By Shantique Longley
The fight to gain an education has not been easy for Kwanzaa Clarke. Before becoming a recipient of the Sol and Friends’ scholarship, the 24-year-old spent most of his time working incredibly long hours just to be able to afford his tuition and supplies. And having a young daughter to support did not make the challenge any easier.
Being awarded the scholarship to attend The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) has taken a burden off Kwanzaa. Instead of investing so much of his energy into work, he now invests that energy into school and his three year old daughter.
“To see that we have persons who we consider to be accomplished, who are down to earth enough to turn around and help give persons like myself and other mentees an opportunity, I’m really grateful for it,” said the Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning major.
Kwanzaa says he will always speak highly of Sol and their friends, for making this opportunity possible for him. Sol Petroleum Bahamas Limited - the exclusive licensee of Esso branded fuels in The Bahamas -has once again teamed up with its New Providence Esso dealers and vendors to support BTVI’s students and promote its programs.
“You can only thank God for people like Sol and Friends,” expressed Kwanzaa.
The scholarship and mentorship program has offered 13 students up to two year scholarships at BTVI. Eleven of those students are currently enrolled. In addition to the scholarships, the recipients will also be mentored by participating Esso dealers and the Sol vendors.
Kwanzaa said the mentorship program will keep his feet to the fire; he believes it’s an excellent way to motivate the mentees to stay focused and on track.
“Being a young man in society I could be doing so many things, some of which could be negative. To actually have this opportunity encourages me to make the most of it and improve myself,” he said.
“People don’t usually get these kinds of opportunities and Sol is really supporting us. It’s great to have persons in such prestigious positions make themselves available to help us solve our problems. I’m sure they want to see us in the same positions they’re in one day or even further,” he continued.
During their first encounter at the recent mentorship training program, BTVI President Dr. Robert W. Robertson had a chance to sit and chat with the recipients one on one. He expressed how pleased he was with their attitudes and eagerness towards an education.
“I’m really confident that you have a good program and you’ve got some really good students. We’re just pleased to be a part of it,” said Dr. Robertson as he addressed Sol and Friends.
Agreeing with Dr. Robertson was Sol Petroleum’s General Manager, Keith Glinton, who was thrilled to see how mature and focused the group of mentees is.
Mr. Glinton encouraged the mentees to embrace the mentorship program so they can make significant things happen. He assured them that many of the mentors are technical people who can relate to the fields in which the mentees are studying.
Not only does Mr. Glinton believe in helping the youth of the nation, he specifically believes in helping them obtain an education from BTVI. Both his wife and son have graduated from the institution with his wife having been a banker and changing careers after discovering her passion and fulfilling her dreams at BTVI. She is now an entrepreneur, using the carpentry skills she acquired from BTVI.
“This is an incredible institution that allows you to add value to society immediately after you finish.” said Mr. Glinton. He encouraged the recipients to embrace the mentorship program because it could possibly change their lives.
For 24 year old D’Andra Rolle, being a recipient of this scholarship has saved the day for her and her sister, Aimee Rolle – who is also a recipient – and has promised her a chance at a bright future. She is grateful to have persons in the community who have faith in the nation’s youth.
“It shows a lot of confidence in what our community could produce. It’s nice to have that kind of motivation behind you,” said the Electrical Installation major.
Without this scholarship, BTVI would not have been a possibility for D’Andra. Being awarded the scholarship has taught D’Andra that help is always available when you work hard and do your best. She is not only grateful for what Sol has done for her future, but what others will do once they see her drive and passion.
She believes that Sol helps those who need help. D’Andra actually plans to give back to the community once she completes her studies at BTVI, and she credits Sol Petroleum for giving her this dream.
After meeting her mentor, Freeman Deveaux, D’Andra immediately began applying his advice, by setting a time frame on her goals and making herself accountable.
Meanwhile, Esso dealer, Lawrence Bascom, who is in charge of the Winton and Bayshore service stations, mentors Brandon Bodie, Kalin Roker and Tyrese Smith.
“For me it’s about doing for someone else what others did for me,” said Mr. Bascom.
Both he and Arnold Heastie of Heastie’s Service Station, agree that the scholarship is beyond grades and that mentorship plays a vital role in the shaping of these individuals and the securing of their futures; it is about grooming the student as an individual.
“The A students work for the B students and the C students put their names on buildings,” said Mr. Bascom. He believes that mentorship is really about trying to understand what people’s goals are and catering to their vision and mission.
Photo by Shantique Longley