Caymanian 2015 UWC scholars chosen

| 14/05/2015
Cayman News Service

2015 UWC Cayman Islands scholars Gabriella Castillo and Haley Willkom with Vice Chairperson Ridhiima Kapoor

(CNS): Gabriella Castillo and Haley Willkom are the newest Caymanian scholars selected by the local national committee of the global United World Colleges (UWC) movement. Following a rigorous application and interview process, the two young women were nominated on the basis of their passion for the UWC mission and values, impressive academic records and references, and substantial involvement in community service and co-curricular activities.

After completing O Level examinations locally this summer, they will enrol in the two-year pre-university programme – Gabriella in Santa Ana, Costa Rica, and Haley in Duino, Italy – and study alongside students from all over the world for the International Baccalaureate Diploma.

Though the IB Diploma is one of the most widely-recognised and highly regarded secondary qualifications in the world, the full UWC college experience is very unique. UWC is the only global educational movement with the explicit aim of bringing together young people from many different backgrounds and using a values-based education as a force to unite them for peace and a sustainable future.

Commenting on this year’s scholars, UWC Cayman Islands Chairperson Aubrey Bodden (UWC-USA ’04) stated, “Gabriella and Haley will be excellent ambassadors of the Cayman Islands and make their own meaningful contributions to their colleges and distinctive impact on the world. I wish them all the best as they embark on this new adventure and know they will also take advantage of the many opportunities they will have over the next two years and beyond.”

At each UWC college academic achievements are put into perspective with a demanding mix of community engagement, international affairs, physical activities, service commitments and creative pursuits. Living on campus with a diverse group of peers also creates an environment where prejudices are questioned and tested on a daily basis, opening students to new ways of thinking, building tolerance, and helping to overcome hostility and conflict.

A UWC education is a transformative experience and the global impact can be seen in over 50,000 graduates from over 180 different countries since the first college was founded in Wales in 1962. One key objective is to equip students to continue the commitment they make to peace, international understanding and positive social change and to make a difference in whatever they choose to do in their lives. The UWC movement also stresses the importance of graduates contributing to their home countries — the countries where they were initially selected — to make a significant difference throughout the whole world.

In 1984, when there were only six colleges, UWC Cayman Islands was established to select Caymanian scholars, beginning with Linburgh Martin and Dana (Welds) Brandon. Since that time, the movement has grown further to encompass fifteen colleges and there are now dozens of Caymanian alumni.

The national committee has also expanded its activities to include local events promoting the UWC values of international and intercultural understanding; celebration of difference; personal responsibility and integrity; mutual responsibility and respect; compassion and service; respect for the environment; a sense of idealism; personal challenge; and action and personal example. In the summer of 2015, UWC Cayman Islands will also host its first short programme for teens interested in sustainability issues to reach more and younger students.

Bodden noted, “Our organisation is run entirely by volunteers and the Selection Committee in particular has put in many hours and extensive efforts to recruit applicants and select the most deserving candidates for places allocated to our national committee. It would of course be remiss of me to not also highlight our sponsors, who allow us to do this without considering financial means. A merit-based selection process is at the core of our values and donations and sponsorship of our events allow us to promote the UWC mission locally and provide scholarships to ensure our young people reach their full potential.”

In recognising those who make the charitable organisation’s work possible, Bodden added, “I would like to, in particular, thank our volunteers for their dedication, major donors Maples and Calder and the Aall Foundation for their consistent financial support, and Dart Enterprises and Cayman National Bank, who have just come on board as the first two sponsors of our upcoming local short programme.

“I also invite other companies and individuals to contact us at if you are interested in learning more about UWC and how to become a part of this exciting and life-changing movement by applying, donating, or volunteering your time and skills. Every contribution – no matter how small you may think it is – helps further the UWC mission to make education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future.”

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Category: Education, Scholarships

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