Viewing entries in
Be Inspired

Comment

Wade Brown- Motivated by Competition- June 2014

Wade 1

Greatness lies within each of us. Wade Brown is a humble young man who realized his greatness very early in life. His life has been propelled by competition that has resulted in him excelling in several areas. He is currently pursuing a Bacehlor of Arts degree in Integrated Marketing Communications at CARIMAC at the University of the West Indies (Mona). Although he is only 22 years old, his life is testament to the fact that regardless of where you come from you can achieve anything you set your mind to.

Early Years

Wade was raised in the volatile community of Tivoli Gardens. Despite its notoriety for gang violence, Wade was able to stay away from negative influences. He was raised by his mother and his grandfather acted as a male role model in his life. From a very young age, his grandfather instilled in him the value of competition. It was his grandfather’s guidance, along with his intrinsic motivation, that resulted in him placing first in a race in a track and field competition amongst basic schools in neighboring communities. He continued his athletic prowess while attending the Wolmers Boys’ School. However, he not only excelled on the field. He also excelled in the classroom and received a 5 year GSAT scholarship from Scotiabank to attend Wolmer’s Boys.

While at Wolmers he participated in several activities including: Schools’ Challenge Quiz, football, hockey, and student council. In 2008, the Schools’ Challenge Quiz team that he was a part of made it to the quarter finals of the competition. In 2010, the team made it to the semi-finals. In 2010, he was also the President of the Student Council and a member of the Wolmers’ team that made it to the Manning Cup quarter finals. Finally, he was a member of Wolmers’  under 19 ISSA hockey team that made it to the finals of the competition in 2008 and 2009.

Actively Engaged

The transition from high school to university was a bit challenging for Wade. He now had a new level of freedom and an increased work load. Also, he was actively engaged in several campus, hall and community activities. Nevertheless, as time progressed, he was able to strike a balance. Presently, he plays hockey for UWI and is also a track and field athlete. He is also the President of his community volunteer group and teaches marathons during the exam season. One of his most noteworthy accomplishments, while serving as Off Campus Representative for Rex Nettleford Hall, was being named Rexan of the Year for 2014.

Words of Wisdom

Wade does not realize how much of an inspiration he is to others because of how ambitious and actively engaged he is.  Probably what makes him maintain his momentum is his life’s philosophy- Age Quod Agis. This Latin proverb means “Whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability.” He also lives by the words “Love God, obey God, and do good.” Regardless of how daunting a task may seem, be encouraged by the fact that many people before you have gone through the same thing and emerged victors. Also, if you realize that you have taken on more than you can handle, don’t be afraid to make some sacrifices and drop some activities.

Let Wade’s story inspire you to do more and be more. Look for ways to become more actively involved today.

Wade 2

Comment

Comment

Strength of a Woman- Kemesha Kelly- May 2014

kkkkk Kemesha Kelly is a powerful combination of beauty and brains. Her young life is testament to the fact that you can achieve anything you set your mind to regardless of your circumstances. Although she has only been on this earth for 24 years, she has accomplished many things that some of us can only dream about. Presently, she is a Youth Empowerment Officer, based in St. Ann, for the National Centre for Youth Development.  Her passion is for Jamaican youth and she strives to live a life that empowers others to become their best selves.

Her Roots

From the tender age of 8, Kemesha was enthralled by Ben Carson’s story. In fact, her aunt ensured that she had all of his books. Dr. Carson’s story is akin to Kemesha’s. Both his mom and Kemesha’s mom did not go to high school. Both of their mothers also did not have very much. However, their mothers ensured that they were each propelled towards achieving greatnesses. Kemesha reminisces on the times when her mother would stay up with her till the wee hours of the morning ensuring that she studied and completed her assignments. She also reflects on the tremendous sacrifices that both of her parents made so that both she and her brother could succeed.

Kemesha was no ordinary child. Everywhere she went, she left her mark.  She attended St. Ann’s Bay Primary. While she was there, she was involved in quiz, volleyball, tennis, and public speaking competitions. At her church, she quickly became the Junior Sunday School secretary and was also a member of the choir and a Bible Quiz champion. During her first year at St. Hilda’s High, she was elected her class’ student council representative. This was the beginning of her blossoming as a leader.  In her final year at St. Hilda’s, she was elected the National Secondary Schools Student Council President and was also Deputy Head Girl. Her leadership pursuits and active involvement did not stop here, however. At St. Jago High School, where she attended sixth form, she was President of the Student Council body and a Prefect.

Her Struggle

In 2008, Kemesha was accepted to pursue her first degree in International Relations (with a minor in Social Policy and Administration) at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona. These were some of her most challenging years because the financial strain on her parents greatly increased even though she had received a UWI Open Scholarship. By her second year at UWI, she knew that she had to find a job to both help with the bills at home and support herself through school. Her active engagement in activities on Rex Nettleford Hall, coupled with the pressure of balancing school work and a full time job, ultimately resulted in her being unable to actively engage in wider campus life.  Nevertheless, her proudest moment came in November 2012 when she was able to walk onto the graduation platform and collect her degree with her proud parents watching in the audience.

