#Jamaica, October 31, 2017 – Kingston – First-year medical student at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, Jinelle Henry, has lauded the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) for not only assisting her through the secondary years but also giving her a scholarship to help fund her Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree. Ms. Henry, 21 years old, is the eldest of five children for her mother, Latoya Williams, a vendor from South Hampton, St. Elizabeth.
In an interview with JIS News after she was awarded by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security during their 15th Anniversary Scholarship Awards ceremony on October 27, Ms. Henry, who has been on PATH for years, said the scholarship she received has gone a far way in allowing her to officially begin on her path to becoming a medical doctor.
“PATH was really good, especially in high school, because I got lunch every day in grades 10 and 11. It was not anything to be ashamed of. Basically, scholarships sent me to school. In the summer before school opened, I used to walk and drop off letters seeking grants,” Ms. Henry, a graduate of Hampton School in Malvern, says.
“I’m really excited (about the scholarship), because if I never got it from PATH, then I wouldn’t be able to continue school. I feel good that my University school fee has been paid. I could not afford the $3.5million per year without the subsidy. I now pay approximately $624,000 per year with the subsidy from the Government,” she adds.
Becoming a medical doctor is not the career Ms. Henry initially wanted, but must pursue this course of studies given that she hopes to become one of Jamaica’s future forensic pathologists – professionals who determine the cause of death by the examination of corpses.
“I knew I wanted to become a forensic pathologist when I started volunteering at St. Ann’s Bay Hospital where my father, Barrington Henry, works as a porter, and at May Pen Hospital where my aunt works. My father said they were bringing people in to be pathologists, and I wanted to fill the gap. At first, I wanted to become a teacher, but since grade 10 when I began specialising, I started doing biology. I really liked the sciences, as they challenged me,” Ms. Henry notes.
Her dream of starting the MBBS was delayed last year, as she was not accepted for the programme.
“It works on a point system. I missed the subsidy by one point and I did not get in, so this is my second year of university, but first year of medicine. I was doing a pure and applied science degree as an alternative to transfer into medicine,” the determined and self-motivated student tells JIS News.
At the end of her first year at UWI, Mona, she achieved a grade point average (GPA) of 3.42, reapplied and was accepted. Ms. Henry says ever since she was a student at Mount Osbourne Primary School in St. Elizabeth, she knew she had to aspire for greatness to lead herself and her family out of poverty.
“I was a bookworm and still am. I always had my books, even on summer holidays. Life wasn’t easy. Because my mother had five of us, and I am the eldest, I had to help my mother with everything. It wasn’t easy, but I managed,” she says.
Ms. Henry also lauds her church family and Hampton School’s Old Girls’ Association for assisting her through the early years.
“I am a church person and I used to attend the Leeds Church of God in St. Elizabeth often. My church was very involved in my life,” she says.
In addition to PATH’s 15th anniversary scholarship, Ms. Henry notes that she has been awarded grants from Hampton School’s Old Girls’ Association, a Peace and Love academic scholarship, and grants from the Portia Simpson Miller Foundation in 2016 and 2017. She says her next goal after becoming a medical doctor is to elevate her family from poverty, especially her mother.
“My mother has been the rock and supports me all the time,” Miss Henry tells JIS News.
PATH is an initiative of the Government, with support from donor partners, such as the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and other multilateral and bilateral agencies. The programme is aimed at delivering benefits by way of cash grants to the poorest and most vulnerable persons in the society.
The programme is administrated by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, which has responsibility to provide policy direction, guidance and coordination to the programme. Networking is done through 13 parish offices.
The main objectives of PATH are to increase educational attainment and improve health outcomes of the poor by breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty; alleviate poverty by increasing the value of transfer to the poor; reduce child labour by requiring children to have minimum attendance in school, and serve as a safety net by preventing families from falling further into poverty in the event of adverse shock. As at June 2017, 70.62 per cent of registered PATH beneficiaries were children up to 18 years.
In celebration of its 15th year of service to the people of Jamaica, PATH has offered tertiary scholarships valued at $15 million to beneficiaries pursuing bachelor’s degrees in accredited institutions, to assist in covering the cost of their tuition and books.
The scholarships were made available to PATH beneficiaries who had been recipients for at least the last three years of secondary school, had attained grade-one passes in at least eight Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) subjects, including Mathematics and English Language, and had either received a letter of acceptance to commence their courses of study in September 2017 or were already pursuing their studies and had a GPA of at least 2.5 during the last academic year.
Seventeen beneficiaries pursuing bachelor’s degrees in law, medicine, actuarial science, engineering, chemistry, plant biology and psychology received scholarships. The funds will be disbursed over a period of up to three years, with the condition of the recipients maintaining a GPA of at least 2.5.
By: Ainsworth Morris (JIS)