In February 2012, Dart Enterprises announced the launch of a new “Minds Inspired” scholarship to an audience of teachers, principals, government dignitaries and Dart’s leadership team.
Minds Inspired has since then ignited what has now become Dart’s innovative approach to encouraging and highlighting educational excellence in the Cayman Islands, supporting the Dart family’s philosophy of promoting education and fostering academic excellence in math and science. The Dart Group believes that mathematics and science are fundamental building blocks for both academic and career success.
“Minds Inspired launched in 2012 with the introduction of our Minds Inspired High School Scholarship,” said Mark VanDevelde, CEO, Dart Enterprises. “Studies have shown that high school students who excel in math and science are more likely to attend college, university or technical college. Our goal was to invest in Cayman’s youth, and by extension in our country’s future, so starting with a focus on STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – at the high school level made sense.”
David Forbes and Ethan Whittaker were selected as the first Minds Inspired high school scholars in June 2012. David, who from a young age aspired to be an actuary, graduated from Clifton Hunter High School and then transitioned to the University College of the Cayman Islands Dual-Enrolment Programme, completing his high school and college requirements simultaneously. Having been accepted to The Ohio State University, one of the top actuarial science programmes, David is well on his way to fulfilling his career goal.
Ethan attended Cayman Prep and High School and graduated with top honours in math and sciences. With a passion for physics and inspiration from a Minds Inspired trip to CERN’s Large Hadron Collider – the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator – Ethan’s decision to pursue a career focused in physics was solidified. In 2016, Ethan began his studies in physics at the prestigious Princeton University.
Ethan and David were joined in the Minds Inspired high school scholars programme by Drew Milgate and Daniel Nicholson Gardner in 2013; Emma Turnbull and Anja Van Genderen in 2014; Christian Dyer and Jade Wilkinson in 2015; and Cristin Jackson and Ethan Slocock in 2016.
“Dart will continue investing in education – our youth, our teachers and our programmes – and we look forward to seeing today’s scholars and students becoming tomorrow’s leaders.”Mark VanDevelde
Following the success of the high school scholarship, the W.A. Dart Memorial University Scholarship was launched in 2013, reaffirming the company’s commitment to investing in Cayman’s youth and providing them with an excellent academic foundation on which to build their careers. Julian Solomon and Matthew McTaggart became the first university-level scholars. Joining Julian and Matthew in the programme were Kristin Ebanks and Madeleine Rowell in 2014; Chloe DaCosta in 2015; and Florence Allan and Stephanie Gunby in 2016. That brought the total number
of scholars to 17.
Of equal value to the financial support received are the summer employment opportunities with Dart that provide the scholars with important professional experience and on-the-job mentoring. The Minds Inspired initiative includes, in addition to high school and university scholarships, the annual Mathematics Challenge and Junior Challenge; STEM Graduation Awards; high school mentoring; Dart’s corporate work experience programmes; and support of on-island events that share in highlighting STEM education such as Cayman Islands Shark Talk, CASE Mentoring, astronomical events and the Rotary Central Science Fair.
“In five years, Minds Inspired’s growth, the number of young people it has impacted, and the support and respect it receives locally make me very proud,” said VanDevelde. “Each year we step back, take a broad look at Cayman’s educational landscape and try to identify areas where we can add value.”
VanDevelde said Dart consults with the government as well as teachers and leadership in public and private schools for feedback. It also reaches out to the business community for input to provide insights from employers’ perspectives.
“Our collaborative approach has proven to be successful,” he said. “Dart will continue investing in education – our youth, our teachers and our programmes – and we look forward to seeing today’s scholars and students becoming tomorrow’s leaders.”