The Jamaican American Connection Inc.

(JAC) was founded in the summer of 2010.

JAC's purpose is to celebrate and preserve the unique Jamaican culture

and to promote the positive values and traditions of its people . 

In furtherance of the purpose, JAC created the Trailblazer Scholarship.

Please see JAC'S Scholarship Application Guidelines Below:

2022 Trailblazer Scholarship Amounts:

One $1500 Award

Two Book Awards @ $500 each

One $500 Leroy "Breadman" Maraugh Book Award

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Eligibility Criteria

  • Scholarships will be award to deserving students from the Greater New Haven area based on academic achievement, community involvement, extracurricular activities, and financial need.

  • The applicant must be a student presently enrolled in a college or vocational school and of West Indian descent (1st or 2nd generation)

  • Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.0

  • Applicants may NOT be a prior recipient of any of the aforementioned scholarships.

  • Deadline for submission is June 30, 2022@ 5pm

  • Awards are given at the JAC Scholarship Banquet in September.

Meet our 2021 Trailblazer Scholars

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Kelsey Rice

Kelsey Rice is a graduate of the class of 2021 from Sacred Heart Academy in Hamden, CT where she was a honor student graduating with a 3.75 GPA. Throughout her four years that she participated in many extracurriculars both in school and outside of school. In school Kelsey was involved in student council where she served as a homeroom representative. She was also included in the school play where she was a lead in two out of her four productions. Kelsey was deeply involved in the religious aspect of her school community. She was in Charism Connection, which is a community service group, there they held many events like making care packages for the homeless. She also was one of the leaders of her senior year religious retreat called Kairos. There she was able to not only deepen hair faith with God but help others deepen their faith as well. For Kelsey this nurturing began at her church East End Baptist Tabernacle church where she was a member of the youth choir and drama ministry.  Outside of school Kelsey participated in the Jack and Jill of America’s New Haven Chapter where she served as the fundraiser chair for three years and then served as Vice President her last year. There she learned how to better serve her community and all the tools she will need for and after college. Kelsey is also a dancer, she has been dancing for fifteen years. Kelsey now attends the University of Delaware where she double majors in Criminal Justice and Global Studies. She plans to use her degrees to join the FBI as an intelligence analyst, while also using her expertise to build better correctional facilities in the U.S. 

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Keisha Nelson

My name is Ayesha Nelson. I attend the University of North Texas and I am in my junior year of college. I am a student-athlete that participates track and field. My major is psychology. Moving to America at a young age was very difficult but also necessary. I had to adapt to the environment and a new way of life. In Jamaica, we spoke Patwa which is broken English. Whenever I spoke at school or anywhere outside my household, no one would understand me so I had to learn how to speak American English. Coming here provided better opportunities for my family. Being Jamaican has made me a better person because knowing that whenever I go to another country I’m not only living for myself, but for other Jamaicans that didn’t have this opportunity. Being connected to the West Indian community has shaped me into who I am today because we are strong individuals with a strong support system. We adapt fast and overcome any obstacle in our way. We work hard and don’t take any opportunity for granted.

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Chase Tyson

My name is Chase Tyson. I am a freshman at the University of New Haven, majoring in Criminal Justice. I have many passions, my family, football, and my future career. My family consists of my mother, father, sister, and grandmother. My parents are consistently working hard for my sister and me. My mother is a nurse, she averages about three jobs, always. My father has been with the New Haven Police Department almost twenty years. My sister is a Junior in college, and she is my biggest supporter through everything. My grandmother is my everything.

​For as long as I can remember, I played football. Football has been my main priority throughout all my life. From when I was young, I practiced every day and played every weekend. As I grew older, my passion only grew as well. I always dreamed of being in the NFL, it was a dream that made me and my father closer. My father was/is my confidant for football. As I watched him progress in the criminal justice field, I realized another passion. I could not rely on just football forever, granted I am good at the sport, but it is not guaranteed that I will join the NFL. I figured the best backup profession, is something that I truly am passionate about. When choosing my major for school, criminal justice was an automatic decision. I witnessed my father become a strong officer in his hometown. He is an advocate for all young black men. He built relationships within the community that truly inspire me. My father always told me to go farther than just an officer. He truly inspired me to go federal, ever since then it has been my passion to be a federal agent in Connecticut. I want to do as much as I can to change my community for the better.


