Educational opportunities abound for the disabled

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Securing a scholarship and/or an award can be a tough exercise. It can be an even tougher exercise for those students with physical and/or learning disabilities. Such disabilities or funding barriers should not limit worthy students the chance to further their education. Access to scholarships and awards bring about life-changing benefits if you want to further your education.

As grinding as the application process may feel to complete, it is worth the effort if you are successful. Even if you are not successful, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

The 2018-19 education ministry scholarship and award options have expanded opportunities to our students in two new offerings: the minister’s Applied Tech Scholarship and the Bermuda College Book Award.

One award I would like to highlight is the minister’s Exceptional Student Award. This opportunity was created under the previous government and has been enhanced by the Progressive Labour Party government for persons with disabilities.

This award is granted to:

• Exceptional young applicants up to the age of 25, regardless of where they are completing — or have completed — school

• Applicants who demonstrate financial need

The scholarship criteria and options have broadened to benefit more students with varying abilities and postsecondary pursuits. All disabilities will be considered.

The award is given annually and is valued at $5,000 for local study and $25,000 for overseas study. The recipient can hold the award for up to four years. The applicant must be accepted by a school at the time of their interview and the applicant’s school or programme must be accredited.

Students must demonstrate eligibility by providing:

• A letter from a medical professional or psychologist documenting your disability or the first page of your Individualised Education Programme or a document demonstrating receipt of special education services

• Most recent transcripts

• School reference letter

• Personal reference letter

• Evidence of extracurricular or service activities in school and/or the community

• Completed essay

• Proof of Bermuda status

• Proof of five years of Bermuda education

• Acceptance letter — if not available at time of application, the student must attach a document indicating when the letter will be available and e-mail the letter to the award provider or, at the latest, bring the letter to the interview.

• Letter from college stating tuition costs

• Completed financial need form

If you are successful, there will be some expectations, which include:

• Maintaining good standing in your programme of study

• Maintaining satisfactory conduct

• Providing transcripts for each semester and any additional documentation required for the satisfaction of the Ministry of Education and Workforce Development for the continued funding of the award

• If you change your programme of study, you must notify the Ministry of Education and Workforce Development before doing so

The deadline for submitting for this award is March 28.

Key tips for applying for scholarships and awards:

• Begin the application process as soon as possible; don’t wait until the last minute

• Always be aware of the deadlines in case you have any technical problems or discover you are missing something

• Carefully review all of the requirements and make sure your application is complete. There is no guarantee that incomplete applications will be considered

• Answer the essay questions rather than submit a personal essay

• Ask someone to review your application, including your essay

• Include strong letters of recommendation

• Always keep a copy of the documents that you submit

• Try to keep copies of generic, required application documents on file, ie, transcripts, letters of recommendation, Bermuda status letters, résumé

• Practise and prepare for interviews

• Identify support sources for assisting you to understand the application process. This includes someone who will coach you through the completion of the application, mock interviewing and follow-up

I encourage more organisations and businesses to recognise the need to create scholarships and awards for students with physical and/or learning disabilities.

For more information about this award and other scholarships and awards, visit bermuda scholarships.com or e-mail scholarships@moed.bm.

For support for coaching through scholarships and awards, contact tips4scholarshipsbda@gmail.com.

Tinée Furbert is the Junior Minister of Disability Affairs and the MP for St George’s South (Constituency 4)

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Published Mar 9, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Mar 9, 2018 at 8:01 am)

Educational opportunities abound for the disabled

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