The University of the West Indies Mona Campus has officially launched the Violet E. Edwards academic scholarship in honor of a Jamaican American who became the fifth oldest person to graduate from college in the United States at 96 years and 263 days old. Mercy College, New York, conferred Edwards with her degree on Saturday, June 25, 2022
The scholarship valued at $400,000 annually will be awarded to a Jamaican student for a maximum tenure of three years. The award is available to students registered in the undergraduate degree program and Jamaicans; of any age; and registered in the Faculty of Humanities & Education, Faculty of Science & Technology, or Faculty of Social Sciences. The University of the West Indies noted that “preference will be given to an adult returning student, who may have previously dropped out of a degree program due to hardship.”
The award will be based on verifiable financial needs and high academic performance where students must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA, although a lower GPA of 2.5 may be acceptable based upon extenuating circumstances.
Applicants for the Violet E. Edwards will be short-listed on the basis of performance in the Advanced Level GCE/CAPE Examination or university examination. Candidates will also be interviewed by a panel comprising personnel from the university and the donors.
Violet Edwards, who inspired the scholarship, was born October 5, 1925, in Kensington in the parish of Portland, Jamaica. She was the youngest of three children and was always an avid reader and a curious child. She excelled in school and became the first in her village to attend Happy Grove High School on a full academic scholarship. This was during World War II, and she remembers many sacrifices to obtain basic school supplies. She went on to pass her Senior Cambridge exams, which were necessary to continue to higher education.
However, money was not available to pursue higher education, so Violet entered the workforce. She made a successful career in the postal service in Jamaica. She retired from the position and moved her family to the USA to pursue better opportunities.
Violet focused on family and getting her daughter through medical school. Once that goal was accomplished, she decided to go to college to pursue her degree while working full time. Again, financial roadblocks intervened, and she was not able to complete her goals, reluctantly leaving school one year shy of obtaining her goal of a bachelor’s degree. She spent the intervening years helping her daughter establish her medical practice, helping to raise her grandchildren, and recently opted to return to college to accomplish her goal before she celebrates her centennial. One phone call, however, revealed that her prior school, The College of New Rochelle, had gone out of business just the year before. Mercy College in New York had become the custodian of the student records. So off to Mercy, she went after being accepted as a transfer student. Unfortunately, of her 84 credits earned at the College of New Rochelle, Violet was unable to transfer all her prior college credits. Consequently, she had to settle for an Associate of Science degree, which she earned from Mercy College, New York, with the highest honors with a 4.0-grade point average.