St. Augustine’s College (SAC) graduate Maya Tilberg is the 2021 All Bahamas Merit Scholar (ABMS). Queen’s College graduate Kamori Sawyer is the ABMS runner-up.
Tilberg’s award comes in the 25th year of the award being meted out since its inception in 1993, but she is the 26th individual to receive the ABMS.
Tilberg, an aspiring orthopedic surgeon, and a student at the University of Missouri, has been awarded a scholarship valued at $140,000.
At her drive-through high school graduation, Tilberg said she planned to study biology at the University of Miami and chose the course of study because she wanted to emulate her parents who are both dentists.
“I would like to find a way to help people in the ways that they do,” said Tilberg. “I have seen how much of an impact they have on the people around them, especially during the pandemic. They were constantly busy handling emergency cases, so that others in the community would not have to suffer.”
Sawyer, a biomedical engineer major at Georgia Institute of Technology, has been awarded a $100,000 scholarship.
Earning $80,000 National Merit Scholarships were Kemuel Clarke, a graduate of Queen’s College; Alyssa Forbes, a St. Augustine’s College graduate; Kiran Halkitis, a 2019 SAC graduate/United World Costa Rica; and Katrell King, a Queen’s College graduate.
Rashad Rolle, Bishop Michael Eldon School graduate; Jasmine Adamson, a Kingsway Academy graduate; and Dariq Chase, a graduate of Aquinas College were the recipients of $60,000 Merit Scholarships.
Tilberg, the SAC valedictorian who graduated with a 3.99 grade point average (GPA), scored 1,400 on her Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), and also passed 10 Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Examinations (BGCSE) with grades of A.
She has declared a premedical science course of study.
Maya was also the recipient of the 2021 Bahamas Association of Independent Secondary Schools (BAISS) Academic Leader Award.
The well-rounded scholar serves as editor of the school’s yearbook, was a member of the Mako Aquatics Swim Club and serves as a lector and volunteer at her church, Sacred Heart Parish.
The daughter of Todd Tilberg and Tanya Mortemore is also an accomplished equestrian and has represented The Bahamas as an equestrian high jumper and is a junior equestrian volunteer.
Sawyer graduated QC with a 4.19 GPA, scored 1,270 on her SAT and earned 13 BGCSE’s at A grades.
Clarke graduated with a 3.93 GPA, scored 1,270 on the SAT and earned 11 BGCSE’s at grade A. He will attend Howard University where he will study biochemistry.
Forbes graduated with a 3.97 GPA, scored 1,270 on the SAT and has eight BGCSE’s at grade A. She will attend Case Western Reserve University to study economics.
Halkitis has a 3.71 GPA, scored 31 on the ACT (American College Test), and earned eight BGCSE’s at grade A. He plans to attend the University of Western Ontario to study computer science, mathematics and statistics.
King’s GPA at graduation was 4.12; she scored 27 on the ACT and earned eight BGCSE’s at grade A. She will attend the University of Miami to study marine affairs.
Rolle’s GPA is 3.96. He scored 1,350 on the SAT, earned seven BGCSE’s at grade A and will attend Philander Smith College where he will study electrical engineering.
Adamson graduated with a 4.05 GPA, and scored 1,240 on the SAT. She has seven BGCSE’s at grade A. She will attend Kettering University to study mechanical engineering.
Chase graduated with a 3.96 GPA and scored 1,340 on the SAT. He earned seven BGCSE’s at grade A. He will attend St. John’s University to study political science and government.
This year’s recipients represent five high schools – St. Augustine’s College, Queen’s College, Kingsway Academy, Bishop Michael Eldon School (Grand Bahama) and Aquinas College.
The nine recipients were the first to receive scholarship awards since 2019, a year when two ABMS were named for the first time in the award’s history in Mahlia Neely and Dehron Smith.
Neely was a 2019 QC graduate.
Smith was a 2017 Nassau Christian Schools (NCS) graduate who received the award two years after graduating high school. He was the first NCS student to be awarded the ABMS.
The Bahamian government and the Scholarship Educational Loan Division made the decision that no external scholarship would be granted or awarded in 2020, due to the “reduction in resources” in a pandemic year.
Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd said all ministries and departments have had by mandate a 20 percent reduction in their budget by the Ministry of Finance in 2020, which he said affected the $15 to $16 million scholarship budget.
The decision was for 2020 only, and graduates of that year were eligible to apply for 2021 scholarship grants.
Students already receiving tuition assistance from the Ministry of Education, continued to receive their tuition assistance.
The ABMS is the highest level of merit scholarship awarded by the government. It is valued at $35,000 per annum for up to five years depending on the degree pursued and is valued between $140,000 over four years; or $175,000 over five years dependent on the degree program, and tenable at accredited universities locally or abroad.
NMS is the second highest level of merit scholarship awarded by the government, and can be awarded to multiple Bahamian applicants.
The scholarship has a maximum value of $25,000 per year for up to four years and is tenable at accredited universities locally or abroad.
To be considered for the ABMS award, applicants must have a GPA of 3.7 and above, a minimum of eight BGCSE’s with at least eight A passes, have applied to or been accepted to an academically prestigious accredited college or university, have an SAT score of 1,220 and above, demonstrate excellence in co-curricular activities, possesses an unwavering dedication to improving the lives of Bahamians and demonstrate a strong moral character and the potential to lead.
To be considered for the NMS, applicants must have a GPA of 3.5 and above, achieve an SAT score of 1,220 or higher, possess a minimum of seven BGCSE A passes and have applied or been accepted to an academically prestigious accredited college or university.