The St. Kitts Nevis Anguilla Trading and Development Company (TDC) Limited’s Warren Tyson Memorial Scholarship Programme, which was launched in 1981, has offered equal opportunities to children from poor families who are now making significant strides in nation building.
That is the view of one of the scholarship programme beneficiaries, fourth Prime Minister of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, the Honourable Dr Terrance Drew. He made the observation on Wednesday September 14 at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort when he met a colleague beneficiary, and his ‘elder brother’, world acclaimed photographer Professor Valdon Tau Battice.
The St. Kitts born Mr Battice, who is a Professor at Guttman College of the City University of New York, was home as he was the featured speaker at the Prime Minister’s Independence Lecture Series which focused on this year’s Independence theme – ‘Refocus, Re-create, Redesign: Independence 39’. It was held at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort’s Ballroom.
“Tau and I benefitted from that programme (the Warren Tyson Memorial Scholarship Programme) as young school boys,” said Prime Minister Drew. “I started in 1989. When I went there I met Tau, the speaker for tonight’s event, and that scholarship was very, very important at that time.”
According to the Honourable Prime Minister, the Warren Tyson Memorial Scholarship Programme afforded them the opportunity to have school books, which was difficult for poor families to buy, and afforded them the opportunity to have school uniforms which were also difficult for poor families to buy.
“Tau had the opportunity to go to Convent School, back then which was quite beyond the means of a poor family,” said Dr Drew, who is the third medical practitioner to hold the position of Prime Minister. “That scholarship has really benefitted a number of us here in St. Kitts and Nevis, and Tau and I are examples. There are many more examples, many of whom have become professionals and leaders in their own rights, who are making significant impact not only locally but I know regionally and internationally.”
While Professor Battice had joined the scholarship programme in 1985, which enabled him to go through the Convent School, Dr Drew joined the scholarship programme in 1989 and it covered five years of his high school education at the Basseterre Junior High School and Basseterre High School and two years at the Sixth Form College, currently the CFBC.
The Honourable Drew, who made history after the August 5 elections being the first time a new entrant into parliament has become a Prime Minister, said that he will always be grateful as the scholarship gave support to young promising children who may not have all of the economic needs.
Apart from the financial support, the scholarship benefitted them tremendously, as it exposed them to soft skills training where they would be attached to the TDC offices and learnt how to answer telephones, learnt how to deal with people professionally, learnt how to deal with customer service, and how to operate in an office, and being exposed to the language of business and communication among others.
“So many of those things that Tau and I learnt that we may not have been able to learn in our own homes, we were able to learn in the TDC environment and those teachings have been with us and have carried us tremendously in our own personal lives,” said the Honourable Prime Minister.
He added: “So we want to thank the Warren Tyson Memorial Scholarship for the opportunity and TDC by extension. And so to the students, I say that the world has a great deal of possibilities. There is a wide and open field for the wide awakened man and woman. Take advantage of it. We are living it.”
Prof Valdon Tau Battice praised the Warren Tyson Memorial Scholarship Programme which allowed him, a child from the ghetto as he referred to himself, the opportunity to attend the Convent School in 1985 which was at the time the most expensive private school on the island.
“The Warren Tyson Memorial Scholarship saw something in us,” said Professor Battice. “Look at us now – I mean, it is not responsible for what we became, but they put us in an environment that allowed us to make it. It was an environment of validation because for me that scholarship meant that you were bright, hence winning it over other people in the running. That is where I am now – gratitude.”
Present at the function was former CEO and Chairman of the St. Kitts Nevis Anguilla Trading and Development Company (TDC) Limited, Mr Michael Morton, who though he retired in 2014 as Chairman, still remains a non-executive Director of the company.
According to Mr Morton, the scholarship programme which was named after the first Chairman, Mr Warren C. Tyson, started in 1981 and is designed to assist and support students entering secondary schools across St, Kitts and Nevis. When Mr Tyson died in 1983, Mr Morton succeeded him. He had been with TDC since its inception in 1973 having worked for its processor J. W. Thurston and Company Limited where he had joined in 1966 as a technician.
“I was an Executive Director when Dr Drew and Professor Battice were all students,” said Mr Morton. “The scholarship programme was actually started by the Board of TDC, of which I was a part. I can tell you though, that other institutions where I had the privilege to serve such as Social Security, their programme mirrored the TDC Scholarship Programme, and today they have a very active scholarship programme, very similar to TDC. Many other companies followed the example set and so I would say we planted a seed and that seed germinated and tonight we are seeing some of the fruits from those seeds which were planted”