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QC students make Alpha Phi Alpha history

Shannon Butler and Ahmad Pratt capture top two awards at Honours Day Convocation
  • Queen’s College students Shannon Brown, left, and Ahmad Pratt, right, made history in the 26-year-history of Alpha Phi Alpha Honours Day Convocation. Shannon snagged the valedictoria award and a $6,000 scholarship. Ahmad took home the salutatorian award and a $3,000 scholarship.

Guardian Lifestyles Editor

Published: May 15, 2013

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Shannon Butler and Ahmad Pratt are the top two males in the Queen’s College 2013 graduating class. To that they can add the fact they are also the top two males out of the 2013 Alpha Phi Alpha Honours Day Convocation. A feat that was historic for the Alpha organization, and for Queen’s College. In the 26-year history of the honors ceremony, it was the first time that two young men from the same institution captured the top two awards.

Shannon was named valedictorian an honoring that earned him a $6,000 scholarship. Ahmad was named the salutatorian. He earned a $3,000 scholarship.

Both young men described the honors as special.

“This honoring was really special to me because I got the opportunity to win a scholarship and to also make history with my friend Ahmad Pratt,” said Shannon. “We were the first two honorees from the same school to ever be able to win both top prizes in the competition.”

“It was a great experience and one of the top moments of my life,” said Ahmad. “It was a great honor. I was glad to get a scholarship to help with my fees to university.”

Also picking up special honors from the recent weekend program was Old Bight High School’s Allancio Gilbert who was awarded the Family Island Scholar award. He received a $2,000 scholarship.

Grand Bahama Catholic School’s Uriah Knowles was given the Medicine award and a $1,500 scholarship. L.N. Coakley High School’s Javan Davis was awarded the Accounting/Commerce award and a $1,000 scholarship. C.R. Walker’s L’Heintz Vincent picked up the Debate award and a $500 scholarship.

Shannon and Ahmad outscored 59 honorees, all young men who are at the top of their graduating class from high schools around the country. Each year the Greek fraternity writes to schools around the country inviting their top two male graduating students to be a part of the program. The students have to have a 3.00 grade point average or above.

The young men are then invited to sit exams that consist of math, English and general knowledge. The results are perused and the winners announced.

This year Shannon, who has a 3.95 cumulative grade point average (GPA) was also recently named the Best Overall performer in the 2012 BGCSE examinations in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, in New Providence and in Independent Schools, (nine A grades and one B grade) and who also picked up the best overall performer award in the Mathematics BGCSE, was named valedictorian for the Alphas Honours Day Convocation, said the new honor made him feel good.

“It’s nice to know that my hard work and determination over the years has paid off and manifested itself in all these awards and honors because I have to say, when I was in primary school, I was never at the top. I always wanted to be at the top but it didn’t go that way, and so in high school I’m glad to see that my consistency paid off.”

Shannon plans to attend the University of St. Andrew’s in Scotland to study medicine. His interest is in cardiothoracic surgery.

It will cost him approximately $60,000 per year for the medical program at the University of St. Andrew’s. With a $6,000 scholarship under his belt from the Alphas, he has applied to the All Bahamas Merit and the National Merit and Lyford Cay Foundation for further funding to help with his educational pursuits.

Ahmad, who has s 3.72 cumulative GPA, plans to study biochemistry at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada in the fall.

“It made me feel great, that two males from the same school could actually do such an extraordinary accomplishment and make history for our school and selves,” said Ahmad.

Ahmad, who says he always strives to be one of the top students in his class sat eight Bahamas General Certificates of Secondary Education (BGCSE) examinations in 2012. He received five A grades, one B grade and two C grades.

Dr. Valentine Grimes, chairman of the Alpha Phi Alpha Education Committee and coordinator of the Honours Day Convocation said the sweep of the top two honors by Queen’s College students was an achievement for the school.

In an age where young men receive so much bad press, he said it was positive that the organization is able to host an honors day for 26 years, recognizing young men that are actually doing the right thing.

Dr. Grimes, who himself was the second valedictorian of the program in 1988, has also seen the program evolve over the years. When the honors day program fell under his portfolio, he said he sought to expand on it by affording the students time to interact with each other.

“I had limited interaction between. We basically came, sat the exam, sat together for convocation and then went our way. I wanted to improve on that so students from C.C. Sweeting seated with students from Q.C. and Cat Island could interact.

“I wanted to let the students know that these are going to be their peers when they’re professional in The Bahamas as they move through the ranks in the companies or their own businesses,” said Dr. Grimes.

Under his watch, the students have also been given opportunities to engage in debate. They are given questions on the Saturday, broken into small groups from which they have to elect a leader from among themselves to present the position of the group on a topic in 10 minutes. The students are also subject to questions from the floor, which forces them to have to formulate ideas on the spot.

“It forces them to interact and forces them to think about issues pertinent to young men and also let them know to keep going,” said Dr. Grimes.

The day is concluded with a career mixer. The organization puts the students in contact with people in their fields of choice, so they can understand and make sure they understand the options to go and pursue their career of choice.

According to Dr. Grimes, the program not only recognizes top male students, he said it also affords them the opportunity to view men who can be seen as role models.

“Even though these guys are the best in their schools, sometimes they don’t have a lot of role models maybe within their schools or without, and it’s good for them to see there are young men doing successful things and giving back. I think it encourages them to keep going with what they want to do, because even though they are the top of their classes, the point we make is that a high school degree does not go very far today.”

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