Sunday, July 12, 2015
NICOLE Nation and Jerome Cowans knew months beforehand that they were going to Buckingham Palace to be presented to Queen Elizabeth II, but nothing could have prepared them for the experience.
The two young people -- among 60 from the British Commonwealth to be awarded the inaugural Queen's Young Leaders Awards -- spent a week in the UK meeting with members of government, industry and academia, including UK Prime Minister David Cameron.
"It was a huge confidence booster for me," Cowans told the Jamaica Observer. "I remember how unbelievable it felt just passing the hundreds of people lining up on the outside of the palace as I went right inside. I felt like I was making progress as I was being recognised by the highest ranking members of the UK and the Commonwealth."
|Jerome and Nicole meets the Queen|
"My life has changed for the better," he continued, adding that he "was mostly humbled as [he] moved around from the Prime Minister's office to Buckingham Palace. I felt a high level of gratitude for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
Cowans is the 25th co-founder of Leaders Endeavouring for Adolescent Development Youth Club. He is the recipient of several other awards including the 2014 Nelson Mandela-Graca Machel Innovation Awards, as well as the Scotiabank Bright Young Leaders Award.
For her part, Nation, says the experience has given her new perspective.
"Not being exposed at such an international level sometimes makes it easy to think that you are the only one. However, the truth is that as a youth leader I am working along with other persons around the world....[It has made me see more clearly that] I am not just a Jamaican, but a global citizen," she said.
|All recipients at Buckingham Palace|
"I found the residential week to be extremely inspiring. For one whole week I was surrounded by persons who were breaking ground in so many areas," Nation continued.
Asked what impressions the event made on her as a person, Nation said: "The world is a big place and the issues that matter in different parts of the world vary. For me, the event proved that youth leaders attacking a particular problem is important."
Nation, 22, writes online content for the Jamaica Observer's All Woman magazine. She is a senior medical student at the University of the West Indies, Mona and is the first Maia Chung Autism and Disability Foundation (MCADF) ambassador. She was recognised for her efforts to fund-raise projects to assist the disabled community as well as to raise awareness among Jamaicans about the needs of the disabled community through her volunteer group Volunteer Nation. more