Scholarships given to students in wide range of disciplines
Four Bermudian students have been unveiled as this year’s winners of the Nicholl Scholarships, worth $25,000 annually.
The group are joining courses from journalism to palaeontology, political science and nursing.
The Nicholl Scholarships, named after champion of Bermudian education Albert E. Nicholl, have been awarded to Paige Bruton at the postgraduate level, as well as undergraduates Noah da Silva, G’zai Dyer and Matthew Elliott.
The four shared their excitement with The Royal Gazette, as well as the opportunities afforded by the grants.
The 2022-23 scholarships will cover each student’s present course to a maximum of four years.
Paige Bruton, pursuing a master’s in science journalism degree at New York’s Columbia University, said she happened on the Nicholl programme while researching the Bermuda Scholarships website.
The 22-year-old, from Southampton, said she was “ecstatic” that the interviewing committee recognised her undergraduate work and future goals.
Ms Bruton aims for a career in literary journalism, a field allowing journalists to “follow their subjects at length”.
She said she hoped her ambition could take her to a major weekly such as The New Yorker.
In the meantime, she celebrated her scholarship acceptance with her parents and friends.
The Nicholl Scholarship “opens a lot of doors not just in assisting me with attaining my master's degree but also with my future career”, she said.
She added: “I am particularly interested in narratives of injustice, whereby I am able to use the skills gained by my degree at Columbia to give a platform to marginalised and vulnerable voices in our communities.”
Noah da Silva, 18 and from Smith’s, is working towards a bachelor’s degree in environmental sciences at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, with a focus on earth sciences.
Winning the Nicholl Scholarship will also help with off-campus trips for studies.
Mr Da Silva’s sights are set on a master’s in palaeontology in Britain, studying ancient ecosystems.
“I ultimately wish to use the mysteries of the past to answer the burning questions of the future, applying our knowledge of ancient environments to help us combat global issues such as climate change or ecological collapse.”
He heard of the awards after several students at Warwick Academy, his previous school, became scholars.
Mr Da Silva said he was impressed with the programme’s commitment to all educational fields.
“In the Bermudian scholarship environment, which is justifiably more focused on financial or medical academic pathways, the Nicholl Scholarship provides a path for students like myself who are interested in more esoteric fields of study, such as the ecological and geological sciences.”
The news of his successful application came as his family was moving house from Warwick — leaving them “thrilled and incredibly grateful”.
Mr Da Silva added: “This scholarship is a huge help to my family, and will allow me to conduct more international academic programmes with the school, providing more opportunities for me to learn and grow within the paleontological field.”
G’zai Dyer, 19 and an aspiring registered nurse, plans to build a practice in England before “returning back home to promote the benefits of good mental and physical health”.
The Pembroke undergrad is working on a master of science in nursing, adult and mental health nursing at the University of Southampton in the UK.
Ms Dyer also learnt of the awards via the Bermuda Scholarships site.
She was drawn by the programme’s investment in students intent on a variety of careers as well as health.
Her acceptance call came right before Cup Match.
“My family was just as excited, as this scholarship means that my family no longer have to support my studies for the first time in 14 years,” she said.
“My parents were my first call after I received the news, as they have been some of my biggest supporters and always stood by my side in all of my school and extracurricular endeavours, no matter the price.”
Ms Dyer said she could focus on her degree without last year’s financial stress — and would be able to take a self-funded overseas placement to broaden her knowledge.
Looking forward to graduating debt-free, with three years left on her nursing programme, Ms Dyer looks forward to graduating as an adult and mental health registered nurse.
Matthew Elliott, of Devonshire, heads into his second year of a bachelor of arts in politics and international relations at Loughborough University in the UK.
He spotted the scholarships online and noted the breadth of studies it backed, as well as its founder’s commitment to young Bermudians.
Getting accepted in something he had felt hesitant to apply for felt “surreal”, he said.
It also showed the value in pushing beyond your comfort zone.
Mr Elliott said his parents told him to be “proud of my perseverance”.
The award “greatly reduced” the financial burdens of university life, enabling him to pursue an international placement year without considering costly student loans.
He said it was also a way to thank his parents.
With plans to embark on a career in public policy, Matthew said: “Ultimately, I plan to come back home with the necessary skill set to help shape and develop local policies so that I can play an active role in finding solutions to the challenges facing Bermuda.”
Rick Spurling, chairman of the Nicholl trustees, said: “We always have an impressive group of hugely talented applicants and quite diverse as well, something that was not true 25 years ago.
“This is very encouraging confirming that opportunity, belief in oneself and motivation means everything.”
Mr Spurling said meeting with talent each year was “a dose of encouragement” – noting that successful candidates often came from strong family backgrounds.
Albert Nicholl came to Bermuda from England in 1917 during the First World War as chief examination officer in the Royal Navy Reserve at St George’s.
His contributions to local education included Dellwood School, and in his will the bulk of his estate was left in trust to send the island’s students to further studies in the Commonwealth and the US.