News Releases

Derek Walcott Bursary presented to UWI students

For Release Upon Receipt - February 3, 2016

St. Augustine

The 1992 Nobel Prize winner for poetry recently presented the Derek Walcott Bursary in Creative and Festival Arts to Tasha Frank and Chelsea Sherry Ramjit at the Kapok Hotel, Port of Spain. Both awardees are full- time undergraduate students enrolled at The University of the West Indies’ (UWI) Department of Creative and Festival Arts (DCFA) at the St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad. The presentation ceremony took place on December 24.

"I feel very proud of myself, I know the bursary is something I worked hard for and I feel very proud about this,” explained Trinidadian Chelsea Ramjit, the 2014 winner, whose ambition is to become a theatre in education teacher for specially-abled children. She explained after the presentation, that she initially faced many challenges, with the death of her mother and grandmother the year before she entered UWI, but looks forward to graduating soon.

Similarly, Tobagonian, Tasha Frank, who was presented with the 2015 bursary, stated that "the financial assistance from this award is great, because as a university student it is really tough”. She has had a profound love of acting and stage management and spoke highly of the drama guild in Tobago and the dedication of UWI lecturers. After graduation, she intends to focus her studies on "arts administration and cultural studies".

In fact, both students had the highest praise for the DCFA lecturers, but also spoke of the need to develop the facilities at the UWI campus.  Head of the DCFA, Jessel Murray, underscored that financial assistance from the Government through GATE, while extremely key, many students also need additional financial aid through bursaries "like these, since many students are in dire need of funding for obligatory expenses - living and transport expenses". The DCFA has over 500 students enrolled in undergraduate and post graduate programmes including dance, theatre, musical, visual arts and creative studies.

Derek Walcott, an alumnus of The UWI, who has been presented with several prizes including the MacArthur "genius grant", T.S. Eliot and Guggenheim awards, as well as the Queen's Medal for Poetry from Queen Elizabeth II, believes that mentorship as well as financial support are essential to the development of the arts. Walcott donated TT$40,000 to the UWI St Augustine Campus in 2013; proceeds from the success of the production of his play 'O Starry, Starry Night' which after touring the U.K and St Lucia, premiered to sold-out audiences at the Central Bank, Trinidad. Actors from the production also conducted a free workshop for theatre students of UWI and UTT that year.

The poet and playwright celebrates his 86th birthday on (Saturday 23rd January).  He is being honoured in St Lucia during Nobel Laureate Week, with the opening of his childhood home as a museum and cultural centre in Castries and a lecture by poet Rosanna Penn-Warren. Walcott is currently working on a book of poetry and art with the highly acclaimed painter Peter Doig. Shakespeare's Globe Theatre will perform a stage adaptation of the high acclaimed epic poem, 'Omeros' (after a successful run at The Globe in London, UK) in St Lucia this year.

For more information on The Derek Walcott Bursary in Creative and Festival Arts, please call: Mr. Louis Mc Williams at 663-2222



About The UWI

Since its inception in 1948, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged, regional University with well over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with four campuses in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Open Campus. The UWI has faculty and students from more than 40 countries and collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology and Social Sciences. UWI’s seven priority focal areas are linked closely to the priorities identified by CARICOM and take into account such over-arching areas of concern to the region as environmental issues, health and wellness, gender equity and the critical importance of innovation. Website:


(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)