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Completing a university degree was high among Aaronia Stedman’s goals. So too was using her education to secure a solid professional career while being able to financially provide for her family.

The undergraduate certification was also record-setting in that she was the first member in her family to successfully pursue post-secondary education.

Those achievements wouldn’t have been possible without a University of the West Indies (UWI) Toronto chapter scholarship that Stedman received three years ago.

“I just didn’t have enough money to finish university,” she said.

When Stedman’s father, who was the family’s sole breadwinner, passed away a few years ago, her mother assumed that responsibility while raising six children.

Saving every penny from ad hoc jobs, Stedman raised the deposit required to secure a credit union loan to pay for her first three years at the UWI Open Campus in Dominica.

At wit’s end with the final year approaching and no money to continue, her prayers were answered with a Can $3,000 scholarship.

“When I received the good news, I stopped what I was doing, knelt on the ground and cried as I was overcome with tears of gratitude and joy,” she said.

Graduating in October 2014 with a management studies degree, Stedman was hired as a supervisor by Dominica Brewery & Beverages (DBB) and promoted a few months later to brewery quality manager.

“I am the youngest female manager working at the plant and I am so delighted to be making a significant contribution to the company,” she said.

DBB is owned and operated by International Brewing Ltd. which is a subsidiary of Cervecería Nacional Dominicana (CND), the largest brewery in the Antilles and Central America.

Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer with 25 per cent of the global market share, has a 51 per cent stake in CND.

Stedman, who is pursuing a Master’s in management & marketing at the UWI Open campus in Dominica, aspires to be a regional plant manager.

“That’s what I am aiming for in the next three to four years,” she said. “Had it not been for that UWI scholarship, I wouldn’t have been able to dream this big.”

Since its inception in 2010, funds raised from the UWI Toronto fundraiser have assisted almost 250 students complete their undergraduate studies at the largest and longest standing higher education provider in the English-speaking Caribbean.

In the last three years, a scholarship recipient has been invited to Toronto to provide those investing in their education with an idea of the effect of their resources.

Stedman visited in 2013.

“That trip was memorable for several reasons,” she said. “I met people who were influential and very interested in the development of Caribbean young people. After I spoke at the gala about the importance of the scholarship, the UWI Open campus principal & pro chancellor (Dr. Hazel Simmons-McDonald is now professor emerita) told me her background was similar and she fully understood where I was coming from. She motivated me.”

This year’s fundraiser takes place on April 2.

Scholarships from UWI’s Toronto chapter making a difference

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Article by: Ron Fanfair

Photo: Aaronia Stedman
UWI Scholarship Recipient