Updated: Dec 25, 2021
"Just do it, growth is a never-ending process; lifelong learning is the path to success"
Simple yet strong words from these two influential young individuals, striving to make an impact in their society. Sarrah and Sebastian were a part of a panel discussion at the Dream Jamaica Summer Camp in 2021 where they presented to the College Prep Cohort. Inspired by our students, they volunteered their time to help plan and execute an extension of the College Prep Summer Camp --the College Prep Board.
Welcome to the Dream Team!
Meet Sarrah-Allen and Sebastian Lawrence --former Ardenne High School students with a love for assisting young people. Both are currently attending university (Sarrah-Ann at Dartmouth College and Sebastian at UWI, Mona) and have maintained their desire to help those around them in whatever way they can. With role models like their parents and granddad, these two were given a firm foundation to pursue their passion. The inspiration continues, as these two continue to attract more mentees to help our students in one-on-one sessions. We want to thank all these current students who are in colleges right across the world, and who continue to give back through the Dream Jamaica College Board.
Sarrah's dream continues, thanks to perseverance
Sarrah, a Dartmouth College student, explained that her trip to college was only possible because of the support, drive, and resources she received at the time. She was able to handle the college application process effortlessly with the support of a former instructor Mrs. Bramwell from Versan Education Services, as well as her deep trust in God. She was applying to 11 universities at the time, taking SATs, CXC CAPE, writing college essays, and attempting to keep up with her extracurriculars. Even though this got overwhelming and brought about numerous obstacles such as self-doubt and a loss of drive, she was able to move forward in her life by engaging in active prayer and trusting in God.
She is now majoring in both Global Health and Mathematics at Dartmouth College, and she hopes to attend graduate school focusing completely on Global Health within the next five years. In addition, she aims to continue working on projects like Dream Jamaica's College Prep Board to close the tertiary education gap in Jamaica during this tough COVID-19 period.
Sebastian kept sailing, sweetly
Sebastian, a student of Economics and Mathematics at the University of the West Indies, Mona, indicated that his trip began at his old high school. He had found the college application process at Ardenne to be daunting due to his active participation in various organizations and societies, as well as his leadership positions. After being denied by his dream school, he did not let this setback deter him.
Sebastian applied and was later accepted to several tertiary institutions in the United Kingdom and Canada! However, he decided to attend the UWI, Mona, and now is a recipient of a full scholarship offered by the Jamaica Labor Party, the current leading political party in Jamaica's government.
Sebastian developed his love for volunteering as a result of his volunteer work with the group, Operation: Help the People. Since then, he has been volunteering in many areas by sending care packages, assisting with assignments, tutoring, and so on. He went on to say that he got to where he is now because of his love for helping people and continually giving himself the freedom to grow as an individual. In five years, he expects to have begun working on some economic research projects or in the financial industry, while continuing to pursue his passion for assisting others.
The College Prep Board
In essence, Sebastian and Sarrah-Ann collaborated to promote a College Prep Board as an extension of the College Prep Program at Dream Jamaica because of their college application experience.
The 2021 College Prep Program saw an intense 2 weeks of preparation with over 40 students islandwide in August 2021. The program offered three main areas of help: (1) College Application building and Portfolio Work, (2) Academic Workshops to build confidence and promote mastery in Mathematics and Writing which helped students who wanted to sit the SAT/ACT exams, and (3) Professional and Personal Development.
The College Prep Board is a year-long program that supports the participants to get access to scholarships and opportunities to further their studies locally and overseas. High school students are paired with mentors to conduct personalized sessions where they get to ask questions about college applications, embassy processes, college life, and acclimatizing to a new environment. Our enthusiastic mentors guided high school students who have concerns or even simple queries regarding the college application process along the way. This program was created to close the education gap in Jamaica and offer all students the resources they need to continue their education at the postsecondary level. This program's primary components include assistance with essay writing, financial aid sourcing, SATs tips, college life lectures, and the provision of other general information.
Sign up to mentor a student for 2022!
This College Prep Board has two core activities: one-on-one mentorships and college group sessions. For the foreseeable future, these activities would be done virtually via google meet and zoom, at no expense to the mentors and mentees.
Mentors would have the freedom to structure and adapt the focus of their meetings to suit the needs of their mentees. In general, monthly themes would be decided on and goals to be achieved would be set out for these sessions.
Through one-on-one mentoring sessions, mentors would offer scholarship and college application support - assisting in the ideation process, reviewing applications, and guiding the mentee along the way.
Each one-on-one session would usually last for between 30 minutes to 1 hour. The length of the sessions is up to the discretion of the mentors and the needs of mentees.
College Group Sessions
College Group Sessions would take the form of seminars, presentations, workshops, and events where all mentees would be present.
These sessions would cover content related to various aspects of the college and scholarship application process and would be staged at various points throughout the year.
Guest speakers or mentors would present on various topics including the application process for residency in the US, interview skills, essay writing among others.
Possible examples of seminars include a College Readiness Seminar and Financial Aid/Scholarships Seminar.
The College Prep Board Reach
There should be a total of 15 to 20 mentors who will each be assigned 3 mentees with the possibility of a fourth mentee who would be a 10th grader.
This implies that there would be at minimum 45 mentees to around 70 at most. The number of mentors would increase as needed and as such the number of mentees would adjust accordingly.
College Group Sessions would be open to all upper-level high school students who wish to attend.
For mentors, there is an application phase and a training phase
Individuals interested in becoming a mentor will have to apply to do so by clicking the link below. The application process would involve filling out an application form as well as undergoing an interview to ensure suitability.
Selected mentors will attend training sessions hosted by Versan Educational Services and would participate in various team-building exercises held by the college prep board.
The mentor and mentee application process would occur between June to August annually.
The application process and marketing of the program would be largely outsourced to Dream Jamaica capitalizing on the organization's reach. Mentees will apply through a Google Form and it is proposed that they be given personality tests to match them with mentors they can work well with.
Mentees are students in grades 10 to 13 with a preference for the more senior students. The 10th-grade students would largely be invited to the group sessions and some, who may be starting the college application process earlier, will be admitted to the one-on-one mentorship sessions.
Assessing Mentor and Mentee Performance
Send out a google form at the end of the year to assess mentee progress and mentor performance
Mentees would set monthly and annual goals and performance could be ranked based on the achievement of said goals
Mentors may be assessed using a similar system to what Dream Jamaica uses to assess their program mentors.
Seeing that a key goal of the board is to help reduce the educational disparities across the country, the board will seek to support students who may have difficulties accessing its services or in getting resources crucial for their college application journey.
This support will take the form of:
Resource Drives (SAT Book Drives, Past Paper Drives, Etc.)
Connecting students to funding and educational opportunities (Embassy SAT Classes, Free Webinars, etc)