Tiana Dinham, 17, principal of Mount Alvernia High School in Montego Bay, has been accepted to 13 universities in three countries, receiving 11 scholarships, five of which cover all of her college expenses. Dinham, from the Maryland district of Hanover, was accepted to Barry University; Lynn University, McGill University; Wingate University; the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill; Dartmouth College; Washington and Lee University; the University of British Columbia; Emory University; Duke Kunshan University; and the Scarborough, Mississauga and St. Georges campuses of the University of Toronto.
She chose to accept the Robertson Scholarship, which covers all tuition, boarding fees, and all other mandatory expenses for eight semesters. With her choice of the Robertson scholarship, her choice of university was automatically narrowed to either the University of North Carolina or Duke University. She eventually chose to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the United States. She plans to earn a first degree in health policy and management with a minor in exercise and sport science, and then pursue medical studies. She will begin her studies in August 2022. Dinham said that in addition to paying for everything, the Robertson Scholarship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will provide free summer experiences by funding internships in the United States or trips to the stranger. She will also fund two semesters abroad if she decides to study in another country.
Dinham is the first of the Robertson Scholarship applicants from a Jamaican school to receive the award. The 17-year-old described it as the biggest achievement of her life so far. She is also the first student from an island school to win the Johnson Scholarship to study at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. She said she decided to attend university abroad because she wanted to explore new places and always wanted to know what life was like outside familiar areas. She thinks there are things to learn outside of Jamaica that she can bring back to make her home island a better place.
Her inspiration to make Jamaica better comes from her mother, Andria Dehaney Grant, deputy mayor of Lucea in Hanover, councilor for the Sandy Bay division and principal of Maryland Elementary School, which her daughter attended. Grant thinks Tiana will continue to do well and worries about her. She noted that her daughter had always worked hard and was driven.
Dinham, who is set for her final round of regional exams, has already achieved the highest grade possible in her first year in 16 subjects administered by the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC). Twelve of the subjects are at the CSEC level and four at the CAPE level. Along with achieving such stellar academic success, Dinham is also involved in extracurricular activities at Mount Alvernia Secondary School. She hopes that her academic success will eventually help improve the lives of her community and its residents. She acknowledged that her path to success hadn’t always been easy, but expressed her gratitude for being surrounded by a good support system.
Her mother thinks Tiana will be a source of motivation for the community. She added that she sometimes gets upset thinking about what her “little country girl” has accomplished.