DANIELLE McGhie, an ICON Scholar, had a childhood filled with fun and imagination and a supportive, nurturing family who encouraged her to explore all her various hobbies and interests.
“I was raised in the beautiful parish of Trelawny in a small town called Albert Town. I grew up like a true Jamaican pickney, playing cricket and football. As I got older, I began to discover that my true passion was in the arts and politics, and figuring out a way to merge the two,” McGhie shared.
Growing up, she participated in countless Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) competitions doing dance, and she loved dub poetry and found a real love for the visual arts — painting and drawing to be specific. This is where she found the synergy that would later lead her to pursue a degree in civil engineering.
“My art pieces focused on the built environment; designing modern and traditional architecture and landscape painting which moulded me into choosing civil engineering as my degree and future career path,” McGhie expressed.
The 18-year-old is about to embark on her second year of study at The University of the West Indies, Jamaica with the hopes of contributing positively to the development of her island home.
“Civil engineering has played a vital role in Jamaica by increasing the health and quality of life for our citizens, from developing better water supplies, sewer systems, wastewater treatment plants, to the design of buildings to protect us from natural hazards and lastly, the urbanising of small towns and improving our agriculture and tourism industry,” she said.
It has, however, been a difficult road to get to this point for McGhie and her family as COVID-19 has presented numerous challenges academically, financially, and emotionally. Luckily, her parents both kept their jobs; however, the last year has proven difficult for McGhie as her degree is largely practical. She’s found it difficult to adapt and navigate to her courses which have now been moved online, which unfortunately affected her grades. However, she was able to shift her focus and motivate herself to do her best.
Being awarded a scholarship worth $300,000 towards her studies as a 2020 NCB Foundation ICON Scholar also helped to ease the pressure of the second-year university student.
“I was so overwhelmed, it was like a burden was lifted from my shoulders. I’m just so grateful, because it shows that hard work really does pay off. NCB Foundation should continue to bless us students with financial assistance. They are doing God’s work and I encourage them to continue to invest in Jamaica’s future.
”McGhie continued by reminding her fellow students and young people that oftentimes financial hurdles are inevitable when pursuing a degree, but that they must not let that hold them back.
“There are solutions to every problem once you have the drive and determination. Reach out, source scholarships and grants. The help is there.”Lastly, she reminded them to pray, believe and work hard.
“Pray to God for assistance, believe that He will give you the strength that you need, and work towards that achievement,” she said. Following graduation, Danielle McGhie plans to pursue her master’s degree and then go on to potentially becoming Jamaica’s minister of science, energy and technology, or to work with the Jamaican Government to improve our island’s environment.
Since its inception, NCB Foundation has focused primarily on empowering Jamaicans through education, inspired by Michael Lee-Chin’s vision to see every child in Jamaica have access to a tertiary level education. Their focus on education began to pivot in recent years, and now in 2021, the foundation is staying true to its passion for empowering Jamaicans through education, but with a special focus on digital.
The 2021 scholarship and grant programme will be focused on digital programmes in an effort to prepare young people for future work, enable them to be more resilient and adaptive to change, and lastly, prepare the next generation of digital producers to power Jamaica’s digital transformation.
Scholarship news: NCB Foundation Scholarship and Grant programme is now open. Go to ncbscholarships.com to find out more about the special focus for students pursuing careers that will propel Jamaica’s digital transformation.
Applications close on July 16.