Her Future

In 2012, Kemesha was also able to experience another proud moment- being crowned Miss Jamaica Festival Queen.  What touched her most about this experience is the fact that she has been told that her involvement in the competition has resulted in the standard being set very high. She knows that she inspires others and she takes her influence seriously.

As a Youth Empowerment Officer, Kemesha is able to actively live one of her dreams- giving service that will create a better Jamaica. Her responsibilities include: coordinating the work of youth led service organizations (such as the National Secondary Students’ Council), facilitating the parish youth council, conducting and designing research that can be used to implement development programs, collaborating with agencies and youth service organizations, and working with vulnerable youth through the Youth Information Centers.

She strongly agrees with the sentiments expressed by our Governor General, “Nothing is wrong with Jamaica that cannot be fixed with what is right with Jamaica.” As a result, she hopes to pursue a degree in Law and Policy Development so that she can become a Policy Consultant and therefore help to shape some of the policies used to govern Jamaica. She also hopes to become involved in promoting the innovative research that comes from Jamaica. Additionally, she wants to eventually become Jamaica’s Prime Minister and use this platform to be a true ambassador for Jamaica. She wants to inspire all Jamaicans to work together for the betterment of our country.

On the flip side, Kemesha knows that life must always have a balance. So, as she moves forward to accomplish her dreams, she also dreams of becoming a wife and mother of at least two children. She enjoys the company of her friends and family. Their support, coupled with her innate desire to succeed, have been what has given her the strength she needs to live an impactful life.

Kemesha is a strong woman who is on the rise to becoming one of the most influential people of this generation. She highlights seven characteristics of a strong woman that we all can adopt:

  • Commitment
  • Perseverance
  • Confidence
  • Balance
  • Integrity
  • Focus
  • Being Charitable

 

Use Kemesha’s story to inspire you to stop being ordinary. Instead, go out and make a difference in your community and your country.

jhjhjh

Comment

3 Comments

More Than a Coach- Andre Reynolds- April 2014

kllkl

“The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential... these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.” ~Confucius

Life is about identifying your talent and utilizing that talent to live an impactful life. Andre Reynolds reflects the heart of an amicable and focused man, who is determined to live by the words of Confucius and utilize his gifts to empower both himself and others to achieve personal excellence.  From a very early age, Andre enjoyed cricket. His dream was to represent his country at the highest level in cricket, but as the years progressed he realized that he wasn’t a strong player. Ultimately, he gravitated towards football and made his first appearance on a football team as a member of the under 16 football squad at Ruseas High School in Hanover. He later went on to play on the 2002 Ruseas team that won the Dacosta Cup and Oliver Shield titles. Little did he know that he would later become one of the best football coaches in South Florida.

Early Coaching Years

dede

Andre never knew that he had a knack for coaching until, in 2006, he decided to coach the female football team at Rex Nettleford Hall at the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies. People scoffed at him because they believed that the team had no talent and was never going to make it further than the first round. Andre believed otherwise. So, although he was also a member of the Hall’s male football team, he committed himself to the task of transforming this football team into a winning team.  It was challenging but his work with the women on the team made him fall in love with coaching.  He states “When a player came to me and said ‘Coach you made me better’ there is no way I could have walked away”.  Eventually, his hard work paid off when this, and three subsequent Rex Hall female teams, consecutively made it to the final round of the University’s football competition.

Triumph

Despite his success, however, he never saw coaching as a part of his future. While at university, each summer he would travel abroad on a summer work program. After he completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in Language Communication and Society, he went on the summer work program for what should have been the last time. However, this time he decided to stay, apply for his green card, and get a permanent job.  Presently, he works as a coach at Fort Lauderdale High and as a member of the recreation department at the Marriot Hotel.

As a coach, he has made several accomplishments. Some of these accomplishments are listed below.

  1. In the 2012 to 2013 football season, he coached the Blanche Ely girls’ team and enabled them to make it to the semifinals for the first time since 1989.
  2. As a result of his success with this team, he was picked to coach the girls’ All-Star team which consists of the best players from all the high schools in north and south Florida.
  3. He has been coaching the male football team at Fort Lauderdale High since the beginning of the 2013 to 2014 football season. Thus far, they have won 20 games, lost 2 and tied 3.
  4. Recently, he was named Boy High School Coach of the Year for Broward County.

You may be wondering, how has Andre been able to achieve all of this success? He was raised by his grandfather in rural Manchester until he was 9 years old. His grandfather had a profound impact on his life and taught him the value of discipline. Discipline is his foremost requirement for any team he coaches and it is a principle he applies to his personal life. Members of his teams know that they can have fun with their coach, but when it’s time to get to work the work must be done.  Andre also adopts creative training regiments and plans strategic moves for his teams.

However, for Andre, discipline is secondary to faith in God. Andre fervently believes that we should place God in our plans at all times. Do your best and God will do the rest.  Andre also believes that being successful requires that you do what you love and never give up on your dreams. People would often tell him that he wouldn’t amount to much, but he chose to use their words as encouragement. He has chosen to use his challenges to make him stronger.

