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Baller - Meet Sherona Forrester, 2016 Rhodes Scholar

The sky is NOT the limit. Sherona Forrester, recipient of the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship for 2016 lives by this concept. She believes that we often create a barrier to realizing our true potential. “It’s amazing what you can achieve when you try to break barriers or to push boundaries and that’s what you should strive to do”. At 24 years old, Sherona Forrester has broken several barriers and continues to do so; she is an acclaimed academic, a multi-talented athlete and a consummate performer of the arts.

Forrester recently graduated with distinction, from The UWI, Mona with a Master of Science Degree in Economics. Prior to that, she pursued a double major in Economics and Statistics, where she was awarded a First-Class Honours undergraduate degree in 2013. While at The UWI, she developed her childhood love for sports through her extensive participation in football, netball and basketball. Always the leader, she captained the netball team and co-captained the basketball team. It was no surprise then, when in 2013, at the end of the first year of her Gore Development funded Masters programme, that she was called to play for the Reggae Girlz, Jamaica’s national senior football team.

“Being a part of the National Team was an amazing experience, it reminded me that I love to travel and impact the life of many persons,” she said.

While on tour for their World Cup bid, Forrester recalled the daily devotions, gatherings, and competitions that would take place. She enjoyed the camaraderie and it gave her a chance to entertain the group through her artistic performances. She also expressed her appreciation for the opportunities afforded to her to impact the lives of younger people through visits to the Under-17 girls’ national football team and a rural primary school in St Ann.

A member of the New Testament Church of God, Forrester has been singing on choirs since childhood. Not only did she sing in church, but also at various events throughout her years at Mineral Heights Primary School. Upon entering her second year of high school, she became a part of the “internationally acclaimed” Glenmuir High School Concert Choir, where she sang classical music. While in sixth form, she was called to be a part of the Jamaica Youth Chorale (JYC) where she continues to hone her vocal skills. She also expanded her repertoire through learning to sing all genres of music, as well as developing her skill of dancing. JYC also provided her with the opportunity to travel extensively, impacting people through her powerful performances.

Forrester’s ultimate goal is to become a philanthropist, helping persons in need and creating change in the lives of others, especially young girls in sports, “I really believe in just giving. I tell people all the time, if there is no heaven or hell, what is wrong with just being kind and loving, what is wrong with just living [amicably] with people?” She jokes that she was not born rich or an heir, and therefore she would need to work hard in order to realize her dream. She says that Economics is the means to this end, it is a practical course of study that she enjoys and it is one that will financially equip her as she seeks to realize her philanthropic aspirations.

When questioned about the secret to her successes, in addition to parental support, Forrester credited mentorship and her faith in God. She made mention of Dr. Peter-John Gordon, Sidney Bartley and her long-time mentor and friend Doreen O’Connor.

O’Connor, a past teacher and Forrester’s past choir master at Glenmuir High School, was the first person that encouraged her to apply for the Rhodes scholarship. She said that O’Connor regularly provides her with “words of wisdom and advice” via media such as Skype and emails.

Having been a baptized Christian from the age of eleven, Forrester is resolute in her faith: “You have to believe in something. I believe that the lessons you learn through Christianity and religion about giving and how receiving will be reciprocated is so true. I have lived a life of giving and I am just always receiving … God has a way of blessing me and I think I have been faithful to Him and He in turn gives back his favour”.

In addition to being a professional footballer and performer with the JYC, Forrester is a Resident Advisor on the A.Z. Preston Hall and an adjunct lecturer at The UWI, Mona.

She starts her tenure at the University of Oxford (where her Rhodes Scholarship is tenable), in October 2016.


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