Yamille Moss is the grand champion of the 15th annual Sunshine Insurance – Elmira College Essay & Speech Competition.
The 15-year-old Aquinas College student’s plan to lower the country’s food import bill and inspire Bahamians to pursue careers in agriculture won her the top prize – a $60,000 scholarship to attend Elmira College in New York.
Moss’ plan – Seawater Greenhouses – would allow Bahamians to produce their own food by using seawater greenhouses.
Runners-up included Matthew Deveaux, 16, of Queen’s College; Michael Miller, 16, of Genesis Academy and Chelsea Tynes, 17 of Queen’s College. They will each get $30,000 scholarships.
The remaining finalists were: Lauren Johnson, Alexandria Thompson, Lakia Rolle, Kyra N. McKinney, Diontae Burrows and Tylah Campbell.
“I’m ecstatic; I don’t even know how to put this feeling into words,” said Moss following the announcement on Saturday.
“I have never won anything before. All three of my siblings are older than me and they are huge overachievers. My brother won a full scholarship to Johns Hopkins [University] and so, it’s a lot of pressure. I never felt like I really measured up,” she said.
Moss, who is interested in pursuing a degree in journalism, theatre or psychology, explained that her siblings played a major role in getting her to enter the competition.
“My sister came to me and she said, ‘there’s an essay competition that Sunshine Insurance is having; all three of us were in it, so you have to be in it, too. So, it wasn’t much of a choice,” she said in between laughs. “Elmira doesn’t have journalism, but I’m looking at theatre or psychology right now.”
When it came time to write her essay, the 11th grader turned to her brother for advice.
“He told me that I should sit down and think about what I think a real problem is. I immediately went to governmental spending and it came to me after talking to him for a long time and not sleeping a lot of nights,” she said.
Before announcing the winners, Elmira College Vice President of External Relations, Mike Rogers told the students that “this has been one of the best years ever.”
“I think we could have easily had seven or eight winners – all of you could be excellent students here at Elmira College. We had a lot of terrific ideas. I think The Bahamas is in great hands with young people like you,” he said.
Sunshine Insurance Vice President of Development, Dwayne Swaby thanked Elmira College for its partnership throughout the years.
“We were very pleased that the students eagerly participated this year, in spite of their challenges with Hurricane Matthew. The opportunity to assist young Bahamians fulfil their college goals means a lot to Sunshine Insurance and we remain committed to doing our part to help our nation’s youth with their growth and development. We are delighted to be a part of such a positive initiative,” he said.
Elmira alumnae, Jade Williams, Janay Pyfrom-Symonette, Errolisa McPhee judged from New Providence, while Mr. Rogers and Dr. Robert Irons judged from Elmira, New York.
To date, Elmira College has awarded $1.6 million in scholarships.
By Rogan Smith