The Future

At the age of 30, Andre still has his whole life ahead of him. His ultimate dream is to become the coach of Jamaica’s national football team. He wants to be Jamaica’s “special one”. As he awaits the call, he plans to continue working hard, being humble and maintaining discipline. One day, his dream will become reality.

jlklklk

3 Comments

Comment

Building the Grass Roots- March 2014- Kimroy Bailey

jljkljljl Where a seed is planted is where its harvest should be reaped.  Very few people understand this concept.  As a result, numerous educated youth leave their roots in search of what they deem to be “better” opportunities.  Kimroy Bailey has chosen to challenge this brain drain by investing in the deep rural community of Litchfield in which he was raised. Charming, passionate, and self-motivated, Kimroy has used his engineering degree to create an innovative concept that can change Jamaica’s economic landscape. His business, the Kimroy Bailey Foundation, strives to utilize renewable energy to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. This admirable young man can be described in three dimensions: his early years, his business, and his impact.

Early Years

Kimroy understands how to appreciate the simplicity of life.  Growing up in a rural community meant that he didn’t have the luxuries that many people enjoy.  There were days he didn’t know where his next meal was coming from, but he never allowed his circumstances to make him bitter.  Instead, the pristine environment of his community gave him a passion for the environment. Also, the people he grew up with birthed within him a desire to make a difference in the lives of those around him.

The Kimroy Bailey Foundation

As a young boy, Kimroy grew up to admire a JPS employee called Mass John. In the early days Kimroy’s community had frequent power outages for prolonged periods.  As a result, Mass John would visit the community regularly to troubleshoot the issues that caused the disconnection. Community members would gather around and watch Mass John climb the light post, work his magic, and make light reappear. Mass John was their hero. However, Kimroy, being the witty and creative person he is, viewed Mass John as more than a hero; he viewed him as the representation of a challenge that needed to be solved. As the years progressed, Kimroy began to wonder “How can we harness the power of nature to provide energy in a renewable and eco-friendly and sustainable way”?

Kimroy sought to answer this question in his final years as an engineering student at the University of Technology (UTECH). For his research paper, he presented a thesis that reflected the potential of using tropical wind storms to generate electricity. His research was nominated by the world’s largest professional body, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in their Global Research Competition 2012 . Against countries such as India, New Zealand, America, UK and Australia; Jamaica was placed second globally competition and gave Kimroy the fuel to pursue a solution to Jamaica’s energy crisis. So, in December 2012 the Kimroy Bailey Foundation was formed. The Foundation’s community center will soon be  fully powered by a wind turbine and currently provides internet access, training on renewable energy, and printing services to people in the community.

His Impact

Kimroy’s life has been an inspiration to several people. Over 8,000 people have become fans on his website http://kimroybailey.com/ and he has received several emails from people who are encouraged by his work. Furthermore, he has been able to set up the Kimroy Bailey Robotics Project in which he has employed three local people.

Experience teaches wisdom and Kimroy has a lot of tips to offer to young people who are considering entrepreneurship in Jamaica. These tips are listed below.

  • Make a decision, make a mistake, then apologize. Believe in your dream and make a decision to follow through with it regardless of what everyone around you says. Yes, you will make mistakes but don’t allow this fact to sway you from moving forward. Go for it!
  • There is a breaking point where your goals have to become your priority. You will have to make several sacrifices, but they will all be worth it in the end.
  • Prepare NOT to be paid. The financial struggles of a young entrepreneur are very real and there will be times when you are beyond broke. However, learn from your mistakes and put in the work necessary to make your business grow.
  • Wrap your mind around God. Make Him the heart beat and centre of everything you do. Once you allow Him to be the focal point of your life, He will give you direction.
  • Surround yourself with like-minded people. You need people around you who will encourage and support you.
  • Be strategic. Yes, it may seem more practical to do all of the work for your business alone in the initial phases since you have limited funds. However, you will end up either never reaching your goal or reaching it after several years. Also, you will be very stressed and ineffective. Start with someone you can share your ideas with and who is willing to assist you on a part time basis. It may cost you a little bit more than you want to spend at the moment, but it will be worth it in the end.

Kimroy is determined to make a difference in not only is country, but also in the rural community in which he was raised. His story encourages us not to give up on our dreams and use our dreams to make a positive impact. What can you do today to make a difference in the lives of others?

Kimroy inspiring

Comment

6 Comments

February 2014- Alvin Harris

IMG_1311 alvin harris (1) There is a common saying that states “Nothing in this world worth having comes easy”.  Alvin Harris is one of many young people whose life reflects this concept. At the age of twenty-three, he has a B.Sc. in Economics and Statistics and is currently pursuing an MSc in Economics. One would look at his warm smile and charming personality and believe that he has had an almost perfect life. However, Alvin’s life has been riddled with several challenges that he never knew he would be able to overcome. These challenges have created three phases for his life: tragedy, potential, and hope.

