While organisers expected participation in the region of 40-50 and made arrangements with the management of the NEMA Conference Room as such, they were taken aback when over 70 smartly dressed and inquisitive young persons packed the room. More chairs had to be ‘borrowed’ from another function taking place on the lawns of the NEMA compound.
“We were amazed at the participation!” exclaimed Ms Sonia Boddie, SKN Chevening Alumni Group Leader. “It really exceeded our expectations! We had an excess of some seventy persons who came out and showed a keen interest in elevating themselves academically.”
The seminar, according to Ms Boddie, which was the first, was sponsored by the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis. Due to the overwhelming interest shown by the young persons, she observed that they plan to make it an annual event.
“It was basically geared towards educating young persons on how they can become more adequately prepared to make that big step of going abroad to study and pursue tertiary education,” pointed out Ms Boddie.
“We were very happy to share the information; share our own experiences all of us having studied abroad on more than two occasions and so we were very happy that persons really took advantage of this amazing opportunity and came out and participated in this event.”
Among the SKN Chevening Alumni Group members present included the Hon Hazel Brandy-Williams, Junior Minister in the Nevis Island Administration, Mr Augustine Merchant, Mr Raoul Pemberton, Ms Wendy Elliot, Ms Jihan Williams, and Mr Kenrod Roberts.
“We provided advice in terms of how to apply to schools, tips for applying for scholarships, how to make the best of the university experience, and what to do before you leave,” explained Ms Boddie.
“We also had a representative from the Development Bank who came on board basically to talk about accessing student loans and he placed great emphasis on tips for scholarships because we really want our young persons to get world class education but not to be too heavily indebted.”
Those presenting the various topics were Ms Jihan Williams: ‘I want to study, where do I begin?’; Ms Sonia Boddie: ‘All you need to know about scholarships’; and Mr Patrice Ward of the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis: ‘How do I access a student loan?’
Other topics were by Ms Jihan Williams: ‘I got Accepted, what should I do before I leave home?’; and Ms Nisharma Rattan-Mack: ‘How do I make the best of my university experience?’; while Mr Raoul Pemberton presented the wrap up and vote of thanks.
Addressing the eager participants, Mr Patrice Ward who is a Credit Risk Officer at the Development Bank advised them that the bank advances a maximum of US$35,000 (EC$95,000) as loan to cover a four-year degree course. He explained that the Development Bank requires one guarantor for amounts under US$10,000 and two for a higher amount, as opposed to commercial banks which require collateral.
“One of the things that the students are required to have is life insurance,” stated Mr Ward. “In order to prevent the guarantors from being burdened as a result of any unforeseen situation, we ask that the student get life insurance.
“Most affordable, and the life insurance we try to recommend is the ‘term life’ because based on the age of the most of the students who are applying for study loans, the age ranges from 18 to about 25. So, the younger you are, the more affordable the term life insurance would be.”
The participants were advised that while they are away studying, the loans attract interest and he told them that for their own benefit it would be wise to try to reduce the amount of interest by paying off either through their parents or if they are able to get jobs while studying overseas.
“Going off to study requires thorough planning,” advised Mr Ward. “You have to study the job market, so that the degree you are planning to pursue is one that is in line with the development that is taking place in the Federation. It means that we have to sit down, plan, ask questions, research what the job market is like, and if you come back with a degree, what options you have in terms of finding a job.”
The SKN Chevening Alumni Group leader, Ms Sonia Boddie invited young persons in Nevis who are desirous of attaining tertiary education to the next Get Set and Ready for University seminar which will be held on Saturday July 25, at the St. Paul’s Anglican Church Hall.
Representing the Development Bank and advising on how to acquire student loans from the bank will be Ms Sasha Liburd, a Loan Monitoring Officer at the Nevis branch.
“We look forward to getting more partnership with other organisations because the human capacity development building is critically important and we need to steer our young persons to priority areas that can help to better benefit St. Kitts and Nevis in terms of development,” noted Ms Boddie.