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Cartwright: As long as you’re determined you can succeed

  • Paloma Cartwright, the 23rd All Bahamas Merit Scholarship recipient, will pursue studies at McGill University in the fall. PHOTOS: TORRELL GLINTON

  • All Bahamas Merit Scholar Paloma Cartwright with her parents, Roger and Zoe Cartwright.

Guardian Lifestyles Editor

Published: Aug 21, 2017

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As Paloma Cartwright, 17, the 23rd All Bahamas Merit Scholar (ABMS) prepares to pursue post secondary education, she says she’s grateful to The Bahamas for the start she’s been given and the foundation she’s received. She said she is looking forward to returning home to better the country.

The N.G.M. Major High School graduate is the first person from Long Island to win the prestigious and coveted $140,000 award. She will pursue studies in computer engineering at McGill University in Montreal, Canada in the fall.

“I was really proud to be the first Long Islander to win the All Bahamas Merit Scholarship. I also felt that it was proof to Bahamian students that, no matter where you come from — whether it’s a Family Island or New Providence, whether you come through the government school system or the private school system — as long as you’re determined, you can succeed. It showed me that even though I grew up in Long Island, and didn’t feel that I had as many opportunities, per se, as Nassau kids, I still made the best of what opportunities I was granted, and in the end it all paid off,” said Cartwright.

And she already has plans to matriculate toward a doctorate degree.

“In the end, I would like to use the computer engineering degree to come back to The Bahamas, and work on advancing the country from a technological standpoint in the tourism industry, but not in the forefront — more behind the scenes, marketing The Bahamas to the world through the Internet,” she explained.

The ABMS is awarded to the applicant who has demonstrated exceptional academic ability and excellence in co-curricular activities; has been accepted to an academically prestigious college or university; has a strong ethos of public service; possesses an unwavering dedication to improving the lives of all Bahamians; and has demonstrated a strong moral character and the potential to lead.

Winning the coveted award meant a lot to Cartwright.

“It meant that my dream of getting a higher education at a prestigious university could come true. And it took a lot of financial stress off my parents, and it meant that my hard work over the years, and my dedication to everything I did paid off,” she said.

Cartwright, the daughter of Roger and Zoe Cartwright, has been an honor student all of her life. She graduated high school with a 3.85 cumulative grade point average (GPA).

The 23rd ABMS winner was also heavily involved in extracurricular activities. In 2012 she claimed the 15th Bahamas National Spelling Bee champion title and earned the right to represent The Bahamas at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. She is also one of the top female junior sailors.

“All my life I’ve been encouraged by everyone to participate in as many extracurricular activities as I could, but my parents always reminded me that, whatever I did, education always came first. Whether it was the softball team or basketball team, practicing for a sailing event, traveling… whatever it was, I wanted to do, I knew that my education came first. So if I had to go to a regatta in Nassau, but SATs (Scholastic Aptitude Test) were the same weekend, I had to stay here to take my SATs, because they took priority. So over the years I just managed to organize my time and prioritize everything so that I could participate in all of the extracurricular activities, but still stay on top of my studies.”

In opting to attend McGill University, Cartwright will be attending her mother’s alma mater and the institution her brother, Tyler, 19, who is entering his third year, also attends.

“My mother is from Canada, and we would go to Canada all the time to visit my grandmother, and I fell in love with the school in grade nine and always wanted to go there, so I guess it’s become became part of a family tradition,” she said.

Even though she will be attending the same university as her older brother, the one thing she won’t do is live with him.

“Everyone’s under the assumption that we’re going to live together, but I told him I’m not going to stay with him, before he makes me cook and clean. He has an apartment with four of his friends, but I’m staying in residence for my first year.”

Her advice to incoming seniors for the new academic year is to not procrastinate.

“We tend to feel we’re on our last year, we’re on top of the world; but get your coursework done, do the university applications, apply for scholarships, make the most of information guidance counselors are giving you and just try your hardest, because you have to make your last year count,” said Cartwright.

Queen’s College graduate Lakia Rolle was named ABMS runner-up. She will study biology and health sector management and policy at the University of Miami.

