Career & Education

Observer reporter wins UK scholarship

Sunday, August 19, 2018

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Health and women's issues reporter at Jamaica Observer Kimberley Hibbert has been named a Chevening scholar for 2018-2019 and will pursue a master of science degree in public health and health promotion at Swansea University in Wales starting late September.

She is among 22 Jamaicans — former Observer freelance writer Dr Nicole Nation among them — and over 1,500 people around the world to be accorded the honour this year.

Hibbert said she was more relieved than excited when she was notified back in July that her application was successful. She had been anxious she said, though she tried hard not to dwell on it.

“I did expect to be awarded; I submitted my application in faith, but at the same time I tried not to set myself up for disappointment,” she told Career & Education.

The award is the highlight of her career to date, which features a string of Press Association of Jamaica awards, certificates and nominations.

She has won the Hector Bernard/Theodore Sealy Award for News (Print) (2017 and 2015), Award for Excellence in Reporting on Health and Wellness (2016); Certificate of Merit for UNICEF Reporting on Child Rights (2017 and 2015), Certificate of Merit for Digicel's Award for Reporting on Technology (2017), and the Certificate of Merit for Investigative Journalism (2015).

Hibbert has also twice been nominated for Young Journalist of the Year, and was nominated for the Prime Minister's Youth Award for Excellence in Journalism.

Asked what the Chevening award means to her, Hibbert, 26, said: “As a young leader, I have good accomplishments. The Chevening Scholarship will move me forward, in that I'll acquire new knowledge, which I will bring back to Jamaica to develop health reporting and hopefully conduct research locally and collaborate on decisions in health care.”

She also explained why she chose Chevening, Wales, Swansea, and health promotion.

“I applied to Chevening because it provides an opportunity for leadership, collaboration with different levels of government, greater self-discovery, character building and networking through its influential, global and multi-disciplinary alumni pool. In addition, the scholarship focuses on development and I wanted to be part of something that had a greater good and required that you use your skills to the betterment of your country and people,” she said.

As for the course, Hibbert said it is a perfect fit since health reporting, promotions and communications are a large part of her journalistic and volunteer work, plus the fact that it does not require a medical background.

“I chose public health and health promotion because of my passion for healthcare — health reporting, the current state of our health sector, the health-seeking behaviour of our people, and the care meted out to our most vulnerable. It's no secret that improvement is needed, and having worked the health beat throughout my five years as a journalist, I believe I can make a difference, and as clichéd as it sounds, I can be the start of the change I want to see,” she said.

That change, she asserted, includes putting more research into health stories, promoting healthier practices among the population, advocating for the stigmatised who are either ashamed or afraid of seeking healthcare, and helping inform health policy.

“With the foundation I'm sure I will receive from the course, I hope to use my position in the area I'm passionate about to help Jamaicans and by extension, Caribbean people, to better understand the technicalities of health-care systems, patient care, and the long-term benefits of certain implementations, for example the HPV vaccine,” said Hibbert.

Having never lived on her own before, Hibbert said she deliberately selected an environment that reminds her of home, a criterion which Swansea meets since both its campuses — Bay and Singleton — are on the beach and surrounded by acres of parkland on the edge of the Gower Peninsula.

“I also wanted an opportunity to learn another language and build on my current language skills, hence choosing to study in Wales,” she added.

“I am definitely looking forward to the research-rich environment in the UK, cultural diversity, and living in a place that has a lot of history regarding the Caribbean.

As for her plans upon returning to Jamaica, Hibbert says she intends to continue working in the area of health communications as a journalist and to also work with women who suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome. She also intends to continue working with the mentorship and development programme at her alma mater Meadowbrook High, which she currently heads, in addition to the health committee and youth event and quiz coordinator roles in her church.

Among the Jamaican Chevening awardees this year, Hibbert is one of four mainstream journalists. The others are Vashan Brown, Giovanni Dennis, and Brian Walker.







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