Young environmentalist receives scholarship to pursue UK post-graduate degree

Young environmentalist receives scholarship to pursue UK post-graduate degree

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Proud Grand Bahamian Ann-Marie Carroll will pursue her dream of helping create a sustainable future for The Bahamas through a fully-funded postgraduate degree as part of the first-ever group of Bahamians to be awarded a prestigious Chevening Scholarship.  

As a 2023-24 Chevening Scholar, Ann-Marie will undertake a Master of Science degree in Environmental Management at the University of Stirling in Stirling, Scotland. This opportunity will allow her to build upon expertise gained over the last five years serving as an education officer for the Bahamas National Trust (BNT), and equip her to become a national thought leader in sustainability and climate resilience.

“Sustainable development, environmental education, and environmental stewardship are my passions,” Ann-Marie said.

“I want to help equip Bahamians with the tools needed to survive and thrive in the face of serious climate-driven threats, while teaching the next generation about the fundamental importance of environmental preservation and natural resource management,” she remarked.

“The Hayward Chevening Scholarship is once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fulfill this dream by taking my knowledge and skills to the next level.

“I will gain an in-depth understanding of cutting-edge strategies being tested around the world to combat sea level rise, ocean warming, stronger storms and other devastating consequences of climate change.

“The aim is to bring this expertise back and help The Bahamas create its own plan for a secure and prosperous future through sustainability and environmental preservation.” 

In 2011, Ann-Marie received a Bahamas Environmental Steward Scholar (B.E.S.S) award to attend the sustainability-focused Island School in Eleuthera. She went on to graduate from the University of the West Indies with an undergraduate degree in Biology.

In addition to teaching hundreds of students about environmental preservation, during her time with the BNT she led and managed a number of invasive species removal projects, replacing them with beneficial native plants like sea oats, buttonwood, and sea purslane.

Her love for environmental education prompted Ann-Marie to create an informal but educational blog in 2020 called ‘EcoTings’, where she provides free environmental education and resources to the Bahamian public. She also regularly leads community clean-ups and partners with other like-minded individuals and organizations in community-powered restoration projects.

Her Chevening Award is being funded by the Charles Hayward Foundation as part of the first-ever Bahamian partnership with the prestigious Scholarship program, which allows outstanding students from around the world to pursue fully-funded master’s degree studies at accredited universities in the UK. The scholarship includes tuition, accommodation, stipend, and return air travel.

High Commissioner Thomas Hartley said: “I’m extremely grateful to the Hayward Foundation for buying into our vision for bringing Britain and The Bahamas closer together, and wanting to support those invested in climate change in particular. Let me wish Ann-Marie the best of luck – she will have so much fun in the UK. And I’m excited about the next application window for Chevening scholarships, which opens next week ready for 2024.”

The Charles Hayward Foundation Chevening Award supports postgraduate courses in ecological / sustainable development, oceanography, marine biology, natural resource management and other disciplines related to climate and the environment. It will fund one scholarship per year for three academic years.

Sue Heath, née Hayward, chair of the Foundation’s board of trustees, said: “Ann-Marie is exactly the kind of candidate we had in mind when forming this partnership with Chevening. We believe she is fully deserving of this honour, is more than qualified, and we are particularly gratified that she happens to be a native of Grand Bahama.” 

The Hayward Family has a long history of contributing to community development in The Bahamas and Grand Bahama in particular, from the Charles Hayward Library, to the Jack Hayward High School and the beloved Regency Theatre, among many others. 

Chevening is the UK government’s leading international scholarship programme. Administered by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and partner organizations, it enables emerging leaders from around the world to pursue one-year master’s degrees in Britain.

Rupert Hayward, director of the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) and great grand-son of the Foundation’s founder, noted that he could not have hoped for a better recipient of the inaugural Award.

“This experience will allow her to gain the expertise necessary to lead the way in finding solutions for the climate crisis and other ecological challenges that disproportionately impact The Bahamas as a low-lying coastal nation,” he remarked.

“I have no doubt that she will become a thought leader in sustainability in the country, helping create diverse jobs for many other Bahamians in the blue and green economies. We wish her all the best and look forward to watching her progress and grow through this amazing opportunity.”

A press release noted that Sir Charles Hayward, one of the first significant investors in the Grand Bahama Port Authority, used his personal fortune to develop Freeport into the country’s second city and to endow the Hayward Foundation, which today provides funding in areas such as social and criminal justice; heritage and conservation; and improving the livelihoods of disadvantaged communities in Commonwealth countries of Africa.

The Chevening Scholarships Programme began in 1983 as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Awards Scheme (FCOAS) and is funded by the British government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office and its partner organizations. The scheme aims to build a network of friends of the UK, who will be future leaders in their countries.