Hospitality students in the Cayman Islands have a new opportunity to further their studies in the field at an American university.
The Ministry of Tourism is partnering with Johnson and Wales University to offer scholarships to Caymanian students interested in studying a range of tourism-based subjects.
“We are having tremendous success in the tourism industry,” Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell said. “If we don’t create the environment for our Caymanians to be prepared to take advantage of this opportunity, we are failing. It’s a top priority for the ministry to make sure that as hard as we work and as much success we have, that the benefit of that goes to the Caymanian people.”
The minister said that the partnership with Johnson and Wales is a way of providing Caymanians with the opportunities and skill sets they need to take advantage of the territory’s tourism industry.
Caymanian students will be eligible to receive scholarships from Johnson and Wales of up to $15,000 per year of study, and up to $20,000 from the Ministry of Tourism per year of study.
Johnson and Wales will award scholarships based on a student’s grade point average.
Students who have a GPA ranging from 3.5 to 4.0 are eligible up to $15,000, students with a GPA ranging from 2.75 to 3.49 are eligible to receive up to $10,000, and students with a GPA ranging from 2.25 to 2.74 are eligible to receive up to $5,000.
The Ministry of Tourism will award Caymanian students additional scholarships based on academic performance and a commitment to return to the Cayman Islands to work for at least two years following graduation.
The minister said they are hoping to provide at least five students with scholarships to Johnson and Wales this year, and have the ability to offer scholarships to more students if there is interest.
As tuition to Johnson and Wales University is just over $30,000, students who receive the maximum scholarship amounts from both the university and the ministry will effectively have a full scholarship plus additional funds to cover room and board and other costs.
The partnership is designed to complement the Hospitality Studies program at the University College of the Cayman Islands – students who complete their associate studies at UCCI can transfer those credits to Johnson and Wales to complete an undergraduate degree.
The scholarships are also open to Caymanian students interested in pursuing a degree in hospitality studies, whether they are currently enrolled in studies at UCCI or not.
Mr. Kirkconnell said the partnership has been in the works for some time.
“The ministry was looking for a center of excellence for hospitality studies … that would partner with us and give a larger scholarship than had been available previously,” Mr. Kirkconnell said. “There are a lot of Caymanian graduates from Johnson and Wales that are working here in the tourism industry that have been extremely successful.”
The fact that Johnson and Wales has a campus in North Miami, Florida, was another incentive to partner with the university, making it easy for Caymanian students and their parents to travel back and forth.
On Wednesday, Mr. Kirkconnell, Education Minister Tara Rivers and Tasmine Coleman, the international admissions officer at Johnson and Wales’ Miami campus, held an information session for UCCI Hospitality Studies students and other interested students and their families.
Ms. Coleman described the various hospitality-related majors offered at Johnson and Wales, including Tourism and Hospitality Management; Restaurant, Food and Beverage Management; Hotel and Lodging Management, Culinary Arts and Food Service Management and many more.
Sidney Jamal Miller, 19, and his parents attended the information session. Mr. Miller, who is passionate about the Culinary Arts, was supposed to attend Le Cordon Bleu, but was unable to find enough available scholarship funds to do so.
He’s excited about the opportunity to attend Johnson and Wales, and, as a vegan, is especially interested in their Culinary Nutrition program which will allow him to become a licensed dietician.
Ms. Coleman told students they are required to complete at least one internship during their studies, and that 61 percent of students find employment with the company they’ve interned with upon graduation.
“Your education at Johnson and Wales is very hands on, it’s not just you in the classroom,” she said.