Jamaica’s youngest Olympic gold medallist Briana Williams has awarded scholarships to three Excelsior High School student-athletes valued at $210,000.
Williams, who moved to Jamaica last year, is already dedicated to giving back to the community.
Following a Christmas treat, the 20-year-old staged for children in the Montego Bay environs in December, Williams will provide $70,000 each in scholarships to Shakira Rhoden, Shelly-Ann Taylor and Janelia Williams.
Rhoden and Taylor are members of Excelsior’s reigning Anthrick Corporate Area Development Meet 4x100m relay team. Kayla Harris, who was also a member of that team, awarded her scholarship to teammate Janelia Williams.
Williams is an ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys’ and Girls’ Athletics Championships (Champs) silver medallist in the 200m.
The athletes caught Williams’ eye when they indicated she was a role model in an interview after their victory at the Anthrick Development Meet in 2022. When Williams read the article, as well as saw an Instagram post with the athletes, she was thrilled.
“I was so honoured last year when I read the article in the newspaper stating that I inspire these girls. I wanted to meet them, but leave more than inspirational words. I wanted to support their academic journey.”
The scholarship was made possible through Williams’ sponsor, GraceKennedy Limited, and will be disbursed to the school to cover the cost of books, tuition and other necessities for the 2023 academic year.
The Briana Williams Scholarship will now be an annual offer to aid student-athletes in their academic and sporting pursuits.
“I am committed to giving back to athletes in Jamaica because I know what it’s like. It’s not easy being a student-athlete,” she shared.
“My sponsor GraceKennedy and I will make this an annual scholarship to deserving student athletes who showcase their athletic talents and are also having good grades.”
She encouraged over 100 members of the Excelsior High track team who were present at the ceremony to remain committed to the sport.
“We are committed to helping the next generation in this sport and I want to encourage you to work hard and don’t let anybody quell your dreams.
“Put in the work, listen to your teachers, your coaches and rewrite your goals and recite them every day and don’t give up.
In 2020, Williams provided 25 tablets to student-athletes forced to attend classes from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. She also donated furniture and school supplies to educator Stacey-Ann Donaldson who has a reading and homework centre in Rose Garden, Kingston.
Williams ran the first leg of Jamaica’s gold-medal winning 4x100m effort at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (held in 2021). She also won silver as part of Jamaica’s 4x100m relay team at the 2022 World Championships.