The Stewart family, Sandals Foundation and Sandals Resorts International, through its Sandals Corporate University, have awarded three team members with the inaugural Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart Tourism, Hospitality and Service Scholarship.
The scholarship is open to team members across the Sandals and ATL Group, including the Jamaica Observer, Island Routes and Unique Vacations Limited’s Caribbean offices and was created to honour the company’s late Founder and Chairman, Gordon “Butch” Stewart, OJ, CD, Hon. LLD and fund team members’ pursuit of a Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism, Hospitality or a service-related discipline.
Adam Stewart, Sandals’ Executive Chairman shared, “My dad always believed in sharing knowledge and even before we had a Sandals Corporate University or an ATL Academy, he was passionate about learning and development and about empowering people to become their best selves. This scholarship is a manifestation of his longstanding belief in investing in our team members and is a most fitting way to celebrate and immortalize his memory.”
After a call for applications in June and an extensive review process, Engineering Coordinator at Sandals Resorts International, Deidre-Ann Osbourne, Director of Guest Services at Sandals Barbados, Barbara Thomas and Wedding Documentation Specialist at Sandals Ochi Beach Resort, Michelle Samuda-McBean, will mark history as the first recipients of the scholarship, which holds a combined value of more than US$41,000.
As he presented the recipients with commemorative frames on Wednesday, Stewart said, “Deidre-Ann, Barbara and Michelle, I am proud of you. I am proud that you have each taken the initiative to pursue further studies and to invest in your development. I am proud to award you with the first ever Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart Tourism, Hospitality and Service Scholarship and I have all confidence that you will excel in your studies, continue to represent the Sandals brand with excellence and motivate your fellow team members. Congratulations and all the very best with your studies.”
One year into her pursuit of a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resources at the University of the West Indies, Osbourne began the process of building her home. It however soon dawned on her that her single income household would not be able to sustain both her education and her dream of building her home. She thought she would be forced to choose one dream over the other and was convinced that her dreams of pursuing further studies would go unfulfilled.
This was before she saw the call for applications for the inaugural Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart Tourism, Hospitality and Service Scholarship and decided to apply. Now among the three recipients of the scholarship that will cover the remaining four years of her six-year part time programme, her gratitude knows no bounds.
“I am grateful and honoured to be one of the first recipients of this scholarship”, she said, “This company has opened so many doors for me and still continues to do so. This is like a dream come true for me. I’ve always had a drive to improve myself and this special investment that Sandals has made in me will go a far way towards me achieving my goals. I want to express my sincere gratitude to the company for finding me deserving of this scholarship.”
For Samuda-McBean, the move to pursue further studies has been a long time coming and the scholarship could not have come at a more opportune time. She will now pursue her Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resource Management at the University of the West Indies thanks to a full scholarship. She shared, “I have been with Sandals since 2004, I have grown as an individual and as a professional but I have always wanted to take my career even further. Human Resource Management has always been my passion and I want to be able to assist in the development of my fellow team members. Words cannot express how grateful and appreciative I am. Mr. Stewart believes in dreams and in giving back and I am so proud that I was selected. The selecting committee saw my potential and believed that I would not only excel in my area of study but also impact the wider team when I begin to work as a HR practitioner.”
Thomas, who will be pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in International Management also with the University of the West Indies, was equally grateful for the full scholarship to gain certification in a field she is passionate about. She said, “I have been working in Management for the last 11 years and with the increasingly diverse culture at Sandals Resorts, a global outlook is needed in order to be a relevant and effective leader.”
Especially thankful for the financial assistance after the uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, Thomas added, “I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I must express gratitude to God, my General Manager, Resort Manager and Hotel Manager who have always supported me and pushed me to become a better leader. Lastly, Mr. Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart who made my dream a reality thanks to globalization and who has touched so many lives and continues to do so through his legacy which lives on through our Executive Chairman.”
Following the passing of Founder and Chairman, Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart in January, the Sandals Foundation, in a move to preserve and honour his legacy, announced the intention to create a scholarship to serve the company’s team members and welcomed donations to further this vision. Five months later, the scholarship was launched with a call for applications.
Heidi Clarke, Executive Director at the Sandals Foundation, shared, “The Sandals Foundation is extremely happy and proud to have seen the launch of the Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart Tourism, Hospitality and Service Scholarship and to now see its first recipients being awarded. Through our work in schools and communities across the region, we have made significant investments in education, one of the Foundation’s guiding pillars and key focus areas and we are especially thrilled to be able to present this opportunity to our own team members. We are grateful to all donors and to the Stewart family and extend heartiest congratulations to our three well-deserving recipients.”
Stewart added, “This scholarship not only pays homage to our Founder and Chairman, but signals our commitment to continuing to invest in our team members. We have the world’s best team and we will continue to support them as they pursue their dreams. I am incredibly happy for Deidre, Michelle and Barbara and look forward to awarding even more team members in the years to come.”