Determined Malaya is Westwood-bound
Orantes Moore, Gleaner Writer
Most academics agree the environment in which a child grows up has a considerable influence on their behaviour, personality and future prospects.
Subsequently, a young person from a poor, rural community where food and rent expenses often take priority over education costs is far less likely to consider attending university than a child of a similar age who grows up in a middle-class household in the Corporate Area.
Nevertheless, Malaya Pickersgill, from St Mary, bucks that trend. Having recently achieved an average of 90 per cent in the Grade-Six Achievement Test (GSAT), Pickersgill, 12, is preparing for university and a career as a defence attorney by focusing on attaining similarly impressive Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate exam results in four years' time.
Excited and overwhelmed
She told The Gleaner: "When I got my GSAT results, I was excited and overwhelmed to know all my hard work had finally paid off, because I have been working towards this since grade one.
"Now, I'll be attending Westwood High School in Trelawny and, after that, I would like to go to university and become a criminal lawyer."
Pickersgill resides in the Lodge Lane area of Annotto Bay, a community regarded as one of the toughest in the parish, but refused to become a victim of her environment.
She explained: "It has been hard for me because I live beside a place where people gamble, so there is a lot of noise and people shouting at each other and cursing bad words until late into the night.
"Sometimes, it makes me very upset, but I try to do my best and concentrate on my work, keep my mind focused and not listen to the noise going on around me. It feels very good to know that in spite of where I'm coming from, I am heading in the right direction."
In addition to her own self-determination, Pickersgill is grateful to her mother and teachers for their support.
She said: "The past two years have been great and the teachers at Gospel Chapel Preparatory School helped me a lot with the work. They really went that extra mile to make sure I learned the things I was supposed to know."