Youth Highlight

Highlighting the talent, power and flair of youth 
Feature Friday
By Alyssa Huggins
Corporate Communications Intern
July 2020

 

I am thrilled and honoured to be a part of a project that gives visibility to young people in the Caribbean who are leaders in their industry or community.  As a young person, I know that the region is filled with determined dreamers, who are always on the move to make things happen.

Our voices may not be the loudest, or most recognized, so this platform gives attention to our unique stories. Youth Highlight by Nestlé Needs Youth, gives us a much-needed space to share our success, so that we can be celebrated for our achievements.

The hope is that these stories motivate, inspire and encourage other young people to work towards their version of success.

So, every other Friday you can look forward to seeing a young person that is making considerable strides in their industry or community. Eventually we will have a diverse portfolio of Caribbean youth who are working towards making their dreams come through.

July

 

Chad Monerville

Chad Monerville is not just a Registered Valuation Surveyor for BCQS International. He is also a part-time lecturer at The University of the West Indies-Open Campus Barbados, The Deputy Chairman of Erdiston Teachers’ Training College (ETTC) and a CARICOM Youth Ambassador, representing Barbados. 

So, it’s safe to say that Chad is taking advantage of opportunities that maximize his talents and mobilize his innate passion to serve and make a difference.

All his actions are informed by the simple understanding that education and civic participation can stimulate positive effects in an individual and by extension, society. At a young age he married his enthusiasm for the natural sciences with his interest in national, regional, and global affairs. This explains why Chad’s professional life is defined by adventure and excitement. 

As a professional in the built environment, he gets the opportunity to value a hotel, shopping mall, office complex or villa in one day.  Yet, the next day, you may find him on a construction site certifying payments to contractors. 

Then as a lecturer at UWI he imparts knowledge,

where true joy is experienced when my students who pass through the programme are excited and grateful for the knowledge I shared because it enables them to start their own careers

Then he brings his passion for policy making and nation building to life, as he functions as the Deputy Chairman of ETTC and as a CARICOM Youth Ambassador. Where he works to ensure that the voices of young people are heard, and the education system aligns with the ever-changing global landscape.

Now you may be wondering how Chad manages all his responsibilities. He shared that he focuses on his personal mantra,

control your controllables

Which, does not make him immune from experiencing disappointment.

As an academic, I have faced rejection twice. First as a nominee for the Valedictorian of Law & Engineering and as a Commonwealth Caribbean Rhodes Scholar Finalist – both of which I didn’t win.

However, he doesn’t let these disappointments deter him.

I always have a plan that I can easily adjust to circumstances beyond my control. While working towards accomplishing my goals, I stay connected to family and mentors who can boost my morale when things get tough

So he encourages other young people like himself to,

keep on pushing

As such, we can look forward to future professional milestones from Chad, which he describes as “top secret”. So, we just have to stay tuned to witness more accomplishments in his future. In the meantime, let’s celebrate the achievements of this young professional that’s succeeding in all his areas of work. 

Daniel Francis

Daniel Francis can be defined as an ‘entrepreneur extraordinaire’. He is only 29, and he is an Author, Personal Development Coach, Event Planner and Show Host. All falling under the purview of his business ReBIT Limited. Out of all the work he does with his business, he shared that he enjoys being a Personal Development Coach the most.

 

 

 

 

I enjoy the feeling of bringing someone to a level of productivity that they never thought they would be able to experience. I love hearing their testimonials after our training. It fills me with so much joy because, as their coach, their success is my success.

Daniel says that he will always cherish the call he received from his first client. Who called months after training to share how the program had positively affected her life. She credited Daniel’s work to her accomplishing her three major life goals -conquer her fear of public speaking, a job promotion and home ownership. To Daniel, this testimonial gave him the confidence to realise that he was fulfilling his life’s purpose.

However, before this confidence Daniel experienced a confusing period where he was uncertain about the career path he should choose. Then, clarity came when he attended his first personal development workshop. Thankfully, the structure of the program allowed Daniel to realise and confront his weaknesses, so he can turn them into his strongest assets.  

Finding my purpose in that moment motivated me to get started as a coach, which lead to all the other roles I have take on.

However, this did not guarantee Daniel a smooth experience in entrepreneurship.

When I first started, almost everything was terribly difficult. I had to fight to get my first handful of clients and not everything went according to plan. Through this difficult moment, I would sometimes question my ability to deliver at levels that I claimed I can.

He then learnt that a major part of entrepreneurship would be teamwork, especially when he decided to pen his first book “The Millennial Mind”. He quickly realised that he needed a team that had trust, communication and respect for one another.  

But since Daniel is giving all this advice…who gives Daniel advice when he faces challenges?

I go to the greats who have achieved a level of success that I want to achieve. I study great men like Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, Gary Vaynerchuk and Daniel Priestley. I read all their books and I use that knowledge to help create practical steps that are specific for my success.

Apart from this, he also uses the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy theory to his benefit. 

I see a specific future for myself. I often imagine this future with great detail. So, I visualize how many people I will impact, how much I will make and how my life will be lived. I see that future clearly in my mind each day and it’s amazing to see it being realised just as I envisioned it.

He recognizes how important this is because entrepreneurship is filled with many challenges. He advises any young person interested in entrepreneurship to, 

Understand your purpose by answering- what is one thing that you are compelled to do no matter what? Then create a grand plan without any boundaries. Whilst creating this plan solicit the advice from experts. In the end, create a sound team that will help you make it happen, but above all else, be ready to put in work!

