Claudine Allen (left), general manager of the JN Foundation presents D’Ashley McLean (centre) with a token. Looking on is her mother, Shamane Stewart.

Shamane Stewart was an elated mother when she got the news that her daughter, D’Ashley McLean, was awarded a JN Foundation Primary Exit Profile (PEP) scholarship for the parish of St. Thomas and for her this was the answer to her prayers.

“It was my neighbour who sent me the link to the scholarship application via Whatsapp and under the link was the message ‘aunty, let D’Ashley try this, you will never know’. That was my neighbour’s words of encouragement,” she said, noting that she also has another child attending college who she had to provide for.

Ms Stewart, who is an entrepreneur, said it was not easy keeping her daughter online during the pandemic, but she ensured that D’Ashley was never absent from class and she would listen to the classes and assist her with some of the answers to the questions asked by the teacher.

“She was always an honour student from grade one, she would always come up in the top 10. She came in with the second highest score in her school,” she informed.

D’Ashley scored 99 per cent in her Ability Test, was highly proficient in Mathematics, and proficient in Language Arts. She was placed at Ardenne High School.

For D’Ashley, she is overjoyed to be the scholarship awardee for the parish of St. Thomas. She said the scholarship has assisted with some of the financial expenses in moving on to high school.

“I’m really happy about getting the scholarship because it will really help out my parents. Since the pandemic it has been financially hard for some persons who have been laid off from their jobs,” she pointed out.

D’Ashley is hoping to one day to become a psychologist so that she can assist persons who have emotional problems.

She shared that studying online was very challenging and that it was sometimes difficult to follow the teacher and that she prefers in person classes. She however noted that she worked hard and tried to keep focused.

“I had to go to my bed eight o’clock every night, the use of the phone was limited and on the weekends I would do my studies. But I also got time to interact with my friends,” she said.

Her words of encouragement to other students are to study hard, do assignments, review notes and remain focused. “Never give up and always push and fight for your goals,” she said.

Ms Stewart’s advice to other parents are: “Be in your child’s life. What they don’t understand and you can’t assist with, seek help. I can attest that I’m always involved and put aside money to purchase her books and school supplies, as difficult as things might be, and I would try to help her with her school work.”

The JN Foundation awarded 37 five-year scholarships to students who excelled in this year’s PEP exams. In addition to the PEP scholarship awards, 16 students at the tertiary level will receive financial assistance to pursue their studies.