By Joanie Veitch |
The importance of getting a good education was modeled early in Lady Williams’s (BA’86) life. The Saint Mary’s graduate was born in Antigua and Barbuda, but moved to Ontario with her family at age three so her parents could continue their studies—Carleton University for her father and Ryerson Polytechnic, now Ryerson University, for her mother—before moving back to Antigua.
“My parents put a great deal of emphasis on education and that has always stayed with me.” Lady Williams is the wife of Antigua and Barbuda’s Governor General Sir Rodney Williams and also the president of the Halo Foundation, a charity they founded together in 2014.
The charity, which aims to provide opportunities for the betterment of people living in Antigua and Barbuda, with a particular focus on youth, has recently established a new scholarship for young people from the islands to attend Saint Mary’s University.
“Good grades are important, of course, but with this initiative we want to reward young people who have already contributed to the well-being of their communities through exceptional acts of kindness and humanitarian efforts,” says Lady Williams.
The first recipient of the Henley & Partners Hero Scholarship definitely fits the bill. Ariana Joseph has been a volunteer with the elderly and also with children on a pediatric medical ward in Antigua. Her entire education is paid for by the scholarship as she pursues an undergraduate degree, with a double major in biology and chemistry, with plans to specialize in pediatric cardiothoracic surgery.
Lady Williams (formerly known as Sandra Scotland) is thrilled that students from the islands will be able to come to Nova Scotia, as she did when she came to Saint Mary’s in the 1980s to earn a Bachelor of Arts in modern languages and classics. “I was only 16 when I left school and to be able to go to a university where there were other Caribbean students...it was like a home away from home.”
It was her fond memories of Saint Mary’s and her desire to create opportunities for the development and empowerment of young people in Antigua and Barbuda that led to the founding of the scholarship. She was able to secure Henley & Company, a global citizenship advisory firm, as the scholarship sponsor. Three other students will be helped by this financial aid in 2017.
“This award is a tribute to the long-standing and excellent relationship between Saint Mary’s University and the people of Antigua and Barbuda,” said Saint Mary’s President, Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray. “We are pleased one of our alumni felt so strongly about encouraging education and community service, she not only worked with us on developing this scholarship, but also identified a like-minded sponsor in Henley & Company, to make this happen.”
Lady Williams believes that the opportunity to study abroad and meet fellow students from other countries is invaluable. In her own life, travel and the opportunity to live in different countries was formative. Growing up, she attended secondary school in North Wales, before finishing her high school years in Guyana. During her time at Saint Mary’s, Lady Williams completed an exchange year in Europe, before returning to Halifax to finish her studies.
“You are exposed to so many different cultures. It is an enriching experience and an integral part of a young person’s growing maturity,” she says.
“You are exposed to so many different cultures, it is an enriching experience and an integral part of a young person’s growing maturity.”
Following graduation, she was awarded a Commonwealth scholarship to pursue a masters degree in tourism at the University of Surrey in the UK. This led to senior tourism marketing positions for several years in Frankfurt and London before returning to Antigua in 2000, where she and her husband raised their youngest of three sons, who is now doing his Masters, also in the UK.
“I’m so pleased to be part of a scholarship that will enable young people from Antigua and Barbuda to go to Saint Mary’s, a university long celebrated for the international diversity of its students and faculty.”