ideas and able to live in a multi-cultural environment.
Students wanting to be considered for a UWC scholarship can apply at Bahamas-uwc.org. The application intake will close on November 1.