This ‘entrepreneur extraordinaire’ is definitely putting in the work to achieve all his goals. They may materialise itself differently- Author, Personal Development Coach, Event Planner and Show Host but they are all connected to his central purpose of leading people to a fulfilled life. Let’ celebrate Daniel for his achievements and cheer him on as he continues to put in the work.

Learn more about Daniel and his businesses below

August

Yekini Wallen-Bryan- Jamaica

Often times when we envision a CEO, we may think about someone in their 50’s or 60’s, and we are not alone. It is a common perception that other people also have when they think about persons who hold leadership positions in business. However, 25-year-old Yekini Wallen-Bryan from Jamaica can humbly boast that he is the CEO of his business PreeLabs Limited.

PreeLabs Limited is a product development company that is focused on creating custom and automated solutions that address the immediate need for alternative energy solutions. A focus that is influenced by Yekini’s passion for problem solving and engineering. Two essential skills and disciplines that equips him to fulfil his ultimate goal of creating innovative devices and software solutions that will put the Caribbean on the global map.

Laudably, he is well on his way to making this goal a reality because he has already created an award-winning energy solution-PowerPree. PowerPree is a property management system that monitors and reports on energy usage. The device allows homeowners or businesses to see how much energy is being consumed in kWh and dollars. Enabling them to make informed decisions, as they have the power to turn on or off a device from anywhere in the world, right from their smart phone. An easy and convenient system that allows them to experience significant energy savings in the long run.

PowerPree has proved to be an incredible technological device, but the innovation doesn’t stop there. PreeLabs Limited has also created automated handwashing stations, hand sanitizer dispensers, ventilators and 3D face shields- in response to the current pandemic that threatens lives and livelihoods.

So, by now you can tell that Yekini is preoccupied with creating solutions.

“I love solving a problem that hasn't been solved before. Creating new opportunities and improved ways of life for others has a very fulfilling feeling to it.”

Admittingly, he added that whilst you are in the process of creating solutions you may  encounter issues like bureaucratic red tape and politics, which takes time to learn, and as you try to navigate the system your ethical foundations and principles can be challenged but it must be maintained.  

Therefore he relies on,

“My parents who are my biggest motivators because they have always pushed me to test my perceived abilities.”

He also stays fuelled by,

“Calls from customers who tell me how much they love one of our solutions, the completion of a device that no one else was able to create before or the gratitude from a team member who appreciates the opportunity that I gave to them.”

Those three things helps to keep him on track, and has even motivated him to start developing a first-class research, development and fabrication facility in Jamaica. He wants the facility to create value for citizens, by employing local engineers and professionals in the business and plans on having this milestone become a reality in the next five years.

A goal that will come to fruition because he already knows that,

“It’s never going to be easy. I know I will have to stay truth to myself, stay focused on the bigger picture and face realities head on.”

So, he calls on every young person who may be interested in his field to,

“Be honest with yourself about the evidence before you. Remain grounded and close to your values and always seek the truth.”

Undoubtedly, Yekini has successfully shattered our perception of a CEO. Proving to be hard-working and committed young business leader who is ready to take his company to the next level. He has a clear focus, specific milestones and a clear understanding that business is all about improving the lives of others. Let’s follow Yekini’s journey and look out for more solutions that will make the world a better place.

 

Samantha Sheoprashad

29-year-old, Samantha Sheoprashad is an award-winning Youth Leader, Youtuber, Student, Software Developer and Social Entrepreneur, who is marrying her passion for entrepreneurship with her love for technology.  

Samantha is a tech enthusiast, who naturally believes that technology can help transform society and have a positive impact on the youth of today, and she has had some astounding experiences that help her to proclaim the above statement with conviction.

Due to her involvement with technology, Samantha has had the pleasure of sitting in powerful rooms that allow her to make decisions for the current and future generation. As a young professional in the field, she has been invited to the Caribbean Youth Summit, CARICOM Youth Ambassador program, Legislative Forum-USA and has also served as a Global Peace Ambassador for Guyana.

These opportunities have allowed her to meet with political leaders like Justin Trudeau and tech-leaders like Bill Gates. These experiences to listen and speak with world leaders about their commitment to humanity has inspired her to work with young people in Guyana-which has created an impact in the wider Caribbean and North America. In her work with youth she is

“Coupling the power of technology and people to create a social impact for all humanity”

Thus far, she has made significant contributions to the Guyana National Youth Policy Consultation. Where she worked on projects that create an awareness for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. In her work she advocates for mental health sensitization and employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.

She has even,

“dedicated my Master’s funding to implement award-winning apps ‘Stay Alive’ and ‘Eco-naire’ which has a leveraged local impact to force policymakers to rethink mental health and unemployment issues which are being rated very high in the world records”

She made this personal investment because she believes that, 

“The digital world can help us create, connect, express ourselves, and improve our lives and the lives of others”

The ‘Stay Alive’ app is an algorithm that deciphers depressive statements and ‘Eco-naire’ (Digital Ecosystem) focuses on unemployed youth living in poverty. Its aim is to reduce poverty, improve the mindsets and teach young people to create their own job opportunities. 

Together, these two apps bring her professional mantra to life! 

