Dr. Arlie Petters – he is a Duke University professor and world
class physicist with Belizean roots. And doing his part to give back to the
community, he established the Petters Research Institute in his hometown of
Dangriga. This year he flew in 11 academically gifted high school students from
the United States and England and chose 4 Belizean students to participate in
a business leadership course - a partnership between the Petters Institute and
Duke University’s Talent Identification Program. The training ends tomorrow
but today was a graduation of sorts and 7News was in Dangriga for it. Keith
Swift has the story.
Keith Swift Reporting,
The fifteen high school students are from England, the United States and Belize.
They are racially and ethnically diverse, and they are different ages –
the youngest 15 and the oldest 18 with one common denominator: a drive to lead.
Chanelle Garcia, California, age 17
“I hope to one day become a leader or someone who influences people.”
The students who are considered the best and brightest spent two weeks learning
in interactive sessions with one of the world’s best, Dr. Arlie Petters
at his research institute in Dangriga.
Dr. Arlie Petters, Exec. Dir. - Petters Research Inst.
“They are selected on the following criteria: you need very high gradesand then we look for things like motivation, we look for emotional maturity;
that includes being able to handle stress. The last two weeks to me was a period
of training in both the theory and the practicalities of being a leader and
for us a leader is a catalyst for change. These young people in the program,
I see future Prime Ministers, future CEOs.”
And to test these future CEOs, the students were divided into three groups
of five and given projects.
“My group was personally focused on oil and energy and right now we
know that Belize is currently in debt and we’re trying to figure out the
best way to provide energy for you guys and we took into consideration other alternative energy sources but it is kind of expensive so we focused more on
Michael Coombs, London, age 17
“Obviously this is a growing concern in Belize about how much oil
there is, how the profits can be used to benefit the whole of Belize’s
society and it was really interesting to take such a controversial topic and
such a deep topic and only just skimmed the surface and try to understand the
methods of avoiding the curse of oil in this country.”
Benjamin Picolo, Florida, age 17
“My group dealt with marketing and technology. We actually dealt with
the problem of the lack of reasonably priced computer equipment and computer
repair services in Belize. We tried to tackle that so if computer components
were being manufactured or if computers were manufactured in Belize we could
really cut costs for consumers and developed that possibly give some to charity
Mischa-Von-Derek Aikman, Belize, age 15
“My group is dealing with marketing technology. We’re actually
branching off an idea from Dr. Petters that he actually plans to implement next year. We are planning to import computer components from the US and then assemble
them in Belize which will allow us to sell these computers at extremely cheap
prices for the Belizean people and also at the same time it will allow us to
donate approximately 20% of our computers to the community and that is extremely
important being that 33% of Belizeans are below the poverty line.”
Dr. Arlie Petters,
“I would love for them to apply a lot of the leadership principles
in their day to day life when they get back to their respective high schools.
Many of them are Presidents of student organizations so I can imagine them passing
on this knowledge to other students.”
These students say that in just two weeks they’ve learnt a lot.
Xux Ek Novelo, Belize, age 15
“To be an effective team member you have to focus and you have to
give your remarks and you have to give good feedback.”
“The DTIP program really focuses on not just learning a structured
syllabus but also a real sort of emotional understanding which was a really
great experience to have.”
“Yeah I think especially in Belize we are in need of real leadership
and we learnt one thing that if leadership at the top is distorted and not organized
and structured then you can’t expect any more of those coming up and learning
from those leaders. So I think it is extremely important for those like peers
and I in this age group for us to start from now to build the foundation.”
And so what will be the future of these future leaders? We asked.
“So where will you see you in ten years?”
“That is a question I still don’t know. I’d like to go to
college first but anything is game, the sky’s the limit.”
“In ten years hopefully I’ll be someone, a good leader of some
organization whether it be non-profit, political, or anything that can help
people around the world and make a difference.”
Xux Ek Novelo,
“Well either a lawyer, a doctor or a entrepreneur.”
“So we will see you at Price Waterhouse?”
Darran Pagan, Washington DC, age 17
“Well I hope so, I’ll be a partner in that firm.”
Greg Launter, Kentucky, age 17
“I have no idea, hopefully something in the business world but as
of now I am undecided.”
Ahjaii Shetty, Florida, 16
“I am undecided but hopefully again maybe something in the business
world, maybe an entrepreneur.”
Dr. Arlie Petters,
“Look at these young people, they represent to me the future of Belize.
Their capabilities not only sit with in our country but to me they perform extremely
well on this international scale. I am proud of them, there are future Prime
Ministers here, there are future CEOs of businesses here.”
And for Dr. Petters, that future looks bright.
Present at this morning’s ceremony was Foreign Affairs Minister
and Attorney General Wilfred Elrington along with officials from the BDF and
Ministry of Transport and NEMO. Adrian the Doc Martinez also performed.