 

Tragedy

 

Everything in Alvin’s life changed when his father died in 2004 leaving his mother as the sole bread-winner for him and his four siblings.  By the time CSEC examinations came around, Alvin had become apathetic towards life and his academics. This resulted in him only passing three of the five subjects for which he had been nominated. His mother decided that it was time for Alvin to work and signed him up for the National Youth Service (NYS). Two days prior to him beginning the program, his older brother died leaving Alvin devastated.  This life altering tragedy resulted in Alvin repeating fifth form in 2008 and emerging with five subjects, thus giving him a total of eight subjects.

 

Potential

 

Alvin could see a bright future ahead of him and was, therefore, determined to go to sixth form. His mother was in no position to support him financially so, Alvin turned to his aunt who supported him throughout the two years of sixth form. Alvin graduated from sixth form with a distinction in Caribbean Studies and credits in Economics, Management Studies, and Caribbean Studies. Alvin realized that he had both an aptitude and love for economics and decided that he had to find a way to go to university. He was accepted at the University of the West Indies (UWI) but had no clear solution to his financial woes. With no guarantors, he was unable to get a student loan but, as fate would have it, he was able to obtain a grant from the Students’ Loan Bureau (SLB). He now faced another challenge- finding somewhere to stay.

 

Alvin had not been accepted to the Hall he had applied to- Preston Hall- and the only other option available was a room on the most expensive hall on campus- Rex Nettleford Hall. He explained his circumstances to the manager of the Office of Student Financing who authorized a $50,000 loan on the condition that he maintained good grades. With a grant of $100,000 from SLB and this loan, Alvin was able to pay his first year of Hall fees.

 

However, Alvin’s good fortune did not end there. In his second year at UWI he was granted the Development Bank of Jamaica scholarship and by the end of this year, he was placed on the Dean’s List for having a GPA of 3.6. Although Alvin was grateful for this act of benevolence, the scholarship only disbursed $250,000 per year which could only cover his tuition with barely anything left over. How would he pay his hall fee?  At the beginning of his third year, he received the UWIREF scholarship that disbursed US$5000 per year…more than enough to cover his tuition and living expenses. So, he rescinded the Development Bank Scholarship and took the UWIREF scholarship.

 

Hope

 

Tragedy struck again when one of his closest friends died towards the end of the first semester in his third year. This tragic death took an emotional toll on him and resulted in him failing one of his courses. Although he retook the course in the second semester, his GPA was affected thus resulting in him missing the first class honors degree. Nevertheless, he graduated with a 3.5 GPA and applied for the MSc in Economics program. Although he has not yet attained a scholarship to cover the expenses of this degree, he has hope that he will be able to complete the degree and live an extremely successful life. He continues to live by the words of Norman Vincent Peale who said “Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy”.

 

DSCN1030

 

6 Comments

Comment

January 2014- Timar Jackson

Timar Within every individual lies the potential to become a great success but, the sad reality is that the people who actively seek to tap into this potential are rare. Timar Jackson can be likened to a rare diamond in the ruff who, despite his circumstances, has managed to tap into his unlimited potential and become a tremendous success.  At the age of twenty-four, he already has a first class honours degree in Acturial Science from the University of the West Indies under his belt and has also been named Jamaica’s 2014 Rhodes Scholar.  However, his present achievements are the results of a life-long journey that he has travelled from his days in primary school. I caught up with him recently to find out his secrets for such great success.

How would you describe your childhood?

I grew up in a rough neighborhood that was filled with people who made poor choices and participated in gang violence and immoral acts. Like most of the families in my community my family had our fair share of economic challenges but my mother (who was my sole caregiver) was strong. She took the steps necessary to ensure that my siblings and I had a semblance of structure to our lives and to ensure that we did not get involved certain activities. In my early years (from primary school till about grade eight)I would listen to the negative criticism of those around me who would say “Yuh w’utless! Yuh naah guh cum to nuttn!” Consequently, in that early period in my life I struggled with low self-esteem.

 

 

Wow. That must have been really tough. What caused things to change?

I decided not to harbor these negative thoughts and I became actively involved in school activities at Vauxhall High. I became the leader of the cadet group in grade nine and I was also involved in the speech club, drama club, track and field team, and rugby team and the list goes on. Doing all of this and achieving a level of success gave me a hunger for more and boosted my self-esteem. I was surprised when, in grade nine, one of my teachers looked at me and said “He has Head Boy potential”.

A lot of people use the lack of money as an excuse to prevent them from pursuing their dreams. How were you able to finance your education since you came from a financially poor family?

When I completed fifth form, my mother believed that the time was ripe for me to start working. However, I believed otherwise. You see, I realized that the successful people I observed all had a tertiary education and I knew that this had to be my route to advancing in life. Thankfully, I was blessed with two mentors who supported me through sixth form. When it was time for me to apply for university, I applied for every scholarship I heard of and at the end of that process I had the choice (can you believe that?) of accepting either the UWI Open Scholarship or the annual Jamaica Scholarship (male). These are two of the nation’s top scholarships and both came with the benefit of full tuition, books, boarding and maintenance.

