Jénine Shepherd is a 24-year-old graduate from Amherst College, the top liberal arts college in the USA, where she obtained her Bachelors while double majoring in Neuroscience and Economics.
She is the Board Co-Chair and President of Youths For Excellence Limited, a non-profit she founded at 17. The organization is based in 8 countries: USA, Jamaica, Guyana, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda and Grenada and has assisted thousands of children to receive not only textbooks but also tablets, health checkups, travel passes, lunch passes, and resources for their parents, to facilitate employment via the backing of 26 corporate and government agencies across the Caribbean: KFC, Digicel, JUTC, and GraceKennedy amongst them.
For her work with YFE, Jénine earned recognition from the Prime Minister's Office via a Prime Minister's Youth Award for Nation Building in 2018 and has maintained the support of his office by being allowed to host YFE’s inaugural Back to School Event there in 2019. She went on to earn the Diana Award, named in honour of Princess Diana of Wales, in 2021. It is the most prestigious award in the world that a young person can receive for social action and humanitarian work. In 2021, she was also listed among the Caribbean 30 Under 30 Changemakers.
The organization has been featured in Barbados Today, Barbados Advocate, The Morning Brew (Trinidad and
Tobago), The Now Morning Show (Trinidad and Tobago), Jamaica Observer, JIS, CVM at Sunrise, Smile Jamaica, Caribbean Life News and so many other national news outlets across the region and in the USA. Jénine is the first person to be interviewed twice by OPM Now, the official show by the Office of the Prime Minister of Jamaica where nationals can keep up with government officials and trailblazers. Her organization has collaborated on several multinational projects with multiple Caribbean governments and international organizations like the UNDP, CDB and UNESCO. The most recent solo YFE project was “Math Chattingz” which secured endorsements from the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the UNDP Northern Caribbean Resident Representative and the Ministers of Education in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados and provided educational content to over 5000 Caribbean students in the first staging. The other Caribbean Ministries of Education came on board for the second staging. YFE recently collaborated with the UNDP to put on a Youth Summit on Crime on Violence in Jamaica, the Bahamas, The Turks and Caicos Islands, The Cayman Islands and Bermuda.
She got her start at Campion College where she obtained 15 distinctions for CSEC, placing 10th in the island for Additional Mathematics and 6 Cape Unit one ones and 6 Cape Unit two ones. In her final year, her team won the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica’s Science Competition in the 16-19 age category by devising a solar water pump that would alleviate the water crisis at her
high school and could be integrated into a larger solar circuit to power the school. Her team won 1 million JMD to run the project as a pilot at her school with the intention of spreading the design island-wide.
Jénine Shepherd is a proud Jamaican. She has collaborated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign trade to draft the core policy for the Global Jamaica Diaspora Youth Council. Through this proposal she ensures that 3.5 million Jamaicans residing in the USA, UK and Canada are heard on issues of cultural estrangement, how they can get involved in policy making, and how they can contribute to businesses, education, national security, and other matters relating to restoring confidence in Jamaica for Vision 2030.
Jénine Shepherd was appointed Founding President of the Jamaican American Youth Alliance (JAYA), a New York based 501(c)(3) that supports Jamaicans in the USA with the endorsements of the US and Jamaican governments to provide networking and mentorship opportunities as well as a platform for advocacy on issues affecting diaspora members. JAYA has partnered with the American Friends of Jamaica to host a virtual benefit concert in Europe, co-hosted by DJ Khaled and Busta Rhymes, in aid of the COVID-19 relief effort in Jamaica, in addition to the Embassy of Jamaica in Brussels and European diaspora groups to raise funds and organize repatriation flights in aid of Jamaicans stranded in France due to COVID-19.
Jénine was appointed as an Ambassador for the "I Believe" Initiative in 2020. The initiative is the brainchild of the Governor-General of Jamaica, His Excellency, Sir Patrick Allen. As an Ambassador, she will be carrying out development work for Jamaica at the grassroots level and leveraging the support of the Office of the Governor-General and by extension, Her Majesty the Queen, who he represents, to ensure the successful execution of her initiatives. The IBI’s mantra, “using what’s right with Jamaica to fix what’s wrong with Jamaica”, is predicated on three foundational pillars: family, youth and education. These pillars are designed to help with
focusing efforts on the most critical areas of personal and community development.
In August of 2020, Jénine was approached by CARICOM, the Smart Caribbean Gathering, the Institute of Caribbean Studies and the Caribbean Development Foresight Institute to Co-chair and organise a forum for International Youth Day (August 12, 2020). The forum focused on 'Shaping the New Normal" for a post COVID-19 Caribbean from the youth perspective, touching on the issues of education, mental health and economic empowerment. The forum brought together heads of government from Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and reached 5,000 + persons across all 20 CARICOM member and associate member states. Senior executives from UNESCO, The United Nations Development Programme, the Organization of American States and the Caribbean Development Bank participated in the discussion and took pointers to craft their future policies for a COVID-19 resilient Caribbean.
At Amherst College, she has been heavily involved in student government. Her freshman year, she served as a senator on the Dining, Faculty Orientation and Planning, Sexual Respect, and Budgetary committees, where she oversaw the allocation of USD 1.2 million to various student groups as well as organized a neon paint rave as her senate project with the school sponsoring USD 14K for the event and USD 20k for its second run during her junior year. Her sophomore year, she served on the Executive Board of student government as Judiciary Council Chair. She has been chosen by Synapse National, an organization that caters to individuals suffering
from acquired brain injuries by providing them with peer support groups, buddy programs and current research on the latest advancements in the fields of TBIs through the collaboration with other chapters across the USA (MIT, Stanford, UPENN, Brown, Emory, etc), to become a chapter founder at Amherst College. In her junior year, she was featured in the Amherst Magazine of Spring 2019 for her Prime Minister’s award and subsequently in Amherst News for her policy proposal for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and philanthropic efforts.
Below are some highlights of Jénine's meetings, events and accomplishments.
On November 24, 2018, our Founder and Director, Jénine Shepherd received the Prime Minister's Youth Award for Excellence in the category of Nation Building. Pictured: Senator the Honourable Ruel Reid, Minister of Education, Youth and Information (left) and Jénine Shepherd (right).Go to link