A young man, who took part in a mentorship programme for most of his childhood, has been awarded a bursary to help him achieve his aim of working in the financial services industry.
Benjamin Edwards was named as the recipient of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bermuda $3,800 bursary, which was made possible by a donation from the Kitson Group of Companies.
The funds will go towards tuition fees for his bachelor of commerce degree at Carleton University, in Ottawa, Canada.
Mr Edwards said: “I feel extremely grateful and excited. I believe I was chosen because I have shown a great interest in the finance industry and financial markets.
“In the future, I hope to work in the financial services industry, mainly in financial management, or investment banking. Reinsurance has always been another industry which I have been interested in pursuing.”
Raised in a single-parent family in Devonshire, Mr Edwards joined BBBS at the age of five as he needed of a positive male figure in his life.
He was paired with Steven DeCouto, the owner and director of Cycle Care in Hamilton.
After ageing out of the programme when he was 18, Mr Edwards remained close friends with Mr DeCouto, who also has a son of his own.
Mr Edwards said: “Coming from a single-parent family, it was extremely beneficial to have Steven in helping me grow. Steven has made me part of his family and has transformed me into the person I am today.
“We would always do something new and fun. We would enjoy our time on the water doing activities and on land.”
Mr DeCouto said that while his main motivation for becoming a mentor was to give back to the community, he was surprised how much he gained out of the programme himself.
“I wanted to do something for someone else. It never occurred to me I would get so much out of it,” he said.
“I discovered how to be a kid again and reconnected with my youth.
“We started doing fun things from going snorkelling at North Rock on my boat, jet-skiing, skateboarding, swimming, I would take him to lunch.
“I have seen him grow so much – at 16 he got his bike and I went and looked at it with him.
“The programme technically ends when he turned 18 but we stayed friends – we went skiing together in Montreal. We chat on WhatsApp every week and now I tell him things I am dealing with and struggling with.
“He was a tiny guy when we met, now he is the same size as me.”
The BBBS bursary is for Bermudians aged between 17 and 22 who have successfully applied to an accredited college, university, vocational school or institution or who are already enrolled.
Patrina O’Connor-Paynter, managing director at BBBS, said: “We have seen Ben grow up in our programme and it is amazing to see the young man that he has become. His application met all the criteria, and it also touched the hearts of our selection committee.
“Ben is a true BBBS success story.
“At BBBS, even after children age out of the programme at 18 we still consider them to be a part of the BBBS family. In 2022, we are also investing in BBBS Beyond where we assist our youth with resume writing, job interviewing skills, and other skill sets to help prepare them for the real world. We want to be there for our ‘Littles’ every step of the way.”
Mr Edwards added: “The BBBS programme is one of the best experiences I have had. I have made the best connections through this programme and have gotten to experience a lot more than I would have due to the family of people who are always keen and engaged in making you a better and more developed young person.
“I will be ever thankful to Patrina for taking a keen interest in me and becoming one of my biggest supporters.”
Ms O’Connor Paynter thanked the Kitson Group of Companies for its help over the years in funding the bursary.
For more information about BBBS, visit https://www.bbbs.bm/