ST. CROIX, U.S.V.I., July 20, 2023. St. Croix Foundation is pleased to announce that $20,000 in scholarships were awarded to four St. Croix youth on Tuesday, July 18th, during a virtual presentation at St. Croix Foundation (SCF), headquartered in Sunday Market Square. Scholarships were made possible through the Patrick and Amelia Williams Opportunity Fund, the St. Croix Educational Complex 20th Anniversary Reunion Committee Fund and the Foundation Scholars Fund.
Now in its sixth year, the Patrick and Amelia Williams Opportunity Fund is administered annually by St. Croix Foundation and Donor Junior Gaspard (a St. Croix Native) to support the academic pursuits of St. Croix high school graduates. Acutely aware of the challenges facing young students as they navigate college life, such as snowballing tuition expenses, dwindling financial aid and rigorous coursework, for the past two years, scholarships have been awarded to 2021 award recipients. Through the Williams Opportunity Fund (and $3,000 in funding from the Foundation Scholars Fund), SCF’s Grants Review Committee awarded three (3) scholarships of $5,000 each to the following recipients in demonstration of SCF’s ongoing support as students moved into their third year at their respective places of study:
- Abigail Valery, Temple University, Major: Music Education
- Caliyah Helliger, Howard University, Major: Biology
- Sanaa Burke, University of Delaware, Major: Climatology/Meteorology
The St. Croix Educational Complex (SCEC) 20th Anniversary Reunion Committee Fund was established in the fall of 2022 by Anquanette Gaspard, a member of the St. Croix Educational Complex’s 20th Anniversary Reunion Committee and granddaughter of Patrick and Amelia Williams. In its inaugural scholarship cycle, the 20th Anniversary Fund awarded one $5,000 scholarship to Jayden Ferdinand, a graduate of St. Croix Educational Complex. Jayden will study Psychology at Penn State University in the fall.
The Patrick and Amelia Williams Opportunity Fund was established by Junior Gaspard, a graduate of Central High School and John H. Woodson Junior High School, in honor of his grandparents. Gaspard recalls the hard work and determination embodied in his grandfather’s spirit when he moved the entire family to St. Croix from St. Vincent. This, combined with his grandmother’s resilience as she courageously contended with the loss of her eyesight, provided a road map to overcoming challenges with strength and perseverance. Upholding the spirit of the Williams Opportunity Fund, Anquanette Gaspard, sister to Junior Gaspard and granddaughter of Patrick and Amelia Williams, also recognized an opportunity to increase support for St. Croix youth and established the SCEC 20th Anniversary Fund to encourage giving back to the next generation. Anquanette Gaspard, Advisor to the Funds expressed, “The Gaspard & Williams Families are beyond proud of this year’s recipients of the Patrick & Amelia Williams Opportunity Fund. These bright young women continue to persevere and thrive in their college endeavors, and we are grateful for the opportunity to continue to lend our support. Having Jayden as the first recipient of the St. Croix Educational Complex 20th Anniversary Fund was an honor. He depicts much of what our class embodies: determination, perseverance and strength. We look forward to seeing everything he will accomplish in the future.”
Each 2023 recipient of the Williams Opportunity Fund was required to demonstrate progress by submitting a formal application that included transcripts, letters of reference, and a four-minute video presentation in which candidates were asked to speak candidly about their majors, and the obstacles they have encountered as they get nearer to graduation. Recipients were also asked to reflect on how they have changed over time, and to share any new habits/routines they have acquired that would surprise their younger “high school selves.”
In his application for the 20th Anniversary Fund, Jayden Ferdinand also submitted a brief video presentation as well as an essay, references, and transcript – all which demonstrated a passion for his field of study and the steps he expects to take to become a clinical psychologist.
To date, the Patrick and Amelia Williams Opportunity Fund has awarded a total of $71,000 in scholarships to 11 students who have had to overcome unprecedented difficulties throughout their high school tenure and early university education. As stated by Caliyah Helliger, rising Junior and scholarship recipient of the Patrick & Amelia Williams Opportunity Fund, “I am beyond grateful and humble to be a recipient of this scholarship for third consecutive year. The Gaspard family and St. Croix Foundation have been at my side on this journey since I left high school and it’s amazing to have that support.”
St. Croix Foundation extends its deepest appreciation to the Gaspard family and the St. Croix Educational Complex 20th Anniversary Reunion Committee for their partnership and philanthropic spirit, as well as the Foundation’s Grants & Scholarships Review Committee for its engagement and DIAM Management for its contributions to the Foundation Scholars Fund. St. Croix Foundation welcomes donations to The Patrick and Amelia Williams Opportunity Fund, SCEC 20th Anniversary Fund and Foundation Scholars Fund to support additional students as they pursue their education.
For more information on how to support these special scholarship opportunities, please contact St. Croix Foundation at 340-773-9898 or visit our website at www.stxfoundation.org to learn more.