Medical Students Grateful for 1948 Society Scholarships

Even at The University of the West Indies, an institution that prides itself on offering its students extremely reasonable tuition rates, students reading for degrees in the field of Medical Science find themselves paying considerably more than their counterparts in other faculties. Having already passed this way, Faculty of Medical Science graduates see the need to give back to their alma mater. 

In November 2010, The UWI Medical Alumni Association (UWIMAA) met in Barbados for its 10th International Reunion Conference. On the programme was the presentation of papers along with numerous social events. The UWIMAA also used the opportunity to publicize the difference that the 1948 Society Scholarships have been making in difficult financial times; an economic climate where students can use all the help they can get.

In keeping with its mission statement, UWIMAA established The 1948 Society with the aim of providing assistance to The Faculty of Medical Sciences. Officially launched in Nassau in November 2003, the Society provides an opportunity for UWI graduates and the wider public to make financial contributions towards scholarships and the further improvement of facilities and activities within the Faculty of Medical Sciences.

In 2010 the 1948 Society awarded bursaries valued at a total of US$7500 to three students in the faculty of Medical Sciences. Here is a bit about these students and their reactions to receiving the awards.

SANITA BELGRAVE, CAVEHILL CAMPUS

Barbadian student Sanita Belgrave is reading for the Bachelor of Science, Surgery (MBBS) at The University of the West Indies where she enrolled based on sterling recommendations from medical practitioners across the region. She graduated from the Barbados Community College with an Associate Degree in Natural Sciences with distinction and has maintained an outstanding UWI GPA since she matriculated in 2007. Along with pursuing her demanding course of study, Sanita has been serving as a dental care assistant at Warrens Dental Services for more than two years. Her interest in both non-communicable diseases and oral health fuels her desire to bridge the gap between medicine and dentistry, two disciplines which are traditionally deemed as separate and distinct. Although her passion is Medical Science, Sanita has a keen interest in Arts; she enjoys Art and History, photography and is also a member of the UWI Debating Society.

“When I saw the words, “Congratulations Sanita Belgrave,” my heart was overwhelmed with joy and a feeling of relief went over my body. It is my hope that this award along with altruism, integ­rity and dedication provides me with the necessary skills to become a well-molded medical practitio­ner. This award has provided me with a new door and I want to thank the 1948 Medical Society for the opportunity afforded to me.”

GISELE LAFEUILLEE, ST. AUGUSTINE CAMPUS

Twenty-three year old St. Lucian Gisele Lafeuillee is pursuing medical studies at The University’s St. Augustine campus. Gisele’s propensity for academic excellence has followed her throughout her secondary school career and into her studies at the tertiary level. Her desire to give back to her community saw Gisele taking young students under her wing as a teacher at the Soufriere Comprehensive School in St. Lucia and has also influenced her decision to study medicine. Gisele’s initial desire to study Neuroscience led her overseas to London however, volunteer experience at Goodmayes Hospital, inspired a shift in her career goals toward medicine. Her decision to return to the Caribbean to pursue medical studies had everything to do with the international praise UWI graduates receive for their competence and diligence. The final year medical student, who has a preference for Neurology and Psychiatry, is involved in peer-led sex education as a member of APAUSE (Added Power and Understanding in Sex Education) and also enjoys Latin dancing.

“I wish to express sincere gratitude for granting me the opportunity to receive the 1948 Medical Society Bursary for the 2010/2011 academic year. This money will go a long way in helping to alleviate the financial burdens associated with being in the final year of medical school. The donor was kind-hearted and generous.”

MARIO THOMAS, MONA CAMPUS

Mario Thomas, a Jamaican national, is pursuing studies in medicine. Having witnessed, at age eight, doctors bring his brother back from paralysis, it has since then been Mario’s dream to save lives. He now sees that dream taking shape at The University of the West Indies (UWI); the institution he chose because of its “legacy of producing some of the brightest minds in the world.” Despite his humble background, Mario has excelled academically and has also proven to be a well rounded student. He was awarded for his academic achievement at the Montego Bay Community College in 2007 and in like manner now excels in his studies at UWI. At the university he has served as a representative for the Rex Nettleford Hall, is a member of the Hall’s football team, the Jamaican Medical Students Association and the UWI Emergency Response Team (UWISERT). Mario hopes to one day head a Surgery unit that is committed to salvaging lives.

“I am proud to be a recipient of the 1948 Medical Society Bursary and will continue to strive for excellence. I intend to make a difference in the medical field and your help comes as a light aiding me to see the end of that dark tunnel. I am appreciative of this offer and will continue to do my best to achieve my goal. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the 1948 Medical Society.”

The UWIMAA continues to encourage potential donors to contribute to the work of the 1948 Society and give back to an institution that is shaping our future leaders. For more information on contributing to the 1948 Society, contact UWIMAA Secretariat at medalum@uwimona.edu.jm or (876) 977-5800.

The 1948 Society is established as a 501© charitable organization in the US. Gifts to The Society from US based contributors are therefore tax deductable under section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code.