It was not a regular day at the beach for representatives of the University of the Virgin Islands who received some $33,000 in donations from the Magens Bay Authority during the authority’s board meeting Friday.
“Several months ago at our board meeting, we unanimously approved the idea of forming a student scholarship,” shared Board Chairman Robert Moron. “We decided that the scholarship will be awarded to a Virgin Islands student graduating from one of the high schools in St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John and planning to attend UVI."
According to Moron, the total scholarship amount – $33,000 – will be given to the university over a period of five years. Each year, by Feb. 28, the university will receive $6,600 from the authority.
The Magens Bay Authority Edmund L. Penn Scholarship is named after a veteran of the authority’s board of directors. Penn had been a member of the board for 52 years, 23 of which he spent as chairman.
Board member Aubrey Nelthropp, also a mainstay in the authority, credited Penn for his involvement with the stewardship of Magens Bay.
“In 1993, Mr. Penn brought me onboard the Magens Bay Authority,” said Nelthropp, who had been a board member for 21 years. “We had a really great time and I really appreciate Mr. Penn for all he taught me and what he did, his contribution.”
Dionne Jackson, vice president of institutional advancement at UVI, said the scholarship was a product of months of collaboration between the university and the authority.
“We celebrate community partnerships whenever we can and, indeed, this is a wonderful celebration for us,” said Jackson, adding that the university will now proceed to making sure the funds are deposited in the proper accounts and that deserving students are identified as candidates.
“We had several conversations late last year about the scholarships and what we wanted,” said Mitchell Neaves, director of major gifts under the university’s Office of Institutional Advancement. “Both parties wanted to really have an impact with the funding.”
The selection process for the recipient of the Penn Scholarship, according to Jackson, will undergo usual UVI procedures. The University’s Scholarship Committee, which meets roughly twice a year, will select from a cadre of applicants who show promise. While scholarships are usually granted based on financial need or academic excellence, or both, the Penn Scholarship will go to high school graduates interested in studying biology, marine biology, environmental sciences and other related fields.
“It kind of lines up well with Magens Bay Authority and what they’re doing out here,” noted Neaves.
“With this particular scholarship, there is an essay component,” shared Jackson. “By the time the students apply, we make sure that there’s a good match.”
Neaves said that for the scholarship’s first year, only one student will be identified as a recipient. Because it is a recurring scholarship spread over five years, the recipient is expected to form a good relationship with the Office of Institutional Advancement and Magens Bay Authority, according to Neaves.
“We think it’s going to be very successful,” said Neaves. “We look forward to having another agreement that will possibly expand to even more students.”
While specific application details have not been finalized, according to Neaves, interested students should look out for dates and deadlines, which will soon be put up by both the authority and UVI. Applicants have to be accepted to the university first before the scholarship application process can begin.
“We’re very happy with where we’re going with it and the Magens Bay Authority is very pleased to award the scholarship,” said Neaves.