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Grace Scholarship Fund Awards: Embracing Education and Talent in Jamaica 2023

KINGSTON, Jamaica – On Saturday, September 2nd, The Grace Scholarship Fund delivered awards to 11 Jamaican students pursuing higher education on the island-nation.  The event was held in Kingston at the on the University of the West Indies Mona Campus.

2023 Grace Scholarship Fund Award Winners

The Grace Scholarship Fund was founded in 2014, named after Grace Lawrence a life-long Jamaican educator.  Grace served in a formal capacity at Immaculate Conception High School for over 35 years.  Post retirement, Ms. Lawrence volunteered her time to the field of education until just a couple of weeks before her passing in October, 2021. Since the Fund’s inception, Founder & Executive Director, Rissa Lawrence has made it her mission to support Jamaican Youth via the Fund.  To date, the organization has distributed over 70 awards.

“I’m elated that the Grace Scholarship Fund has found a way to support students pursuing a variety of careers”, says Rissa.  This year’s recipients spanned all walks of life, degree programs and higher education institutes.  The 2023 cohort includes future dentists, lawyers, automotive professionals, social workers, business managers, accountants, teachers and nurses.  The students ranged 18 – 28 years of age.

Annual Reception

Honourable Fayval Williams at the Grace Scholarship Fund Raiser
Honourable Fayval Williams

Guest Speakers at the Fund’s annual reception included The Honourable Fayval Williams, Minister of Education and Youth for Jamaica.  During her address, the Minister acknowledged that education is the channel through which many Jamaicans are able to rise from humble beginnings to positions of prominence.  Further highlighting the broad impact of education on the greater society, the Minister shared that  “When we invest in our children by supporting their education, we are in fact investing in the development of our Country”.

“Our Fund is lucky to have such a diverse set of kind donors.  We are happy to receive donations of any size.  Larger gifts can fund entire awards.  Smaller donations are pooled together to form Community Awards.  Each and every dollar truly does make a difference” said Founder, Rissa Lawrence.

Guest Speaker

Reverend Robert Foster
Reverend Robert Foster

Also as guest speaker, was the Reverend Robert Foster, an ordained minister and also an executive with Victoria Mutual Bank.  His opening comments challenged the students to continue to push and surge ahead to ensure they maximize their true potential.  He then encouraged the recipients to have a daily regimen for success that includes everything from seizing moments, standing on God to staying focused and studying well.

Gold Donors

Other reception attendees included ‘Gold Donors’ from Jamaica and beyond.  “My family and I have been working with the Grace Scholarship Fund and attending the reception since 2017. The inception of the Thomas Laing Sr. Scholarship was created out of the desire to help students interested in the field of auto body and mechanics, and JAGAS was the perfect match. My father, Thomas, always loved giving back, so we have made it our mission to carry on his legacy of service to the Jamaican community.”, said Tia Liang, of the Liang Family from the United States.

During the reception, the students shared about the hardships they are overcoming to achieve their educational goals.  “I’m very grateful to be a recipient of this award as it will help towards my education and getting closer to achieving my career goal of becoming a licensed registered nurse. This scholarship is also a motivation for me to never give up and always believe in myself despite the challenges that arise.  I’m so thankful for this opportunity.” said Shanna-Kay Foster, a nursing student at Brownstown Community College.

Benefit of Education

“Education is a great equalizer and Grace Scholarship Fund is happy to play a role “,  says Rissa who herself is a graduate of both Harvard Business School (MBA) and Northwestern University (BSc, Engineering).


“The GSF scholarship has been a beacon of hope, illuminating my path towards achieving my academic and career aspirations. It embodies the spirit of investing in future leaders and fostering global connections, inspiring myself and others to strive for excellence and contribute meaningfully to society.”, says Award Recipient, Shanique Fanty.

Students were delighted to also receive travel stipends for the day for them and their guests.

2023 Grace Scholarship Fund Award Winners
2023 Grace Scholarship Fund Award Winners with Founder Rissa Lawrence (Left)

2023 Award Recipients

  • Jamilia Williams (University of the West Indies, Psychology)
  • Kaycia Hylton (University is the Commonwealth Caribbean, Accounting & Finance)
  • Jade Simmonds (University if the West Indies, Law)
  • Scott Wright (Jamaican German Automotive School, Motor Vehicle Repairs)
  • Ryheem McKoy (University is the West Indies, Operations Management)
  • Shanna-Kay Foster (Brownstown Community College, Nursing)
  • Shanique Fanty (Northern Caribbean University, Social Work)
  • Shana-Kay Manning (University of Technology, Dentistry)
  • Kadejah Watson (Northern Caribbean University, Social Work)
  • Karon Smith (Shortwood Teacher’s College, English Language and Literacy)
  • Tyrece Brown (Jamaican German Automotive School, Motor Vehicle Repairs)

The Fund welcomes donations of any size.  You can learn more about the Fund and donate via their website at You can connect with the Fund on Instagram @gracefund  


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