Kayla Philpotts

My name is Kayla Philpotts. I am 18 years old and I attend Iona College in New Rochelle. My major is nursing. Growing up in a half Jamaican household you realize that you use a lot of values you were raised on in your everyday life. Every time you walk into a room you speak to everyone “good morning” “good evening” and you also realize that when people don’t share these small values such as respect and hard work you find it a little hard to coexist but you do find ways to make it work if you have to. Respect and hard work are taken very seriously in my home and with that, I had no choice but to apply them to my life but that is not a bad thing at all. I am very pleased to say that these values have helped me out with making friends, doing school work, and even the college process. I am very grateful for the way that I was raised and wouldn’t change it for the world. 


Monicque Landell

Monicque Landell is a 2020 high school graduate from Achievement First Amistad High School in New Haven, CT. During her four years of high school, she played and served a captain on three varsity teams, volleyball, basketball, and lacrosse. She also participated and was a

co-founder of three clubs, Pretty Tough, Wolves Society of Agriculture and Biological Engineering, and Beats & Bars. She completed three summer programs, one as an intern at Phenomenal I Am inc., a pre-college at Pennsylvania State University, and another pre-college at Franklin & Marshall College. She did community service at numerous places across the city throughout her four years. She earned high honors and “Alpha Wolf” all four years.


Monicque is now a first-year student at Franklin & Marshall College. She intends to double major in sociology and anthropology or psychology on the pre-law path. Although her main focus is her academics, she plans on joining her college’s Black Student Union, Club Volleyball,



Mareshah White

Mareshah White is an honors graduate of Hamden High School. Throughout her four years, she has remained a High Honor Roll student and maintained academic excellence with a cumulative 3.56 GPA. Over the course of her four years at Hamden High, she was Team manager of the girls' gymnastics team, she was a part of the Superintendent’s Student Advisory table, where select students would collectively come together and discuss school district matters with the Hamden Public Schools

superintendent. She also worked with her principal, Mrs. Gannon, to create a principal's roundtable for students who wished to bring new ideas and issues to her attention. Mareshah has held many leadership positions during high school, she was a Peer Leader/Peer Mentor in Hamden High’s Student Ambassadors program, she was Secretary of National Honor Society, Vice President of the Black and Hispanic Student Union, and Founder/President of the H.E.L.P (Homework, Excellence, Leadership, Program) Club, which

was a program designed to assist students in the community with homework help and tutoring. Among many of Mareshah’s school activities, she was an active member of the school’s hiring committee with a focus on minority teacher recruitment during the summer and she has participated in multiple trainings learning about equity and inclusivity within schools and in her community. Mareshah also worked in collaboration with the Anti-Defamation League and the Student Ambassadors program to achieve the designation of Hamden High being one of Connecticut’s first No Place for Hate schools.


Outside of school, Mareshah volunteered at Hamden’s Early Learning program and helped teachers create arts and crafts projects for students as well as read to preschoolers during summer months. In addition, Mareshah works the polls every election/primary day and is currently an intern for Justin

Farmer’s Campaign for State Senate. She is also on the King's House Church Dance Team. Mareshah has devoted many hours giving back to her school community and her community as a

whole. One of Mareshah’s most recent accomplishments in creating the COVID (courage, opportunity, vitality, innovation and drive) scholarship fund for her Hamden High Class of 2020 peers and her ability to obtain a grant from AT&T to get it started has been called ‘inspirational’. Mareshah will be attending the University of New Haven in the fall where she will be pursuing her undergraduate degree in Health Science with a Pre-med designation and a minor in political science. Her ultimate goal is to become an OB/GYN and someday the president.

Meet our 2020 Trailblazers