Senior year didn’t quite shape up to be what St Augustine’s College (SAC) twelfth grade student Garryn Scott expected – recognition of her academic accomplishments at graduation, attending a long-awaited prom and the opportunity to defend her national high school track and field championship title in the under-20 girls’ discus throw.
However, Scott’s silver lining came courtesy of the Lewis Foundation.
This Class of 2020 graduate is the first recipient of a new scholarship which covers the cost of tuition, room and board and textbooks for Bahamian students attending the University of Central Florida (UCF) in Orlando.
The scholarship is renewable up to eight semesters based on UCF’s good academic standing requirements.
“It was shocking to discover that I was chosen at first. I simply felt truly and profoundly blessed to have this unique opportunity,” said the 18-year-old who intends to pursue a biology degree.
According to statistics from the American National Center of Education, international students in the U.S. are currently paying an average of $26,290 per year for undergraduate tuition and fees at public four-year institutions.
The rising cost of higher education makes it difficult for many Bahamian students to study abroad without the financial assistance scholarships provide.
“We want to express our gratitude for this opportunity because truly she didn’t think she would have been able to pursue this given the current state of the world. We are very excited and cannot wait. It’s rewarding to once again see her hard work pay off in a tangible way,” said Scott’s mother, Yontalae Petty-Cash.
With track and field practice five days per week, Scott successfully balanced academic and athletic success throughout high school, maintaining a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.78, an accomplishment which secured her placement on the principal’s honor roll list for six consecutive years.
Last year, she won the top prize in the Department of Education and Nassau Institute’s Business Studies Unit Third Annual Economics Essay Competition.
In 2019, Scott was among eight female students chosen out of 50 nominees from across The Bahamas to be honored by FEM STEM, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating, empowering and recognizing girls in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math.
The newly minted high school graduate hopes to become a pediatric ophthalmologist, an eye doctor for children, having herself worn glasses since she was a primary school student.
“I want to help children who have the same problem as I do and are afraid. I want them not to feel overwhelmed when they visit the eye doctor,” said Scott who applied to UCF in March and received her acceptance letter on May 23.
Shortly after, she was notified by the Lewis Foundation that she would be its first scholarship recipient.
“I am aware, having gone through this process, what a rare gift it is to be afforded a full ride at a top university,” said Scott. “It gave me hope that my hard work throughout my entire high school years had not been in vain.”
Lewis Foundation Spokesperson Andrica Smith-Munroe described Scott as “a phenomenal, multifaceted young woman”.
“Her academic prowess, complemented by her athletic diligence, make her exactly the kind of young person that the Lewis Foundation is passionate about. The University of Central Florida is an ideal institution to provide her with the tools for future success,” said Smith-Munroe.
“It is important to note that her field of study is a discipline much needed in our country. Our ultimate goal is to equip young people with knowledge and skill to catapult themselves further while significantly contributing to the betterment of the Bahamian society. Scott has expressed a desire to help others and use her discipline to better her country. The Lewis Foundation is so pleased to have an awardee that shares the same vision.”
Although she will miss her family when she starts school in the fall, Scott is most excited about checking out UCF’s College of Medicine as well as its track and field teams.
Representing SAC last year at the national high school track and field championship, Scott placed first in the discus under-20 and finished third in shot put. She had hoped to repeat her top finish this year.
Her advice to 11th and 12th-grade students is to take school seriously.
“After having been accepted to several top universities across the United States, I know that it is almost entirely due to my academic performance,” she said. “High academic achievement throughout high school will open more doors and give you more opportunities than anything else can.”
The need-based Lewis Foundation scholarship makes gaining access to higher education more affordable for a few lucky students.
The charitable organization joined forces with Albany and the Tavistock Group to promote the tertiary education of young people.
The Lewis Foundation’s mission is to ensure successful applicants receive the financial aid necessary for upward mobility in college and life.
To be eligible for scholarships, students must be able to provide proof of Bahamian citizenship, acceptance into UCF and demonstrate financial need.
First-generation college students, whose parents did not attend a tertiary institution, will be given preference.
For up to five successful applicants, the scholarship is renewable up to eight semesters based on UCF’s good academic standing requirements.
Potential candidates are asked to email their interest to email@example.com.