Biography

Kemesha Alicia Kelly is a dynamic young woman, and a patriotic Jamaican. Born on June 22, 1989 in St. Ann, Jamaica, she is the daughter of John and Eva Kelly.  Kemesha is passionate about Culture, Youth Development, Politics, and Education. She has served in roles of Programme Manager and Youth Development Practitioner,  in Jamaica’s public and private sectors. A trained youth advocate, Kemesha has worked with many different organisations to represent the views of children, secondary school students and Jamaican youth. At 26 years old, Kelly has been working in youth development and youth advocacy for more than 10 years. She has distinguished herself in the areas of youth leadership, youth development, public advocacy and public speaking. This has seen her being the subject of several articles about young achievers and being sought to speak on behalf of the country’s youth on issues of participation and empowerment, democratic governance, and education. In March 2014, Kelly was featured on Ian Boyne’s award-winning television programme, Profile.  She also has a passion for debating and was the Chief Adjudicator for the Burger King National Schools Debating Competition for the 2015/2016 season.kemesha-kelly-headshot_smaller-1 In 2016, Kemesha was awarded a Chevening Scholarship, and is pursuing a Masters degree in Social Policy at the University of York in England.

In October 2015, Kemesha was identified by the British High Commission as a future leader in Jamaica and subsequently represented Jamaica in London at the UK Government’s Week of Women celebrations and the Women of the Future awards. March 2016 saw her being a part of the Jamaican delegation to the Caribbean Growth Forum in Belize. 

Kelly holds a BSc. in International Relations with a minor in Social Policy & Administration. In 2012, she was crowned Miss Jamaica Festival Queen for the country’s Fiftieth Anniversary of Independence. In 2014, Kelly was called back to serve as the National Coordinator for the Miss Jamaica Festival Queen Competition, with the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission. As coordinator, she conceptualized and spearheaded a partnership with the Jamaica Youth Diaspora in the UK and the Miss Jamaica Festival Queen competition, now called UK Jamaica Parish Ambassadors Programme. Under this programme, young Jamaicans in the UK are assisting wit development projects in Jamaica, which are lead my parish and national winners in the Miss Jamaica Festival Queen competition. 

Kelly has been involved in research and social commentary. In 2012, she had two articles published; one in a UK-based academic journal and the other in the International Journal of Children’s Rights. These focused on the schooling experiences of HIV-positive children in Jamaica. Her writing has also been published in the Jamaica Gleaner, one of the countries leading daily newspapers. Kelly was the first Youth Ambassador for Jamaica’s Vision 2030 National Development Plan. She was the Youth sector representative on the Jamaica’s (social) Partnership for Jamaica Council, which is chaired by the Prime Minister, from 2011 to 2016. In 2014, she was inducted as an Ambassador in the Governor General’s “I Believe” Initiative.

Kelly is from the garden parish of St. Ann. She graduated from the St. Hilda’s Diocesan High School, as class valedictorian, in the same parish, in 2006. At St. Hilda’s, Kelly was active in several clubs and societies, and held several positions of leadership. She was the Deputy Head Girl in her senior year as well as President of the National Secondary Students’ Council (NSSC). Kelly also served as the Lieutenant-Governor for Division 4 of the Key Club District of Jamaica; which comprised St. Ann and St. Mary. She represented her school at the United Nations International Schools’ Conference and at the Key Club International Convention. In 2005, this young lady was selected by the Ministry of Youth to be Jamaica’s youth delegate to the United Nation’s 60th General Assembly in New York. At that time, she was the youngest delegate.

After leaving St. Hilda’s, Kelly went on to pursue upper-secondary studies in a mixture of the Sciences and Arts at the St. Jago High School in St. Catherine. While there, Kelly was once more elected to serve as the president of the NSSC. She is the first and only person to have been elected twice in the history of the organization. An avid debater, she was named the Runner-up Best Debater in the 2007 season of the National Schools’ Debate Competition. In 2007, Kelly went on to be a part of the 3-member team that represented Jamaica and the Caribbean region at the British Parliament World Slavery Youth Debate in Westminster, England.

While at the University of the West Indies, Kelly continued to be an active participant in extra-curricular activities within and outside the school. Kelly was the youth representative on the National Council on Education, a position she was appointed to by the Governor General of Jamaica, the Youth Prime Minister of the Jamaican National Youth Parliament and a member of the Youth Parliamentary Watch Committee.  On the UWI Campus, Kelly was member of the Debating and Literary Society, the UWI Student Ambassadors (UWISTAT) among other activities. A proud past Resident of Rex Nettleford Hall, Kemesha was active in several hall activities. She represented Cluster 9 in football, debate, Iron Chef and the choir. She was a Deputy Cluster Representative. Kemesha was also the secretary for the Hall’s External Affairs Committe. In 2009, Kelly was crowned Miss Rex.

Kelly is a Christian and is a member of the Calvary Tabernacle United Pentecostal Church in St. Ann. She lives by the philosophy that with God, all things are possible.  This young lady believes that the youth are Jamaica’s greatest assets and that they must play an active role in making the country a better place to live. She believes in hard work and has the dream of becoming a Policy Development Specialist and diplomat for Jamaica. Kelly also hopes to be involved in Governance and politics.

Other notable awards and achievements of this young woman include being awarded the Osmond Tomlinson Scholarship, Key Club District of Jamaica Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement and Service, the Kiwanis Club of Kingston Award for Youth in Excellence in Leadership and in 2008, Kelly was the recipient of a UWI Open Scholarship.