Lexi Balchan, the first student from Point Fortin to place first in the national Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) Exam joined nine other students from the Borough on September 20 as the most recent inductees in Atlantic’s Point Fortin’s Finest Leadership Development Programme.
Lexi, who passed for Naparima Girl’s High School, was welcomed into the 2017 cohort of the Point Fortin’s Finest, along with Siddhi Ramsaroop and Cherise Ali Bocas (who also passed for Naparima Girl’s); Shanessa John, Carissa Harridath and Shanessa Risa Despot (ASJA Girl’s College); Khadine Rambert (Holy Faith Convent); Jada Wiltshire (St. Joseph’s Convent); Sven Bhudri (Naparima College); and Latika Bachoon (Vessigny Secondary School).
Toni Sirju-Ramnarine, Vice President of Corporate Operations at Atlantic, congratulated the inductees and urged them to appreciate and seize every opportunity for personal and professional development afforded by the programme. “This is especially important when you consider the kind of challenges we’re seeing right now with natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes facing students right here in our region,” Sirju-Ramnarine said. “Over the next ten years, Atlantic will be your partner, assisting and supporting you through your challenges whenever we are able, helping to secure and realize your potential to be the leaders of tomorrow.
Over 179 students have benefitted from the Point Fortin’s Finest Leadership Development Programme since its inception in 2000. Every year through the programme, Atlantic provides financial support to the top ten SEA students from Point Fortin and environs, for seven years of secondary school and three years of tertiary education. The students attend annual vacation camps designed to make them well-rounded leaders, equipping them with life skills and building their knowledge of team work, conflict resolution and a broad range of leadership-related topics. The students are also encouraged to develop the spirit of volunteerism through involvement in projects with various NGOs. Special vacation internships at Atlantic also introduce older students to real work experience.
A new feature of the programme this year is a Mentorship component, where each of the incoming inductees will be assigned a mentor chosen from existing senior participants. The mentors will guide the new students through various aspects of their school life and provide support throughout their time in the programme.
At this year’s induction ceremony, Point Fortin’s Finest alumnus Justin Newton shared his experience, citing years of mentorship by Atlantic employees which resulted in accelerated personal development. He urged the inductees to embrace the opportunity, explaining that “growing up is difficult in itself but with the presentations and activities that Atlantic will facilitate, you will both have fun and be better persons.”
The Point Fortin’s Finest Leadership Development Programme is Atlantic’s longest running social investment initiative. Since its inception, the programme has enabled recipients to achieve their goals to become professionals in their chosen fields. Medicine, Geology, Law, Marine Biology and Veterinarian Medicine are just some of the disciplines which past beneficiaries have successfully pursued. Most recently, Jeanique Davis, an alumna of the programme, was the recipient of an open national scholarship for excellence in academic performance in the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE). Other students on the programme have attained academic and sport scholarships to foreign universities.