Call for support for fundraising initiative to help needy students - UWI Toronto Benefit Awards

Michael Lee- Chin, the Jamaican- Canadian millionaire, understands what it’s like to be a financially challenged university student because he’s been in that position. So, he’s encouraging support for an ongoing Canadian initiative aimed at raising funds for needy students to attend the University of the West Indies (UWI). Lee-Chin says after a year of civil engineering studies at McMaster University, he ran out of money and needed help. He wrote the Jamaican prime minister requesting assistance and received a government scholarship, which enabled him to graduate from McMaster in 1974. “My success is 100 percent attributable to the largesse of the Jamaican people in giving me a scholarship,’’ Lee-Chin said last Saturday, while speaking at the 2021 UWI Toronto Benefit Awards.

The UWI, established in 1948, has a student population of more than 45,000. It has graduated more than 120,000 students – many of them now residing in Canada. The Toronto Benefit Awards’ ceremony, which is also a fundraiser for UWI, was inaugurated in 2010, providing annual scholarships to academically outstanding university students in need of financial assistance. Lee-Chin, whose investments include serving as chairman and CEO of Portland Holdings Inc. – majority shareholders in the National Commercial Bank of Jamaica – implored public support for the UWI Scholarship Fund, saying it will help deliver “the next generation of leaders from the Caribbean’’. The 70-year-old businessman and philanthropist, whose net worth is estimated at US$1.5 billion by Forbes, was a lead sponsor of Saturday’s Toronto Benefit Awards.

Another lead sponsor of the online event was Scotiabank. The bank’s partnership with UWI, over the years, has “collectively raised over $2.3 million and has awarded over 600 scholarships to young students in dire financial need’’, said Anya Schnoor, Scotia’s executive vice president for the Caribbean, Central America and Uruguay. “We’re here to make a difference and help shape the lives of many of our future leaders across our communities in the Caribbean,’’ she said. “Youth are our future for both social and economic prosperity.’’

One of this year’s scholarship recipients is Mikkel Wilson, a Trinidadian majoring in community health at UWI’s faculty of medical sciences at Cave Hill, Barbados. “I wish Mr Wilson, and all of this year’s recipients, the very best in their studies and in the future,’’ UWI Chancellor Robert Bermudez said in remarks Saturday. He, and other speakers, reflected on the impact on education of the COVID-19 pandemic and appealed for contributions to the UWI Scholarship Fund.

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