New ‘Proud of Them’ recipients announced

A dozen young people receive accolades for their achievements

Back row, from left, Diarra Hoyte, Giselle Ebanks, Derricka Neysmith, Tishan Crowe, Channah Connor, Ayanna Davis-Eden, Bruce Gordon and Ethan Whittaker. Seated, from left, Felicia Connor, National Youth Commission Chair Rev. Donovan Myers, Education Minister Tara Rivers, Youth Minister Osborne Bodden, Youth Chief Officer Dorine B. Whittaker and Kasinda McField. - PHOTO: ALMA CHOLLETTE

Twelve young people with strong academic, community service, sports and culture accomplishments were named as the latest honorees of the Proud of Them campaign Wednesday.

Ministers, friends and family members were present at the welcoming ceremony at the George Town Yacht Club for the latest recipients of the program’s sixth round.


Ayanna Davis-Eden, 12; Kasinda McField and Tishan Crowe, both 24; Giselle Ebanks and Channah Connor, both 15; Bruce Gordon and Felicia Connor, both 20; 18-year-olds Diarra Hoyte, Ethan Whittaker, Derricka Neysmith and David Forbes, and Vanessa Williams, 22, will be featured on roadside billboards as part of the initiative.

During each round, young people ages 10 to 25 are nominated for their achievements in their respective fields and 12 are chosen each time. Each will be featured for a six-month period on billboards throughout Grand Cayman, receive a certificate of recognition and get a $500 stipend. On Wednesday evening, the twelve honorees got to preview their billboards.

Since 2012, the Proud of Them initiative, hosted by the Ministry of Youth and the National Youth Commission, has recognized more than 60 young men and women from the Cayman Islands.

Youngest honoree

The youngest recipient in this latest round, Triple C student and aspiring pastry and culinary chef Ayanna Davis-Eden from George Town, said, “I knew I was being nominated, and when I found out with my mother in an email, I was really excited.”

Kasinda McField is also being honored for her academic achievements. She has a rare genetic form of dwarfism, but has not let her condition overcome her goal of studying overseas.

“I was told that I wouldn’t have strong mobility and I proved [the doctors] wrong,” said Ms. McField, who will enter her second year at the University of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica, in the fall.

Ms. McField, who is also visually and hearing impaired, is a former student at John Gray High School, and earned her associate degree in business administration in 2013 from the University College of the Cayman Islands, where she received the Board of Governors Award.

At UWI, she is pursuing a bachelor degree in banking and finance with a minor in economics. She is on a government scholarship for her studies and hopes to become a chief financial officer.

Ms. McField, who has interned at Customs, is currently interning with the financial unit at the courthouse.

On being a Proud of Them honoree, she said, “I see myself as an inspiration to others, and I encourage others to not allow anything to get in your way.”

“Always strive for the best,” she added, “and it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”

She thanked Deirdre Carmola for nominating her. She also thanked her aunt, Carol McLean, and her mother, Candice Williams.

Honored for basketball skills

Felicia Connor, who was recognized for her achievements in sports, graduated cum laude in May with an associate degree in criminal justice from Bacone College in Muskogee, Oklahoma, where she played basketball.

In the fall, she will continue her studies toward her bachelor’s degree and would then like to go to law school.

Academic achiever

Diarra Hoyte, another academic honoree, graduated from Clifton Hunter with 16 IGCSE and CXC passes. He completed his associate degree in engineering technology at UCCI in April and will attend Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne to study mechanical engineering.

Musical youth

Bruce Gordon, who received the accolade for his accomplishments in the culture category, is a recording artist and music producer who goes by the stage name “Yung Fusion.” His music has been played more than 100,000 on Soundcloud and his self-penned song “Movements,” which was produced by Polish producer Pham, has had more than 10 million views on YouTube.

Mr. Gordon, who is completing his associate degree in computer science at UCCI, intends to enroll in a graphic design school in New York.

“Well, since the release of the ‘Movements’ track, all the follow-up songs have been in the millions and thousands,” said Mr. Gordon, who will be working on music videos for the summer.