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Tannock: IB saved my university education

Tawana Tannock told scholarship recipients that international business rescued her university education, helping her to have the successful career that has followed.

Speaking at the Association of Bermuda International Companies Education Awards ceremony this week, Ms Tannock told recipients in the virtual event that financial constraints had almost cut her education short.

Ms Tannock is the managing director of Skuld Mutual Protection and Indemnity Association (Bermuda) Ltd, which provides marine insurance products.

Well known as a former chairwoman of the Human Rights Commission, the barrister and experienced company director took an unconventional route into insurance.

She told the 25 recipents of Abic Education Awards, funded by Bermudian-based international companies, of how a scholarship saved her education.

“I had a single mother and stepdad, who spent their last dollar to send me to school,” Ms Tannock said. “They had no more money. I had no money. I had almost run out of chances.

“I went to the school and said, ‘what can I do?' They said ‘the only way you can remain in school is if you retake your entire first semester of your sophomore year', which meant summer classes, and then they would consider having me back.”

With the family unable to fund her studies, Ms Tannock started to save up as much as she could.

“That was when I stumbled upon the AIG Starr Foundation Scholarship,” she said.

“I had no other shot but to apply for that scholarship. That's when I realised the intersection between international business and the community.

“The scholarship committee said to me, ‘your grades are terrible, but you do a lot of community service. If you can turn around your GPA and get a 3.0 at the end of your summer classes, then you can reapply and maybe we can consider you'.

“So that's what I did. I went back to school, got a 3.0, reapplied for the scholarship and got my last two years at Spelman College paid for by AIG.

“For me, that was monumental. Without international business, there is no way I would have had the chance to finish university. I just did not have the funds.”

At Spelman, a women's college in Atlanta in the United States, Ms Tannock gained a bachelor of arts degree in history and political science. She also has a master's degree in law to her name and several insurance designations.

Her diverse career has included a spell as a teacher at Whitney Institute; serving as director for The Centre for Alcohol and Drug Abuse; commissioner and later chairwoman of the Human Rights Commission; vice-president, claims and compliance at Marsh; and now her role at Skuld, where she has worked for three years.

She said she had learnt a valuable lesson from the experience of finding a way to continue her college education, when she could easily have given up.

“I had this idea that I would only do things I was totally passionate about,” Ms Tannock said. “But then I realised there is more than one way to achieve your goal.

“If you stop, assess where you are and assess where you want to be, acknowledge your mistakes, and come up with a plan of action to move forward, then from wherever you are now to where you want to be, then you can create a path to get there.

“There is always more than one way to get to places.

“For me, my journey into international business took me through criminal law, it took me through education.”

She urged students to be critical of themselves and to acknowledge improvements they needed to make.

“Don't cut yourself off, because you haven't got a 3.0,” Ms Tannock added. “You never know unless you try.”

She also urged the students to build relationships and networks and to leverage them.

The Abic Education Awards make up the largest postsecondary scholarship programme on the island. By funding the awards, Abic member companies have helped to fund the college education of more than 670 students over 43 years.

Grateful for scholarship: Tawana Tannock (File photograph)

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Published July 28, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated January 26, 2021 at 12:31 am)

Tannock: IB saved my university education

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