Over the past week, the University College of the Cayman Islands has presented over $100,000 in scholarships to 81 students.
This is the first time in the university’s history that it has been able to distribute more than a handful of such scholarships and marks a significant turning point in financial support for students, particularly those with financial need.
UCCI President and CEO Stacy McAfee said the awards have been possible thanks to a growing number of community donors who are interested in investing in Cayman’s youth in order to build the next generation of leaders for the nation.
“So many times in my career, I have watched students either delay or abandon their dreams of higher education because they simply couldn’t afford the cost of college,” McAfee said. “These are exactly the kinds of students who are benefitting from the scholarships we are now able to provide. It is so gratifying to know we are giving them the chance to reach for the future they have envisioned for themselves.”
McAfee said she expects this is just the start.
“We really hope to see new partners join us in the coming year,” she said, “so that this time next fall, we’ll be able to help even more students have access to UCCI.”
On Tuesday, Oct. 5, 13 students received scholarships from RBC Royal Bank (Cayman). The bank created a fund of $20,000 in recent months to help Caymanian students.
Last Wednesday, Sept. 29, the school presented privately funded, largely needs-based scholarships to 68 students at two afternoon events. One was dedicated to recipients of Community Engagement Program scholarships.
McAfee called the events a “celebration of the generosity of our community partners.”
Such organizations as those within Enterprise Cayman, Sterling Security Solutions, Cayman Water Authority, Cisco and Progressive Distributors, along with donors Beverley and Thomas Simpson, presented students with scholarship awards.
Many of these new scholarships take into account a student’s financial situation. McAfee said the support is reaching students who might not otherwise have a chance at higher education. Government funded scholarships, as well as many from the private sector, are performance based, awarding students with the highest GPAs.
Thomas Simpson, a former member of the UCCI Board of Governors, said he and his wife, Beverley, provided $50,000 annually, for an initial four years, to establish the Community Engagement Programme, which is designed to reach students who may not meet those GPA requirements but still have a desire to continue their educations.
“When I came here and became part of the board, I said, ‘Where is the needs-based scholarship program?’” he recalled. “It didn’t exist.”
The Simpsons’ hope is that they will be the first of many who will give to the programme.
“Anybody who wants to go to university should have access,” Tom Simpson said. “That’s why we’re quite happy to provide this money.”
McAfee said needs-based support is crucial for college students and UCCI is no exception.
“I am proud to stand with the Simpsons today and thank them for helping us to remove one of the obstacles that exists for many,” she said. “We hope together that we will build contributions to this programme so that financial need won’t be an issue anymore and that anyone who wants to can attend UCCI.”
McAfee told the honourees their awards came with certain responsibilities.
“Your actions will inspire others to give through this programme so that more students like yourselves have a means to succeed at UCCI,” she said. “Your job today is the help spread the word, that if you have a way to give, give to UCCI. We hope together we will build a better Cayman. “
If you are interested in starting your success story at UCCI, visit our website at ucci.edu.ky or set up an appointment with our admissions team by calling 623-0567.