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The 2023 Interviews are Approaching!

Hello JLSMSF supporters,


We are amid preparing for the upcoming 2023 student interviews. The flights and accommodations are set, and the list of questions are ready to go. The only thing I need to do is show up, right?

This being my second year of interviewing, tells me this is not the case. As I reflect on the 2022 interviews, I realize improvement is certainly needed on my part.


Last year was a mess! After waking at 3:00am on Saturday, I discovered my 5:30am flight was cancelled. Thankfully, we hadn’t left for the airport, but it got even worse when I found out my flight was rescheduled for Monday. REALLY??? What airline just takes away two days of your travel plans? It made no sense. I needed to be prepared and at the interviews by Tuesday.


Being dubbed “Ever the Optimist” by a friend, I convinced myself this was a blessing. After all, we could accomplish some much-needed yard work before our departure. It meant we could relax a little bit upon our return. Spring is short in Minnesota.


Being optimistic, however, did not change the fact that I was overwhelmed. Losing two days meant that I was landing in Montego Bay HOT. The deadline for the students is tight. They need to know that they have been accepted to a university and that their transcripts are complete, so the applications flood in quickly.


My 25+ years of working in the corporate world meant that I would certainly rise to the challenge and be prepared for each interview. I downloaded everything needed to review applications, transcripts, and essays as I flew to Jamaica. With only a few students left, my battery finally gave out, so I had to shut it down. I only had a couple more to review; it would be fine.


Unfortunately, after landing, I realized this was not the case. Since departing Minnesota, we had received several late applicants needing review by the next day. So much for kicking back and relaxing on the beach. It is highly important that every student receives consideration. For most of them, this is not only a shot at achieving more for themselves, but also their families.


My three insights from last year:

  1. Remembering over 20 people after meeting them for 15 minutes is difficult. My goal this year is to ask a more personal question that makes the student stand out as an individual. Knowing something unique may help me recall each them.

  2. The whole day will feel like a whirlwind. It is not only long but emotional. The stories of hardship are real, and they affect you. Fighting back tears and keeping your voice in check can be exhausting.

  3. Don’t expect there to be one clear candidate that waltzes in and dazzles the entire interview team. It is important to rate the candidates and clearly articulate why you are selecting them. My top candidates might be different from the other interviewers.

Will it be different this year? I truly hope so. As of today, we have received 2 applications, and the interviews are in a week. Since we had over 20 applicants last year, I know this will change. I must recognize that the pressure is not only on me, but also the students. They have 15 minutes to present their best self to the interviewers. We stand between them and possibility.


I want the supporters of JLWMSF to know that we choose our students thoughtfully. Each of the applicants are smart, motivated, and brimming with potential. The only thing they lack is financial support. Will we move the needle in Jamaica? Maybe, but I have personally seen how this organization has impacted an individual’s life, and I am proud to be a part of it.


Make sure to look for the upcoming recap of the 2023 interviews!


Shannon - VP of JLWMSF

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