Tue | Jan 26, 2021

Young attorney fulfils mother’s dream of a Jamaica House fellowship

Published:Tuesday | November 24, 2020 | 12:10 AM
The young professionals who have been selected to serve in various capacities in the public sector under the Jamaica House Fellowship Programme pose with Prime Minister Andrew Holness.
The young professionals who have been selected to serve in various capacities in the public sector under the Jamaica House Fellowship Programme pose with Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

The mother of attorney-at-law Christal Parris-Campbell had, for some time, harboured thoughts of her daughter becoming a part of the Jamaica House Fellowship Programme.

“She had always encouraged me to apply, but for whatever reason, I always felt like I wasn’t qualified enough or I didn’t have much years of [experience], so I would delay in doing so,” Parris-Campbell tells JIS News.

In 2019, Parris-Campbell’s mother initiated the application process. But, sadly, she was unable to complete it as she passed away that year.

However, the dream prevailed to become a reality as Parris-Campbell was one of seven young professionals, comprising the programme’s second cohort, who have been selected to serve in various capacities in the public sector over the next two years.

The other Fellows are Asha-Gaye Cowell, Christopher Harper, Jervian Johnson, Anabelle Jones, Kiddist McCoy, and Mikol Mortley.

“To complete that task, I decided to pursue it because the worst thing they could say was no. I decided to go through with it, and it worked out for the best. So it’s actually to honour my mother’s memory,” she shares.

The Jamaica House Fellowship Programme is the brainchild of Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who wanted to provide young professionals with the opportunity to participate in national development and governance at the highest policy level.

The programme has the strategic objective of encouraging the practical involvement of young people in the governance and policy decision-making processes of government.

It offers exceptionally talented and motivated young Jamaicans the opportunity to work on, support, and implement high-priority initiatives and objectives.

The Fellows will meet on a regular basis, create reports to be reviewed, and interact with the prime minister, portfolio ministers, and senior government personnel.

They will be required to achieve key performance indicators on special projects to which they are assigned.

Holness says the initiative aims to attract young and talented persons to the public sector who will assist in implementing the programmes, projects, and plans of the Government.

Additionally, he says, it is intended to groom them to take up leadership positions in different seats of society and innovate for effective and efficient change.

“It is important that we create a pathway that will see young, vibrant, bright talent coming into the public service, bringing with them a different perspective and outlook, but at the same time, being engaged in a process that will ensure that they develop, more than anything else, respect for the public service,” he states.

Holness notes that while it is anticipated that the exposure the participants gain will spark their interest in long-term civil service, the Fellows will not be limited to the local or even regional level.

“What we are interested in is creating ‘INtrepreneurs’. We want you to come into the organisation, understand the rules, respect the history and tradition, but at the same time, figure out how we can look towards improving those rules [and] re-engineering those processes to become more efficient,” he adds.

The prime minister urges the new appointees to honour the investment made in them by their country and to do their best during the two-year fellowship period.

In response to the prime minister’s charge, Christopher Harper says he and his colleagues are committed to the task throughout the period and beyond.

“We are faithfully guided by our ability to adapt and overcome [in] our unwavering tenacity and collective desire to create lasting impact and change. As Jamaica House Fellows, we are hereby committed to supporting the Government of Jamaica, and we are ready to work, ready to serve, and ready to make that difference,” he says.

Chief technical director in the Planning and Development Division of the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) Wayne Robertson explains that the process of selecting the Fellows was challenging.

He notes that advertisements for the selection of the second cohort were published on the OPM’s page on March 26, 2019, pointing out that the deadline for the submission of applications was June 2, 2019.

“We received 87 applications. The selection criteria encompassed a three-stage process. Levels one and two saw the shortlisting of the most qualified candidates, in keeping with the requirements, and level three, which is the final stage, saw the candidates being interviewed. They also had to respond to [a] case study,” he outlines.

After the rigorous selection process, the applicants had to prove their community involvement and intellectual aptitude.

Of the 87 applicants, 19 were shortlisted, from which the final seven individuals were selected.

The selection of the latest cohort coincides with Youth Month activities being held during November under the theme ‘Rethink Youth: Resilient through Entrepreneurship, Training, Hope, Innovation, Networking and Knowledge’.