IN its perennial commitment to higher education, Carreras, founded in 1962, has awarded its annual package of scholarships to 90 tertiary students, the highest recipient count to date for the island’s leading marketer and distributor of cigarettes and tobacco-related products.
Franklin Murillo, the company’s newly-installed managing director, attributes the historic move in part to Carreras’ inaugural implementation of an online applications portal, which was launched earlier this year and has assisted the publicly-traded industry leader in nearly doubling 2021’s 56-beneficiary tally.
“For the first time in our organisation’s history, candidates for the Carreras scholarships were able to complete and submit their applications electronically on the company’s website, and we are proud to have embarked on such a landmark move this year as we celebrate our 60th anniversary,” Murillo said of the yearly scholarship disbursements that date back to 1967. “Going green not only improved the efficiency of the scholarship administration process, but it allowed the company to better achieve its document management practices in reducing our carbon footprint and promoting sustainability.”
Jamaican scholars, 18 years and older, pursuing multiple disciplines across 17 universities, and community, art, agriculture and teachers’ colleges are issued yearly scholarships and bursaries by Carreras in seven categories, namely, SEEK, Special Award, Bursary, Visual & Performing Arts, Teachers’ College, Community College and HOPE. The spend for these individual scholarships range from $100,000 to $1 million, and are awarded to students, who have achieved at least a B average or 3.0 GPA in the previous academic year. The ‘A Better Tomorrow’ entity has awarded its scholarships and bursaries to more than 180 students in need of financial aid islandwide over the past four years.
Like many businesses that had to navigate the novel coronavirus pandemic and its attendant protocols, Carreras — which relocated its headquarters from Twickenham Park to its current Ripon Road address in 2015 — forwent its usual scholarship awards ceremony last year, opting instead to make symbolic cheque and certificate presentations at the homes, schools and workplaces of select awardees. That handover initiative, dubbed Carreras Cross Country, complemented an overall scholarship payout that was valued at $15 million. This year’s allocation totalled $20 million.
As is customary, this crop of beneficiaries have expressed their appreciation for the fast-moving consumer goods company’s gesture, which, for the time being, remains one of the heirlooms of its corporate social responsibility legacy.
“The Carreras SEEK Scholarship changed my life. It has given me the opportunity to pursue my dreams. They believed in me and for that I’ll forever be grateful,” said Azailiah Smith, a first-year law student at The University of the West Indies, Mona.
But these tributes could prove valedictory with Carreras facing a sponsorship embargo if certain provisions of the proposed Tobacco Control Act, 2020 are passed into law.
An uncertain future communication studies major Theo Knight Tomlinson displayed awareness of in his personal thank you, “I would like to take time out to thank Carreras for giving me a helping hand to start my tertiary education at Northern Caribbean University. The support has made me realise that there is still hope, but it saddens me to know that this may be the last year that scholarship is offered. I would look forward to seeing other youth reaching greater potential because they were introduced to these same opportunities like I have.”
Keen to continue its self-sponsored scholarship programme while still legally able to do so, Carreras’ Murillo maintained that “there is no greater satisfaction to us than giving back and helping those who need it most”, despite the challenges of the ongoing legislative climate.