‘It makes me feel very good that I can be a part of keeping his legacy alive’ - award recipient
A scholarship started in memory of a teenage boy who died in a road accident has named its first recipient.
Malaysia Burt, 17, was awarded the Kijani Burgess Dream Award earlier this month to help her pursue her dream of becoming a forensic psychologist.
Malaysia, who was friends with Kijani before his death last January, said: “It’s a bittersweet moment – I was really excited to win the award, but I wish the circumstances it was under were different.”
She added: “It makes me feel very good that I can be a part of keeping his legacy alive, because he had very big dreams and I also have really big dreams, so I’m hoping that once I fulfil my dreams it would be in honour of him.”
Kijani died on January 13 last year, aged 16, in a motorbike accident near Scaur Hill in Sandys.
Teachers and pupils at Southampton’s Bermuda Institute, where Kijani was a pupil, later wore blue for a day to pay tribute to the youngster and others who lost their lives on the roads.
Antoinette Burgess, his mother, started the Kijani Burgess Dream Award in March to give a $2,500 bursary to a Bermuda Institute pupil who graduated high school.
Malaysia, from Hamilton Parish, said that she became friends with Kijani in Year 10 when he helped her as she struggled with schoolwork.
She explained: “I was going through a really hard time – my grades were dropping and my work wasn’t getting done, but Kijani was one of the only people who helped me through that.
“He would come with me to the teacher’s classroom and sit with me in the guidance counsellor’s office and he would just help me sort out everything I needed to do.”
Malaysia said she remembered Kijani for his humour and selflessness.
She added he was fond of giving his friends a laugh or a helping hand whenever they were in need.
Malaysia said: “If you asked him to do something he would complain in a funny way, but at the end of the day he’d actually do it for you and that was something I appreciated about Kijani.”
Malaysia applied for the award and several others to help her on her path to university.
She said she learnt of her success during her graduation at Bermuda Institute on June 13.
She added: “It was very emotional for everyone – there were a lot of tears.”
Malaysia will attend Albany State University in New York in autumn to study psychology and forensic science.
Mrs Burgess said that she and the rest of the Kijani Burgess Dream Award Committee chose Malaysia based on her passion and commitment.
She added: “As Kijani’s mother, I’m humbled by the fact that we were able to do something like this.
“It’s really about keeping his legacy alive in the way of helping someone else achieve their dream.
“We didn’t have the ability to see him graduate, those it’s about helping someone reach the milestones that he couldn’t.”