Dominican Jerelle Joseph is one of the recipients of the 6th annual Bill Gates Sr. Award. Arif Naveed of India also received the award this year. This is the third year running that the award has been shared.
The Gates Cambridge trustees established the award in 2012 in recognition of Bill Gates Sr., father of Bill Gates III of Microsoft fame. The award was named after Gates Sr. for his role in establishing the Gates Cambridge Scholarships, over a decade of service as a Trustee, and his engagement with, and inspiration to, many generations of Gates Cambridge Scholars.
The award allows scholars to recognize one of their peers by submitting a 500 word statement on the reason their nominee should win the award. The winner is based on how well the nominee meets the selection criteria while in residence in Cambridge.
According to the Cambridge website, Jerelle’s journey to Cambridge was not easy. She suffered the loss of both her parents. Her dedication and energetic approach were recognized when she taught for a year at her old high school. She would stay up till 2am working on her lesson plans. She would also give extra lessons at school including laboratory sessions. Jerelle was nominated for her outstanding academic abilities – she has published several papers while at Cambridge and was noted for her generous support for incoming Cambridge Scholars among other feats. Jerelle also setup Carischolar a nonprofit mentorship programme that connects young scholars with professionals and academics in the Caribbean. She also coordinated relief supplies for Dominica post Maria flying back and forth between Dominica and the UK.
One nominator wrote: “As a person, Jerelle is one of the best gates scholars I know. She is the rare example of the person who is able to be (and often is) the life of the party, but prefers to remain sharply independent of the crowd, never failing to push for her beliefs when necessary and never following any person or idea blindly. This, in my mind, is the mark of a true leader.”