After surviving a life-threatening encounter with pneumonia when she was just a few days old, Keonie White knew from very early that she wanted to become a paediatrician – This Food For The Poor Medical full scholarship will help her achieve her dreams.
Her defining moment came in 2019, when she received acceptance into the highly competitive bachelor of medicine, bachelor of surgery programme at The University of the West Indies, Mona. But first, she had to clear the hurdle of figuring out how her tertiary education would be funded.
Having received a grant that would cover her first-year tuition of $513,283, she was forced to make the decision of taking a leave of absence in 2021, just months shy of completing her second year of medical studies, as her fees were not paid.
Unable to access classes, White felt her childhood dream was shattered and even toyed with the idea of changing profession. However, a consultation with the deputy dean of the Faculty of the Medical Sciences, Dr Helen Trotman-Edwards, resulted in her being recommended for a Food for the Poor medical scholarship.
In a stroke of good fortune, she was named this year’s recipient of a full scholarship from donors of the Davis Elkins Foundation, through Operation Starfish, Nativity Catholic Church in Burke, Virginia. The scholarship will cover tuition and boarding for the next three years.
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“This was a beacon of hope in what I describe as a period of despair, a period of uncertainty. I would have spent days praying and crying, wondering if all the hard work that I have been putting in was in vain,” White said on Friday at the scholarship handover ceremony.
An evidently emotional, yet ecstatic White said that being named this year’s beneficiary reminded her of the sole reason she wanted to become a paediatrician, which she believes is ordained by God.
The Auchtembeddie, Manchester native will be the first medical doctor in her immediate family, and hopes to make herself, her mother Jacqueline Brooks and her three siblings proud.
“The moment when I was informed, I felt speechless. I experienced mixed emotions because I wanted to cry, but I was too happy to do so. I was in disbelief as I could not believe that after several months of dwelling in clouds of worry that filled my gaze, battling with mental breakdowns and trying to get my life on track, I could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. There was finally a silver lining,” White said in between tears.
Eager to begin her third year of medical studies, which she describes partially as ‘the art of healing’, White expressed gratitude to Food of the Poor Jamaica as well as donors and members of the Davis Elkins Foundation and the Nativity Catholic Church in Burke, Virginia.
Craig Moss-Solomon, executive director of the Food of the Poor Jamaica, told THE STAR that the aim of the medical scholarship is to give persons in dire need of assistance, a chance to succeed.
“It allows for an educational mind to not be left untapped, to not be given the opportunity to advance in life. Who knows what she [Keonie] can achieve, and who knows what she will do for the world at large. All I know is through the donors, and through our efforts, at least we played the role in her education and we hope that she will go on to better things in return,” Moss-Solomon commented.
Food for the Poor has assisted more than 50 students at the undergraduate level, through tuition and/or textbook grants, since 2016. The medical scholarship was created in 2017 to assist one medical student each year with tuition and boarding for three years.
Source: Dream kept alive – After being barred due to non-payment of fees, needy medical student gets full scholarship as published in the Jamaica Star on January 31, 2022.