By RON FANFAIR
University of the West Indies (UWI) Chancellor, Sir George Alleyne, has challenged organizers of the Barbados Charity Ball to consider presenting scholarships to students interested in pursuing studies at the Caribbean institution of higher learning.
He made the request in his keynote address at the sixth annual fundraiser that supports scholarships for students of Barbadian heritage in Canada and Barbadians attending Canadian universities pursuing post-secondary education, and HIV/AIDS programs in Barbados.
Established in 1948, the UWI has a student population of close to 40,000 at its three campuses in Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago and Barbados.
Sir George said the Cave Hill campus in Barbados recently started an evening program for working professionals interested in pursuing part-time studies and a “Male at Cave Hill Operations” initiative aimed at changing the gender balance on campus.
“At the moment, I would say one half to three quarters of our students are female and that’s not good for the university or society,” said Sir George.
Barbados Ball Canada Aid (BBCA) has presented nearly $35,000 in scholarships in the past six years in addition to the Barbadian-Canadian Friendship $5,000 academic prize awarded to York University’s Norman Francis who was unable to attend last Saturday’s event.
This year’s scholarship winners were Mark Brathwaite, Jefferson Broomes, Sherise Innis-Hall, Chanele Jordan and Leo Robinson.
A University of Toronto graduate and classically trained pianist, Brathwaite intends to pursue Law Studies this fall while Broomes graduated from Joan of Arc Catholic High School last year and is enrolled in the Community Integration through Co-operative Education program at Sault College in Sault Ste. Marie. He aspires to become a business owner in the automotive sector.
Innis-Hall has been accepted into the Business Marketing Diploma course at Seneca College. Jordan will enter university this fall after graduating from John Fraser Secondary School in Mississauga.
Robinson, who holds a private pilot’s license, graduated with honours in Mathematics and Physics from the University of the West Indies in 2006 and came to Canada last year to study Aerospace Engineering at Ryerson University.
“These young people have demonstrated academic focus, a drive to overcome challenges and a passion to give back to the community,” said BBCA president, Barbara Trieloff-Deane.
There were 12 applicants for this year’s scholarships.
Sir George saluted the BBCA for focusing on education and recognizing the devastating impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
“It’s through organizations like these that individuals can multiply the impact of their single and several contributions,” he said. “In addition, I think organizations can be important in the evaluation and monitoring of the contributions made and, indeed, those organizations do much better than individuals.”
A former Pan American Health Organization director, Sir George was appointed the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean in 2003.
“The main challenge for us is that there is an increasing number of persons being infected by the virus and one of my main concerns is that the infection rate is rising faster in young girls than in any other group,” said Sir George, who was knighted in 1990 for his services to medicine.
“I confess to being a bit surprised and more than a somewhat worried by the research data, which shows that the attitudes of many young women it affects and the attitudes of sexual practices and the extent to which sexual expression is almost a symbol of a badge of positive self-hood is being flaunted openly. In addition, the rampant homophobia and its intensity have surprised many of us.”
The BBCA presented Sir George with a cheque for $10,000 to go towards the UWI HIV/AIDS Response Program.
The organization also paid tribute to former Ontario assistant deputy minister, John Rollock, who passed away this year and presented “Unsung Heroes” awards to Diana Evelyn and Deborah Ann DeSouza.
Evelyn founded the Friends of the Geriatric Hospital Inc. (Barbados) while DeSouza, the manager of Worldwide Premium Services and Maple Leaf Lounge Toronto, facilitated the smooth return of Terry Schwartzfield’s family at Macdonald-Cartier International Airport in Ottawa a few months ago. The prominent Canadian died in Barbados a few days after being assaulted on a beach during an attempted robbery.
Former Barbados Consul General in Toronto, Kay McConney, who conceived the idea to set up the organization, Consul General Leroy McLean and High Commissioner Evelyn Greaves, attended the gala.