Kellie McGee’s Acceptance Speech in 2015

Good Evening Everyone,

I can’t even begin to describe how honoured I feel right now, and I wish I could tell you the number of times I started this speech and erased it, wrote it again, erased it and so on. It certainly isn’t easy to write a speech you have no idea whether you will give.  Finally, sitting in the hairdresser’s chair at 3pm this afternoon, I wrote this.

I wish to share with you all a very short story.

At age 16, I was fortunate enough to be the recipient of the United World College Scholarship to complete my two final years of high school in Swaziland in Southern Africa. It was there I met a young man called Tsiu Moorosi. Tsiu just appeared to be the average guy in the brown cap. Tsiu was from a village called Hlotse in an African country called Lesotho. He was born into a large family who lived without running water, an outhouse for a restroom, and he learnt the meaning of sharing at a very young age, having to share a room and bed with his many siblings.  Early in Tsiu’s life, he encountered mentors who saw potential in him, and were supportive of his every decision throughout his development. His academic successes led him to receive the same scholarship I did to study in Swaziland, which was a big deal coming from a SMALL village.  

We quickly became very great friends. Seeing potential in me, he began mentoring me, particularly in chemistry and math as I was struggling academically for the first time in my life. I owe so much to Tsiu, and my many other mentors I have had along my journey thus far. I too, am just an ordinary young lady from Savannah Newlands, who just happened to be fortunate enough to have a series of incredible mentors that saw potential in me, and believed in me, even sometimes when I didn’t see it myself.

Tsiu went on to score perfect SAT scores in chemistry and math, and was offered a full scholarship to Harvard University where he built incubators for premature babies, and later went on to work with the Clinton foundation. He too helped me significantly in my acceptance to two of the world’s top 20 universities.

To me, there is NOTHING more humbling to me than to be given the gift of YCLA recipient to be able to return the gift of mentorship to the youth of Cayman. I am a 120% believer that there is a world of potential inside each and every single one of our youth regardless of family circumstance, background, or disability. Sometimes it simply takes that person/that mentor to help someone realise their potential, and I can’t wait for the journey over the next year.

So here is thanks to the judging panel who saw potential in me, my family who never stop supporting me in all I do, the MANY mentors that have helped me through life’s many decisions and allowed me to dream BIG. My wonderful fiancé, Serginho Sandy, who supports me in my MANY passions, and is forever patient with me in my hectic schedule – I wish more than anything that you could be here tonight. My Ironshore team, and particularly David Lickrish for seeing potential in me that day I walked into the office to meet him – you haven’t stopped supporting me since that day – I am forever grateful to you. My wonderful friends, my Rotaract family, my Leadership Cayman posse. And the list continues. Thanks, I love you all. Cayman, this is not a chore for me, this is an honour, and I can’t wait to try and fill the big shoes and “Legacy of Leadership” that Kadi, and the 13 other past recipients have created.

Thank you for this opportunity.