“We must create solutions instead of statistics”

Interestingly, her advocacy isn’t just confined to her App Development work. She would also do public speaking for youth gatherings, schools and online programs that promote ‘Mental Health Matters’- a project intended to assist secondary schools in promoting the well-being of adolescents and raising their awareness of the diverse nature of mental health.

To date, Samantha has had some great achievements. Achievements that she visualized since she was a little girl. From young, she always felt like technology can help revolutionize Guyana by creating opportunities and support systems for young people- the ones that she wished existed when she was growing up.

This childhood dream motivates her to work through all the challenges that she may encounter. Challenges that have the potential to prohibit her from achieving her goals,

“funding, investment, lack of technological infrastructure characterized by low levels of technology, limited access to credit, lack of managerial capacity and lack of linkages with the modern economy are just some of the barriers that may hinder my growth and many other entrepreneurs”

However, these challenges propel her to increase her advocacy work.

“I believe priority must be given to developing policies, programs and support mechanisms that will nurture youth entrepreneurship and cater to the needs of young people as they establish and grow new youth-led enterprises throughout the Caribbean region”

So, she will continue to make strides in technology and have a voice in rooms with the leaders who have the power to make change- helping them to realise that,

“We have all have a responsibility to the world and regardless of the challenges, we must strive towards giving equal opportunities in a much efficient way that will give the world a better chance to decrease poverty, illnesses, and social issues”

As you can tell Samantha is committed to raising the profile of young people by assisting in integrating the perspectives of young people from across the region into national, regional and international programs and policies.

But she doesn’t wait for the leaders to do it,

“One of my personal milestones is to create impact for one billion individuals across the planet by inspiring and empowering individuals through the promotion of entrepreneurship”

A milestone that is underway through ‘Eco-naire’, which as stated before, enables unemployed individuals to become self-sustainable and independent in business development. So, Samantha wants every young person to understand that,

“There is a Genius sleeping inside of every one of you. Believe in yourself always, for modern education can help you find a job, but self-education can help you build an empire. Your mind is a canvas and you are the artist, so continue to work on your dreams. Don't be a statistic, be a solution”

And as the only girl in her family with a degree, Samantha wants to especially tell young girls to, 

“Think of the word ‘Impossible’ as two words: ‘I’m possible’. You can achieve almost anything you want to – if you want to”

Samantha is one ‘girl tech-boss’ that is using her passion to make the world a better place. Her tech work allows her to be a software developer, teacher, mentor and community leader. I think that we should all stay connected to Samantha’s story by following her platforms.  

Her tech work is truly inspiring! Reminding us that our skillset is needed for the world to become a better place.

September

Damien Sands

Damien Sands is debunking the famous myth that successful people always have pre-established goals and aspirations. In his formative years Damien was not always certain about his career path, but now he is 30 years of age with a budding career in law, entrepreneurship and politics.

At Legis Chamers he works as an Attorney-at-Law, amongst four other independent lawyers. He practices, but is not limited to, Criminal Law, Civil Law, Family Law, Commercial Law and Conveyancing. He owns two businesses-Prelude Car Rentals and D&S Distributor, a wholesale warehouse that supplies businesses with competitively priced goods.

Not to mention, Damien is also a Senator in the Government of Barbados, and was first appointed at age 28, which made him the youngest person in the history of Barbados to be a part of the Senate. Commendably, he is still a part of the Senate, putting his good intentions and fresh perspective to use for the development of Barbados.

With these various spheres of professional influence, it can be difficult for one to grasp that Damien was not always focused. He shares that,

“I was not a studios teenager. I would say that I was an average student.  In fact, if you were to tell any of my old teachers or peers that I would become a lawyer and businessman they would’ve laughed”

Besides this “average” performance Damien also paid no attention to how he was perceived by others in his younger years. He only experienced a shift in perspective due to a change in environment. Ultimately, it altered his outlook on life. It made him grow- as he was exposed to the wider world and interacted with people from different cultures.  

He quickly noticed a shift,

“Somewhere along the ling I noticed that my viewpoint had changed. I went from asking my parents for money, to earning my own money so that I could buy the things that I wanted. So, I am almost certain that this new perspective propelled me towards becoming more business oriented”

Damien started off selling snacks and transitioned into clothes and shoes which motivated him to start an online clothing store. Even though he is not involved in these current businesses anymore, it definitely paved the way for his current business ventures.

“Today i am involved in multiple businesses and it was all motivated by my early desire to become my own boss”

In respect to his work as a lawyer, it was not a lifelong passion or dream.

“Quite frankly I hated reading and I knew the volume of work that law entailed”

So, his initial focus was accounting, but for some strange reason he always performed better in his law exams. He also started to noticed that in spite of his disdain for reading, law books and case law started to peak his interest. Eventually, he realised that his academic results have been steering him into starting an educational journey in law, even though it was not an immediate passion.

However, it is proving to be a gratifying profession.

“I am able help my clients resolve issues or problems that have been tormenting them.  It may not be as satisfying as a doctor saving a life but to me it comes in second”

Since Damien’s professional path was not inspired from a childhood passion I had to ask- “How do you know that you are fulfilling your purpose?” He responded by saying, 

“In my short life span, due to my career path and business ventures, I have been able to make a positive difference in the lives of others. I have been able to donate food necessities to the less fortunate and assist some young people who were down and out. These moments reinforce my belief that I am on the right path because not only have I been able to help myself but I have been able to help others”

So, his sole objective, with all of his professional work is, 

“be better than I was the day before”

So, Damien’s path to success was not always clear, but personal growth made things fall into place. This personal development cultivated positive traits like ambition, persistence and discipline-all of which are critical traits for success.

