Youthful Excellence and Brilliance of Jamaica’s Aubrey Stewart

Youthful Excellence and Brilliance of Jamaica's Aubrey Stewart

Aubrey Stewart on the lawns at Buckingham Palace

“Whenever you feel discouraged, afraid, attacked, mislead, disappointed or hurt, always keep in mind that tears give you strength, it doesn’t make you weak. Not all things are perfect in my life, not all things are golden, but all things still remain possible, once you have faith. Your circumstances and challenges do not define you. You define it.”  – Aubrey Stewart, one of the Queen’s Youth Leaders Award recipients of 2018.

Aubrey Stewart has been a force to be reckoned with, and with his charm, poise and especially his achievements to date, it’s not difficult to be won over. There was no way one could believe that his life was stamped for failure because of the greatness which bestows him every day. He started out in humble beginnings, and while he uses this as grounds for development, he has not let it hinder his upward strive to making the most of the opportunities he has been afforded.

“Fold your arms, smile and observe. It can’t just be pain and struggle, there is happiness and better days ahead. Never allow that one little thing that’s out of place in your life to dominate your mind and thoughts. You are great! The more you focus on that little thing, the more it grows, so let it go.” – Aubrey Stewart.

He grew up with a strong and passionate mother in her son’s potential for success, not to mention his grandmother who was just as involved in his development. He experienced the pangs of poverty on a daily basis; his mother earning JMD $40,000 (less than US $500) yearly and he had to survive on  JMD $40 (less than US $0.50) for lunch during his secondary education.

“Always remember that God uses your adversities and challenges as an incubator of Greatness. Peace, Hope, Love, and Passion was birth through a process of Pain and God will bring greatness out of your weakness and strength out of your tribulation. The more you are afflicted, persecuted and judged by naysayers the more you Grow.” – Aubrey Stewart.

However, he thrived and distinguished himself early; in 2011 he received the Prime Minister’s Youth Award for Excellence in Leadership and the Governor General Youth Award for Excellence in Leadership in 2013, as well as the National Youth Leader Award for Outstanding Volunteerism from the Council of Voluntary and Social Services.

From Cornwall College in Montego Bay, St. James, he went to the University of the West Indies Western Jamaican Campus where he studied Political Leadership and Strategy Management. He went on to take his education a step further and graduated with a Masters in Political Science and Government. From very early in life he sought to be different; he desired to be a beacon of light to those who are drowning in hopelessness.

“I can proudly say my undergraduate years at the University of the West Indies, Western Jamaican Campus was worth it, serving 2 years as Guild President, awarded the Governor General Award for Excellence and the University of the West Indies Premier Award for Leadership.” – Aubrey Stewart.

Aubrey has been a positive force in the lives of youth and he founded the Youth Organization for Upliftment (YOU) in 2009 to motivate and support young persons within Jamaica; they could thus make an impact and difference in their community. The YOU represents over 200 youth leaders in the parishes of Trelawny, Hanover, and St. James in Jamaica and was awarded in 2014 the Prime Minister’s Youth Award for Excellence in Youth Work and Community service which was presented by the Most Honorable Portia Simpson-Miller.

The organization launched various campaigns such as “The Crime Out” campaign – which was a youth-centered peace movement that aided in youth voicing their opinions in solidarity against violence. He was also the country coordinator for the RuJohn Foundation in Jamaica where he provided underprivileged students with resources and opportunities for development. Stewart was also the Chairman for the Youth Advisory Council of Jamaica where he represented the youth in policy making and since he was a Jamaica House fellow, he worked alongside officials at the Office of the Prime Minister to aid in national development.

Youthful Excellence and Brilliance of Jamaica's Aubrey Stewart

Aubrey with former President of the USA, Barack Obama. (photo FB)

He found that he wanted to emulate former president of the United States of America, Barack Obama, as he was his inspiration in more ways than one; so much so that he was afforded the honor to introduce Mr. Obama at the town hall meeting at the University of the West Indies when he visited Jamaica in 2015. That experience also propelled him in the direction he wanted to go, and while he continued being recognized for his contributions and doing amazing things to change lives, he had bigger dreams to achieve in the future.

