December 2020 Volume 16

'I'm ecstatic' - Jovaine Atkinson's dream now a reality

Reprinted from Jamaica Observer
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Pocket Rocket Foundation recipient now a licensed commercial pilot

Former Kingston College (KC) track star Jovaine Atkinson is now a commercial pilot and he cannot contain his joy.

“I'm ecstatic, filled with euphoria and contentment right now. All the hard work, the stress, the long nights, the studying, and the occasional tears all paid off,” said Atkinson.

“My dream became a reality. I am now a licensed commercial pilot, multi-engine rated. I am extremely grateful for all my flight instructors and the hard work you guys have done and I appreciate every morsel of knowledge that you guys have passed down to me,” he added.

Atkinson, who started representing Kingston College in the 110m hurdles at the annual Boys' and Girls' Championships in 2012, had his best placing (fourth) in the Class One final in 2014. In 2015, after achieving a personal best of 13.40 seconds he suffered an injury and was unable to compete in his final year.

But in 2013, Atkinson was one of the first recipients of the Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce's Pocket Rocket Foundation to be awarded full academic scholarship as a high school student athlete.

The two-time Olympic 100m champion was just as ecstatic as Atkinson for his academic achievement.

“Eight years ago Jovaine and I were both dreamers. He was a passionate and enthusiastic student athlete with an ambitious dream. I, too, had a desire to create a foundation that would leave a legacy of lasting change in the lives of high school student athletes,” noted Fraser-Pryce.

“Investing in Jovaine's education in 2013, as one of the first set of scholarship awardees, was my way of saying I believe in you and know you can achieve whatever you commit to.

“Eight years later Jovaine has affirmed my dream by being a testimony in optimising his full potential and I'm extremely grateful to know my Pocket Rocket Foundation is helping to have a positive impact.

“Jovaine is one of 50 awardees to date, since I launched the foundation scholarship fund and I'm extremely proud of what I've created with the help of my sponsors, board members and affiliated partners,” she added.

Atkinson applied for the scholarship with the hope of easing the financial burden off his mother at the time.

“I came from humble beginnings, and my mom did her best with what she could provide. So I always try to seek opportunities that would supplement my education. Nevertheless, I was one of the first recipients of the scholarship from the Pocket Rocket Foundation and it took care of my educational expenses ranging from tuition, books, lunch money, uniforms, etc. I was grateful for it as it made things a lot easier on me and my family,” admitted Atkinson.

After he left KC, he gained a full athletic scholarship from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, where he pursued a career in Aeronautics.

“It was a childhood dream of mine to become a pilot and knowing my family's financial situation, I used track and field as a pathway to pursue an expensive dream,” he noted.

“I have always been fascinated with air crafts from a tender age, and my core competencies as a student were in physics and mathematics, so it made sense why I gravitated towards the profession.

“It's tough being a National Collegiate Athletics Association Division One student-athlete as it's arduous trying to balance athletics while pursuing a degree and going to flight school at the same time. But I disciplined myself and always reminded myself of the end goal and I understood what it meant to delay gratification for a greater cause,” he added.

“Pilot training is tough. The level of work and studying was stressful, but when you want something that bad, you steer your focus on the end goal and stay diligent throughout the process. I stumbled over many obstacles throughout my flight training as it was very challenging, but I had the tenacity to get up and try again each time I was defeated on a stage check,” Atkinson revealed.

“But I worked hard and made use of all the resources available to me and it paid off. A lot of sweat, long nights, failures, and tears went into my flight training and it's fascinating and rewarding seeing the end result and everything paid off in the end,” he added.

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