Castries, July 16, 2020 – Hailey Boriel is 17 years old. She’s currently a sixth-former at the Vieux-Fort Comprehensive School. And she’s this year’s LUCELEC-sponsored SPISE scholar. This is the second time in its longstanding sponsorship of the Student Programme for Innovation in Science and Engineering (SPISE) programme, that the St. Lucia Electricity Services Limited (LUCELEC) scholar is a female.
Hailey is exceptional in more ways than her gender. She placed first in the Caribbean region for Economics, as well as first in St. Lucia for English at the CSEC examinations. She also attained eight grade ones, seven with all ‘A’ profiles and graduated with nine subject awards from the Vieux-Fort Comprehensive Secondary School.
“Personally, I don’t feel any different because I am a girl who is interested in STEM. However, I am proud to represent women in a previously male-dominated area, and I am glad to show that women are just as capable in technical subjects as men.”
SPISE is very competitive. The 5-week course for Caribbean students gifted in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is organized by the Caribbean Science Foundation. To date, one hundred and fifty-two (152) students have met those standards and graduated. Of those, Saint Lucia has the third highest number with fifteen (15); second to Barbados with thirty (30) and Jamaica at twenty-eight (28).
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted activities across the globe. SPISE is no exception. Normally, students from across the Caribbean gather in Barbados for the programme. This year, students will be taught virtually using a model designed by the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) summer programme for high school students. 10 SPISE scholars are currently enrolled at MIT, including Quilee Simeon who was the LUCELEC-sponsored SPISE scholar in 2015. Quilee begins his senior year at MIT in September and is an instructor to this year’s SPISE class. He will be one of two Computer Programming instructors. And says SPISE opened up the academic world to him in a way he hopes to do for this year’s crop of scholars.
“[SPISE] challenged me academically like I never [had been] before by introducing me to college level courses, such as Biotechnology. I learnt to appreciate a style of learning that emphasized a deep understanding of core principles and the application of those principles to novel situations and in practical ways. The intense atmosphere also demanded collaboration with my peers and required me to learn to develop a regimented work ethic of scheduling and prioritizing tasks — something I wasn’t used to. All these are skills that a college student needs to succeed and SPISE prepared me for it. SPISE also helped me with my MIT career in more direct ways: it provided mentorship on applying to MIT and other colleges including help with my application essays, it allowed me to become part of a network of students and professors, it granted me access to summer internships in science and engineering fields in the Greater Boston area and much, much more.”
Hailey wants to be a computer and information research scientist. She believes SPISE will provide “foresight into my future career, while introducing me to concepts in the subject areas that I would likely go on to study at university. Additionally, I will learn to collaborate with like-minded individuals on different projects, similar to the team-atmosphere present in the workplace of a computer scientist.”
She also wants to use this learning opportunity to contribute to the country’s development. It is one of the objectives of SPISE and why LUCELEC is a partner in the programme. SPISE trains young, gifted Caribbean scholars to contribute to the growth and development of their country, the region and by extension the world.
Hailey knows this will be a challenge, but she is ready to embrace it and excel.
“I would like to express my gratitude to LUCELEC for granting me the privilege to attend the SPISE programme. I pledge my commitment to the programme, and I assure you that I will take full advantage of the opportunity afforded to me by your company,” she says.
SPISE started on July 5 and ends on August 9.