(CMR) The Alex Panton Foundation (APF) has named Jamara Bodden as the first recipient of the Addison Kelly Memorial Scholarship.
The funding will allow Bodden to complete the final year of a two-year online master’s degree programme in psychology and neuroscience of mental health at Kings College London in September, after which time she intends to pursue a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D) degree in the UK.
The Addison Kelly Memorial Scholarship was created in memory of Caymanian teenager Addison ‘Addi’ Kelly, who lost her life to suicide on 8 February 2022 at the age of 16. Her family established the fund to help increase the mental health support services and resources that are available on island and put more qualified Caymanians in the field.
The scholarship is administered through APF and will be funded primarily from the proceeds of the Addison Kelly Butterfly 5k Walk/Run, the first of which took place in February 2023. The event raised just over US$52,000 in registrations and donations, which was matched by Dart.
Bodden was one of five highly qualified candidates who applied for the scholarship, which offers CI$25,000 per annum for up to four years for Caymanians to pursue post-graduate studies in the fields of psychology, psychiatry or psychotherapy. Awarded every two years (biennially), recipients must return to work in Cayman for the number of years for which the scholarship was given. The opportunity also includes a mentorship with a doctor-level psychologist/mental health provider to support the navigation of the recipient’s journey.
“To be the first awardee of the Addison Kelly Memorial Scholarship is an incredible honor. This scholarship carries a weight of responsibility which motivates me to strive for excellence in my academic pursuits and future career. Receiving this opportunity also fills me with gratitude and humility. I hope to one day pay forward this blessing by using the expertise that I acquire to improve the lives of others,” said Bodden.
Bodden, who said she was motivated to apply for the scholarship after watching a video about Addison’s story, is looking forward to coming back to Cayman, establishing herself in the mental health community, and participating in more initiatives that raise awareness, foster greater empathy and acceptance, and reduce stigma within the society.
She currently works as a Relief Worker at the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre, where she is a passionate advocate for victims of domestic abuse.
“I am so excited to be able to announce the APF’s first scholarship recipient. Offering a scholarship has been a part of my vision for the APF for a long time. I believe that the Foundation’s ability to help provide more mental health resources for the community can only serve to strengthen the three pillars upon which APF was built – awareness, advocacy, and support,” said Jane Panton, APF Founder and Chair.
“We are so honored that Addi’s family entrusted APF to handle this incredible gift that will change countless lives even as Addi’s life and her story inspired and touched so many. Congratulations to Jamara; we wish her every success in her studies,” she added.
“Addi expressed her desire to be a psychiatrist, and in her more hopeful moments, she was making plans about how to accomplish that dream and ultimately help others struggling with mental health illnesses. Our family is so happy that her legacy, her aspirations will be realized through individuals like Jamara who are compassionate, determined and zealous about helping others, as Addi was,” said Addi’s mother Rhonda Kelly, who sat on the scholarship committee.
“We were so impressed by the quality of the candidates who applied for the scholarship; they were all so deserving, and although we couldn’t award scholarships to everyone, we are so eagerly looking forward to the contributions and the impact these Caymanians are going to make in the community once they have completed their studies,” she added.