BY ERIN SILVER
The Bermuda Government’s Ministry of Education wants all Bermudians to have access to postsecondary education. Every year, they set aside roughly $1.4 million to award about 60 scholarships to students.
According to a Ministry spokesperson, scholarships range from $5,000 up to $35,000. Financial awards range from $5,000 up to $10,000.
Due to the pandemic, the Government has noted an increase in applications. This includes everyone from high school students to mature students. However, most of their scholarships are geared towards high school and university students in need of funding.
“Government scholarships and financial awards provide an opportunity for many Bermudian students to earn an education,” says the Ministry spokesperson. “Without assistance from the Bermuda Government, students may have trouble paying for degrees they need in order to enter the workforce and become contributing members of the community when they return to Bermuda.”
There are a range of available funding opportunities. Whether you’re aiming for a teacher education scholarship, want to pursue a career in science or are interested in a trade or vocation, scholarships are available for everyone.
Dominic Tessitore is one grateful recipient. In July 2017 he was awarded the Minister’s Technical and Vocational Award after his graduation from Bermuda College and the College’s 2017 Most Promising/Outstanding IT Graduate award. The government scholarship provided him with $25,000 every academic year for up to three years at university.
“This allowed me to begin my Bachelor of Business Administration, Computer Information Systems, at Georgia State University after a major hurry and organisation to receive my American visa by August,” he says. At that point he had applied for almost 40 scholarships without success.
The government scholarship was a game changer. “I don’t think it would have been possible, or very likely, that I would have gone away as I wouldn’t have been able to fund my education abroad,” says Mr Tessitore. “My family and I agreed I would self-fund, or have minimal assistance from other family members due to two siblings starting their own Bermuda College degrees shortly after I originally began. Thankfully I received my scholarship from the Government. I am still and will always be very grateful to the various ministers, governments and scholarship departments who assisted me.”
During his scholarship journey, Mr Tessitore picked up some invaluable tips. “I would certainly recommend being active in the community and following your passions. On top of making yourself known positively, find peers and public resources, such as Bermuda Foundation for Insurance Studies (BFIS) and BermudaScholarships.com. These are additional ways to greatly increase your chances of obtaining a scholarship, rather than doubting yourself or giving up.
“Setting goals like completing applications, finding mentors or local experts to talk to can provide you with inspiration. The career counsellors at our high schools, such as Berkeley Institute and their work release programmes, were a very appreciated and positive time for me during my final years there as well.”
The Government also has some advice. Apply within the application window to avoid missing out, as late applications won’t be accepted. This year’s scholarship season opened on January 10 and closes on April 11, 2022.
Be sure to read the eligibility requirements carefully to ensure you qualify. Start the process early; you will also need time to gather information, which can include an academic and personal reference, essay questions, your transcript and resume.
If your application is shortlisted, you will need to attend an interview. While information about the application process, opportunities and deadline can be found online at www.bermudascholarships.com and www. moed.bm, the government has provided some additional tips.
- For students already in school, take advantage of the help offered by your school, whether it be your high school, Bermuda College or overseas university.
- Make sure your application is complete. A lot of applicants lose out because of missing documents.
- If a scholarship requires answers to specific essay questions, do not submit a personal essay instead.
- Have someone read over your application before you send it in.
- Don’t just ask for reference letters—ask for strong references that reflect what you have achieved and your potential.
- Do not wait until the last minute. Your application will be stronger if time and effort is put into it.
- “Be yourself” is a cliché, but showing who you are will help set you apart from other applicants.
No matter who you are or what you want to study, the best thing you can do for your future is apply. “We encourage people to look at the offerings and consider applying,” says the Ministry spokesperson. “Sometimes people who don’t think they have a chance end up getting funding that helps them reach their dreams.”
If you have further questions about the Ministry of Education Scholarships and Awards, e-mail [email protected]. Queries will be answered in 24 to 48 hours.