We can all learn something valuable from Damien’s story- ‘A change in perspective has the power to guide us to fulfilling our destiny’. Take the steps needed to experience the growth that will eventually give you the right mindset for you to begin your story of success.

Follow-

Samara

Craig Claiborne once said that cooking is “…one of the simplest and most gratifying of the arts…” and I firmly believe that 26-year-old Samara Lezama from Trinidad and Tobago will agree with this statement. She is a Caribbean chef who aims to transform local ingredients into haute cuisine that everyone will love.

For Samara, cooking is an impassioned skill, where she brings her heart and knowledge to the kitchen. Two essential ingredients that come together to create incantatory dishes that keep her clientele wanting more.

 

 

“I love the fact that I can bring gourmet meals to my clients. It truly warms my heart to know that Trinidadians are open to, and appreciate my style of cooking. They are able to genuinely enjoy good food that’s outside of their everyday range”

Her diverse culinary skills are attributed to her international training. At age 20 she journeyed to San Francisco for an unpaid internship at a renowned restaurant, which at the time was the 49th best restaurant in the world.

The exposure honed her skills in the kitchen, challenging her to expand on her current capabilities. The practice and knowledge tested her limits in the kitchen but left her feeling confident and reassured that she could make a name for herself in the industry.

“When my tenure was up, I was gifted with a book written by the executive chef. In it, the sous chef wrote me a note telling me how much of a pleasure it was to watch me grow as a chef and how much of a natural leader I was”

Samara’s international training continued when she spent a year working at a hotel in Munich Germany. Yet again, she was exposed to another part of the culinary world. This time she refined her skills in European cuisine. Undoubtedly, travel has been a major part of her professional development- this is why travelling is so important for aspiring chefs.

“It has the potential to inspire you as you explore a new realm of cuisine and collaborate with other professionals.”

However, this international journey ended when Samara decided to return to Trinidad even though she was offered the opportunity to stay. Once at home, Samara started ‘Sampalam’. That’s right! Her own business, where she has the freedom to assert more authority in the kitchen, simply because the space is hers. She gets to control the aesthetic, the menu, the recipes and hours of the business.

Admittedly, turning down the job offer was a real risk because there was no guarantee that she would succeed at this new venture. A venture that not only required cooking skills, but entrepreneurial knowledge.

Thankfully, the risk is proving to be worthwhile. As Samara is constantly refining her work to ensure that her client’s expectations are met and exceeded. She is truly committed to offering them an incredible experience every single time.

It is proving to be an even more fulfilling experience because,

“On days when there’s a surplus of food, there’s a community of sisters & schools in the area that I donate the food to. This opportunity to give back to the community is really a good feeling”

At present, Samara’s business is based online. Clients can peruse her menu, order and arrange their collection or delivery all through her Instagram account (@chefsampalam). A really futuristic approach if you asked me- a truth 21st century chef!

However, every chef dreams of owning their own storefront restaurant, and Samara is no different. This physical storefront will allow her to serve food and satisfy her clients appetite to be social, spontaneous and pampered- all of which takes place when we dine out.

With this long-term goal mapped out for her professional life, Samara is mindful that,

“The real estate industry in Trinidad and Tobago doesn’t favour small business owners. So, it’s challenging to get the storefront restaurant that I have in mind since I am focused on remaining creative and sustainable while showcasing ingredients in refreshing and unimaginable ways”

With this reality in mind she remains disciplined and motivated. Especially since she has plans to invest in younger chefs by granting scholarships and internships. The same resources and opportunities that were afforded to her in her early culinary career.

Her goals are further fueled by the encouragement of her family. Who she admits are,

“harsh critics that push me to strive for continuous improvement”

Whilst ensuring that she remains calm and patient because

“everything happens for a reason in God’s perfect timing”

A necessary reminder since the food industry can be a high stress environment.

So, Samara spends her down time reading literature that would help her remain relax and grounded in her business goals.

“I read a lot!- chef memoirs, biographies & autobiographies. I swear by the Aqua Panna & San Pellegrino list of 50 best restaurants, and so I try to get books written by the top 50 chefs. I also look up to Nick Muncy and his series of “Toothache” magazines because it is a bottomless pit of information and ideas”

This pastime also helps to keep her up to date- since the culinary world is always changing evolving and expanding. It’s crucial that she is on top of her foundational knowledge in food science and abreast of the advancements in her field.

In the end the popular adage wins – ‘Passion equals Profitability’. Samara is using her passion of food to sustain her livelihood. Something that most adults dream of. Her age, geography, nor resources stop her from making her goals a reality.

We are delighted to see another young person fulfill their purpose- and her customers are probably even more stoked to see this purpose materialize into meals that they can enjoy.

So, because

“food brings people together”

Let’s raise a virtual toast to the success of this food-entrepreneur! Follow her account and try one of her delectable creations today. 

October

Sonya Muschett

28-year-old Sonya Muschett works at 876 Career Source International as an Operations Manager. As the Operations Manager of the company she works to improve quality, efficiency and productivity. It is a crucial role that demands her attention for 8 hours of the day.