Youthful Excellence and Brilliance of Jamaica's Aubrey Stewart

Aubrey Stewart meets Queen Elizabeth ll, Queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms

When the Queen of Britain (Queen Elizabeth ll, Queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms) issued applications for her Queen Young Leaders Award, thousands of persons across the world applied, one of which was Aubrey. He competed against individuals who were making great strides on the international stage for youth and he was selected after a rigorous process due to his passion and consistent contribution to young development and success.

“I am proud to have been selected as a Queens Young Leader for Jamaica in the final year of the programme…. It is truly an honour to have worked with many young people across Jamaica. I look forward to the great things ahead and the many more lives to be reached and impacted. I am also excited to meet the many other youth leaders around the world who continue to do great things in their communities.” – Aubrey Stewart with the Jamaica Observer.

The Queen’s prestigious Young Leaders Award is in its last year after being issued for now four years. The Queen’s Young Leaders Award is given to leaders, aged 18-29, who have created significant and positive change in the lives of Youth within their countries and on a global scale. It was formed in 2014 by the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust along with the Comic Relief, Royal Commonwealth Society and the Institute of Continuing Education at the University of Cambridge. The award was in honor of Queen Elizabeth’s lifetime of service to the Commonwealth. These recipients have also aided in the improvement of lives who have suffered at the hands of mental health, gender inequality, poverty, and other diverse issues.

Aubrey was among a group of youth, who reside within the British Commonwealth, who was awarded on June 26, 2018, in The Buckingham Palace, London. The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust said the founder of the Youth Organization for Upliftment (YOU) was selected due to the work he has been doing to support and empower youth in particular.

Youthful Excellence and Brilliance of Jamaica's Aubrey Stewart

Aubrey Stewart at Buckingham Palace with Queen’s Young Leaders (photo FB)

“In this, the final year of The Queen’s Young Leaders programme, once again we have outstanding award winners leading the way in transforming people’s lives for the better in every part of the Commonwealth. We congratulate them all for their remarkable achievements.” – Dr. Astrid Bonfield, chief executive of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust.

Aubrey will now have to participate in a one-year leadership course at the University of Cambridge while being mentored by phenomenal leaders. He will also be added to a network of some two hundred and forty young leaders from far and wide across the fifty-three nations which are a part of the Commonwealth with the vision to better the world. The cohort of leaders addresses pressing issues including scarcity of food, mental health, climate change, accessibility to education and gender-based violence. The winners are scheduled to participate in projects which are facilitating change in the lives of the disadvantaged within the United Kingdom.

“Over the coming year, the programme will nurture and develop their talents, and equip them to go further in making a lasting change in their communities. I hope they find the experience to be truly life-changing and I’m delighted to welcome today’s winners to the now complete network of Queen’s Young Leaders.” – Dr. Astrid Bonfield.

The cohort is expected to take masters classes at the BBC World Service and Facebook UK HQ and visit 10 Downing Street. Additionally, their participation in meetings, training sessions, and networking opportunities aim to develop their leadership as young leaders. They will also meet the Commonwealth Secretary-General and the High Commissioners from within the Commonwealth region.

Aubrey continues to be an inspiration to many as he charters a course pleasing to many that look to emulate him. We can only support him on his journey and anticipate what he has in store for his future and the future of his country and the world.

“I know you have big dreams for yourself, but don’t forget to appreciate how far you’ve come already. Remember the days you prayed for the things you have now.” – Aubrey Stewart.

Awards

Queen’s Young Leaders Award winner 2017
University of the West Indies Premier Award for Leadership 2015
Governor General Youth Award for Excellence in Leadership 2013
National Young Leader Award from the Council of Voluntary Services for outstanding Volunteerism 2013
Prime Minister’s Youth Award for Excellence in Leadership in 2011
Experience
Chairman – Youth Advisory Council of Jamaica
Co-founder of Youth Organization for Upliftment
Former Junior Mayor of Montego Bay
President of the Guild of Students
Research Fellow – Office of the Prime Minister
Resident advisor and Graduate assistant – UWI
Project manager – MTV Staying Alive Foundation
Deputy Head boy – Cornwall College
Member of high school’s Debating Club, Prefect Council, Red Cross -President for St. James, Peer Counsel-(Vice President), Cadet- (Sergeant)
Introduced President Barack Obama on his visit to Jamaica in 2015

By Alexandra Daley

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