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Six women receive ‘gift of education’

Cyrika Dowling, Tramaine Outerbridge and Denjuana Nesbitt were presented gift certificates by Bemuda Women's Council deputy chairwoman Melody Parris, member Rev Ruby Smith, member Beverly Jones and chairwoman Laurie Shiell. (Photo by Mark Tatem)

Six women, who were struggling to make ends meet, have been given a “gift of education” to help them achieve financial independence.

The Bermuda Women’s Council has given all six gift vouchers worth $140 that can be used in the Bermuda College bookstore.

Cyrika Dowling, Tramaine Outerbridge, Denjuana Nesbitt, Cierra Holdipp, Marian Medeiros and Lovette Smith have been working with the Community Driven Development (CDD) programme — a government scheme that aims to help unemployed or underemployed people.

All six women are pursuing Bermuda College diplomas ranging from Associates in Education to Certificates in Child Care. Some are studying for the first time since high school, while others are on course to completing their second semester.

Cyrika Dowling, 33, of Pembroke, started studying for her Early Child Care Certificate in September.

“I’ve always been into watching children and day care, and my goalis to one day own my own day care,” Ms Dowling said.

She said that the donation is a great encouragement that gives her the motivation to keep pursuing her dreams.

Ms Dowling first came to the CDD programme in June 2014 after she became unemployed and heard of the initiative through Financial Assistance.

She said that the programme had helped her get back up and running, and added: “They give you hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Tramaine Outerbridge, 30, of Pembroke, will be starting a Computer Information Systems course on Monday.

“I wanted to do social work or counselling, but my father was a computer analyst, so it was sort of embedded in me to follow in his footsteps,” Ms Outerbridge said.

Ms Outerbridge had previously got her GED, and is looking forward to attending college for the first time.

She said: “This donation means a lot as I am ready for Monday with no books and this is a start towards getting some.”

Denjuana Nesbitt, 28, of Devonshire, is in her second semester of an Associates in Education course — a path that she has always dreamed of pursuing.

“This means so much, because I really didn’t know how I was going to get my books,” said Ms Nesbitt, who is hoping to work full-time for her family’s nursery business once she graduates.

Ms Nesbitt previously taught preschool and joined the CDD programme in January last year after she was made redundant.

Cierra Holdipp, 27, of Southampton, is pursuing an Associates of Art degree, and is hoping to branch out into psychology and education.

Ms Holdipp also credits the CDD programme with getting her life back on track, and hopes to continue her studies abroad once her college course ends.

“It’s a journey of emotions, and it’s very exciting to see that I’ve fallen back into this,” she said.

“I’ve found my niche and am following that path.”

Ms Holdipp joined the CDD programme in June 2013, after she also learnt about the initiative through Financial Assistance.

Lovette Smith, of Pembroke, and Marian Medeiros, of Warwick were unable to attend the presentation, but both women are entering their second semester of study.

Ms Smith is pursuing an American Management Association Certificate and Ms Madeiros is studying towards a Certificate in Child Care.

CDD programme manager Deborah Bradford said: “This is an amazing accomplishment for these women, as all of them are currently unemployed and seeking to better their lives.

“The career and personal development is directly in alignment with the CDD programme and these individuals are taking the necessary steps to retool themselves in this changing economy.”

Laurie Shiell, chairwoman of the Bermuda Women’s Council added: “We are very excited to be able to assist these ladies with their studies.”

“They did the job of enrolling themselves and we want to make sure that they get the books that they need for their courses. This is a gift of education.”

Deputy chairwoman Melody Parris added that the Bermuda Women’s Council wanted to give accolades to the participants for taking the initiative to enrol at the college to further their education, and in most cases make a career change or advancement.

She said: “The Bermuda Women’s Council is behind each of these CDD participants and we support their endeavours to enhance their professional skills.”