JAMAICA’S YOUNGEST Olympic gold medalist Briana Williams has awarded scholarships to three student-athletes at Excelsior High School.
Williams, who moved to Jamaica last year, is already committed to giving back to the community.
Williams will provide $70,000 each in scholarships to Shakira Rhoden, Shelly-Ann Taylor and Janelia Williams following a Christmas present the 20-year-old hosted for children in the Montego Bay area in December.
Rhoden and Taylor are members of Excelsior’s incumbent Anthrick Corporate Area Development Meet 4x100m relay team. Janelia Williams is the ISSA/Gracekennedy Boys and Girls Athletics Championships (Champs) 200m silver medalist.
The athletes caught Williams’ eye when they pointed out in an interview after her victory at the Anthrick Development Meet that she was a role model.
Following that interview on Monday, Taylor continued:
“I’m inspired by Briana because she drives me to get a lot better at training. I’ve been through injuries and just going through her Instagram and seeing her motivational quotes and her film roles motivates me to do well because big things are planned for my future too.”
When Williams read the article and saw an Instagram post featuring the athletes, she was ecstatic.
“I felt so honored last year when I read the article in the newspaper that said I inspire these girls. Then recently I heard they wanted to meet me,” Williams said. “I wanted to meet her too, but also leave more than inspiring words. I would also like to support them on their academic path.”
The grant, totaling $210,000, was made possible by Briana’s sponsor, GraceKennedy Limited, and will be paid to the school to help cover the cost of books, tuition and other needs for the 2023 school year.
The Briana Williams Scholarship will now be an annual offering to support student athletes in their academic and athletic pursuits.
“I know that athletics can be quite taxing for its time, but it’s also rewarding, so hopefully that will motivate them even more,” she said.
“It’s my sport and my way of contributing.”
In 2020, Williams provided 25 tablets to 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 runs a reading and homework center in Rose Gardens, Kingston.
Williams ran the first leg of Jamaica’s 4 x 100m event in which he won the gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (held in 2021). She also won silver with Jamaica’s 4×100 meter relay at the 2022 World Championships.