Jamaican students grateful for medical scholarships


University student Nicholas Campbell is extremely delighted to receive a scholarship to pursue a medical degree in Cuba.

He is one of eight young Jamaicans who will leave the island in August to pursue studies under the Cuba-Jamaica Cooperation Programme for the academic year 2016-2017.

The other students are Sanja Bonnick, Shanize Shanna-Kay Stewart, Brittnie Dahlia Paul-Ann Lee, Nicholas Hugh Campbell, Sheldon Fitzgerald Antonio Brown, Shannoy Powell, and Dr Marlon de Wayne Brown and Dr Tanisha Trusty, who will pursue post graduate studies.

They were chosen from a field of over 300 applicants following a selection process by the Cuban embassy.

The course of study will last for seven years, with the first year dedicated to the study of the Spanish language. The scholarship covers tuition, accommodation, meals, clothing, allowance, study materials and medical care.

Campbell, who is from a single-parent home in St Mary, told the

Jamaica Information Service that he is grateful for the financial support that he will be receiving through the programme.

“This scholarship to me is really an honour because to afford medical school here in Jamaica is too expensive for my mom. I am really grateful for it and I look forward to coming back to contribute to my community and to build my country,” he said.

Campbell, who has completed a one-year course in chemistry, biology and calculus in the Faculty of Science and Technology at the University of The West Indies, (UWI), Mona Campus, said his decision to pursue medicine was influenced by the need for more doctors in St Mary.

Apart from learning about the Cuban culture and meeting new friends, Campbell said that he is also looking forward to developing his knowledge of the Spanish language.

“I just have basic Spanish, but I’ve heard of others going there and knowing nothing and coming back speaking very fluently. So it’s really a chance for me to go over there and learn the language,” he stated.

Another scholarship recipient, Shannoy Powell, said she is “truly blessed” to be selected for the scholarship.

“First of all I like Spanish, so that was one of the factors that spurred me to actually apply, and the quality of education and the training that persons receive there is also very good,” she said.

The Clarendon native said she will have no problem learning the language since she has studied it while attending Westwood High School in Trelawny, and at the UWI where she was pursuing a pharmacology course.

Over 55,000 young people from about 134 countries have graduated from Cuban universities under the country’s scholarship programme since its inception about five decades ago.

Senior medical officer of the Annotto Bay Hospital in St Mary, Dr Ray Fraser, was one of the first graduates who benefited from the programme in 1978.

He said the awardees will not only gain knowledge in the field of medicine, but will enjoy “a well-rounded and culturally rich experience”.

“What the students will experience is medicinal training with a different approach. It is a more humane one and they will have a wide experience, and apart from that they will learn a second language,” he said.

He said that the students will also be taught “excellent patient and doctor relationship”.

Cuban Ambassador to Jamaica Bernardo Guanche Hernandez, who presented the scholarships to the awardees at a recent ceremony held at the Cuban Embassy, said the programme has helped to strengthen the friendship and cooperative ties between both countries.

“Cuba has also offered and continues to offer cooperation, mainly in the fields of health and education, in countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean. Not only Cuban teachers have rendered their services in many developing countries, but also many students from those countries have studied and graduated, free of charge, in Cuban universities,” he stated.

At the end of 2015, he said that 151 young Jamaicans were studying in Cuba in the fields of medicine, higher education, physical education, sport, and culture.

On the other hand, he said that over 200 Cubans are currently providing services in Jamaica under several bilateral cooperation programmes, especially in the areas of health and education.

“From January to May 2016, our doctors have consulted a total of 44,715 Jamaicans patients. Meanwhile, the Operation Miracle programme has conducted a total of 1,467  ophthalmological surgeries,” he said.

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