What motivates you to succeed?

I have a very large support group that encourages and reassures me that I can do well. I am also highly intrinsically motivated because I have come to realize the potential I have and I always want to push the limits a step further regardless of position.

What would you say have been the five things that have made you successful?

Wow.I would like to express these five things in a formula. With the right measure of determination, focus, discipline and external motivation raised to the  power and grace of God, I have  been able to achieve enormous results.

When you return to Jamaica after completing your DPhil in Mathematical and Computational Finance, what do you hope to do to give back to your country?

I have been told that my time in England is going to be an interesting and life changing experience so I am keeping my options open.  However, I do hope to apply the knowledge I garner to aid in the development of Jamaica’s financial sector. I also hope to take a more deliberate approach towards helping other people discover their full potential. Presently, I am making some strides in this area since I have set up some tutoring sessions for the students from my alma mater (Vauxhall High) for eight hours every third Saturday. My friends and I have done three of these sessions thus far and we are  receiving some positive feedback.

What advice would you give to the people reading this blog to help them realize their full potential?

Focus on your dream. Don’t see yourself as a victim of your circumstances. Instead, use your circumstances as motivators. Develop the drive, determination and discipline to achieve your dream no matter what. Develop confidence and belief in yourself and the discipline that you need will come automatically.

 Timar-graduation

Comment

1 Comment

December 2013- Samantha-Kaye Christie

Image Christmas is the season of giving and feelings of great joy and cheer. However, as we get caught in the flurry of activities surrounding purchasing gifts for our friends and loved ones, we often forget the greatest gifts we could ever give- love and time. Samantha-Kaye Christie is a 23 year old Leo who never forgets these two important gifts regardless of the season. She obtained a Bachelor of Sciences degree (with first class honours) in Psychology from the University of the West Indies (Mona) and she is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Education degree at the Liverpool Hope University in the United Kingdom. I caught up with her recently to find out more about the impactful life she lives and her Christmas plans.

Are there any charitable activities that you will be participating in this Christmas?

I can definitely say that I will be contributing to the GFS (Girl's Society) at my current church St Michael's in the Hamlet. I have become a recent volunteer to the group. They will be hosting different Christmas activities and need a few extra hands in their endeavours. I have also just completed training in becoming a Certified Volunteer within the Knowsley City Council, Liverpool. As such, after certification in just a few days, I will be placed in a local school to assist with educational and reading development. I am really anticipating this experience.

You have been involved in several social outreach activities. Can you name a few?

Wow....as I reflect upon all my experiences, I realize that I have made myself available to a variety of domains. However, the first that comes to mind is definitely the "Read to Lead" Initiative. This was a project that was launched at The Jamaican Christian Boys Home during the summer of 2013.The focus of the project was to develop a programme where the boys would see the value of reading and also to cultivate a spirit of volunteerism. This latter trait was developed by allowing boys who were stronger in reading to assist those who had difficulties. Of course, we had to include sports as I believe that this is an essential part of the learning process and the boys enjoyed their games of basketball and cricket.

I also co-coordinated  and taught at The Rex Nettleford Hall's Summer Camp for two consecutive summers. There, we developed a myriad of teaching and learning strategies in an attempt to contribute to the holistic development of participants. While residing at Rex Hall, I became the External Affairs Chairperson. This opportunity to serve lent itself to eye-opening experiences and the need for more focus to be placed on not only the process of education but also the quality of education being imparted to the future generations.

Most recently, I was the co-captain and Squad Leader for the Alvin Day's Mentorship Programme. This was launched under Jamaica's "I Believe"  Initiative which I believe is a very good effort on the part of the Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen.

I have also made active contributions to the Junior Chamber International Organization, The University of the West Indies Special Needs Centre, Beecham Methodist's Vacation Bible School, The Faculty of Social Sciences Honour Society and The UWI Guild HOPE Project.

 What is your ultimate dream?

Undoubtedly, without even thinking, I would say that my ultimate dream is to engage in ground-breaking research. I am an avid believer in evidential based teaching and learning strategies. More importantly, it is my aim to develop a Centre for the Learner in Difficulty which will not only focus on implementing effective teaching strategies for students with learning differences, but will also provide diagnoses and engage in research of the highest caliber. Additionally, I want to provide scholarships for students with learning differences as I have come to the realization that these are practically non-existent in the Jamaican realm. Of course, I know this will not be an easy task, but with the help of God "All things are possible". This may sound cliché but it is that simple. God always amazes me and He is an on time God so I will continue on this path as I know this will make an invaluable contribution to sustainable development. As far as I am concerned once I have God in my corner....the sky is the limit!

 What made you decide that you want to work with students who have a learning difference?

Initially, it was my intention to become a world-renowned journalist. However, based on personal experience with my brother (who has a learning disorder), I yearned to make a contribution to the field of special education. As I reflect upon Einstein's quote which states "If you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life thinking it is stupid ",I want to place myself in a position to implement change within the realm of education. I absolutely promote the term "learning difference" instead of "learning difficulty" as the latter attaches a negative stereotype to the issue faced by persons with dyslexia for example. More attention needs to be given to the fact that dyslexic students learn differently and there is no "one size fits all". It is my aim  to unveil the most effective strategies to assist students who learn differently when compared to the norm. We definitely need to pursue investments in developing the self-confidence and self-efficacy of these individuals.