Outside of those 8 hours Sonya focuses her energy on her two clothing companies. MalikiaxSRM and Topp me up, which were both launched in 2019 and 2020 respectively. She is the main designer and thus has to apply the same skills used in her 9-5 job to ensure that her clothing businesses are a success. 

Her entry into the fashion industry came when she worked at a local clothing store. The store featured clothes that were manufactured in bulk, which is what most people refer to as ‘fast fashion’. So, Sonya felt like there was no originality or stimulation in selling clothes that were not unique. 

Due to the lacklustre experience she started MalikiaxSRM. It merges her love for unique fashion with her fondness for African prints. The energetic colours in the fabric provides the excitement she needs to generate unique contemporary designs each time. This thrill she experiences while designing has even prompted her to expand her business portfolio. 

Topp me up is her latest clothing business that is focused on exclusively selling tops, because ‘you have all these bottoms and no tops’- says the bio on her Instagram page. It’s an addition to her designing and entrepreneurial obligations.

This  addition is a great achievement, as every entrepreneur dreams of expanding and diversifying its range of products. However, she admits that the responsibilities can be challenging. 

“Currently my biggest challenge is accessing reliable labour. It is really important that I have the right team to produce items in a timely manner. I also have to ensure that the pieces are tailored well, because everything is handmade. Some other challenges I face are funding and marketing.”

Unfortunately, these challenges pose a  threat to the viability of owning a small fashion company, but Sonya’s perspective empowers her to persevere. 

“Learning how to address these challenges is what I consider as the process that allows me to build a firm foundation for my business. I know that is better for me to go through these challenges now and learn how to correct them while growing, rather than trying to build a business quickly with a rocky foundation” 

Besides this perspective, she draws inspiration from Nichole Lynel-a famous fashion designer and influencer. For Sonya it’s the relatability of her story, humility and growth that ignites a fire within her. 

“Her transparency keeps me motivated and reminds me that this journey will not be a walk in the park or a simple stroll on the beach. There will be down days and extremely hard days where I will feel overwhelmed. But regardless I should just trust the process”

Notwithstanding these sources of inspiration, Sonya shares that nothing can beat the indescribable feeling of seeing her designs come to life. 

“It goes from creation, to photography, to advertising. Then soon after you get an order from a customer and you see them wearing your design. This brings me immense joy and it definitely plays a big role in me pushing through no matter what challenges I face”

With these different sources of motivation, she continues to set goals that will take her business to the next level.

“I want my brand to gain more recognition locally and internationally. So, I plan on increasing my production levels and stock quantity, which would eventually lead me into owning my own manufacturing house”

Admirably, Sonya also wants to give back to younger designers, so that they can learn more about the work needed to successfully run a clothing company. Currently, her resources are limited so she gives back by sharing her knowledge and experience, with hopes that it will inspire them to keep on going.

She encourages any upcoming designer to,

“Ensure that fashion is something that you are passionate about. There will be days when the burden is more than you feel you can bear, but because it is something that you love, you will persevere. You also have to rest assured that God always puts us in situations to mold us and make us stronger. So, trust the process and enjoy the journey. No great success story came about without a good back story”

Sonya is on her way to making a mark in the fashion industry locally and internationally. It is evident in her vibrant and timeless designs seen on her Instagram accounts. Designs that makes one wonder how Sonya is managing her job at 876 Career Source International, whilst running these two businesses. I call it a real-life juggling act! A juggling act that amazes me because she does it all with a smile because, 

“it makes my existence worthwhile!”

Head over to her Instagram accounts and show some love for her creations! 

Bradley Downer

22-year-old Bradley Downer is already building his legacy. As he works with youth in Guyana to develop their STEM capabilities. A field that he believes has the potential to open up endless opportunities for young people and by extension Guyana. 

His love for STEM started at an early age. Interestingly, this love did not develop because he was surrounded with the latest technology, or adults who shared the same passion. Actually, young Downer would journey to a relative’s house to watch television.  

However, despite his lack of technological resources, his innate passion has allowed him to persist and experience achievements that shocked many of his observers- given his circumstances.

Today Bradley is gainfully employed at the Ministry of Health in Guyana as an Environmental Health Assistant (EHA). He is also, a coach at STEMGuyana, attached to the Lichfield STEM club, where he enjoys the process of sharing his knowledge and personal story to positively affect the next generation.

“Making a difference in my community with the youths I interact with is one of my biggest passions.”

Bradley also volunteers at Trifinity Solutions, Facebook Developers’ Circle, and the Shine Your Light initiative. Through his volunteer work he travels to different regions in Guyana willingly because he deeply believes that his purpose is to give back what was invested in him. 

In sharing his knowledge, he is paying the way forward, especially since someone extended courtesies that account for some of his accomplishments. Bradley did not attend a prestigious, well-resourced high school in Guyana. So, it’s only when he joined STEM Guyana, he got the chance to deepen his knowledge in the field. The organization gave him to foundation to learn more about web design and robotics. It has also created a space for him to be a part of conversations with Guyana’s most prominent government officials and public figures.

