by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
- Jevonie Thomas is the 2019 Grenada Brain Bee champion
- Daegu, South Korea is hosting the 2019 International Brain Bee Challenge
- Sponsors sought to offset airfare to South Korea
The 2019 Grenada Brain Bee champion Jevonie Thomas is well aware of the challenge ahead as the Form 3 student of the JW Fletcher Catholic Secondary School prepares to represent Grenada and his school in Daegu, South Korea at the International Brain Bee Challenge (IBB).
The primary goal of the IBB is to ‘motivate students to learn about the brain and to inspire them to pursue careers in neuroscience so they can help treat and find cures for brain disorders,’ said the contest website. The International Brain Bee was founded at the University of Maryland in 1998 by Dr Norbert Myslinski.
Thomas competed against 14 of the brightest and the best brains in Grenada from 7 secondary schools — Grenada Boys Secondary, Presentation Boys College, Wesley College, Westerhall Secondary, Westmorland Secondary, Hillsborough Secondary, and JW Fletcher Catholic Secondary School.
“Before I even knew about the competition, the only thing I Knew about the Brain was that it was pink and it was in the skull, that was pretty much it. Then coming up in September/November my chemistry teacher would have signed me up for the Brain Bee without my knowledge. She just came to me one day and said that you are in Brain Bee and I was like okay this should be interesting,” said Thomas as he reflected on what led him to participate in the competition.
Assisted by his coach Erin John, a Biology and Mathematics Teacher at the JW Fletcher Catholic Secondary, Thomas will spend the next few months studying and doing research with the use of valuable neuroscience resource material like The Brain Facts Book, as he prepares to compete in South Korea.
For winning the local leg of the competition, Thomas received a tablet sponsored by People’s Group, a Certificate of Participation, stethoscope, winner’s trophy and Credit Union Account from Communal Co-operative Credit Union, shares from Ariza Credit Union, the trip to Daegu, South Korea in September and neuroscience books.
Under strict guidance by his parents Karen Goddard and Jerome Thomas, young Thomas who is also active in the Grenada Cadet Corps as a Lance Corporal hopes to make his family and his country proud.
“Giovanni De Gannes came 2nd last year by only 1 point. So with the help of the professors and my coach Ms Erin John, I expect to go to South Korea and bring the trophy home,” he added. Last year’s participant, Giovanni De Gannes placed 2nd in the IBB championship in Berlin.
His introduction to the Brain Bee competition has inspired Thomas to pursue a career as a Physicist/Neuroscientist. He has also set a goal to find cures for neurological disorders epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and Alzheimer.
“There are a lot of things about the universe that is not really understood that well and I think if I could go into that and actually make a breakthrough in that field, then that can actually help humanity on a whole. Neuroscience as well, we know a lot of things about the brain, but there are so many things that we don’t understand, the brain is such a complex organ. So I think if I can go into that and unravel some mystery in that field that will definitely help a lot of people, especially diseases that we don’t know the what is the cause… like if I could go there and find those causes and get a cure for that disease then that will help millions of people.”
Coach John praised him for having the discipline to study without supervision. “So our preparation for the competition after he would have made it through his zonal competition, it wasn’t as challenging as I said before because usually for the Brain Bee competition, they are given textbooks which they need to study and it is more of an individual self-studying the type of competition. So Jevonie being this initiative person that he is, my work for me was much easier. He did his part which was the majority of the work self-studying, and when it came time for me as a teacher, it was basically for me to see whether he actually understood,” said John.
Laurel Bartholomew, principal of the JW Fletcher Catholic Secondary School says Thomas’ victory serves as a testament for all students that hard work and dedication pays off. According to her, he first wanted to become a chef prior to taking part in the competition. “Jevonie’s idea was more or less if you ask about science, he will tell you he doesn’t know much, but… I want to believe that Jevonie’s commitment and dedication… it is even possibly shaping him into a career path of neuroscience.”
National Coordinator of the Grenada Brain Bee, Gail Blackette, says preparation and travel arrangements are now being made for Thomas to travel to South Korea. She said his ticket alone will cost over $6,000 and it is now up to the Christian Services Corporation together with their sponsors to ensure that all his expenses are taken care of. “We [wrote] different companies and some of them responded and some of them did not, and those that did not I hope that they will come on board so that they can help sponsor or get the ticket so that we can get to South Korea.”
Rikiba Caton-Bain from Westmorland Secondary School placed second in the local competition and Joshua Duncan from the Grenada Boys Secondary School placed third.