Among the 15 National Merit Scholarship recipients, who receive $35,000 per year in scholarship funding, Queen’s College has five recipients; while St. Augustine’s College has three.

Merit scholarships were meted out to Sunland Baptist Academy graduate Kristian Moree, who will study biochemistry at Dalhousie University; Forest Heights Academy graduate Donte Richard, who will study computer science at Michigan State University; St. Andrew’s School graduate Rhema Nottage, who will pursue actuarial science studies at the University of Durham, England; and St. Augustine’s College graduate, Tiffany Hanna, who will pursue economics studies at Wagner College.

Tabernacle Baptist Christian Academy graduate D’Azure Harvey will study accounting at Acadia University. Forest Heights Academy graduate Shania Albury will study medicine at the Florida Institute of Technology. Queen’s College graduate Llando Chea will study mechanical engineering at the University of South Florida. St. Augustine’s College graduate Whitley Cargill will pursue civil engineering studies at Syracuse University.

Queen’s College grade Christina Moncur will study medicine at the University of Glasgow, Scotland. St. Augustine’s College graduate Glen Knowles will study civil engineering at Youngstown State University. Queen’s College graduate Alexander Rolle will study clinical psychology at the University of Tampa. Spencer Cartwright, also a Queen’s College graduate, will study civil engineering at Roger Williams University. Vincent King, from Queen’s College/UWC Costa Rica, will study economics at McGill University.

QC students have won the prestigious award eight of 23 years: Simone Cambridge (2016), Domonic McDonald (2015), Shannon Butler (2013), Kyle Chea (2006), Ricardo Davis (2000), Jehan Unwala (1997), Rhys Powell (1996) and Damian Forbes (1995).


2017 All Bahamas Merit Scholarship recipients

All Bahamas Merit Scholarship winner — Paloma Cartwright, NGM Major High School

All Bahamas Merit Scholarship runner-up — Lakia Rolle, Queen’s College


2017 National Merit Scholarship recipients

Kristian Moree, Sunland Baptist Academy

Donte Richard, Forest Heights Academy

Rhema Nottage, St. Andrew’s School

Tiffany Hanna, St. Augustine’s College

D’Azure Harvey, Tabernacle Baptist Christian Academy

Shania Albury, Forest Heights Academy

Llando Chea, Queen’s College

Whitley Cargill, St. Augustine’s College

Christina Moncur, Queen’s College

Glen Knowles, St. Augustine’s College

Alexander Rolle, Queen’s College

Spencer Cartwright, Queen’s College

Vincent King, Queen’s College


Previous All Bahamas Merit Scholars

2016 — Simone Cambridge, McGill University, art history and urban studies

2015 — Domonic McDonald, University of Western Ontario, political science with a specialty in international relations

2014 — Gabrielle Moss, Johns Hopkins University, mathematics and statistics with a focus on actuarial science

2013 — Shannon Butler, University of St. Andrew’s, medicine

2012 — Theophilus Moss, Johns Hopkins University, mechanical engineering

2011 — Jamia Moss, College of St. Benedict, biochemistry and Spanish

2009 — Jenna Chaplin, University of The Pacific, fine arts and psychology

2008 — Genymphas Higgs, Drexel University, biomedical engineering

2007 — Lisa Rodgers, Brown University, education

2006 — Kyle Chea, Vassar College, pre-med and foreign languages

2005 — Andrea Culmer, McGill University, chemistry and pre-med

2004 — Sharelle Ferguson, Harvard University, social studies

2003 — Sebastian Hutchinson, University of Pennsylvania, finance and accounting

2002 — Peter Blair, Duke University, physics and mathematics

2001 — No award given

2000 — Ricardo Davis, Queen’s University, biochemistry

1999 — Ryan Knowles, Boston University, accounting and finance

1998 — Damian Archer, University of Western Ontario, University of the West Indies, Mona Campus – 1 year, chemistry, medicine

1997 — Jehan Unwala, Tufts University, international relations and economics

1996 — Rhys Powell, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, electrical engineering and computer science

1995 — Damian Forbes, Yale University, economics

1994 — No award given

1993 — Shireen Denise Donaldson, Johns Hopkins University, biochemistry


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