EDITORIAL: ‘Minds Inspired’ sowing the seeds of Cayman’s future

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” – Author Jack London

We often think of inspiration as something that is outside our control – a flash of brilliance, a synapse randomly fired, a lightning strike that comes from an outside, un-nameable and unpredictable source. Regardless of where inspiration originates, there is little doubt that it can be encouraged (if not induced) and certainly nurtured.

How inspiring it has been, then, for us and for Cayman to witness the development of the Dart Group’s Minds Inspired Education Programme over these past few years – like catching lightning in a bottle.

The program’s goal, to improve students’ academic excellence in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (also known as STEM), may be shared by many. But the methods of Minds Inspired are unique – and worthy of recognition, emulation and, if possible, replication.

In the future, many of the best jobs are going to be in STEM-related fields, but it can be difficult to interest students in these rigorous areas of study. Minds Inspired aims to go beyond lecture and incentive to provide experiences and support to spark young people’s interest and ignite in them a passion for STEM.

The program’s scholarships, mentoring and work experience programs and events are designed to inspire and nurture youths into becoming well-rounded, highly trained and experienced Cayman residents, educated, and motivated, to succeed in the workplace and take their rightful place as responsible members of the community as adults. It’s more than a “program” or a “project.” It’s a mission.

Leading that mission is Dart Education Programs Manager Glenda McTaggart, who told us this week, “Minds Inspired is really about promoting those things and encouraging young people to embrace careers in the areas of STEM.”

They do so through sponsoring and underwriting events, such as annual Mathematics Challenges and Shark Talks, which reach hundreds of young people each year, and through three ongoing programs:

Each year, supporting two outstanding students entering high school through The Minds Inspired Scholarship – a four-year award that includes payment of all school fees, including books and uniforms, multiyear mentoring with Dart employees and enrichment activities, including travel and participation in elite experiences in order to expand their horizons and inspire them to achieve.

For university-level students, offering The William A. Dart Memorial Scholarship, which pays tuition for up to four years at an accredited overseas institution and includes mentoring and summer employment opportunities at Dart.

And through the Minds Inspired Summer Student Programme, offering students valuable work experience and skills, and helping them build relationships with working professionals.

By adding camp experiences focused on exposing students to the larger science environment, Minds Inspired is now offering Cayman’s young people an opportunity to learn firsthand about naval architecture and marine engineering from some of the world’s foremost experts.

The week-long summer camp was developed in partnership with the Webb Institute – a leading engineering college on Long Island in New York, but it also resonates with Cayman’s seafaring culture and taps into youths’ experiences in the hopes of lighting that inspirational “spark.”

“We look out the window and we see these super yachts off the coast of the island,” Mrs. McTaggart said. “A lot of them are registered here, so there are a lot of opportunities here. But it’s not an area that kids really think about studying.”

How glad we are that Mrs. McTaggart and her crew are thinking about those opportunities – and how to inspire Cayman’s youth to do the same.

The Minds Inspired Marine Engineering & Naval Architecture Summer Camp will take place from July 31 through Aug. 4. For more information or to register and apply for financial assistance, visit www.mindsinspired.ky/events or email [email protected] 

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