“I’ll rise up, I’ll rise like the day, I’ll rise up, I’ll rise unafraid, I’ll rise up and I’ll do it a thousand times again!” These inspiring words sung by 14 year old singing sensation Gabrielle Henry were the stirring welcome to the top 10 SEA students from Point Fortin as they were inducted on October 8 into the youth leadership development initiative that was first established by LNG producer Atlantic in 2000.
The ten students were Nicholai Baptiste (Presentation College, San Fernando), Zachary George (Naparima College), TiaMarie Guerra (Holy Faith Convent, Penal), Chelsea Harridath (ASJA Girls’ College, San Fernando), De’Jah Jerome (Holy Faith Convent, Penal), Miah Joseph (Holy Faith Convent, Penal), Micah Julien (St. Benedict’s College), Faith Phillip (St. Joseph’s Convent, San Fernando), Sherell Rogers (Iere High), and Shamiah Selby (St. Joseph’s Convent, San Fernando). They join the ranks of 199 other students who have participated in Atlantic’s Point Fortin’s Finest Leadership Development programme, a Sustainability initiative that supports high-achieving SEA students throughout their secondary and tertiary level education while moulding them into the leaders of tomorrow.
Toni Sirju-Ramnarine, Atlantic’s Vice-President Corporate Operations warmly welcomed the students and described the wide environment and network of support that will envelop them all along the journey of growth ahead of them.
Anthony Ramjit, School Supervisor II for the St. Patrick’s Educational District said that he believed that primary school students from Point Fortin were benefitting from programmes like the Point Fortin’s Finest. Making refrence to Atlantic’s Literacy and Numeracy Programme and its technology-based intervention, Ramjit explained that in 2018, 23% of SEA students in Point Fortin scored less than 30 percent.
“”This has gone down to 13 % in 2019,”” Ramjit said. “”In 2019, 50% of Point Fortin students in the SEA scored between 51 and 80 and 17% scored between 81 and 100. Our Point Fortin’s Finest comes from that 17%. While I don’t have scientific proof, I do think there is some correlation between Atlantic’s investment and the improved results we’re seeing.””
Much to the delight of the inductees, Point Fortin’s Finest alumni Tahir Quashie from the 2007 Cohort gave insight into his journey through the programme, and the leadership principles that it imparted.
“”One of the most sacred leadership principles I’ve learnt while in this programme is the difference between a boss and a leader,”” Quashie said. “”Where a boss gains respect due to their authority or position, a leader earns respect by their conduct, goodwill and quality of their character. This philosophy has contributed significantly to my overall professional development and it has helped to shape me into the leader that I am today. Do not sit back and rely on your ability to study and work tirelessly in your classes, that is not enough for you, you have to take an active role, be a part of the change you would like to see.””
University student Keanu Nichols who represented Trinidad and Tobago at the NASA International Internship (NASA I2) Programme also held the attention of the inductees. Recounting how he and fellow students Tevin Achong and Gabrielle Motilal became the 2019 NIHERST NASA interns, Nichols told stories about their experience at the NASA Research Centre and their visit to technology companies such as Google. Nichols also described the trio’s visit to the Mars Roverscape, where NASA’s Mars Rover practices for missions on the ‘red planet’.
Since 2000, Atlantic’s Point Fortin’s Finest Leadership Development Programme inducts the top ten SEA examinations students from Point Fortin and environs. Thestudents benefit from financial support for seven years of secondary school and three years of university or tertiary education. They also take part in annual vacation camps over the July/August period to further develop their life skills and leadership abilities. Tertiary level students are afforded the opportunity to participate in a World-of-Work internship during the same period. The Programme also extends special mentorship to the incoming cohort by select senior students.