Trinidad: Donations pour in to help Princeton student

Jafar Howe at Woodford Street, Newtown, Port-of-Spain yesterday.

(Trinidad Guardian) For much of Friday, Ja­far Howe’s phone would not stop ring­ing, as scores of peo­ple reached out to pledge mon­e­tary sup­port to get him to Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty.

“The calls haven’t stopped com­ing, I’ve got­ten calls from some very dis­tin­guished in­di­vid­u­als in the na­tion, I don’t want to call any names, some min­is­ters,” he said, “It’s been over­whelm­ing, I’ve ac­tu­al­ly been hav­ing trou­ble keep­ing track of all the num­bers com­ing in,” said Howe on Fri­day.

The 19-year-old stu­dent from Laven­tille nar­row­ly missed out on a na­tion­al schol­ar­ship but ap­plied to the Ivy League Uni­ver­si­ty af­ter scor­ing 1540 in the SAT ex­am.

At the start of April, when Prince­ton re­spond­ed, he was of­fered a US$400,000 par­tial schol­ar­ship, how­ev­er, he still need­ed US$20,000 to se­cure ac­com­mo­da­tion when he be­gins class­es at the pres­ti­gious New Jer­sey school.

On Thurs­day, Guardian Me­dia high­light­ed that he still need­ed to raise that mon­ey and had re­turned to his al­ma mater St Mary’s Col­lege to sell pop­corn and tu­tor stu­dents to raise funds.

With­in mo­ments of his sto­ry air­ing dur­ing CNC3’s news­cast, calls kept com­ing to Howe, with many of­fer­ing to cov­er the ex­pense.

The Go­FundMe page which he start­ed to go along with his own fund-rais­ing through pop­corn sales and tu­tor­ing sec­ondary school stu­dents rose from $2,000 to over $7,000 by yes­ter­day evening.

The stu­dent, of Quar­ry Road, Laven­tille is hop­ing his sto­ry will help erode neg­a­tive stereo­types as­so­ci­at­ed with the area.

The teenag­er re­ceived news of Prince­ton’s ac­cep­tance at around the same time an­oth­er teenag­er from Laven­tille with high as­pi­ra­tions, Ak­il Phillps was mur­dered.

Phillips, a 16-year-old stu­dent of St An­tho­ny’s Col­lege was gunned down on April 5 while walk­ing to his grand­moth­er’s home.

“Sto­ries like that makes it even worse, this sto­ry is sup­posed to be a re­al­ly pos­i­tive out­look on how we can af­fect the com­mu­ni­ty, the youth and when stuff like that hap­pens, it just kin­da brings back down the name,” said Howe, who is keen on im­prov­ing his com­mu­ni­ty with his ed­u­ca­tion.

He recog­nis­es that he isn’t the on­ly out­stand­ing stu­dent from the com­mu­ni­ty and as such has said even if the do­na­tions push him over the US$20,000 tar­get, he will redi­rect the mon­ey so that an­oth­er stu­dent from Laven­tille can ben­e­fit.

Howe al­so hopes to re­turn to Trinidad with what he learns in the Unit­ed States, with an aim to im­prove the coun­try.

“I plan to come back, I hope with that my de­gree of En­gi­neer­ing and Pub­lic Pol­i­cy that I will be able to solve is­sues in the com­mu­ni­ty,” said Howe, “I would love to give back to the com­mu­ni­ty, I love it here. The worst part of get­ting in­to Prince­ton is that I have to leave Trinidad.”

Howe’s sto­ry al­so in­spired Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion An­tho­ny Gar­cia con­cern­ing State fund­ing for promis­ing stu­dents.

“I have been hav­ing dis­cus­sions with the Min­is­ter of Fi­nance in terms of mak­ing al­lo­ca­tions for per­sons like that who are in need of ad­di­tion­al fund­ing,” said Gar­cia on Fri­day.

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