Fri | Jul 3, 2020

Monique and Lindsay AIMing higher, securing their future

Published:Monday | May 13, 2019 | 12:24 AM
Monique Brown with her proud parents.
Monique Brown with her proud parents.

More and more Jamaican students are realising their dreams and breaking barriers through hard work and dedication. Monique Brown, a student at the Immaculate Conception High School, hailing from a humble background, with an incredible support system along with the help of AIM Foundation, is now the Jamaican Scholar for Lafayette College. She heads there this fall where she will be studying computer engineering. Furthermore, she will be doing so with a full ride valued at nearly US$300,000.

In reminiscing about her experience, Brown says, “I saw something on Instagram inviting people to an AIM Hi Five event and I decided to go with some friends. After the event, I had no idea how my family would afford the services, but I had already made the decision that I had to go.” The rest was history. With the help and support of two extremely dedicated parents, willing to make every sacrifice to ensure her success, and Nicole Campbell and her team admitting her as one of the AIM Higher Foundation students, Brown pushed herself to achieve her goals. This came as no surprise as at age three, she cried for someone to teach her to read. This future software engineer already knew at that young age that she wanted to read to be able to understand how to use computers.

Her mother, an administrative assistant at a security firm, also shared her deep faith.

“I constantly prayed to God and asked for exactly what I wanted for her, a full scholarship; not part, the whole thing. Money was tight and I didn’t even know where I would find the money for the first consultation much less the classes. But I never lost faith that God would provide.”

The journey to success was not without its challenges. However, she recalls that the SAT exams proved to be the hardest part of the process for her.

“I remember doubting myself when it was time to do the SAT exams. It is a long exam and requires a lot of focus and I wasn’t sure I could do it. Then I spoke to Nicole, who told me she was confident I had what was needed to succeed. Her words really put me at ease”.

Patrick Brown, her father, was also a critical part of the success story. She remembers how he pushed her to perform better academically, even when she was already excelling.

“When she would come home with a 95 per cent, I would always ask her what about the other five per cent? I never wanted her to get too comfortable. I knew she had it in her so I pushed her to do better, even when she thought she had done her best”.

Lindsay Harley, an 18-year-old student of the St Andrew High School for Girls, also successfully secured over US$1 million combined in scholarship offers from five United States-based universities including Dartmouth College, New York University, Wesleyan University, and Bowdoin College. Having chosen Dartmouth, she recalls always wanting to study abroad where she would be guaranteed a better education and be exposed to new cultures and experiences. For her, this was crucial in allowing her to come back after university and giving back to Jamaica.

Like Brown, Harley also found the SAT preparation to be the hardest part of the journey, but was reassured by the AIM team, who gave her all the tools needed to succeed and pushed her to achieve her best.

“My counsellor, Stephanie, was always available to help me, no matter how late. I remember setting a personal goal of 1450 for the SATs but she believed in me and encouraged me to aim higher. She encouraged and supported me at every step of the way and helped me to meet my new goal.”

Harley’s advice to anyone interested in studying abroad is to “just do it. Stop thinking it’s out of reach or that you don’t have the resources, or that it’s going to be too hard. If you can’t dream big for yourself why would anyone else?”

Campbell says that she won’t give up on her commitment to building the students of Jamaica, “each one of them is special to me, has touched me, or changed me in some way. I am honoured to be able to touch their lives in a positive way”.