Matthew Pierre, community liaison coordinator, bpTT, offers some guidance to these new and continuing students of the bpTT Brighter Prospects scholarship programme. (Image courtesy bpTT)

(bpTT) — Hosted on a virtual platform, the mood was optimistic and appreciative as energy stakeholder, bp Trinidad and Tobago officially marked the start of 2021/22 academic year of their signature Brighter Prospects scholarship programme on Saturday, 6 November.

This year the intake of the scholarship programme was increased from 30 students in 2020 to 54 students, which includes three post-graduate students. There are also 24 continuing students who are various stages of their academic programmes.

Joel Primus, communications and advocacy advisor, bpTT, congratulated the new intake and guided the entire cohort in terms of bp’s new Sustainability Frame, outlining how the company is pursuing sustainability through three broad areas: Getting to Net Zero, Improving People’s Lives and Care for the Planet. He zeroed in on their aim 12 of ‘just transition’, which is focused on building stronger relationships with communities based on mutual trust and respect and through support for advancing human rights and education.

“It’s great to see that the young people of Mayaro are leading the nation in terms of unlocking their full potential and achieving excellence. We are proud to support you in this journey and with hundreds of graduates over 18 years, you all have a definite advantage. Our Brighter Prospects students pursue a diverse range of academic pursuits, have phenomenal success rates and most of them gain employment within six months of graduation. I expect that you will shine just as brightly and light the way for our future,” Primus explained.

Open to residents of Mayaro and environs, Brighter Prospects is one of BPTT’s flagship programmes in its myriad social investment initiatives. Started in 2003, the programme provides financial assistance to students who gain access to tertiary education at approved institutions. Since inception, the programme has provided more than 600 scholarships, producing more than 400 graduates. Beyond the financial assistance, the company provides additional support such as academic guidance and motivational sessions. 

Sharing a few words of inspiration with the students were past graduates of the programme: medical doctor, Jarred Brewster and Master’s graduate, Tesila Manoe. Manoe was a Brighter Prospects scholarship recipient from A-Levels straight to her Master’s Degree in International/Global Studies and she currently teaches at the Rio Claro West Secondary school and serves on the board of the All Mayaro Sports Foundation.

According to Manoe, “I want to tell you that I know how challenging it can be to attain success in your studies and sometimes it can get overwhelming. But never give up hope and whatever reason you have for educating yourself is a worthwhile reason. This is how you will empower yourself, improve your quality of life and lift up our community. You always need to remember that being part of Brighter Prospects means that you’ve never alone – you have the community and bpTT supporting you all the way. They made a significant and life-changing investment in my life and it will be the same for you.”

The bpTT scholarship programme has been enhanced over the years to cover a wide range of tertiary education studies and this year students have explored new areas of study including Environmental Science and Sustainable Technology as well as Renewable Energy Technology. In 2014, bpTT also started an internship programme that provided Brighter Prospects students with invaluable work experience during the July-August vacation.

Speaking on the excellence of the programme was Keishel Beckles, who will complete her Masters of Education programme in December:

“Brighter Prospects has supported me since A’ Levels and they really have paved the way for all recipients to have a better future. I was even given an opportunity to intern at the Guaymay Energy Alliance Credit Union during my degree and afterwards they offered me permanent employment here. My goal is to support the educational pursuits of other students because I know the impact that bpTT has had on my life.”

Beckles explained that she also volunteers in terms of tutoring students as well as sports coaching in the community. As part of enrolment in Brighter Prospects, students are asked to fulfil 30 hours of volunteerism in projects that benefit society, whether it is in Mayaro or even on the other islands where some pursue their studies.

Encouraged by Primus, some of the continuing students gave some heartfelt and personal revelations in terms of their motivation for studying and the challenges that they face.

Josh Clement is currently pursuing a double major in Biology and Environmental Science:

“I wanted a better life for my community, for my family and for myself. That vision drives me every single day to produce my best and overcome every challenge. bpTT has helped make these dreams possible and I know that they support me all the way. We’re even on the same page in terms of their renewed and expanded focus on caring for the planet and our future. I couldn’t ask for more.”

These testimonials were especially poignant for Matthew Pierre, Community Liaison Coordinator at bpTT. Before entering the energy company, Pierre was an advocate for the upliftment of Mayaro and was part of a group of like-minded residents who lobbied bpTT to expand their investment in the community; a move which resulted in keynote programmes including Brighter Prospects.

“It’s hard to quantify the extent of the impact that Brighter Prospects has had on Mayaro and surrounding communities. In its initial year, only three students applied to the programme and now we have almost 300 students applying annually. I’ve been a part of this programme from inception, and I can’t tell you the pride I feel when I interact with an entrepreneur, a teacher or a doctor in our community who is a graduate of Brighter Prospects,” Pierre effused.