Shaniek is an Ambassadorial Scholar, sponsored by The Rotary Club of Montego Bay.


She is studying at The University of Leeds, in the North of England. Here she gives an interesting summary of her experiences.

 It includes some useful advice to potential Ambassadorial Scholar applicants. 

Image“To look backward for a while is to refresh the eye; to restore it and to render it the more fit for its prime function of looking forward”

Margret Fairless Barber


Background on the Rotary Ambassadorial scholarship

The Rotary Ambassadorial scholarship was founded in 1947. It is the largest privately funded scholarship in the world and is financed exclusively by Rotarians and friends of Rotary. The scholarship has given more than 40, 000 people the opportunity to study in over 100 countries across world. Its alumni have reached heights of recognition for their professional and charitable achievements within their own countries and the international community.

 The aim of the scholarship is to further goodwill, understanding and peace among peoples of different nations and geographical areas.  Rotary Ambassadorial scholars promote friendly relations through presentations about their home country, sponsor club and the scholarship at Rotary Clubs and for the benefit of interested groups. Additionally, scholars receive direct exposure to a different culture in the hope that the experience will have a lasting impact on their lives as they become the leaders of tomorrow.

The Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship offers an education which is both academic and social. It provides the scholars with opportunity to gain an academic qualification and invaluable lessons about mutual understanding, regardless of cultural differences among peoples from different countries, geographical areas, ethnicities or beliefs.


The application process

I was initially introduced to the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship by a member of the Rotaract Club of Montego Bay as one of the educational programmes conducted by Rotary. Whilst at the 2009 Rotaract Assembly, I was reminded about the scholarship as one of the guest speakers was a past Rotary Ambassadorial scholar. The speaker spoke passionately about her experiences and the way in which the scholarship changed her life.  I therefore decided to learn more about the scholarship by visiting the Rotary International website and contacting the Rotary Club of Montego Bay, which is the sponsor for my Rotaract Club. Upon completion of the scholarship application form, I submitted copies to the Rotary Club of Montego Bay and the Rotary District Sponsorship Sub-committee for consideration.

I was shortlisted along with five (5) other candidates from a pool of approximately ninety (90) applicants for one of three available scholarships within the district. I then attended a panel interview with various Rotarians from the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship Sub-committee. After attending the interview, I was informed I had been endorsed by the sub-committee and my name had been submitted to Rotary International to receive the Ambassadorial scholarship. I received an email from Rotary International in November 2010 confirming that I had been the recipient of the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship and would be attending the University of Leeds. The news of receiving the scholarship meant that my dream of reading for an M.A in International Communications at the University of Leeds would soon be a reality. I extremely was overjoyed and could barely contain my excitement as the dream had been something I had tried to keep alive since 2008.


Preparation for scholarship

The Rotary Club of Montego Bay and Mr. Chuganey, my sponsor club and sponsor counsellor respectively, was an important source of guidance in my preparations for life in the United Kingdom. I feel truly blessed to have been sponsored by such a wonderful club that had always made me feel welcome through their warm reception and insightful words on what to expect during my time as an Ambassadorial scholar. Notably, the assistance provided by my sponsor club and sponsor Rotarian extended beyond explanations of what was expected during my time as a scholar but also with the assistance of obtaining my student visa. It would be remiss of me not to highlight the worried calls and emails sent to my sponsor counsellor, Mr. Chuganey, expressing anxiety about the lengthy waiting period for me to obtain the visa or even the letters he so ably wrote when additional information was requested by the British Embassy.

 The level of guidance received from the Rotarians at the Rotary Club of Montego Bay was invaluable to making me feel at home during the Rotary functions that I attended since I have been in the United Kingdom.

My attendance to the Rotary Scholar’s Seminar in Tampa was instrumental in preparing me to fulfil my scholarly duties. The interactive sessions and presentations explained clearly, what was required of me and the strategies for fulfilling the requirements. The opportunity to speak with past scholars and the advice obtained left me feeling ready to take on the stimulating challenges/triumphs I would experience in Leeds. Additionally, the seminar provided the chance for me to interact with scholars in my position, going to similar locations with who I remained in contact whilst in the United Kingdom.

Rotary International assigns each scholar a host counsellor in their place of study. My host counsellor, Mr Richard Dickason and I were in contact prior to my departure, he was instrumental in providing me information about Leeds and some things to expect. Additionally, my counsellor offered to collect me from the airport, take me to my accommodations and assist me in the settling-in process. I was delighted. I therefore left Jamaica with a point of contact within the United Kingdom.


Ambassador of Goodwill

As an Ambassadorial l scholar, I am most proud introducing ideas of Rotary and Rotaract to people that had previously been unaware. I have been fortunate to share the message of Rotary and my passion for the organization with international students from countries such as Vietnam and China; these geographical areas offer opportunities for further expansion of Rotary International. It is my hope that by sharing the message of Rotary with young people, I will be able to sow seeds of interest among the leaders of tomorrow. Indeed, we may one day have a Rotary Club in each province of China which may have sprung from me provoking an interest in Rotary and its values within an international student.

I have been fortunate to be located within a welcoming Rotary host district. The members of District 1040 have strived to make me feel comfortable at club meetings, functions and taken me out on excursions. I have travelled to over fifteen Rotary clubs within my host district and have been treated in the best possible way, often receiving a flurry of invitations to visit at any time. The kindness of the members within each club has made me feel extremely appreciated.

The Rotaract Club of Leeds and the Rotary Club of Roundhay have become my second home. The Rotaract Club which bears much resemblance to my home club, Rotaract Club of Montego Bay; it boasts a group of excited young people that want to make the world a better place by sharing the values of Rotary through volunteer projects and events. The Rotary Club of Roundhay, my host club, is a wonderful Club with whose members I feel extremely comfortable and appreciated similar to that of the Rotary Club of Montego Bay. The members are vibrant, engaging and often have an encouraging word to share. I have had the opportunity to assist the Club in marshalling a walk for the physically disabled at Roundhay Park, Leeds. The walk was a success, regardless of the rain that had caused the length of the walk to be reduced due to the difficulty it would pose for the disabled participants.

The scholarship has opened many opportunities for travel. I have toured the United Kingdom extensively and had a short visit to the Republic of Ireland. My trip to Ireland was made possible through an invitation to do a presentation at the Rotary Club of Dublin. Myself and another Rotary Ambassadorial scholar visited Ireland and were able to connect with another Rotary scholar studying there.

My scholarship period has been wonderful. I have had the opportunity that many only dream about, to travel, meet people of different races and creeds whilst being associated with Rotary. In the future, when I speak with people about my scholarship I will strive to highlight the new experiences I have had, people met and skills improved. I am happy to be among an esteemed group of people that have received this scholarship. As my time in Leeds comes to an end I will always treasure the experience and the lessons learnt.

My advice to future scholars would be to appreciate the invaluable nature of this opportunity. It is something that many dream of, but few achieve. Cultural differences are a defining element of human existence and one must be understanding and tolerant; differences are what make us special. As an ambassadorial scholar, it is important to remember that you are always representing your sponsor club and Rotary International. The simple wearing of your scholarship pin will strike up a conversation and essentially, an opportunity to tell people about the work of Rotary within your sponsor and host countries.