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Clayton Bolton | Jamaica | Seek Out Opportunities & Connect

Student - Master's in International Public and Development Management

Community Engagement Program Fellow & Policy Analyst

As a child growing up in rural Jamaica, seeing and hearing of persons graduating from The University of the West Indies, Mona was something I was always captivated by and wanted for myself. I am Clayton Bolton, a student currently completing my Master's in International Public and Development Management at The University of The West Indies, Mona. I hold a Bachelor of Science Degree in Public Policy and Management with a Minor in International Relations, also from The University of The West Indies, Mona. In 2022, I was privileged to be one of two Jamaicans selected for the Community Engagement Exchange (CEE) Program Fellowship. The fellowship provided a transformative leadership development experience in the United States of America, facilitated by the US Department of State and the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX). The program was designed to equip civil society leaders with the skills to harness the power of networks, relationships, and information for the public good.

Through the CEE Fellowship, I gained valuable knowledge on issues related to civic dialogue and peacebuilding, open and participatory government, women and gender, resilience and sustainable development, and youth engagement. It was an honor to participate in such a program and contribute to the advancement of my country and the world at large.

I am passionate about contributing to the development of my country and making a positive impact on society. In the future, I hope to work in the public sector, particularly in policy development and implementation, to address issues related to poverty alleviation, sustainable development, and social justice. Overall, the Community Engagement Exchange Program Fellowship has equipped me with valuable leadership skills and knowledge, which I am eager to apply to make a difference in my community and the world. I believe that with dedication and hard work, I can make a positive impact on society and help build a brighter future for all.

What were the biggest initial hurdles you faced and how did you overcome them?

As an international student pursuing a master's degree, one of the biggest initial hurdles I faced was adapting to a new academic system and environment. This included adjusting to different teaching styles, academic expectations, and cultural norms. Additionally, there were financial challenges and the need to balance academic demands with part-time work.

To overcome these challenges, I made an effort to seek out support systems both on and off-campus. This included attending orientation sessions and academic workshops, seeking advice from professors, and connecting with fellow students. I also made sure to prioritize my time effectively by developing a schedule and setting achievable goals.

Overall, I learned that adapting to a new environment and facing challenges is a natural part of the process when pursuing higher education. By seeking out support systems and being proactive in my approach, I was able to overcome these initial hurdles and continue to thrive in my academic pursuits.

What advice do you have for young people locally and internationally who are just starting out in their careers or pursuing their passions?

As I reflect on my journey, I realize that one of the biggest lessons I learned was the importance of taking personal responsibility for my development. It was up to me to seek out opportunities, connect with mentors, and develop the skills and knowledge necessary to achieve success.

If I had waited for someone else to do it for me, I may not have gotten to where I am today. It was a combination of hard work, perseverance, and resourcefulness that allowed me to overcome the challenges I faced. To any young person who may be facing similar obstacles, my words of encouragement would be to take responsibility for your own development.

Be consistent, maintain a positive attitude, and always be resourceful in finding ways to improve your situation. It's not always easy, but with hard work and dedication, you can achieve your goals and make a positive impact in your community and the world.

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