Trinidad and Tobago Alliance (North America), Inc. on Sunday awarded $1,500.00 scholarships to six deserving students during its 43rd Annual Scholarship Awards Luncheon at El Caribe Country Club on Strickland Avenue in Brooklyn.
The awardees were: Rosslyn Taylor, Abbeo Williams, Chantel Morren, Jarod Gordon, Leah Francois and Tamia Medina.
“As scholarship awardees, I want to congratulate you,” said Trinidad and Tobago Consul General to New York J. André Laveau in delivering the keynote address at the gala ceremony. “You’re educated in a hybrid education. You come here and you learn the best the United States has to offer.
“Keep the buzz word as knowledge transfer,” he added. “Young awardees, continue to learn big. Our achievement belies our size. Continue to dream big.”
Taylor said she overcame almost every challenge that has been thrown her way.
At the early age of 23, she said she endured the death of her husband and embarked on the role of single motherhood, having to provide for her then one-year-old daughter.
In 2000, at 30, Taylor said she migrated to the United States in search of a better life.
She eventually became involved in volunteering, because she wanted to “pay forward for the blessings the Creator had given her.”
Serving food to the homeless became part of her yearly regimen, she said. She is also a certified cosmetologist and licensed nursing assistant.
Taylor said she cherishes her experience working with persons with disabilities, through her employment, as a Direct Support Professional, at the Bloomberg Residence, where her main focus was to uphold the Code of Conduct for people with special needs. Her motto is: “Treat people with empathy.”
In 2017, the United States Army veteran, enrolled in college and is working towards attaining a degree in nursing with a minor in social work.
She is an inducted member of the Sigma Alpha Pi Honor Society and a representative for the sophomore students with disabilities of the Differently Able Department.
Taylor said her ultimate goal is to start a mentoring program for young teenagers in Trinidad and Tobago.
Williams is a senior at Medgar Evers College, City University of New York (CUNY), pursuing a degree in biology, the first step towards achieving a degree in nursing. She said her ultimate goal is to be a nurse practitioner.
Williams is an active member of Medgar Evers College’s Veterans Club and president of the Hilda Richards Nursing Club.
However, she identifies her crowning achievement as senior class president of the 2018-2019 graduating class, which gave her the opportunity to advocate for her fellow classmates on issues that affect students on their journey into the “real world”.
Williams considers herself “well-adjusted and focused,” and is determined not only to meet but to surpass everything she needs in order to be successful.
“With my son as my motivation, my vision is clear and my determination is unmatched,” she said.
Morren, a first generation college student, is a junior at Brooklyn College, pursuing a duel major in Early Childhood Education/Special Education and art.
She works part-time as a special education para-professional for the New York City Department of Education.
During her freshman year, she volunteered at Jumpstart, a national non-profit early education organization, which prepares preschool children from under-resourced communities for kindergarten by providing language, literacy and social emotional programming.
Although working with children is something she enjoys, Morren said her first love is art.
“With art, I am allowed to express my innermost feelings and emotions in ways that words or even thoughts could not,” she said. “It is a way for me to escape without even leaving home.
“I strongly feel that art is therapy, and the world would not be the same without it,” she added.
Morren said her goal is to become an art teacher, stating that teaching children to create art is “an excellent way for them to make choices and solve problems.”
Before migrating from his native Trinidad and Tobago to the United States to further his education, Gordon attended Presysal Secondary School before transferring to Presentation College, where he successfully completed his “O” and “A” Level examinations.
At 13, he was the youngest player to participate in the “Big 5” soccer finals, scoring the winning goal in propelling Presentation College to a feat that he said the college had not accomplished in 26 years.
Gordon currently attends Talladega College in Alabama on an athletic scholarship.
He said his goal is to attain a degree in business administration and become a business consultant.
Francois said she intends to further her studies in theater, liberal arts and creative media at the University of Alabama, where she also mentors the incoming Blount Scholar Freshman Class.
She described herself as a “Disney expert”: “Disney is my life: I live and breathe Disney; My musical interest and love of theater come from it and it gives me a unique view of life.”
Francois said while her main focus is to work in Disney’s Entertainment, she intends to “explore everything that encompasses the theater program, including working on a film set.”
Brooklyn-born Medina was raised, and received her early education, in Trinidad and Tobago.
On graduation from high school, she returned to the United States and is pursuing an Associate degree in liberal arts.
She plans to earn a bachelor’s degree before entering Hofstra University to pursue medicine in realizing her dream of becoming a pediatrician.
Medina said her love and compassion for children began as a volunteer, caring for children in a nursery.
She said she “resolved to enter into the field of healthcare,” where she would have “personal responsibility to help build, maintain and provide care for children, the leaders of tomorrow.”
“I will continue to strive for greatness and manoeuver any defying factor that projects itself during my journey,” Medina said.