“Through my background in STEM I was able to meet with Mrs. Sandra Granger [former First Lady of Guyana] to discuss the way forward with STEM education. Ms. Catherine Hughes [former Minister of Public Telecommunication], Ms. Nicolette Henry [former Minister of Education], Mr. Christopher Jones [former Director Of Sport] and Ms. Annette Furgeson [Former Junior Minister of Communities]. Additionally, I worked with Miss World Guyana 2019 [Ms. Joylyn Conway] with her ‘Beauty with a Purpose’ project called ’STEM GIRLS GLOW’”

Bradley has even interacted with Murthada Al Tameemi, a famous software engineer from Facebook all through his involvement with the Facebook Developers’ Circle- Georgetown Program. Experiences that have shaped him into the person that he is today. 

Also, Bradley is only 22 and there is already a long list of accomplishments that accompany his name. He has obtained a scholarship from the Government of Guyana, he was a finalist in the CARICOM Solar Head of State competition, and he was the 3rd place winner in Guyana’s Animation Network App Design and Prototyping competition.

Remarkable accomplishments that contradict his circumstances. It also contradicts the discouraging comments made by some adults who often discriminated and shared that STEM isn’t something he should pursue. 

Bradley shares that the comments, 

“enabled me to blossom”

So, Bradley is using his passion in STEM and the ‘motiavtion’ from the adults around him to change the trajectory of life, and he is determined to do the same for others. So, he shares some advice for persons who are interested in the field, 

“It literally doesn’t matter which school you attend or what socio-economic background you come from. You can do or be anything as long as you put your mind to it and focus. Always remember that nothing in life comes easy, so do not limit yourself- the possibilities are endless!” 

Bradley’s story is a truth inspiration. He didn’t experience the luxuries of life, but he is making things happen. Proving that hard-work and determination are the only two things that a person needs to succeed. A lesson that he is working fervently to instill in other young people.

My hope is that you too are inspired and encouraged after reading his story, and you realize that there is nothing holding you back from achieving your dreams. You can make something out of nothing!
 

November

Kai Bridgewater

There is nothing better than having a young person advocate for the development of youth. This is exactly what 24-year-old Kai Bridgewater is doing as a youth leader in Jamaica. As he works as the Immediate Past Chairman of the Youth Advisory Council of Jamaica. 

A role that he perceives as his duty, because he notices that there are many issues that affect youth in Jamaica.  He feels as though observing and commenting on the problems that he and is peers experience is not enough. Instead he wants to actively work on creating realistic solutions that will make a difference.

An admirable decision, but sometimes the job can be misunderstood, since observers may just think that advocacy work only entails conferences and summits. What they don’t see is the research and hours spent in meetings that are necessary if a proposed project or policy should come to fruition. However, it is time and energy that Kai doesn’t mind investing, since he enjoys seeing

“the real positive impact my work has had on the lives of others.”

So, for Kai it’s all about ‘service before self’. A powerful phrase that even transfers to his personal life as he intends on using his academic qualifications and experience to help develop Jamaica, by one day going up for public office.

“Within the next year I plan to complete, with distinction, my MSc in Law and Finance at the University of Oxford. After this, I intend to work overseas for a few years, broadening my perspective by gaining invaluable experience. With this new perspective and much needed experience, I intend to return home to Jamaica to forge a successful career in finance, initially providing leadership in the private sector, and ultimately, serving my country through holding public office.”

It’s quite an altruistic mindset. A mindset that was fostered by the exemplary leadership that his late grandmother, Dr. The Honorable Joyce Robinson, displayed. Kai shares that her vision, selflessness and determination to improve the lives of Jamaicans has been an inspiration. He noted that her leadership of the National Literacy Program made it possible for thousands of Jamaicans to become literate, which ultimately provided them with economic and social advancement. 

With this close example of leadership being personified, it’s no surprise that Kai followed when he entered young adulthood. Whilst pursuing his undergraduate degree at The University of the West Indies-Cavehill he took up many leadership roles. He believes that his leadership positions at school really helped to concretize that leadership and advocacy was his callings. He recalls one striking moment, 

“During my tenure as Hall Chairman at The University of the West Indies. Construction began at a nearby location a few weeks before final exams. Students who lived closest to the construction site were frustrated with the noise that interrupted their study schedules.

Although not personally affected, I led a petition, signed by over 250 students, calling for the cessation of the construction. On receiving the petition, the Principal agreed to negotiate. This resulted in the immediate cessation of the construction until after the examination period and a rebate of one semester’s hall fees for students who were directly affected.”

So, this is exactly what we mean when we say that Kai is preoccupied with making the lives of others better. It was quite a memorable moment, but he understands that his advocacy work will not always result in immediate change. 

He is conscious that the work he plans to do in Jamaica, upon his return may be stymied. He realizes that the Jamaican economy, though poised for growth, will experience crippling changes due to the pandemic. He knows that this can pose a significant challenge to the business and finance sector- the two areas that he seeks to accomplish his advocacy work. 

Yet, this does not discourage Kai from achieving his objective of making a difference. He has clear goals mapped for the future which will materialize as he relies on his faith in God and his family to give him the extra energy and confidence needed to overcome. 

“Whether it’s help in brainstorming and researching solutions to a
 problem or even a simple hug, my family’s support helps to motivate me by reminding me that I’m not alone and that we are all in this together.”

Their support together with Philippians 4:13-‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’, gives him the drive needed to go on. Naturally, he wants to extend this support to other young people, so that they too can realize their full potential. As a youth leader he wants them to, 

“Dream big and work hard because there’s nothing that you can’t achieve.”

