Kingston, Jamaica- Monday, September 27, 2021- Three tertiary students have been chosen by the Rita Marley Foundation to benefit from the first annual Rita Marley Scholarship — launched in honour of her 75th birthday on July 25. The recipients are Esther Williams, Toni-Ann Howard and Karesha Dixon. They were selected from a sea of applicants via a means test through the Foundation’s website and will each receive $100,000 towards furthering their education this academic year.
As the Foundation’s first set of awardees for this scholarship, these ladies are a realization of its vision to empower Jamaican women. The Rita Marley Foundation was established to assist those who experience the challenges of accessing higher education in the nation’s lower socio- economic divisions. This scholarship is particularly important to Rita Marley, who was herself a nurse prior to segueing into entertainment alongside her late husband. It specifically targeted two women pursuing careers in nursing and a single mother who experienced teenage pregnancy. The aim is to provide not only monetary support, but also a glimmer of hope along their journeys.
The University of the West Indies (UWI) senior, Esther Williams, is currently in her fourth year of nursing school at the Mona campus. Toni-Ann Howard is now in her sophomore year in the UWI School of Nursing (UWISON) program at Knox Community College in Manchester. Karesha Dixon, who just entered her freshman year at Excelsior Community College, and the other awardees are grateful for the added push to succeed.
They officially received the scholarship in a private ceremony hosted by the Foundation. On receiving the award, Dixon was overcome with emotion. Howard shared that she is elated for the opportunity to be granted the scholarship, thanks to the Rita Marley Foundation. Williams echoed the sentiment, dubbing herself a proud recipient and sharing that: “It will go a long way in offsetting my tuition expenses.”
Rita Marley, who is the Founder and Chairperson of the eponymous Foundation, and her daughter, Cedella Marley, sent heartwarming messages to the inaugural awardees. “I congratulate these young women on their achievements thus far, and I am grateful to now be a part of their continuing mission to educate and empower themselves,” expressed Mrs Marley.
Her daughter’s message touched on the necessity of a strong community to support and uplift Jamaica’s youth. “This is a difficult season for many,” shared Cedella. “We’ve seen how much the pandemic affects parents, we understand the anxiety of the students and the general energy of uncertainty that surrounds education at this time, which is why we had to find a way to assist.”
The Rita Marley Foundation plans to continue its mandate to motivate and uplift financially challenged youth in developing countries for many years to come. “We all have a duty to be there for each other,” Cedella Marley affirmed. “We should look out for those who have the drive and skills but may need a helping hand to keep going. We are very proud of this scholarship and pleased to be able to assist these three young women.”
About the Rita Marley Foundation
The Rita Marley Foundation is supported by funds from donors and collaborators. The organization will work towards the alleviation of poverty for peoples of developing and less developed countries. Its long- term function will be to eradicate poverty and hunger in specific selected communities using as its tools: empowerment of those communities through the creation of economic investments, improvement of educational opportunities and the development of knowledge and proper practice in nutrition and health care.
About Rita Marley
Internationally, the name Marley is synonymous with reggae music and the culture of Jamaica. It is no coincidence that the talented young Rita Anderson was destined to become a cornerstone of the musical Marley family. Bob Marley is the King of Reggae, and his wife, Dr. Rita Marley O.J, O.D, LITT, provided him with vocal support as a member of the I-Threes. Rita Marley also forged a career in her own right as a solo artist. Her a catalog of hits includes One Draw, Harambe, Lion & the Lamb, Good Girls Culture, and Just One More Morning.
As the Matriarch of the Marley Family, Mrs. Rita Marley wears many hats and has been instrumental in the initiation and completion of great works internationally, regionally, and locally. In 1986, she had the vision and wisdom to transform Bob Marley’s house at 56 Hope Road in Kingston, Jamaica into the Bob Marley Museum. Mrs. Marley’s purchase of the former Federal Records at 220 Marcus Garvey Drive and subsequent relocation of Tuff Gong International to this new address set the stage for Tuff Gong to become a leader in the recording, manufacturing, and distribution of music in Jamaica, the Caribbean, and the world. She is the Founder and Chairperson of the Robert Marley Foundation; the Bob Marley Museum; the Bob Marley Trust; Tuff Gong International, and the Rita Marley Foundation. Mrs. Marley continues to honor her commitment to the works of her husband, her children [including the GRAMMY Award winning Ziggy Marley & the Melody Makers], and her people by fulfilling her mission to enlighten, educate and entertain through her philanthropy and music.
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