Scholarship programme turns 10

It is as if the seeds Dart planted 10 years ago bore magnificent fruit.

Dart's scholarship programme celebrated its 10th anniversary this year with the graduation of five of its university scholars — four with the top academic honours offered by the university they attended.

The five graduates were celebrated with a reception in the penthouse suite at Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa on 23 July. In addition to the graduates and other current and alumni members of the Dart Scholar programme, the reception was attended by several of the Dart executive team members and others involved in the triple-blind selection process.

Dart Executive Vice President Community Development Pilar Bush said the entire Dart organisation was extremely proud of the graduates.

"When Dart CEO Mark VanDevelde had the original vision for this scholarship programme 10 years ago, he hoped it would cultivate the best and the brightest to help them use their abilities to improve Cayman or wherever they decided to go after their studies," she said. "You are thinking and doing what we envisioned. We couldn't have asked for better ambassadors for the Dart Scholar programme."

Launched in 2012 as Minds Inspired and then rebranded as Dart Scholar in 2018, the scholarship programme has seen its recipients soar to heights before, but not with so many achievements as this year.

Two Dart High School Scholars are selected every year. Recipients of a high school scholarship do not automatically qualify for a university scholarship, but Dart Senior Manager Education Programmes Glenda McTaggart said it puts them on a path for one.

"They have to earn it," she said. "They have to excel in high school by getting good grades, showing leadership and being good student citizens."

The Dart Scholar programme also awards an annual university scholarship to a student who wasn't previously one of the high school scholars.

The graduates

Drew Milgate, who was the 2013 Dart High School Scholar and a 2017 William A. Dart Memorial University Scholar, graduated from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom with top honours with a Master of Science in electrical engineering.

Another 2013 Dart High School Scholar and 2017 university scholar, Daniel Nicholson-Gardner, was unable to attend the reception because he has already started work for a large technology firm in Chicago after recently graduating from Indiana University with a degree in computer science.

The 2014 High School Scholar and 2018 University Scholar Emma Turnbull, earned a biomedical science degree with top honours from Newcastle University in England. She begins her pursuit of a Master of Science degree in immunobiology at Newcastle this fall.

Anja van Genderen, who graduated with top honours with a degree in biological science from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, was a 2014 High School Scholar and 2018 William A. Dart Memorial University Scholar. Anja embarks on a journey to earn a Master of Science from Uppsala University in Sweden this fall.

Dominic Dyer, who was was the recipient of the 2017 William A. Dart Memorial university scholarship, graduated with top honours with a degree in economics from Columbia University in New York.

This fall, Dominic will attend the University College London to pursue a Master of Science in real estate economics and investment analysis.

More than money

Dominic said being a Dart Scholar was about much more than the scholarship itself.

"Dart truly believes in you and supports you," he said. "They don't just throw money at you; they stay involved."

Like most of the other Dart Scholars — and not just this year's graduates — Dominic found his internships invaluable work experience.

"They gave me meaningful work from day one," he said. "This year they gave me one full project that I had authority over and trusted me with it."

2020 William A. Dart Memorial University Scholar Johnathon Bedasse, who is attending Columbia University and also attended the reception for this year's graduates, agreed wholeheartedly with Dominic about the value of the internship.

"You're treated as an adult and they give you real work," he said. "With a lot of internships, they just give you filing to do or something else you don't want to do."

Imperial College London student Marcos Bertan, the 2019 university scholar recipient, said he was surprised at the importance of some of the projects he has worked on during his internships. One of those projects was the new Polyn app launched late last year.

"I couldn't even go home and tell my parents about what I was doing," he said, referring to the nondisclosure agreement interns must sign because of the sensitive nature of the work they do. "I had to wait until it launched before I could tell my parents, 'I worked on that.'"

Another important benefit of the Dart Scholar programme is the annual summer enrichment trips the students take.

Graduate Emma Turnbull said she particularly enjoyed the enrichment trips to the CERN nuclear research facility in Geneva, Switzerland, and the trip to London that included a tour of Imperial College.

"Just being able to see new and different places was great and helped me choose where I wanted to go to uni," she said.

Selection process

Several of the Dart Scholars spoke about the application process for the programme, noting that it was straightforward, easy to understand and not particularly difficult to do. While it does require in-person testing and an in-person interview, they said they found the process warm, respectful and inviting.

"I walked in for the interview and everyone in the room was smiling at me," said 2021 university scholar Aiden Watler.

One of the reasons for those smiles was that the interviews this year were conducted by two former Dart Scholars — Kelsie McLean and Julian Solomon — both of whom now work at Dart.

Kelsie was given a Dart scholarship in 2011, before the establishment of a formalised programme that focused on students studying the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

She studied hotel and lodging management at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, North Carolina, and then gained a year of work experience at the Kimpton hotel in Miami before assisting with the opening of Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa in Cayman. She joined Dart's Human Resources team in 2018.


This article appears in print in the August 2021 edition of Camana Bay Times, written by Alan Markoff.