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The Brooklyn-based Trinidad Tobago Alliance of North America, Inc. on Saturday presented US$1,500 in scholarships to three college students in the New York metropolitan area.
The presentations were made during the group’s recording of its virtual Scholarship Awards Luncheon at Tropical Paradise Ballroom on Utica Avenue in Brooklyn.
The awardees were: Akeila Murphy-Bruce, Nia Baird and Cardisha Hartford
In 2017, Murphy-Bruce, from among the various colleges to which she had the option of attending, chose Brooklyn’s Medger Evers because “it is a place where students feel welcome and an institution where the faculty and staff are truly enthusiastic about helping you succeed.”
Murphy-Bruce, who was not physically present at the ceremony but performed virtually in song, aspires to receive a Bachelor’s degree in her career choice of social work with an emphasis in gerontology.
On graduation, she plans to return to her native Trinidad and Tobago, where she will be the only gerontologist on the island of Tobago.
Murphy-Bruce said she is very active in the community, volunteering in numerous functions, nursing homes and churches, bringing comfort and joy to residents and congregations through song.
Maintaining a grade point average of 3.8, Murphy-Bruce, an honor student, is expected to be inducted into the National Society of Leadership and Success in December.
Her message to students is “be strong, persistent and courageous. Enjoy your journey, learn as much as you can and built many relationships.”
Born in Brooklyn, New York but raised in Old Bridge, NJ, Baird said culture, especially her Trinidadian side, has always been part of her life.
She said she has been immersed from an early age and continues to learn about her roots from her grandparents.
A current student at Rutgers University in New Jersey, Nia, after completing her first year of college, said she had several realizations about where her future was heading.
However, her passion led her to pursue her Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in neuroscience and cognition with a minor in Spanish.
On graduation in May 2022, Nia intends to enter graduate school, where she will focus on psychology.
She said her final phase of her college studies will be in a doctoral program in which she said she plans to focus much of her research on the development and behavior of children.
Harford, a sophomore at the State University at Albany, is pursuing a major in psychology and a minor in bio ethics.
After graduation she plans to earn her Master’s degree in clinical psychology then enter the medical field in the same discipline.
She credited her mother for supporting her “during her short 19 years of life”, as she toggled through dozens of ideas as to what direction she would take, being a doctor or a singer.
She has finally determined that she wants to be a mental health professional, especially for Black and Brown communities, where she can offer therapy to families, children and adults.
Harford said she would also like to work in a hospital, where she could deal with emergency psychiatry patients.
“We congratulate all recipients, and we ask that you carry the torch to the next generation of scholarship recipients,” said Dr. Carol Wilson-Smith, president of the Trinidad and Tobago Alliance, in her address.
“I congratulate you on your solid work for which we recognize you today,” she added. “It takes work, it takes effort, but it doesn’t end here.
“We expect you to pay it forward by, in turn, nurturing our community and sowing seeds for deep roots to grow so that we carve out our space in these United States of America and also reach back to assist the development of the motherland,” Dr. Wilson-Smith continued.