From left: Rosemary Duncan, manager, Rita Marley Foundation (JA); Adjaynae Billings, student at The University of the West Indies, Mona (third-place winner Essay Competition 2018); Ms Ra, teacher/coach/mom of Ruwenzori Ra; Lorena Eschoe, Immaculate Conception High School (third-place – Public Speaking Competition 2019); Wendy-Ann Ivey, Westwood High School (second-place Public Speaking Competition 2019); Professor Dale Webber (principal, The University of the West Indies); Ruwenzori Ra, Ardenne High School (second-place Essay Competition 2018); Fabian Morris, Jamaica College (first-place – Public Speaking Competition 2019); Ms Robinson, librarian, Immaculate Conception High School; Yonique Martin, teacher, Westwood High School; Mr Oma Zyn, teacher, Jamaica College.
Five top performers in the Rita Marley Foundation (JA) Annual Essay and Public Speaking competitions were special guests of the president of University of Technology, Professor Stephen Vasciannie, and the principal of The University of the West Indies (UWI), Professor Dale Webber.
Students engaged in discourse on various educational and social issues at a round-table meeting with Professor Vasiciannie. When Westwood High School’s Wendy-Ann Ivey (second-place winner – Public Speaking Competition 2019) posed a poignant question about what advice he has given to students which they did not like, the entire gathering, which also included teachers, parents, and Rita Marley Foundation(JA) manager Rosemary Duncan, looked keenly at Professor Vasciannie in anticipation of his response.
He revealed, “Sometimes, as teenagers, you don’t see the link between where you are at and where you want to be. Regardless of your career goals, remember your performance next year starts now. If you have eight to 10 weeks’ vacation, take up books and study. If you have an opportunity for a summer job, take it to broaden your horizon.” He further disclosed that the university makes available $20 million in annual scholarships for those who are financially challenged.
Following what they described as an amazing tour of the Bob Marley Museum, the astute students met with Professor Dale Webber in his conference room at Mona. The academic leader opened the forum with powerful words of wisdom.
“Be an influence to those around you. You are among the most brilliant, gifted of your peers. Encourage them to be the best they could be. In Jamaica, we need people who could think out of the box. Also remember, moderation without mediocrity. Extra-curricular activities are as important as academic activities. Merge the two. Do a lot of things, but do them in moderation,” he shared.
During a vibrant group discussion, Immaculate Conception High School’s Lorena Eschoe (third-place winner – Public Speaking Competition 2019) sought Professor Webber’s counsel as to whether “innovation and creativity are most important, since the world’s richest person, Bill Gates, is a university dropout”.
He asserted, “If Bill Gates had finished university, he would have been 10 times richer.” Professor Webber further disclosed that the UWI invests $957 million annually on scholarships.
At the close of the activities, students, teachers and parents expressed tremendous gratitude to the university officials and the Rita Marley Foundation (JA) for their contributions towards the positive development of youths.