The sky's not the limit for Kai ClarkeMonday, September 20, 2021
AT 21 years old, Kai Clarke has already proven that she can achieve just about anything she sets out to, in spite of challenges including a medical condition that she says may dim the light on her dream of a career in aerospace and being Jamaica's first astronaut. But she still has her heart set on “a position in the space system” and this tenacious budding engineer is pressing on, slaying dragons one at a time on her journey there.
The holder of nine Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) subjects at grade 1, two Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) Unit 1 at grade 2, and three CAPE Unit 2 at grade 2, Clarke just copped the 2021 Little Caesar's Open Scholarship as she navigates her final year of studies towards a degree in electrical engineering at The University of the West Indies (UWI). This scholarship was presented recently at the annual Burger King Scholarship programme funded since 2001 by Restaurant Associates Ltd (RAL), franchise holders of Burger King, Little Caesar's and Popeye's quick service restaurants.
Sabrena McDonald Radcliffe, head of sales & marketing at RAL, noted that Clarke was “one of 1,100 awesome applicants this year when we awarded $4 million in scholarships, bursaries and grants to 30 recurring annual recipients and 23 new students moving up from primary to secondary school and secondary school to university this year.”
How does Clarke keep achieving?
“I live by the mantra, 'Make fantasy my reality,' a truly acute ambition of a real millennium ambassador of a dynamic change agent for the future. Making the seemingly impossible possible — engineers are innate thinkers and are the major pillars of development. They recognise the complexity under the simplistic facade they are perceived by. I aspire to be an electronic engineer to aid in the holistic development of my Third World island, Jamaica. The Little Caesar's scholarship will aid me in becoming as such and also in my long-term goal of being a part of the space system. My efforts would create numerous opportunities for the development of Jamaica in new fields of academia, research industries, science, among others. My intent also is to present myself as a beacon of hope for other equally ambitious females and youths.”
Clarke is a young woman on a mission. In 2017, she was diagnosed with the chronic illness, multiple sclerosis, and with it has experienced many obstacles. In the 2019/2020 semester, she experienced a major relapse that included extreme nausea due to vertigo, difficulty with her eyesight and the loss of motor control of her hands, legs and mouth. This relapse prevented her from attending classes for nearly three months. Despite the financial and emotional burdens, she was, however, more motivated to accomplish her dreams.
She has already achieved a 3.95 GPA and said, “I believe that the University of the West Indies, Mona has provided the foundation for me to be a charismatic and compassionate leader through its advancements in expanding its engineering programme with its provision of opportunities for social and career-based growth.”
The UWI, she said, “has provided a congruent and safe environment for my skills to develop irrespective of the challenges of my ailment. In fact, the administration at National Integrity Action, Jamaica, gave me the responsibility of 1st vice-president at their Integrity Action Movement, UWI, Mona chapter. My colleagues as well elected me as their 1st and 2nd year Electronics Representative for the 2019-2021 academic years. Additionally, I was also elected as the secretary of the Mona Engineering Society for the 2020/2021 academic year.”
Clarke also has a well developed social conscience. She makes annual children's home visits, does voluntary service at sports events, and aspires to be a multiple sclerosis advocate. And what of the future?
“I hope to inspire youths to operate beyond the constraints of Caribbean society. These aspirations include Jamaica being recognised globally not only for sports, but also its scientific accomplishments. I believe that I can aid in this realisation. My development, though steadfast, has just begun. I aim to exude the aura of someone who is limitless and act in such a manner that others feel that way too.”
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