Leadership roles aside, Kai is like any other youth.  He loves watching and playing football socializing with friends and reading.  However, he ensures that he is fulfilling his purpose on earth whilst having fun. 

Kai’s age does not deter him from joining conversations and groups that are sometimes above his experience. He is confident in his abilities and is working arduously on his personal goals so that he can effect change in his community. Let’s give it up for Kai as he commits his life to selflessly serving his community!

Renee Ruth Andrews

Food is like an elixir. We often gravitate to it when we are in need of comfort. In fact, studies show that when we eat our brain releases dopamine- the feel-good neurotransmitter. This chemical release is a natural bodily function, yet it was the stimulus for 26-year-old Renee Ruth Andrews to start her own Artisan Frozen Dessert Company- Sorvete

It all started because of Renee’s unfailing love for ice-cream. She admitted that she used ice-cream to bring herself out of a dark period in her life. She had just lost a close friend and her two jobs no longer brought about the kind of happiness to excite her. Determined to experience some sense of joy Renee relied on ice-cream to uplift her mood in those sad moments. 

 

 

“I genuinely wanted to be happy again and I knew that ice-cream was the answer”

Ice-cream had the magical ability to take her out of those dismal moments. So, I guess it’s truth- you can’t buy happiness, but you can buy ice-cream! Thoughtfully, she decided to extend this same experience to others. 

“It always made me feel so much better to sit down with my favorite flavors and just go to a happy place. I thought why not bring this level of happiness to others.”

So, Sorvete was launched in 2019. The company brings indicative flavors of Trinidad and Tobago to life, as Renee is committed to incorporate the unique culinary flavors of her country. Flavors that she is familiar with, since she studied at the Trinidad and Tobago Institute of Tourism and Hospitality (TTHTI). She attained her Associate Degree in Culinary Arts and the experience exposed her to the beauty of local foods and stretched her creativity. 

“Trinidad and Tobago is really a melting pot of flavors, some yet to be experienced, thus I feel inspired to experiment with local flavors so that I can push the boundaries of what we know as locally made ice-cream.” 

Her company stands out even more as she scoops out eggless ice-cream and sorbets. This ambitious task has required Renee to not only rely on her educational background, but it required that she spent time reading and researching the depth of the ice-cream world. Her time spent researching is an investment, but it is proving to yield a huge return. 

“Last Christmas, Sorvete was invited to serve ice-cream at a wedding and I was able to witness the expressions of delight on everyone’s face when they tasted my ice-cream. Their expression meant the world to me. The ‘wow’ as I would call it, boosted my confidence. I knew that this was my future”

However, in the midst of moments like these Renee is always aware of the struggles that can accompany entrepreneurship-namely increasing competition. She also feels as though these challenges can sometimes be amplified because of her age and gender.

“Women in business sometimes really struggle to push into the bigger realm of entrepreneurship.”

Along with her challenges as an entrepreneur, she also grapples with the regular demands of life. It’s a truth balancing act trying to give adequate attention to her other responsibilities along with the commitment needed to make Sorvete a success. Often times her social life would suffer because of the long hours invested in researching, experimenting and producing. 

With these conditions at play Renee repeats her personal motto,

“Challenges were my greatest teacher and having faith was my greatest strength.”

So, she makes deliberate steps to balance her personal life whilst working to make her business a household brand in the ice-cream industry. Steps that force her to develop, learn and get stronger!

She credits her focused mindset to the values that was instilled in her by her mother. 

“This quality I got from my mother who always thought us to find our passion and work at it with a zeal, always remembering that failure is the platform on which success stands, so  because of this  I try to see each failure as it passes as a lesson.“

Also, her deceased father is her guiding light as she works to make him proud. Due to this strong familial support, Renee advises that anyone looking to get into the ice-cream industry, or any other business venture to, 

“Share your vision with your family members and strong support groups, they are the ones to catch you when you fall.”  

Besides this piece of gripping advice, Renee is also purposeful in her aim to help other small businesses. As a small business owner, she relates with the challenges that some of her peers experience. So, she tries to incorporate their products and services into her business.  

“I love supporting other small businesses. I believe that this not only helps build a stronger community but displays a greater appreciation of the beloved crafts our country has to offer. When we help each other we all win! So, each month I make it a priority to work with other small business owners to collaborate and spread awareness of each other’s craft.”

A commendable approach, as she is not only preoccupied with the success of her company, but the success of others. Renee is a truth inspiration! Despite several difficulties she was able to persevere and extend grace to others in the business community. 

She churned negative experiences into sweet success. Sweet success that adds joy to her life but also to the lives of those you want to experience the magical effects of good local ice-cream. Sweet success that also supports the local business community.

Ice-cream is proving to be a very mighty treat! Follow Renee’s business account and try one of her tasty flavors, because clearly Sorvete solves anything!
 

December

Gabrielle Mollineau

23-year-old Gabrielle Mollineau of Trinidad and Tobago is championing the famous statement ‘Your Health is Your Wealth’. As she is utilizing her educational achievements (B.Sc. Nutritional Science ) to empower people to lead a healthy life, as she works as a Digital Nutrition Educator. An interesting title that would be further explained as you read more about her story. 