Do you believe that your work has made an impact in other's lives?

Most definitely and I say this with reference to my  time at The Jamaica Christian Boys Home. I felt a burst of joy and positive vibrations whenever I visited the home and when it came time to leave in order to further my studies, they cried. I must admit, I shed some as well. In that moment, I realized that they appreciated the work I had been doing for them. I continue to keep in touch by sending them post-cards just to communicate words of inspiration.

I have also seen my impact materializing in the form of initiative. After a number of sessions with the boys, I realized that instead of waiting for my beaconing to read, they commenced independent reading. What made my heart smile was one day as I stepped into the room, they were already assisting each other to read different story-books. This is the form of intrinsic motivation that educations should aim to entrench in young minds!

Recently, I was also filled with joy when one day, while purchasing food items, a young lady approached me and said "Is you did come to our school [Holy Trinity] and do the programme, yes is you. Miss Tank you we really enjoyed the programme and mek sure unno continue." Initially, I did not recognize her (as I am quite poor with faces and names at times),but after conversing with her I began to recount the events and this definitely contributed to adding positivity to that day.

Would you say that you are on the road to accomplishing your dream?

I am a little bit close than yesterday. I am definitely excited and humbled by the experience to not only have the opportunity to pursue my Masters Degree, but to be engaging with a number of world-renowned researchers. I love research and the value that comes with its findings. Therefore, pursuing postgraduate studies has placed me on an even greater path to achieve my set objectives. If the situation permits me, I plan to conduct my Master's Dissertation study in Jamaica as I want research of this kind to have an impact upon the Jamaican education sector.

Have you ever felt discouraged especially when you were not sure how you would get the funds to pursue your masters? What did you do to overcome this discouragement?

This is quite a funny question. The answer is a resounding YES! However looking back, I realized that my spirit and determination can be compared to a Duracell battery...I kept on going. Of course, I will admit it was difficult as it was my intention to commence postgraduate studies directly after completing my Bachelors degree. However, fate would have its own way and I did not obtain a scholarship in that given time period. I was disheartened and terrified. However, I believe that I was delayed for a purpose and it was fulfilled through my reading initiative and the lives I've touched. During that time, I also lead a mentorship group which cushioned the negative feelings I may have encountered. I continued to apply for scholarships and the offers came from all over UK and China. I decided to study in Liverpool as the environment is conducive to learning and one receives individualized attention. I would definitely encourage persons who feel discouraged to simply pursue educational opportunities and become involved in activities found in positive and uplifting environments. If you need any assistance or just a word of motivation, I would be more than delighted to offer any aid. I can be contacted at samanthakchristie@hotmail.com

 What advice would you give to people reading this blog to help them to follow their dreams?

Delay does not mean denial. Instead, it means that you have been given just a little more time to prepare. However, when you lose please do not and I repeat do not lose the lesson. After all if it comes too easy, what stories will you have to tell your children and grand-children?  If you realize that Plan A is not working, try Plan B or even plan C. There are 23 more letters (plans) in the alphabet! That means if an initial idea does not come to fruition in the expected time, try to approach it from a different perspective. It's just a matter of not giving up. I know there is a force to be reckoned with in each and every individual. It is our duty to find the place where our impact will be felt the most and pursue it with all our heart. Recognize your talents, seek out resources to develop them and then pursue your dreams. It's really that simple.

 What advice would you give to people reading this blog about relationships?

You'll know when you find it. When I say it, I mean something genuine and someone that is real. Put God at the forefront of your decisions. Tell him what you want or the type of person you want....write a prayer with the qualities that you want in a husband or a wife. Then pray for that. Of course God will answer in his own time: perhaps a day, a month, a year, ten years (hopefully not that long),but what I am trying to get across is that God is an on time God. Do not look for the hype or the swag because swag DOES NOT pay bills. Instead recognize the ambitious ones. Many times these individuals have been placed in a "friend zone". Sometimes, we need to re-evaluate our choices and realize who will be our shoulder and strength after a hard day. Of course we all haven't made the right choices about love and no one is perfect. However, we can make positive strides by choosing with wisdom. Love is not difficult to find once you place your trust in God and Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all other things shall be added unto you. Remember YOU are perfect for the heart that is meant to love you .

Image

1 Comment

2 Comments

November 2013- Jean-Pierre Murray

Jean-Pierre Drive. Determination. Sacrifice. These are three words that Jean-Pierre Murray knows very well. At the age of 23 he currently holds a Master of Sciences degree in Politics and International Cooperation from the University of the West Indies (Mona). He hopes to put his degree to good use by one day living his primary dream of working for an international organization, such as the United Nations, to bring about positive change in the lives of many individuals. He also hopes to make an impact in education and also in the land of his birth, Jamaica.  This is just the surface of the story that has made Jean-Pierre the man he is today and I caught up with him recently to find out more about his journey to this point.

