For the first time since the launch of the Carlton Alexander Memorial Bursaries 30 years ago, the GraceKennedy Foundation (GKF) has announced the awards in a virtual ceremony. The Carlton Alexander Bursaries are awarded each year to children of GK Team Members attending secondary and tertiary institutions. Twenty-one students received the welcomed boost for the upcoming school year at the virtual event which hosted 83 guests last Friday, August 28.

In his address to awardees, their parents, other GK staff, Directors of the GK Foundation, and special guests attending the online ceremony, GK Group CEO Senator Don Wehby encouraged the bursary recipients to stay focussed, work hard, and think of creative ways to serve others. “Always seek to improve your performance and succeed in all that you do while remaining humble. Humility keeps us focussed on the things that are most important in life, like helping others, and it encourages us to continue learning,” he said.

Wehby also made special mention of Kahlil Walker, a 2020 tertiary level bursary recipient who is heading to Yale University in the new school year to pursue a degree in molecular bio-physics and bio-chemistry.

Shenel Graham, the 2018 GraceKennedy/Rafael Diaz Scholar and guest speaker at the awards ceremony, also offered her advice to the students present. She urged them to follow a three-pronged approach to success. “Set high academic goals, find a winning strategy and never become complacent,” she said.

The bursaries are named for the late GK Chairman and CEO, Dr the Hon. S. Carlton Alexander, OJ and are highly competitive. Candidates are judged on several criteria including their academic performance, participation in extra-curricular activities, and leadership potential. “Carlton Alexander was an inspirational leader who had a vested interest in his staff and a passion for education. He always insisted on excellence and that is what these awards are about – encouraging academic excellence and supporting the needs of our GK Team Members,” said Wehby.

This year the GKF awarded J$1.5 million in bursaries. Secondary students up to Grade 11 receive bursaries valued at J$60,000 each, sixth form students receive bursaries valued at J$80,000 each, and tertiary level awardees receive J$100,000 each. The bursaries are renewed annually once recipients maintain a high academic performance.