A Dominican, Jerelle Joseph, has launched a mentorship program for Caribbean nationals.
“Many Caribbean students simply do not have access to academic and professional mentorship. For example, many of us came from homes where our parents never attended university. Hence, it can be quite challenging navigating our academic and professional lives,” explained Jerelle.
To this end, Ms Joseph founded CariScholar: a non-profit organisation aimed at connecting Caribbean students with some of the region’s most prolific and accomplished academics and professionals; in order to foster mentorship, sharing of information and guidance. The organisation functions by forming a database of academics and professionals from the Caribbean, who are willing to guide current Caribbean students – particularly those who have little access to mentorship in their homes and communities.
Jerelle recalled, “I remember when I was in college and Mr Verieux (Vow) Mourillon handed me a University of the West Indies brochure. He probably doesn’t even remember that! He asked, “Jerelle what are you going to do after college?” I had no idea. I knew I wanted to go to university, but I was very naive as to what my options were, how to apply, how to get funding etc. It all felt very overwhelming. Vow encouraged me to apply and offered to assist me with the process. What really resonated with me was that he had pursued a Chemistry undergraduate degree, and I was very passionate about chemistry. Since he had first-hand experience, I had great confidence in his advice. That conversation steered me in the right direction and ultimately shaped my future.”
Ms Jerelle Joseph is currently pursuing a PhD in Chemistry, as Gates Cambridge Scholar, at the University of Cambridge. Jerelle, who hails from the village of Vieille Case, lost both parents in 2011. She asserts, “My parents were very instrumental in motivating me to succeed and still are my main source of motivation. You cannot underestimate the role parents play, whether they are university-educated or not. However, a lot can be gained by having other persons in your life who can offer valuable insight.”
“Mentorship is a commitment to guiding someone by using the tools you have acquired from your own experience, successes and failures. The Caribbean has a number of accomplished persons – whether they have excelled in academics, business, sporting, entertainment. CariScholar presents a great opportunity for these people to mentor the next generation. The mentorship program works best if students are paired with mentors in their field of interest. We currently have mentors from a number of different fields. However, we are still encouraging others to get on board as mentors. We are also encouraging persons to refer students to us, so that we can connect them to suitable mentors,” she added.
The organisation, which officially launched a week ago, already has around 40 mentors from various Caribbean Islands. Some of the current mentors include Mr Verieux Mourillon (Dominican) – an expert in leadership development, Mr Kamal Wood (Vincentian) – a past Rhodes Scholar and Software Developer, Mrs Alberta William-Henry (St. Lucian) – a chemistry lecturer and photographer, Miss Stephie Pascal (Dominican) – a Cambridge graduate currently employed as a Process Engineer, and Mr Safraz Hussain (Barbadian/Guyanese) – Regional Legal Counsel and Corporate Secretary of CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank Limited.