What was your childhood like?

I am from Mayfield, a small farming community in North-West Manchester. For most of my childhood we didn’t have a regular supply of electricity because we lived in a section of the community that hadn’t yet received electricity, and so we had to use a generator. In my formative years, my mother was the sole breadwinner for a long time, and even later when my brother started working and when my mother got married, it wasn’t always easy to provide for the family especially since there were other dependent family members. Cable, landline and internet were therefore only luxuries that I didn’t even bother to dream of.  To get to school, my friends and I walked several miles to Nazareth All Age in the neighboring community of  Maidstone. However, I never allowed my circumstances to define me and I never had a sense of being poor because this was our reality. Walking to school was normal – fun even. The lack of internet access and so on was never perceived as a handicap because I always had books to read, friends to play with, church and other activities to keep me occupied. I was surrounded by people who encouraged and inspired me to dream beyond the immediate circumstances. Your undergraduate and masters programs were unique because they were “Study Abroad” programs. How were you introduced to these programs and what was the structure of these programs?

While in upper sixth form, one of my French teachers told me about this exciting new programme at the University of the West Indies (UWI) where students doing IR and French could be afforded the opportunity to study in France. As soon as I got to UWI, I went to the relevant offices, got the information about applying and the minimum qualifications, and I have not looked back since. This program allowed me to move directly from my undergraduate degree to my masters degree and was divided into several phases. My first year was at the Mona campus of UWI which is located in Kingston, Jamaica. My second year was at Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Bordeaux, France. My third year was at Université des Antilles et de la Guyane in Martinique. After my third year, I began my masters at Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Bordeaux, France and completed the final year of the masters program at the UWI (Mona).

 

Were you ever afraid of stepping into new cultural experiences?

I didn’t really think about the new cultural experiences before leaving because I think I wanted to do this programme so badly that I didn’t have time to think about the challenges. I kept focused on the positives. It was only when I went to pick up my visa, one week before leaving for France, that it dawned on me that I would have ALL my classes in French and that I would have to speak French EVERYDAY.  Nevertheless, I love travelling and enjoyed the melting pot of cultures at all three universities I’ve attended.

What was your most unusual experience while on the program?

In 2010, a whole group of exchange students took fishing boats from Martinique to St. Lucia for a weekend to attend their Creole Festival. We were soaking wet minutes after leaving out, and the sea was extremely rough for the entire trip. The waves towered over the boats really. This was by far my most terrifying experience. We spent the night at our host’s house – an unfinished house/shop where we slept on makeshift bunks and hammocks. By the next morning, St. Lucia was facing the full force of hurricane Tomas – the most devastating hurricane in the country’s history. It still makes me shiver to think we were at sea while there was a hurricane out. A couple days later we went back to Martinique at dusk on a public holiday with no buses and no taxis in service and ended up hitch-hiking to get back on campus.

It seems like you have been on an exciting adventure. Would you say that you benefitted from the program?

Yes! In terms of qualifications, I have left the programme with multiple degrees from internationally acclaimed institutions. I am also now fluent in French and I have been able to broaden my academic scope. The cultural experiences, the opportunities for networking, the exchanges, and the benefits of travelling have really helped to mold me and to shape my vision of the world. Furthermore, I think this programme has helped me to mature on so many levels. It took a certain resolve and strength of character to adjust to the culture shock, the challenges of school and all the other hurdles I came across over this 5 year period.

What advice would you give to persons reading this blog to help them to follow their dreams?

Dare to dream. Do not be confined to or defined by your circumstances. Never lose sight of your dream even when it gets foggy or cloudy, keep moving towards the horizon. Surround yourself with positive people and positive energy. Never burn bridges. Always remember that God has plans to prosper and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future.

What advice would you give to people reading this blog about relationships?

Think of relationships as a garden. They need constant attention if you want them to be at their best – you must water, prune, weed, fertilize and nurture. You have to be willing to put in the work if you want the garden to flourish.

100_0189 (1)

2 Comments

Comment

October 2013- Cecile Black

Image Music is life and has the power to calm your soul and keep you in tune with your emotions. This month’s inspirational post is about Cecile Black, a young woman in her early twenties who believes that music is the only language that everyone in this world can understand which therefore gives it the power to bring life by transcending boundaries and bringing people together. She completed her Bachelor of Arts in History in 2011 and is currently in the third year of her Bachelor of Law degree at the University of the West Indies. However, what makes Cecile stand out from her peers is her spectacular musical talent that led her to cofound the two and a half year old band BlackasCole with her boyfriend Craig Cole. I caught up with her recently to find out the progress her band is making and any words of advice she could give to people reading this blog.

What inspired you to form BlackasCole?

I wanted to share my love for music and my words of love with the world.

What has the experience been like for Black as Cole?

We are a young band so we are still in the developmental stages trying to find our sound and understand our identity. The journey has its challenges and it is very difficult for us to make our mark as musicians in Jamaica. However, I have come to realize the importance of patience in this business and I have accepted the fact that my style of music has its niche and with time it will catch on.

