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Arguably one of the brightest minds

Queen's College graduate amasses $146,000 in scholarship funds and joins an elite group as the 19th All Bahamas Merit Scholar
  • Queen’s College graduate, Shannon Butler, 17, was named the 19th All Bahamas Merit. LYFORD CAY FOUNDATION

Guardian Lifestyles Editor

Published: Aug 07, 2013

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Shannon Butler is arguably one of the brightest minds to graduate high school this year, and it shows in the fact that he has amassed $146,000 in scholarship funds to pursue his educational dream of becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon.

The Queen’s College graduate was recently named the 19th recipient of the All Bahamas Merit Scholar, and awarded a four-year $140,000 scholarship, after being named the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity’s 2013 valedictorian and awarded a $6,000 scholarship.  He plans to use the funds to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Medicine at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

After realizing his educational dream, Shannon says he wants to perform charitable operations and has a goal of establishing the first regional cardiopulmonary transplant service and organ donor register in the English-speaking Caribbean.

They may seem like lofty goals, but the teenager said with the help of God, he will do everything in his power to turn his dream and passion into reality.

“It is extremely humbling to be named the recipient of the 2013 All Bahamas Merit Scholarship and to know that the selection committee and donors of the scholarship have faith in me, my dreams and my capabilities.”

The former Q.C. head boy and valedictorian said the scholarship would help him tremendously in the pursuit of his dreams.

“It is an extraordinary honor to be chosen to receive this award among so many other equally intelligent and well-rounded applicants,” he said.

As he prepares to leave for Scotland at the end of the month, Shannon said being a part of an elite group known as the All Bahamas Merit Scholars is a good feeling, but that the title also comes with pressure to do as well, or better than the other scholars that came before him. He said being able to obtain the scholarship also felt good because it has taken some of the pressure of his parents financially.

Ever humble, Shannon did not take all of the credit.  He acknowledged that he did not get to where he is by himself and said there were many people who helped to contribute to his success and development: His parents Peter and Wendy Butler, who he said laid the foundation for his success and made education a priority in his life, and his grandparents and other family members, who he said helped to groom him into the young man he is and who he said supported, encouraged and loved him along the way.

The scholarship winner said even his friends played a part in who he is today by being there for him and always being encouraging and supportive.  He also thanked his church family for their constant support and prayers.  Going way back, Shannon also noted that his former teachers during his years at Xavier’s Lower School laid a firm academic foundation for him that created a stepping stone to high school for him.  And he said the staff at Queen’s College pushed him to be the best he could be and gave him the education and tools he needed to enter the next stage of his life confidently.

“After spending the last 17 years of my life in this country, I now begin a new chapter as I leave to attend the University of St. Andrews in the United Kingdom.  I am undoubtedly looking forward to broadening my horizons, learning all that I can as I pursue studies in medicine, experience a new culture and meet new people from across the globe,” he said.

As the All Bahamas Merit Scholar, Shannon said he intended to use the award to not only improve and advance his life, but to eventually improve the lives of his fellow Bahamians.  He pledged to represent The Bahamas with the highest esteem, dignity and pride.

Shannon, 17, distinguished himself as an intelligent and focused individual.  He has an impressive academic record, having achieved 10 Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) awards with nine As and one B.  The results earned him the award for the best BGCSE results in the country; the best results from an independent school student; and the highest grade in Mathematics.

As he prepares for the next phase of his life, Shannon hopes that the life he has led and will continue to lead in the future will be held up as a role model to his younger brother, Reese, 14.

“I just hope to be the best role model I can be and show him how to be disciplined when it comes to school work and to have fun when it’s time.  I want him [Reese] to be a good student, a good son, a good citizen,” he said.

The All Bahamas Merit Scholarship is offered in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, the Lyford Cay Foundation, Inc., and The Central Bank of The Bahamas.

While Shannon has been named the All Bahamas Merit Scholar, the persons that will receive the Merit, Academic, Technical and Grants awards along with the National Award and Bursary program awards are expected to be announced within the next week as the Ministry of Education awaits the results of the BGCSE to determine who will be awarded what, based on those results.

Past winners of the All Bahamas Merit Award and the university they attended are:

1993 — Shireen Denise

Donaldson (Johns Hopkins University)

1994 — No award given

1995 — Damian Forbes (Yale University)

1996 — Rhys Powell (MIT)

1997 — Jehan Unwala (Tufts University)

1998 — Damian Archer (University of Western Ontario, UWI Mona Campus)

1999 — Ryan Knowles (Boston University)

2000 — Ricardo Davis (Queen’s University, Canada)

2001 — No award given

2002 — Peter Blair (Duke University)

2003 — Sebastian Hutchinson (University of Pennsylvania)

2004 — Sharelle Ferguson (Harvard)

2005 — Andrea Culmer (McGill University, Canada)

2006 — Kyle Chea (Vassar College)

2007 — Lisa Rodgers (Brown University)

2008 — Genymphas Higgs (Drexel University)

2009 — Jenna Chaplin (University of The Pacific)

2010 — Clifford Bowe (Georgia Institute of Technology)

2011 — Jamia Boss (College of St. Benedict)

2012 — Theophilus Moss (Johns Hopkins University)

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