Public Affairs Officer at the United States (US) Embassy, Larry Socha; Chief Education Officer, Dr. Ramona Archer-Bradshaw; and Principal of the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology (SJPI), Ian Drakes browsing through some of the materials which were donated by the US Embassy to the SJPI yesterday. (GP)

Over US$1,000 in educational resources were donated yesterday to the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology (SJPI) by the United States Embassy, to be used by students in its newly-renovated media resource centre.

Principal of the SJPI, Ian Drakes, in accepting the materials, thanked the Embassy’s Public Affairs Officer, Larry Socha, and acknowledged it was another “auspicious and historic moment” for that institution.

He said: “We look forward to a strong relationship between the institution and the US Embassy as we continue to help Barbadians enter the world of work with skills.”

Recalling that in August 2019, the institute closed the doors of its then library to embark on a massive modernisation and transformation process, Mr. Drakes said this was to facilitate the needs of its clients, digital citizens and immigrants, who also benefit from their education programmes.

He noted that the promise was to prepare them for entering the world of work with skills, and the library’s mandate was to support teaching and learning at the SJPI, in order to produce a quality student with the ability to enter the global 21st century world of work. 

“As an academic support system, the library did not allow itself to be hampered by the fact that it did not have the physical space in which to operate, so thus began the courtship of the United States Embassy … for assistance with resources to ensure students received as little disruption to their scholarships as possible,” said Mr. Drakes, as he reiterated it was SJPI’s desire to create a strong partnership with the Embassy; put the US on the students’ radar as an option for Tech-Voc instruction and jobs, as well as provide the necessary information for them to use this route to continue their education or seek employment.

Mr. Socha, who stressed he was honoured to be at an institution named after a National Hero of Barbados, said: “In this month of Barbadian heroes, I join in celebrating your namesake, who fought for the same values that the United States and Barbados share – democracy, freedom of the press, and equality.” 

He added: “SJPI lives out its creed, if its stated purpose is to provide an atmosphere where individuals are stimulated to further their intellectual, social, and personal development, so that they may become productive and effective citizens.  I am inspired every morning … when I drive to work and see your students headed here with their back packs and their tablets and T-squares to continue their academic and professional journeys….  It’s clear this is a place of action, learning, and curiosity, which serves both its faculty and students well.”

While noting that according to the Institute of International Education Open Doors Report, published every November, more than 300 Barbadians study annually in the US, Mr. Socha said: “We want to see that number continue to grow. This past Sunday, Barbadian Ambassador to the United States (Noel Lynch) featured prominently in a news article, citing his work among US colleges and universities aspiring to that same goal – facilitating scholarships and academic support to Barbadian students. The US Embassy, the US Department of State, and EducationUSA are your partners in this.”

He further urged students to seek advice from the Embassy’s EducationUSA advisor, Sabrina Foster, as well those at the Barbados Community College – Faith Callender and Raquel Collymore – to help in navigating the application, financial aid, and acceptance process to US colleges and universities. 

“My message to all of you is use them. Let this donation today be just a start. These books, study materials, and research aids help to illuminate the academic prospects in the United States. Our hope is that with this donation the students of the SJPI are better prepared to seize those opportunities and contribute to their own success and prosperity, but that of their communities and country as well,” said Mr. Socha.

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