Before this job title came into existence, Gabrielle landed a one-year contract at the Ministry of Health some months after her graduation. The opportunity allowed her to lecture to audiences on the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle in various clinics and events across Trinidad and Tobago.
Interestingly, Gabrielle started a ponche-de-crème business before she landed this job at the Ministry.  
It came out of her sheer determination to,

“remove the word unemployed from my vocabulary. So, whilst I waited for my job placement, I decided to make my great-aunt’s infamous pumpkin ponche-de-crème recipe a business- @auntymstt

Aunty M’s started off with close friends and family as its core customers. Soon its popularity spread through the wider public through her promotion work at artisan markets and social media. During the Christmas season a lot of homes invited Aunty M’s to their festivities! Commendably, the business added two new flavours- Chocolate Mocha and Coconut even though Gabrielle was employed at the Ministry. 

Aunty M’s was a success, but ponche-de-crème is seasonal, so sales slowed down. Soon after her one-year contract at the Ministry ended. Naturally, Gabrielle began feeling very uncertain about the future. Thankfully, she gained some motivation from friends who encouraged her to keep on moving. 

“My two best friends persuaded me to use my knowledge in Nutritional Sciences to post nutrition-related content online. So, in May 2020, I started @balancedbitswithgabs where I share quick tips, nutrition facts, and recipes that put a healthy twist on everyone’s favourite Caribbean meals.”

So yes, Gabrielle started a business in the middle of the pandemic! She admits that at the time she didn’t fully comprehend what she wanted to do with this platform but, 

“I knew that with the right attitude, work ethic and strong faith, I could become successful.”

With this mindset and a few months of consistent online activity, Gabrielle was able to secure different public speaking gigs, sponsorships, contract deals and video appearances. In the space of 7 months she has worked with Nestlé, Eastern Credit Union, CGA Caribbean Limited and many others.

She shares that, 

“Although I am not employed by traditional terms and I am still learning more about these digital platforms, I am extremely grateful for all the opportunities that I have been granted thus far. I can’t wait to see what’s next!”

Admirably her friends call her their ‘favourite influencer’, but she prefers the term ‘digital storyteller’

“I really enjoy the opportunities I get to serve people from all around the world through my digital platforms, by bringing nutritional knowledge to life.” 

This new business has even prompted Gabrielle to explore other skills that she didn’t know existed-specifically Food Photography and Videography. Recently, Editing was added to the list since she launched her YouTube channel (@balanacedbitswithgab).

Creating winning content, strengthening new creative skills and managing client expectations can sometimes leave Gabrielle feeling exhausted but she feels like the experience is rewarding.

“Whilst the workload is heavy, I thoroughly enjoy creating and producing content for my page and others. I have been able to digitally connect with so many beautiful persons and their feedback through comments, shares and direct messages on the recipes or videos I’ve created keep me motivated.”

She also gets motivation from Dr. Terri-Karelle Reid and Mrs. Charlene Pedro. 

At the start of my blogging experience, I came across Dr. Terri-Karelle Reid’s captivating profile on Instagram and I just couldn’t stop scrolling. Her knowledgeable videos on personal branding, consistency and storytelling have helped me on this journey while I chase my dreams.  Also Mrs. Charlene Pedro’s course, ‘Thriving in Crisis’ was a driving force behind me becoming more disciplined with the goals I wanted to achieve. Her words “progression not perfection” have stuck with me and continue to play in my head as I go along my digital journey.”

Gabrielle feels confident that she on the right path. So, she has already started mapping out her goals for the future. She is working tirelessly for Balanced Bits with Gabs to become an international brand that employs nutritionists, dietitians and digital media personnel from across the Caribbean to promote local and regionally grown foods in a creative yet healthy way. 

She plans to attain her MSc in Nutrition and Food Science, monetize her YouTube channel by 2021 and become a certified Zumba Instructor by 2022. She is aware of her current financial constraints, especially since equipment is expensive, but nothing beats her ‘why’.

“My little brother is my ‘Why’. My little brother is autistic and although he is not dependent on me for everything, I want to ensure that I will be able to provide the best life for him.” 

This reason is coupled with her personal passion to see a change in her community. 

“There are so many young persons who are predisposing themselves to non-communicable diseases due to their lifestyle. If I can help to change the mindset of just a few young people on what it means to eat and be healthy, then I know I’ve done my job.”

Jokingly, Gabrielle shares that if these two factors were not at play many days she might have been under her blanket watching Netflix, but judging from the amazing strides this content creator has been able to make we know that this is not her current reality. 

She is very disciplined with her deliverables, as she employs practical time management tactics into her routine. She continuously converses with God to gain clarity and guidance before creating and this helps her to keep focused and rejuvenated for each project. 

So, given the nature of the job she advises any young person looking to delve into the field to,  

“Stay focused on your why, be your authentic self both online and offline, never stop learning and most importantly, have faith! This journey will not be easy, and there may be several setbacks but know that God is working out the best plan just for you.”

Aunty M’s is Gabrielle’s seasonal business that has prepared her for the challenges of her full-time business. Confirming that nothing happens by accident. Each time Gabrielle was faced with unemployment she was able to innovate and create new opportunities for herself.

I urge you to follow her on all her platforms. You will be entertained, amused and edified by her nutritional content at Balanced Bits with Gabs. Or you might be the first person to know about her new flavour launch at Aunty M’s.