News
February 18, 2014
Hard work paying off for Jonte Myers

Vincentian student and educator Jonte Myers says that he is thankful to all those who played a part in him receiving his latest accolade, an award endorsed by United States President Barack Obama.{{more}}

Myers, a native of the Central Leeward town of Layou, is one of 75 persons enrolled at 62 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), recognized for their accomplishments in academics, leadership and civic engagement.

A total of 445 students submitted completed applications that included a transcript, resumé, essay and recommendation, and over the course of the upcoming year, the HBCU “All Stars” are expected to serve as ambassadors of the White House Initiative, to provide outreach and communication with their fellow students, about the value of education and the Initiative as a networking resource, a release on the Initiative said.

Speaking to SEARCHLIGHT last week, Myers said that the opportunity came about when one of his professors at the Florida Memorial University, who recognized his potential, signed him up for the award.

He said he was confident that he would have been selected, and was not too surprised when he was.

“Something was circulated in the school and she thought it was something I would be a good candidate for, so she went ahead and started the process… without my knowledge… and I walked into her office and she said ‘you need to complete this’…. I sent it in and all the documentation, and then I just sat and waited for the result…” Myers said.

“I accept it with humility. Hard work is paying off. My families in St Vincent and Tortola, they have been supportive for the most part, and they have been communicating to me that they are proud. It is a moment for everyone. Everyone is proud,” he added.

Myers gained his education in St Vincent and the Grenadines at the Layou Government School, the St Vincent Grammar School, and the St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College, before migrating to the Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, where his teaching Career started at the Elmore Stout High School where he taught for nine years, with five years simultaneously at an alternative education programme for adults.

While vacationing in the United States, Myers was encouraged to further his education, so he began applying to universities there.

He said that while taking some students to a college fair to get some information, he was offered a scholarship for the Florida Memorial University.

“I didn’t know anything about Florida Memorial. I had no family in Miami. I was comfortable in Tortola, but I needed more credentials.

The dreadlocked youth told SEARCHLIGHT that he intends to continue his career in education and hopes to some day return to St Vincent and the Grenadines and the British Virgin Islands, where he could conduct teacher training workshops, free of charge.

To set him in this direction, Myers was accepted at the University of Florida, where he will be pursuing a PhD in special education, focusing on teacher quality and training and research.

“The goal before was ‘teach one, reach one,’ but my thing now is ‘teach one reach many.’ Which means that I am now shifting the focus from teaching students to teaching teachers. So, if I prepare one teacher, I would be in fact reaching many students.

“Education is too important to just let it be treated like a secondary type need for people. Everyone is entitled to a basic education. I’m not saying everyone should go to college, but an educated nation is a more powerful and enlightened nation. I believe everyone should have the basic literacy and numeracy skills that they need for surviving,” Myers noted.

The humble lad says he is thankful for all the support that he is receiving throughout the entire process.

This is Myers’ second national recognition.

In 2011, he was one of eight students in the United States recognized by the Educational Testing Services, through an initiative called the HBCU Presidential Scholars.

“I want to say thanks to God first, and to my community in Layou, and the Government and people of St Vincent and the Grenadines and the British Virgin Islands. It’s a blessing and honour to be representing small but powerful communities.

“It has never been easy transferring from St Vincent to Tortola, then Tortola to Miami; it’s been a real challenge, but with God’s guidance and protection, I have been able to make it.”