BY ERIN SILVER
For many students in financial need, it often feels like pursuing a postsecondary education is out of reach. But thanks to the Centennial Bermuda Foundation, scholarships are available to help students attend school.
“We offer multiple scholarships for studies at undergraduate and postgraduate level as well as for vocational and trade-related studies,” explained Centennial managing director Allison Towlson. “We essentially have a wide range of scholarships to offer students to support different fields of study and different qualifications.”
On average, 22 scholarships are awarded per year to students attending postsecondary education overseas. The funds are awarded to Bermudian students with demonstrated financial need.
“We want to support students who, if it were not for scholarship funding, would not be able to afford postsecondary education. It is important to level the playing field and provide opportunities for all students,” Ms Towlson said.
The Centennial Bermuda Foundation offers scholarships from one year up to four years with a monetary value of $12,000 to $30,000 per year. In any calendar year, almost $900,000 in postsecondary education scholarships is awarded. Scholarships are available for students entering their first or second year; one-year awards are given to students completing their third or fourth year of study.
Shapri Joell is a consultant trichologist, specialising in hair and scalp care and treatment of associated conditions such as hair loss and thinning. She received the Vocational, Technical & Trade Scholarship from Centennial Bermuda Foundation and studied at the Institute of Trichologists in Tooting, London, UK. She returned to Bermuda as a graduate in 2021.
“I was a mature student – 26 years old – when I applied,” Ms Joell said. “I thought I was too old for a scholarship. I had a son, and I was going to the scholarship meetings to get tips on essay writing and found myself in a room with much younger students and their parents. I kept saying to myself, ‘I drove my car here, but this is not for me!’”
She learnt that age is not a limitation. Ms Joell was thrilled when she was awarded the scholarship. It made the stress of going back to school much less acute. “Without the Centennial Bermuda Foundation scholarship, I would have been a lot more stressed, and I probably would have had to apply for different benefits in the UK just to get by. The scholarship money helped me with tuition, first and foremost, but it also helped with living expenses, transport, everyday necessities like food, and I had my son with me in the UK.”
The Foundation looks for well-rounded students, so applicants should include in their resume, details of academic performance, extracurricular activities, community service and any personal statements or references.
“The more we can read to gain a better understanding of the candidate the better,” said Ms Towlson. “We are looking for students to demonstrate commitment and passion towards pursuing their field of study; students who have really done their homework and researched their field of interest and can explain why their chosen postsecondary institution is a fit for them. We know not all students are certain of their path, but if a student can articulate in their personal statement or essay questions why they want to pursue postsecondary education and what they are looking to achieve, it helps us to make important shortlisting decisions.”
An organised person, Ms Joell planned ahead – a year in advance, in fact.
“I did my research online and at some of the meetings and seminars they advised us to apply for a scholarship even if we felt it was out of our reach,” she said, noting that she applied for several. “Before I submitted my application essay, I took it to a mentor and I asked for help. I’ve always been good at writing, but I knew that it could be even better, and I read it about 100 times before I submitted it!”
Her hard work paid off. She was exactly the kind of student the Foundation was looking for.
Last year, the Foundation had to be flexible because of Covid-19.
“We recognised that the interruptions with in-class learning, shutdowns and various shifts in the curriculum meant that learning was fragmented for so many students,” Ms Towlson said.
“While we maintained minimum GPA standards, we were flexible in our approach and encouraged students to apply who might not meet the exact minimum standard. We also extended our deadline for the applications to allow students who were in a state of flux to be able to submit all the required materials in a timely manner. We will no doubt be applying the same flexibility to this year’s students.”
Any Bermudian student wishing to pursue postsecondary education that has demonstrated financial need and has achieved specific minimum GPA requirements can apply. As part of the criteria, students must be accepted into an overseas postsecondary programme. They must also show evidence that they have attended a minimum of five years of schooling in Bermuda. Anyone wishing to pursue a vocation or trade can apply. Scholarships are available to both recent high school graduates and mature individuals up to age 30.
Visit www.centennial.bm to read about the various scholarships or www.bermudascholarships.com to apply. Students are welcome to apply for any number of scholarships and don’t need to limit themselves to just one scholarship application. Applications must be submitted no later than April 30.