ASHLEY Dacres’ mantra, “Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation,” was underscored recently when she was awarded the GraceKennedy Foundation (GKF) scholarship to complete university this year.
Admitting that she was speechless when she got a phone call in August to confirm her success, Dacres said she was overcome with tears.
She received the Caribbean Maritime University Final Year Scholarship to complete her studies in logistics and supply chain management.
“I was so surprised. The evening after the scholarship interview, a few hours later they called to inform me that I got through. I stopped and cried in the middle of the street in Ocho Rios,” she said, following GKF’s annual scholars’ awards ceremony last Thursday.
“For third year, when I was applying for the scholarship, I just held on to my mantra throughout the entire school year. Every time I thought of giving up I remembered it and the GraceKennedy Foundation really helped me to see that,” Dacres added.
Dacres, who is from Mile End in St Ann, said her aunt and uncle stepped in to ease the burden with her school fees when her parents were having a challenge financially.
Before receiving help from the company, she had to take out a student loan in her first year and a few scholarships and grants for her second and third year of study.
“It was really difficult becoming the woman I am now. I appreciate all of what others have done for me. When I had the scholarship interview and I shared my story, it was very touchy. I cried, of course, because it was a difficult thing to do, but they were so accommodative,” she explained.
At the same time, the 21-year-old noted that she was encouraged to help other students academically through the Ace with Grace tutoring programme after receiving the scholarship.
“I enjoy voluntarily tutoring students and I have actually found a little boy in my community whose mom was struggling financially and she was going to send him to Saturday classes and I said, ‘Don’t worry about it. I will take over,’ ” she said.
“I have developed a bond with that little boy. Even sometimes when I am so tired, he calls and says, ‘Ashley, are you coming to class? It really motivates,” she said.
Dacres, who has a 3.7 grade point average, hopes to finish university strong, then pursue her career as a logistician or procurement manager.
“God really places persons in your life to push you along. There was the GraceKennedy Foundation, there was this little boy, my aunt and uncle, and so many other persons who have been influential in my life and they are the main reasons why I cannot and will not give up,” she said.