When Jovante Anderson ’19 (Kingston, Jamaica) met Alex Bates for his admissions interview at a Jamaican hotel, he was prepared. And nervous. There was no need.
Bates, associate director of admissions, quickly engaged Anderson in an easy conversation about school and his passion for writing, theater, and leadership. He even laughed at the jokes Anderson composed specifically for the interview and practiced with his friends the night before.
“Mr. Bates valued my voice. He convinced me that I wanted to be at a place like Lafayette that will embrace my individuality.”
Anderson is this year’s recipient of the Lafayette-Jamaica Scholarship, joining inaugural recipient Rojhae Panton ’18 (St. Catherine, Jamaica), a chemical engineering major. The scholarship covers 100 percent of a recipient’s financial needs up to full tuition for four years as well as a $4,000 stipend for a short-term study abroad course.
It was established last year during Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller’s visit to Lafayette. She gave the keynote address at the College’s 179th Commencement and received an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree. Earlier this month, Anderson, his parents, and his high school principal, Nadine Molloy, were the guests of the prime minister at Jamaica House during her formal press event to acknowledge the scholarship.
Gladstone “Fluney” Hutchinson, associate professor of economics, who served as the director-general of the Planning Institute of Jamaica for two years, helped facilitate the creation of the scholarship. He explains that Lafayette’s interdisciplinary approach to education—most notably its blend of the liberal arts and engineering—is uncharacteristic of the Jamaican and British models of higher education.
“The scholarship is a wonderful demonstration of Lafayette’s commitment to leadership in an increasingly interconnected world,” says Hutchinson. “Jamaican efforts to build a modern economy around becoming a global commercial hub will require it to strengthen its human capital and skills.”
At Ardenne High School in Kingston, Anderson focused on English and Spanish literature, Caribbean studies, and theater. One of his favorite projects was adapting a Caribbean novel into a one-hour play that he wrote and directed for a student-led workshop. A “huge theater junkie” who performed with the Jamaica Musical Theater Company, Anderson used the opportunity to show how language creates and re-creates reality and shapes how people perceive the world around them.
Anderson, who has never lived outside Jamaica, is enthusiastic about the opportunities and challenges that await him on College Hill. Calling people his passion, he plans to study psychology and English as he pursues his dream of becoming a speech pathologist. Inspired by a cousin who had to overcome stuttering and learning disabilities in order to communicate comfortably, Anderson wants to help others, and he’s confident that the resources at Lafayette will help make that happen.
“I wanted to find a career path that would integrate all my passions—people, language, and communication,” he says. “I’ve always believed that language and communication are gifts. There is something ironically ineffable about a baby’s first words or a person’s last words, about how our lives are shaped by bits and pieces of conversation. When you give someone the chance to improve or regain their speech or communications skills, you’re really opening up their world to all the possibilities for living a fuller life.”