Although it’s funded by the Cayman Island insurance industry, the Educational Scholarship Trust Fund isn’t just for students who intend to work in the financial services sector.
A pair of scholarship recipients, neither of whom studied finance, spoke at an Insurance Managers Association of Cayman luncheon on the importance of helping Caymanians pursue studies in other fields in order to bring their expertise back to the Islands.
Shivonne Nixon graduated in 2011 from Acadia University in Canada with a major in psychology and minor in sociology. She now works with residents at Frances Bodden Girls Home, where she is the youngest employee.
“There have been times when I have been mistaken for one of the residents themselves,” she said, saying she finds that assumption indicative of a lack of interest in the field among young Caymanians.
Ms Nixon thinks it’s important to have “more scholarships that are open to allow people to study different careers and that are outside the norm of what is expected in Cayman because there is a need for different types of jobs when it comes to working with youth. Whether it’s through studying psychology, sociology, or social work, the needs are there.”
Scholarship recipient James Geary is studying music and sociology at Anderson University in the United States. When he’s back home in Cayman, he works for government and is youth leader at Frank Sound Church of God.
“If there aren’t enough people out there like me who do what I do, then you don’t have accountants, you don’t have lawyers, you don’t have doctors. You don’t have people applying for this scholarship,” Mr. Geary said.
The association’s scholarship is for school leavers who will study a four-year course overseas at a competitive university. Funded by individual insurance management firms, captive insurance companies and proceeds from the annual Cayman Captive Forum, the scholarship awards students $36,000 per year.
“If you listen to their stories, you’ll pick up that we absolutely need people like James and Shivonne to come back to Cayman and work in their fields. There is a dearth of financial funding to study for those particular purposes,” said fund chair John Pitcairn, who is managing director of Artex Risk Solutions (Cayman).
In addition to hearing from Ms Nixon and Mr. Geary, the purpose of the Friday luncheon was to honour two scholarship recipients who recently graduated, Onassia Bodden (bachelor of business administration from the University of Miami) and Freddy Diaz Christian (bachelor of arts in film and moving image from the University of Norwich).
Also in attendance was 2012 scholarship recipient Chloe Tathum, who will study kinesiology (movement science) at Penn State University.
In total, the fund, which was granted charitable status in 2010, is currently supporting nine full-time students, who are studying fields ranging from veterinary science to business management in universities from New Zealand to Ontario.