RG Scholarships

BF&M Creates New Scholarship

BF&M Postgraduate John Wight Scholarship for community-minded students a tribute to former CEO
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Epitomising former BF&M chief executive, John Wight’s, commitment to education and public service, the newly created BF&M Postgraduate John Wight Scholarship gives a community-minded student the opportunity to continue their studies.

For many students, the dream of continuing their postgraduate studies can feel out of reach. For those with ambition, talent and a desire to give back to the community, BF&M has created a postgraduate scholarship that will help to alleviate potential financial barriers with a $20,000 postgraduate scholarship awarded to a deserving recipient.

When former group chairman and chief executive of BF&M, John Wight, retired in 2022, the company decided it would be a fitting tribute to create a scholarship in his honour, with a focus on providing financial aid for a student with a commitment to giving back to the community no matter their field of study.

At the time the scholarship was announced, Mr Wight expressed his appreciation for a retirement gift that would have an enduring impact on the community. While the selection of the recipient is handled by an internal scholarship committee, Mr Wight was very pleased with the 2023 awardee, Etteleon Burchall, and readily offered guidance in support of her future aspirations.

Ms Burchall is now working towards a masters of science degree in public health policy at the University of London, which the scholarship will help her continue to pursue. As a member of the Pandemic Response Unit in 2021, Ms Burchall recognised there was a gap as well as a number of challenges that were exposed during the Covid-19 pandemic. When receiving the award last year, Ms Burchall told The Royal Gazette that her goal was to “propose and advocate for polices that reduce healthcare disparities and ensure that health remains a fundamental human right.”

What was clear to the scholarship committee when considering the candidates was their community focus and desire to give back to Bermuda. Out of the 61 candidates, Ms Burchall stood out for her “resilience, determination and commitment to making a difference in the community, as well as being an overall wonderful human”. That made a big impression on the committee.

“What is really important to us, and aligns with what BF&M is today, was someone who has the desire to give back through their studies,” said scholarship committee member Stephanie Hanson, EVP and group chief operating officer at BF&M. “The difference with this postgraduate scholarship is that for us, it’s a stepping stone for those with ambition and talent but perhaps without the financial means for postgraduate study. Alleviating those financial barriers, we are empowering a deserving student who shows that promise in their academic and professional pursuits,” she added.

While academic excellence is an important factor in the ideal recipient, Ms Hanson said that it’s more about a level of academic commitment the committee is looking for.

“We also weigh heavily: leadership potential, the drive and desire to give back to the community, evidence of community involvement, and a clear vision of how their studies will contribute to their career goals, and how the scholarship will make a difference in their ability to pursue that higher education,” Ms Hanson explained.

There is a financial needs component to the award and they believe in the importance of levelling the playing field by giving a student the opportunity to achieve their goals without also dealing with the stress and burden of financial worries.

“One thing that came out loud and clear during the first year of selecting a recipient were the sacrifices that so many students are making to achieve their goals,” said Ms Hanson. “We see there’s a broader societal benefit by supporting those students and we see it as investing in future leaders and innovators who will drive positive change in the community.”

She noted that it’s important for candidates to hone in on exactly what is driving them to further pursue their field of study. “It’s great to want to do something because you like to do it but there needs to be more focus on the why. What we’re looking for is for someone that for them, this is important to them, for example, to improve the health of the Bermuda population or whatever the goal might be. But there is a clear drive to use their studies for the betterment of themselves and others,” Ms Hanson said.

Applicants will also need to provide academic transcripts, a resume, a personal statement with their academic objectives and the significance the scholarship would make on their educational journey, as well as proof of financial need and letters of recommendation.

There is no specific criteria for field of postgraduate study, but applicants must be Bermudian, PRC or eligible to acquire PRC.

More information about the scholarship can be found on www.bermudascholarships.com. The 2024 application opens on March 1 with a deadline of April 30.

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