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Scholarship recipient Kayla Bobb, right, and her mother, Suzan Reece-Bobb.
Scholarship recipient Kayla Bobb, right, and her mother, Suzan Reece-Bobb.
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The recipient of the first scholarship awarded by the Isle of Man-St. Vincent and the Grenadines Education Programme(ISEP) has described it as “a dream come true”.

Kayla Tiara Akacia Bobb, 16, of Biabou, will pursue the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma at King William’s College (KWC) in the Isle of Man.

The IB is a two-year course of study that sets a strong foundation for entrance to leading universities worldwide. It blends a solid academic curriculum with other skills, intended to ground an individual for life.

Bobb’s scholarship will cover all tuition, board, lodging and almost every other expense she will incur in the Isle of Man, a press release said.

ISEP is a registered charity in the Isle of Man comprising a small group of volunteers from the Isle of Man and St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), established to provide scholarships and travel grants to Vincentian students. 

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ISEP embodies the theme the “Art of the Possible” which propounds that the opportunities are endless for young people, no matter what their personal circumstances may be.

ISEP was launched in August 2022 with an inaugural programme which took 12 SVG Community College students, together with two chaperones, to the Isle of Man for a unique educational three-week summer programme.

ISEP’s first annual scholarship was opened for applications earlier this year via circulation of application information to all secondary schools through the Ministry of Education and an advertisement in local newspapers.

Shortlisted applicants were interviewed by a diverse panel of interviewers and Kayla emerged as the successful candidate amidst very close competition.

Bobb lives with her mother, Suzan Reece-Bobb and four siblings. She was brought up by her mother as a single parent, who wholeheartedly supports her daughter’s dream of going abroad to study. 

Bobb attended Girls High School and obtained passes in all 13 subjects she wrote in this year, secondary school exit examinations.

At her graduation in July, she received her school’s awards for social studies and clothing and textiles.

Her additional achievements include being a recipient of the Basil Charles Education Foundation Scholarship and bursaries from the Taiwanese Education Scholarship Programme and the Norma Keizer Scholarship Fund.

Bobb received awards in 2020, 2021 and 2022 for her submissions in the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition.

She received a gold award each for her poem “Blessed Land of Paradise” (2020) and her speech, written as if from the leader of a Commonwealth nation after the Pandemic on “We have fought the good fight” (2021), as well as a bronze award for her speech “Resilience and Recovery” in 2022.

She is passionate about making a meaningful contribution to her country and wants to be able to make a difference to future generations, so that they can grasp opportunities before them and follow their dreams.

Bobb soon leaves for the Isle of Man. Virgin Atlantic is partnering with ISEP to provide her return flight tickets at the start and end of the school year and for the Christmas holidays.

Professor Tim Cullen, chairman of ISEP said:

“Virgin Atlantic was struck by how well aligned ISEP’s objectives are with the airline’s support for education initiatives for poor communities in developing countries served by its flight network. We are delighted to have received this support from such a significant and respected corporation.”

Continuing links with the Isle of Man 

ISEP intends to award annual scholarships to KWC. Therefore, while Bobb will not have a compatriot at the school this year, it is intended that there will always be two ISEP Vincentian scholars at KWC from September 2024 onwards.

ISEP arose out of continuing links with SVG and the Isle of Man through the Small Countries Financial Management Programme (SCFMP), an adult executive management course which takes place annually in the Isle of Man and the Oxford University, from which a total of 18 senior officials of SVG have benefitted from fully sponsored leadership and capacity building training.

This programme was founded in 2009 by its Chairman Prof. Cullen, a former chief spokesman of the World Bank and an expert in negotiations (founder of the Oxford Programme on Negotiation).

Struck by the impact of La Soufrière’s 2021 eruption and its impact on education, he founded ISEP, in collaboration with local attorney-at-law, Sharda Bollers.

Bollers said: “All the trustees and volunteers from ISEP are unanimous in our view that Kayla is very well prepared to embark upon a life changing journey and also that her experience will exemplify ISEP’s theme of the Art of the Possible.”

Cullen had maintained links with her since she attended the inaugural SCFM Programme in 2009 and through their shared pro bono directorship on the board of the SCFM Centre.

Both are trustees of ISEP, together with additional trustees in the Isle of Man and one other local trustee, Lavinia Gunn, a former business entrepreneur, who also played a central role in the Mustique Charitable Trust, and spent her teenage years in the Isle of Man.

ISEP has the joint patronage of Governor General of SVG Dame Susan Dougan and the Lieutenant Governor of the Isle of Man, as well as the full support of the Ministry of Education and other relevant stakeholders, including the Prime Minister and the Office of the UK Resident Commissioner. 

As a result of links already established between the respective countries, Bobb will have a full circle of support in the Isle of Man.