Island Grill partners with NCB Foundation to award sprint hurdler Alexis James a four-year scholarship to MICO University College

By October 04, 2023
Alexis James (left) beams after signing her sponsorship agreement that was witnessed by Jamaica’s Sports Minister Olivia Grange (second left). Dr Thalia Lyn, founder of Island Grill and Chairperson of the NCB Foundation and Tanya Waldron-Gooden, CEO of Island Grill signees to the agreement share in the occasion. Alexis James (left) beams after signing her sponsorship agreement that was witnessed by Jamaica’s Sports Minister Olivia Grange (second left). Dr Thalia Lyn, founder of Island Grill and Chairperson of the NCB Foundation and Tanya Waldron-Gooden, CEO of Island Grill signees to the agreement share in the occasion. Edward Massias

 In a heartwarming ceremony held at the MICO University College campus on Marescaux Road in Kingston, Island Grill, the renowned chain of fast-food restaurants, awarded Carifta 100m hurdles champion Alexis James a four-year scholarship. James, a former student of Petersfield High School in Westmoreland, is pursuing a Bachelor of Education degree in Physical Education and Sports.

The MICO University College freshman will also be Island Grill’s first ambassador.

James, who has turned professional and will train with the Racers Track Club, has made her mark as a rising star in Jamaican athletics, notably as the 100m hurdles champion at the 2023 Carifta Games and as a silver medalist in the 100m. Her impressive journey also includes winning a silver medal in the 100m hurdles at the 2022 World U20 Championships in Cali, Colombia.

During Wednesday’s ceremony, Dr. Thalia Lyn, the founder of Island Grill and Chairperson of the NCB Foundation, expressed her pride and excitement over sponsoring James’ academic journey. She highlighted the significance of the occasion, not only in empowering a remarkable young athlete but also in reinforcing Island Grill's commitment to nurturing future leaders who will contribute significantly to Jamaica's betterment.

Dr. Lyn commended James not only for her athletic prowess but also for her dedication to academic excellence. "My Island Grill family is honored to gather here with you today along with my NCB Foundation colleagues because our hearts are bursting with pride and excitement, we're bookmarking this occasion that not only empowers a remarkable young athlete we had the pleasure of launching with at Island Grill today."

She continued, "It reinforces Island Grill's commitment to nurturing future leaders who will contribute significantly to the betterment of our nation. Jamaica has always stood tall in the world of athletics. Our island is known for producing legends and Alexis, you are swiftly joining those ranks. She continues to leave an indelible mark on the world of competitive sprinting, plus a demonstrated demonstration of heart, spirit, and determination. Yet it is not just your athletic prowess that impresses us, Alexis. Your desire to pursue academic excellence at MICO is equally inspiring, and we celebrate your balanced pursuit of excellence."

As a demonstration of their commitment, Island Grill announced the inaugural Island Grill Athletic Scholarship, valued at J$500,000 annually. This scholarship will cover tuition and board, and discussions will be held regarding nutrition support.

Dr. Lyn assured James, "And we will provide this annually until you graduate with an understanding that you maintain that lovely B average that we're proud of. Okay, and we'll help you. Don't worry, we're not just going to give you the money and, you know, leave you alone."

Dr. Lyn highlighted the importance of sending a message to young Jamaican athletes that they can excel both on the track and in the classroom. James’ scholarship embodies this message and encourages other aspiring athletes to believe in their ability to achieve greatness not only as athletes but also as scholars.

Nicole Robinson, Vice President Marketing Communication at National Commercial Bank (NCB), also played a pivotal role in supporting Alexis James's journey. Robinson revealed that Dr. Lyn approached her, requesting sponsorship support for James, which Robinson wholeheartedly embraced.

Robinson gifted James a brand new laptop and emphasized the natural synergy between NCB Foundation and James’ promising future.

She emphasized the importance of financial literacy in athletes' lives, ensuring that they have a solid financial plan for life after athletics. Robinson added, "She told me about Alexis's promise, right. She believed in her. There is a spark that I, I think all of us saw here today. It was a natural synergy for us because we're really, really focused this year on driving financial literacy. And that was really the angle that we spoke about because a lot of athletes, you know, it's, it's sad to say, they make all of this money during their career and then there's no focus on the life after athletics. So we had a conversation about her potential.”

Robinson expressed confidence in James’ immense potential and thinks she can be an advocate for NCB campaign to improve financial literacy among emerging athletes.

"I think all of us saw it today. She's passionate and she has places to go. I don't think anybody has a doubt in their mind that her name is not going to be right there beside Shelly's (Fraser-Pryce), beside Elaine (Thompson-Herah and beside Shericka's (Jackson),” Robinson remarked.

"So we're really excited to support her journey. We want to add the financial literacy or integrate the financial literacy component because we think that it's important. We want to have those types of conversations, not just with Alexis, but with young upcoming athletes. We're very involved in programs like MVP Grassroots Programme. That's a sponsorship that we have maintained over the years where we do some level of financial literacy and that's going to be a major focus for us this year.

"Through this partnership, she can become somewhat of a financial literacy advocate. So we want to pour into her. We know that she has a far way to go, and we want to be part of her journey from the very beginning."

Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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