Jalen Purcell is looking forward to resuming his studies at New Mexico Junior College, in the United States. The 21-year-old sprinter is among the Trinidad and Tobago athletes who have signed up for a special Caribbean Airlines (CAL) flight to Miami for students who need to return to the US for the new semester.
“I am really happy,” Purcell told the Sunday Express, “knowing I’ll be back out to school soon. I know a lot of athletes who actually signed up for this flight—Shikyla Walcott, Onil Mitchell, Kashief King, Che Lara, Kadesha Prescott and Asha James. Hopefully, the flight would be leaving as soon as possible.”
Students have until Tuesday to indicate a desire to be on the flight, using this link: https://www.caribbean-airlines.com/us_students.
In an Express back page story on Thursday, headlined “GOT TO GO”, Purcell said he needed to be back at school by July 30 so he could quarantine ahead of the new semester.
Memphis Pioneers coach Antonia Burton told the Sunday Express that athletes have been anxious about their scholarship status in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I am pleased Caribbean Airlines has made a flight available. A lot of student-athletes have expressed worry that their scholarships would be revoked if they are unable to fulfil their end of the bargain as it pertains to their scholarship agreement. At the end of the day, some of these students are in the middle of their pursuit for a degree and desperately want the opportunity to complete it.”
Burton is also a Sports Company of T&T (SporTT) employee, working as a strength and conditioning specialist in the Elite Development & Performance Unit (EDPU).
“In total, 10 student-athletes I work with directly, be it through Memphis Pioneers or the EDPU, most likely will be taking advantage of this option.”
The Caribbean Airlines flight, however, is likely to be of no use to athletes who were recently awarded scholarships.
“I don’t know of any student,” said Burton, “who just acquired a scholarship and has been able to get a student visa. I know of three who would like to leave but have no student visa.”
Purcell is heading into the second year of his athletic scholarship at New Mexico Junior College, and does not face the visa challenge. The Claxton Bay resident, however, is concerned about Covid-19 stats in the US.
“I am worried, but due to the fact that my school set up some precautionary measures towards this virus, hopefully everything works as planned. Personally, I will be taking some serious precautions—wearing my face mask, gloves, using my hand sanitiser,” Purcell ended, “and I won’t be going off the school compound regularly.”