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National players say JOA scholarships enabled goals

National representatives Kareme Hudson and Shanae Gordon have expressed appreciation to the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) for enabling their journey to complete their bachelor’s degrees with JOA scholarships.

Both women admitted facing difficulties to the point of dropping out of school, before they acquired a lifeline by way of the JOA scholarships.

The scholarship is open to national sporting representatives and administrators and is valued at $500,000 per year. Hudson was selected for two years, thus securing a total value of one million dollars, while Gordon earned a $500,000 allocation towards her school fees for one year.

“I really appreciate the JOA for awarding me that scholarship. It came at the most perfect time,” Hudson admitted, “I was basically ready to give up on school because I had started college in 2014, and just seeing all of my peers graduating in 2018 and at that time I still had two years left.”

At the time, Hudson, a national senior hockey player, had two years remaining to complete her degree in communication arts and technology at the University of Technology (UTech). Finding money for school was hard, but one day while going through her Jamaica hockey group chat she saw a posting about the JOA scholarship. Then she applied.

“I remember the day that conversation came in the group and I was having the conversation with a co-worker, saying that I cannot find the money. That message came in the group and I just said, ‘I’m going to apply’,” Hudson shared.

“And when I got the email that I got the scholarship, the first word I saw was ‘congratulations’, and I just started weeping, I was bawling all day at work. I was extremely grateful and thankful to the Jamaica Olympic Association. I just said, ‘thank you God,’ ” the St Andrew High School For Girls alumna continued.

Gordon, who attended Marymount High School in St Mary, was selected for the JOA scholarship for the final year of her four-year Bachelor of Science degree at G C Foster College of Physical Education and Sport.

A member of the national rugby team, Gordon said, “I was financially unable to provide for myself, so it was really a great opportunity. I’m feeling really excited, and at the same time it has made me look at life differently. Sometimes when things knock you down then there is a light. The light for me was the JOA scholarship, to move forward,” Gordon continued.

Ryan Foster, the JOA’s secretary general/CEO, expressed satisfaction with the contribution being made by sports’ apex body in the life of its constituents.

He said, “The JOA is extremely elated with providing our own scholarships for our athletes. Kareme and Shanae have done extremely well in advancing their education. We are happy that the JOA was able to have made this investment in our athletes and to provide a platform for both to improve on their livelihoods.”

Along with financing, attached to the scholarship are reciprocal conditions to be a JOA ambassador and also help their sport. Both national athletes said they grew while executing their respective functions and expressed additional gratitude to the JOA for the assistance provided by the organisation’s member relations manager, Novelette Harris.

The JOA’s Harris said she was proud of their achievements.

“I am very proud of these two ladies, both in their academic performance and personal growth. To their credit, they displayed tremendous dedication, commitment and focus in pursuing their goals, especially during the challenges posed in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Shanae and Kareme are fine athletes serving their country who needed support in their academic life, and the JOA is pleased that we were able to help them fulfil this dream,” Harris added.

The JOA has extended its scholarship awards with three coaching scholarships within the last week and Foster said it spoke to their commitment.

“We recently awarded three coaches scholarships for the next three years which is historic in nature and further cements our well-engrained educational perspective to improve the lives of our stakeholders,” Foster said.

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