Without the $500,000 grant from M & M Jamaica Limited, Gavieal Gordon, a third-year medical student at the University of the West Indies (UWI), would not have been able to meet her financial obligations to the university and faced the possibility of being deregistered.
Ms. Gordon, who hails from the community of Woodford in East Rural St. Andrew, had made up her mind to put her studies on pause, due to the financial strain on her parents.
She told JIS News, that family members and her East Rural St. Andrew Member of Parliament (MP), the Most Hon. Juliet Holness, have been assisting her to pursue her dream of becoming a Consultant Thoracic Surgeon.
“We have been borrowing,” Ms. Gordon said, while adding that her Member of Parliament “had done all she could; she could do no more”.
However, unknown to Ms. Gordon, Mrs. Holness had reached out to several private-sector and public-sector entities, seeking assistance for the aspiring doctor.
The medical student said she received a phone call from her MP, advising her that M & M Jamaica Limited will be donating towards her education.
Ms. Gordon said the funds have helped to clear the arrears she had with the University, enabling her to re-register and sit examinations.
“I was ecstatic. I was on a high. My mother cried; she was really stressed over the situation, and we are thanking God, because here is another way that He made for us. They (M & M) don’t know what they did for my family,” she stated.
Ms. Gordon, who has two years left for the completion of her medical degree, vows to find a way to say thanks to the company, and to be of help to other medical students in the near future.
“They have made it much easier for a struggling family to go through a terrible time, and difficult period of my medical journey,” she noted.
For her part, Mrs. Holness stated that in her first year as MP, she organised a summer programme for young people.
“That is how I came in contact with this young lady,” she said, while adding that Ms. Gordon “stood out, with decency, and a dignified approach”.
After learning of Ms. Gordon’s desire to pursue medicine, the MP provided financial support through her Constituency Development Fund, and sought help from different ministries, agencies and the private sector.
Support was also sought from her Save Our Boys and Girls Foundation, and Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness’ Positive Jamaica Foundation.
Come August, Mrs. Holness will be assisting the medical student to stage a major fundraiser to ensure that enough funds are available to pay her tuition fees and the family is not placed in uncertainty and stress again.
“Going through all of that, I am surprised to see that she has a grade point average (GPA) of over 3.2. Her behaviour as a young lady, depicts and epitomises the type of parenting she must have had,” she stated.
Mrs. Holness said she wants the up-and-coming doctor to, at the end of her training, look back and be able to share her testimony with others.
“As hard as it is, I want to see more Jamaicans having a spirit of Gavieal, who persevere, succeed, and also remain committed to their country,” she noted.
With her fees now settled for the third year of medical school, Mrs. Holness said “we then have to face raising funds for fourth year and fifth year”.
“We will not give up, I have encouraged her not to give up – I want Gavieal, to be that example to every young girl and every Jamaican boy who believes that they can make it, no matter how poor they are,” she says.
Meanwhile, Deputy Managing Director at M & M Jamaica Limited, Richard Mullings, said a key point of the company’s corporate responsibility is the support for education.
“We like to have impact not just on the physical structure of communities but also on the social structure,” he said, adding that their Founder, Don Mullings, is from very humble circumstances.
“Through education, he has become a very productive member of the society, and now giving back,” he states.
M & M Jamaica Limited is one of Jamaica’s leading Civil Engineering companies. Through its Chance Fund, it developed a mathematics competition for high-school students across the parish of St. Elizabeth, where its founder was born, to elevate the subject.
The company also sponsors university students at several tertiary institutions, and recently established an internship programme where young people gain scholarships and training.