Jeromy Rodriguez is ‘Express’ Youth of the Year

By Nikita Braxton-Benjamin

FOR a 12-year-old, Jeromy Rodriguez has accomplished an amazing number of things.

He was crowned the Junior National Soca Monarch in 2013, aced the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) exam and formed an anti-bullying organisation all in one year, while being a much-sought-after performer at events across the country.

Rodriguez can now add to his collection the Express Youth of the Year 2013 award.

An elated Rodriguez said yesterday he was surprised, happy and excited at the news that he was the winner of the award.

“I knew I was nominated, but I didn’t expect to win,” he said.

The award is given by the newspaper to the young person who has made the most significant contribution to national or community life over the past year.

In May, Rodriguez used the money he won from the primary schools category of the Flavorite Supreme Ice Cream National Schools Soca Monarch competition to launch the Anti-Bullying Association of Trinidad and Tobago.

In an interview back then, Rodriguez told the Express he came up with the idea to form the campaign to help other young people, as it pained him to see them suffering this type of abuse which he wanted to come to an end.

Rodriguez intends to enter the schools soca monarch competition again this year, although he will now be competing in the secondary schools category, having recently passed the SEA exam for his first choice of Cowen Hamilton Secondary School.

Last February the songwriter, who then attended the St Mary’s Government Primary School in Moruga, copped the $10,000 prize in the primary school category with his own composition, “Colour Me Carnival”. Weeks later, he performed on stage with his mentor and supporter, Machel Montano, at Montano’s annual concert. Rodriguez is also featured on a remake of Montano’s song, “I Love My Country”.

During 2013, Rodriguez also performed at Iwer George’s concert, the Digicel International Soca Monarch competition, Tuco’s (Trinbago Unified Calypsonians’ Organisation) Junior Calypso Roving Tent show and even addressed mourners against violence at the funeral of Ronaldo Dixon, who was stabbed to death last May at the Waterloo Secon­dary School.

Rodriguez plays the double tenor pan and has participated in calypso art-form workshops held by Tuco.

He is also the junior spokesperson for an environmental company which encourages recycling in schools throughout the country.

Rodriguez also recently became the newest brand ambassador for Blue Waters, the organisation that nominated him for the Express award.

Tomorrow, he and Montano will be distributing pillows at several children’s homes.

The pillow drive, which has the slogan “No pillow fights mean a peaceful night”, was an initiative by Rodriguez as part of his anti-bullying campaign.

Rodriguez’s mother, Ivonne Joseph, explained yesterday that at children’s homes, a shortage of pillows could lead to confrontations, but with each person having a pillow with his or her name engraved on the case, it will help to alleviate any form of altercation that could occur.

She was in high praise of the Express award, saying, “It is good to recognise children when they do well. It will encourage others to want to do well, too. When they read the story they will say ‘we are the same age, sex or size as Jeromy and if he could do it, then why not me?’”

Rodriguez yesterday thanked the Express newspaper for the award.

He also thanked God, his parents, Ivonne and pan arranger Junior “Ibo” Joseph, Montano and all his sponsors.

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