How do you balance the demands of school with the demands of your band?

Life is all about balance so planning and time management are key. I try my best to distribute my time equally to both areas so that neither will suffer.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

When I dream I dream BIG. So, in five years I see myself performing at the Grammys or on some other international stage.

Would you say that you are on the path to accomplishing your dreams?

Yes!! At times when I get discouraged something amazing happens that pushes me a step further so I know I am on the right path. Success is so near I can smell it. Lol

What advice would you give to people reading this blog to help them to follow their dreams?

Believe in yourself and push hard against all odds. Also, dream big because if your dreams don’t scare you then they are not big enough.

What advice would you give to people reading this blog to help them with relationships?

Relationships are delicate, once they break they are hard to mend. Love is the only thing that can keep them strong and alive. Neither money nor any material thing is as good as love for self and love for others. So, with love as the weapon you can win any battle.

Image

Comment

Comment

September 2013- Kerryanne Johnston

Image Goethe once said, "Whatever you can do or dream you can begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it." Kerry’s life has been focused on making her dreams reality. She is a thirty-three year old fashion merchandiser, an entreprenuer, a magazine editor, and a woman who is determined to inspire others. I caught up with her recently and found out how this busy woman has been making a positive impact.

Would you say that fashion is your passion?

Since I was a little girl with big dreams of being a fashion designer, the love of fashion never left me.  Not sure exactly why, but with the risk of sounding cliché, I believe that some people are just born to do certain things...I was destined to make my niche somehow, some way in the fashion industry.

If you were to be a famous world leader, which leader would you be and why?

Lol! Well she's not necessarily a world leader, but she's married to one.  I admire my First Lady, Michelle Obama.  She's an intelligent, strong black woman who has been able to sit behind her husband (with all of her credentials) and let him lead and be great while holding her family down and managing the stress of everything that comes their way, as well as tour the country and inspire young people to eat healthily and be physically fit.  I just think she's awesome!!

Do you believe that the work you do inspires young women?

Absolutely! As women, we're known to knock each other down and we have to build each other up. With the work I do, younger women see we're here to help them, we love them, we want to see them strive to be the best they can be.  Love yourself and no one can knock you down!

What are the activities that you are engaged in that inspire women?

Dress Me Beautiful- a movement I started to instill the importance of loving yourself.  I also facilitate workshops for the annual youth summit held by Empower ME GNEP which also help to instill the importance of loving yourself. It's important to give back and help empower young people to walk the right path. When I was younger I didn't have access to these kind of workshops and in the world that we live in it's so important for the youth to understand that they’re important, their life matters, and it's ok to appreciate and love themselves.

What inspired you to start Dress Me Beautiful?

As a young girl I had low self-esteem and as I grew older and started appreciating and loving me I felt it was important to help young girls love themselves as well. It evolved from being an article submission of my testimony on how I didn’t appreciate myself to a movement of workshops, self-empowerment bracelets and an online magazine coming up soon.

Your work doesn’t stop at inspiring women. You’re also involved in breast cancer awareness. Tell us some more about this.

My Shop, Sip, & De-Stress for Breast Cancer Awareness event started at a small accessories boutique in Spanish Harlem and four years later I've had it in multiple cities, with plenty of local designers and entrepreneurs selling their original pieces in clothing, jewelry, and beauty products so that I can showcase hidden talent as well as raise funds for breast cancer research.  I've raised an estimate of $3,000 from the previous three years.  I anticipate that this year's event to be even more amazing! It will be held Oct. 25th in New York City.

What advice would you give to those reading this blog to inspire them to follow their dreams?

Stay on your path, keep focused on what YOU truly want.  Flush out the negative people and naysayers in your life that can divert you from your journey.  No one truly knows what you want but you.  When you have big dreams, not everyone will understand so be careful who you share your dreams with, a lot of people won't understand and will distract you from living or working towards your dream because of their fear.  Be Fearless! Never take no for the final say and DO NOT GIVE UP!  Hard work, faith, dedication, persistence, and patience will get you to where you want to be and remember it all happens in God's time, not necessarily your time, but it will happen.  You just have to believe it and continue to work towards it.

What advice would you give to the people reading this blog about relationships?

Follow your heart, but follow your intuition.  Make sure the person you're involved with loves you and treats you the way you KNOW you should be treated.  They should love you for who you are.  Never change to try and be someone you think they want you to be.  The person you're with should mirror who you are.  Their heart should match your heart. They should make you happy and strive to keep you happy as well as push you and motivate you in whatever you want to do in life.  Don't hang on if you know it's not right for you because that only blocks you from the person you should be with. Most importantly, don't be afraid of being alone!  A common mistake people make is being in a relationship because of their fear of being alone and finding themselves in a place where they shouldn't be.  Spend your time alone to know who you truly are so when the time comes for you to be in that right relationship, you're secure within yourself to be able to love whole heartedly.  You can only truly love someone when you truly love yourself.

Image

Comment