Two Jamaican Men With Roots In Saint Mary Win $90,000 Graduate School Fellowship

Two Jamaican-Americans are the 2023 recipients of a $90,000 prestigious fellowship from The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans. They were selected from a pool of nearly 2,000 applicants.

The two newly minted 2023 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows with Jamaican heritage are Desmond Edwards, a PhD student in microbiology and immunology at Stanford University, and Jermaine Anthony Richards, a PhD candidate in communication at the University of Southern California.

Both men have roots in the parish of St. Mary, Jamaica. Desmond was born and raised in Jamaica, living in rural St. Mary and attending school in Kingston before emigrating to the United States at the age 18 to attend MIT. While, Jermaine was born and raised in New York with his mother and grandmother who are immigrant Jamaicans.

Desmond Edwards

Desmond Edwards – 2022 Prime Minister Youth Awardee 

Desmond is interested in human disease and developing novel therapeutic options for their treatment and prevention as he spent a large share of his childhood battling with asthma attacks and disruptive allergy flare-ups. He was awarded a 2022 Prime Minister’s National Youth Award for Excellence, the highest national award bestowed on Jamaicans between the ages of 15 and 29 years by the Prime Minister of Jamaica.

At MIT, he double majored in biological engineering and biology, with a minor in French. He has worked with Professor Viviana Gradinaru at the California Institute of Technology, to engineer solutions for a novel gene therapy for Rett syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder primarily seen in girls. Interested not only in the technical details of scientific research but also in its societal impact, Desmond also dedicated himself to serving the community through roles in the MIT Biotech Group, student representation and advocacy, and teaching and mentorship.

Jermaine Richards

Jermaine Richards – CUNY York College Scholar 

Jermaine is a CUNY York College graduate, and an award-winning social impact producer; researching how transmedia storytelling animates human security politics.  In high school, he worked at Madison Avenue’s most influential advertising agencies and learned principles of marketing, interaction design, and technical production; at home, he tinkered with- and built customized computers, with consideration for how creative computing could accentuate and challenge sociopolitical problems.

A third-generation CUNY graduate, Jermaine completed his BS at CUNY York College in communications technology––a major joining computer science, information systems, and design. Among his career objectives, Jermaine aims to support the advocacy works of civil society groupings with the best communication training and tools for reengaging political and social institutions that have failed to serve them.

Fellowship Impacts Over 700 Students

The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans is a merit-based graduate school program for distinguished immigrants and children of immigrants. The Fellowship has supported 775 students since 1998 and its recipients with Jamaican heritage include Damian Williams, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Nadine Burke-Harris, the former surgeon general of the state of California.

Since the Fellowship’s founding 25 years ago, the program has provided more than $80 million in funding, and recipients have studied a range of fields from medicine and the arts to law and business.

Photo – UnSplash, The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans

About the author

Staff Writer