Giving back: The power of education

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly speaks to high school physics students about going into space.

Estella Shardlow

Dart’s long-standing belief in the transformative power of education has evolved into two parallel, sought-after initiatives: Minds Inspired and Dart Scholar.

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics, collectively known as STEM subjects, are the focus of Minds Inspired, a year-round program that involves young people in a diverse collection of educational and community activities. Established in 2012, it is designed to challenge and inspire Cayman’s most promising students – our future leaders and innovators.

Inspiring events

Minds Inspired’s work extends well beyond the classroom. Numerous extra-curricular events are organized through the year, from the SeaPerch robotics challenge to meeting inspirational figures, such as NASA astronauts Captains Mark and Scott Kelly. As part of this summer’s enrichment activities, a group of high school scholars will travel to Toronto on an environmental science trip. Such experiences offer rich opportunities to learn new skills, network, spark ambitions and, of course, have fun.

Thomas James Sevik Jr. is a 2017 Dart Scholar at Layman E. Scott High School, who took part in the Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering Summer Camp. “I learned so much at the camp and really enjoyed the ‘design-build-test’ experiences,” he says.

Meanwhile, Sky Wolfe, a 2018 Junior Challenge Winner and pupil at Hope Academy, has fond memories of the annual Mathematics Challenge: “My favorite part was working with students from other schools in the mixed event.”

While some of the activities are open to all, for others, including the summer camp, students are invited to apply for one of the limited spaces.

Dart also supports wider on-island events that share in highlighting STEM education, such as Cayman Islands Shark Talk, CASE Mentoring, astronomical events and the Rotary Central Science Fair.

A Minds Inspired group attends the Cayman Alternative Investment Summit in 2017.

Scholarships

Dart Scholar currently offers two scholarships: one for high school students, the other for university.

The former is open to Caymanian students in Grade 9 (Year 10), supporting them for the remaining four years of schooling in Cayman. Selection focuses on academic achievement, with emphasis on STEM subjects.

The university scholarship also prizes strong academics, but this time it can apply to wider range of subjects, not necessarily STEM.

Successful candidates are chosen via a blind selection process. Kathy Jackson, Senior Brand Manager of Dart Enterprises Ltd., explains: “Only the program administrator knows who each application belongs to; all others on the panel only have a number to reference each application by. Once the final selection is made the number becomes a name.”

In addition to the financial support, scholars benefit from mentoring and work placements.

This summer, for example, around 25-30 students will get to sample careers at Dart on the Work-X scheme.

A passion for education

“Investments in education deliver high yielding dividends to individuals and their immediate families, and indirect benefits to the community and economy,” says Jackson.

Ken Dart’s personal belief in the power of education – both for the individual and for society in general – was influenced by his parents, William A. and Claire T. Dart, who together founded The Dart Foundation to advance and encourage youth education.

“When you consider all the components that make up Minds Inspired,” Jackson reflects, “we are proud to say that we touch hundreds of students either directly through our programs, awards and initiatives or indirectly through sponsorships.”

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