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Positive turn out at college fair

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Scores of high schoolers, college students and recent graduates exploring their tertiary education options turned out at the Sir John E. St. Luce Centre on day one of the E-Sports College Fair organised by the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Barbados.

The institutions represented included Lynn University, Ball State University, Kennesaw State University and Florida Tech.

Students 15 to 18 years old and adults also had the opportunity to learn about the Youth Ambassadors and Mentorship Programme for the Caribbean organised by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

This programme is opened to children and adults in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines is designed to “promote mutual understanding, respect and collaboration between the United Sates and the Caribbean”.

It aims to “develop a cadre of young adults who have a strong sense of civic responsibility, a commitment to their global issues and strong interpersonal leadership skills.

The fair is specifically targeting students who are interested in STEM or science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as the areas of study being promoted heavily over the two days include esports, game design, robotics, coding, augment and virtual reality, mobile app and web design, and artificial intelligence.

Elijah James, general manager of Antigua and Barbuda E- Sports and Robotics, was among the non-academic recruiters.

Pointe Xpress pulled him away from his busy booth where a virtual reality display was set up promoting e-sports where he hoped to attract the interest of local gamers and expose them to the educational and professional opportunities that spring from their hobby.

“We are helping young people to become aware about higher education opportunities available in STEM and e-sports.

“It is actually ongoing. The US Embassy has actually been supporting quite a few activities in Antigua and Barbuda, including the e-sports club being set up here in 2021.

“From there, we’ve actually had students who’ve travelled overseas – we went to Giga Games in Guadeloupe – …and we’re actually in the process now of getting ready for new competitions next year,” James explained.

Omar Pereira and Dominic Gatton, both students of the Antigua Grammar School and enthusiastic gamers, attended the first day of the fair.

Omar explained that he participated in an e-sports event at the Public Library earlier this year, so he was excited to learn about the college fair.

“I heard that it was about e-sports and the last time they had the e-sports tournament, it was at the library and it was about gaming, so, I was like…alright, more gaming!” he said.

He explained that he was most interested in becoming an engineer and paving the way for improved opportunities for children in the future.

“[I would work on] major projects to enhance the country and make it a country with more opportunities because…coming up with limited access to opportunities, I don’t want that for other people.

“Growing up, you hear the statement over and over…’Go overseas and make your money’.

“I do plan to do that, but I am going to come back and invest in Antigua so the youths of the future can have [better opportunities].

Gatton, on the other hand, explained that he sees a future for himself in gaming and robotics.

He explained that the deep love he bears for his family and improving the quality of life of his dear grandmother and sister are the factors driving him to be successful.

“I chose robotics and game design because I am kind of interested…in designing games and [coding].”

Dr. Andrea Stiefvater, Director of International Admissions at Ball State University located in Indianna, said she was excited to be in Antigua and Barbuda and interact with the students at the fair.

“I’ve met fantastic students here. [There are] great opportunities to bring talented students to the US to study. We’re always committed to the exchange of ideas and contributing to the global community of learning.

“We also find that students of the Caribbean often times don’t think about anything towards the middle of the US as an option and we would love to broaden their horizons and to provide them with those opportunities.

She also emphasised the importance of school leavers having the opportunity to learn about non-traditional academic areas of study like e-sports.

“One of the things that we really pride ourselves on at Ball State University is what we call applied learning and a great way to highlight less traditional areas of education is to look at applied learning.

“So, e-sports is a great example – we have such an innovative programme on campus – and we really wanna highlight to students these new and growing areas of study and having them be able to take advantage of something that is cutting edge and is becoming a global phenomenon. It’s really important, so we kind of think that these non-traditional areas are really kind of on the vanguard of career preparedness for the future and helping students become global citizens.

The E-Sports College Fair concludes today at 4:30pm.

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