(CNS Local Life): A local church is funding 30 students for one-year enrolments in a CXC education volunteer programme that offers adults a second chance at a high school education. The Cayman Islands Conference of Seventh-day Adventists is sponsoring the programme, which runs on Sundays and some weeknights at the John Gray High School campus. About 2,500 people have participated in the programme since its establishment in 2003, with annual registrations over the last eight years ranging from 250 to 310.
An annual average of 86 students have passed at least one CXC subject since 2010, while several each year have passed three or more subjects.
Presenting the sponsorship cheque for $3,000, which covers the annual fee of $100 per student (regardless of the number of subjects), Pastor Shian O’Connor told the approximately 2,500 gathered at the Lions Centre for the church’s annual camp meeting, “This was a story of lives changed,” and a clear example that “It is better to teach a man to fish than to give him a fish.”
O’Connor also thanked the 63 volunteers who have dedicated their time and energy to teaching the 16 subjects offered in the programme.
Accepting the cheque, Dr Livingston Smith, chief administrator for the programme, said that the scholarships funded by the church would be available to anyone in the Cayman community and students may take as many subjects they can manage at any given time.
“We offer this chance at an education to anyone who might not have made it in high school or who missed out on a high school education but who wishes to change his or her life by moving on to college,” he said.
Three people at the ceremony explained how they used the programme as a steppingstone to move from skilled and semi-skilled workers to professionals.
Windel Davis joined the programme while working as a practical nurse at the Pines Retirement Home. He gained enough passes to attend Northern Caribbean University (NCU) in Jamaica, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social work in 2015, equipping him to gain employment as a residential specialist social worker at the new boys’ extension of the Frances Bodden Children’s Home.
Davis said of his experience in the CXC programme: “It was rough. At first I failed, but I had something in mind, I had a dream, and each time I failed I decided I would try again.”
Another graduate, Terry Ann Beckford-Blake, was working as a caregiver for an elderly woman in Cayman when she started the CXC programme, after which she studied nursing at NCU, with the aid of a US$28,000 scholarship by local benefactor, Dr Steve Tomlinson. Beckford-Blake is now working at the Spanish Town Hospital in Jamaica as a registered nurse and is preparing to pursue specialist training in neonatology.
Rohan Gouldbourne, who now serves as a pastor in the Adventist Church in Kingston, Jamaica, was working in landscaping in Cayman before taking the CXC courses. “I was not the brightest, but I was determined,” he said. “The Lord can take a ‘weed wacker’ out of your hand and put a bachelor’s degree in it…. All you need is courage.”
After acquiring the necessary CXCs, he enrolled at NCU with the aid of a scholarship from Cayman resident Everton Parker. He later graduated from NCU with a bachelor’s degree in religion and theology.