Determination, proper time management, organization, and motivation were the cornerstones on which Joshell Allen of New Market in St Elizabeth achieved success in her secondary-level external examinations.
The 19-year-old graduate of Hampton School in Malvern, St Elizabeth, gained a combined 10 subjects in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations in 2019 and 2020, while in grades 10 and 11, and five Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) subjects in 2021 and 2022, while in sixth form (grades 12 & 13).
For CSEC she earned grade one in four subjects, grade two in another four, and grade three in two, while for CAPE, she got grade two in three subjects and grade three in the remaining two.
“I did my first two CSEC subjects when I was in Grade 10, which were Social Studies and Office Administration. I then did another eight when I was in Grade 11, which included all the sciences – Chemistry, Biology and Physics – as well as Mathematics, English, Information Technology, Principles of Business and Spanish,” Allen told JIS News.
“At the CAPE level, I did Communication Studies, Caribbean Studies, Biology, Chemistry, and Environmental Science,” she added.
Her accomplishments, however, did not come easy, and she had to devise several strategies to stay on top of her studies. This, while making daily four-hour round trips from home to school and back, totalling some 84 kilometres.
“I had to get up at 4 in the morning to get ready for school, and I would be home by 6 in the evenings. I took an hour’s break or nap, and then I’d study from 8pm to 10pm, then take a 30-minute break before I go to bed. So, I always ensured that I had breaks, so as not to burn myself out,” she noted.
Allen received support from the St Elizabeth Poor Relief Department, which has been assisting her family since she was in grade six at Clapham Primary School in Brighton, in the parish.
She attributes some of her success to the years of assistance given by the department that provided supplies, bus fares and other resources vital to her school life.
“My family was very important. I had their support 100 per cent because there were times when I wanted to give up because it honestly got hard. When I was doing my subjects, it was during COVID-19, plus a good amount of teachers migrated, so there was a point in time where you had to, basically, be teaching yourself things to not get left behind,” Allen said.
“The Poor Relief Department was the biggest help in that time. I received [some] amount of money each month to go towards my credit for online classes, so I wouldn’t miss my classes. [Also], bus fare was pricey, and it wouldn’t have been possible without their help. It was a relief knowing that each day I could confidently go on the bus knowing that I don’t owe anything, that my bus fare was already covered,” she added.
Her social worker, Desreen Douglas, who is assigned to the New Market area, was also a source of encouragement for the youth, who was a part of the animal and wildlife and etiquette clubs at her school, as well as a volunteer for community clean-ups.
Allen’s passion lies in the field of medicine, and she has been accepted at the Wenzhou Medical University in China for a bachelor’s degree in medicine and surgery.
She is currently doing orientation online, which is also where she will be doing classes.
The Poor Relief Department is helping her to procure a proper laptop, which she needs, as well as school funding or a scholarship.
“No matter how difficult or how much you think somebody wouldn’t want to help, always ask because they never know until you do. The worst you could be told is no, but at best you could get exactly the help, motivation and mentorship that you need,” Allen said.
Meanwhile, Douglas told JIS News that Allen is humble and always puts her best foot forward, despite the many challenges.
“We are trying to see how best we can fit in. We said to her, ‘Okay since you are going to do an online [class], we [will] try to furnish you with books’. So, whatever she passed on to me, I see how best I can take it forward. We want her to fulfil her dreams, so we’re trying our best now,” she said.
At the St Elizabeth Municipal Corporation’s monthly meeting held on September 8, Allen and other beneficiaries of the Poor Relief Department received various awards for their CSEC and CAPE results.
By Okoye Henry, JIS News