Ebony Douglas beams with pride and confidence
Anastasia Cunningham, Health Coordinator
Vibrant and confident, with a bubbly personality and a lovely smile, 11-year-old Ebony Douglas is eagerly anticipating the start of the new school year when she will take her place at Excelsior High School in St Andrew.
For the intelligent young lady, this is just the beginning of many dreams she hopes to realise.
On the morning that she walked into class at Hope Valley Experimental School and heard the announcement about her performance in the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT), Ebony just sat there and cried.
"I was so overjoyed when I found out I passed for Excelsior. When I heard, I was like, 'no, you have got to be kidding me. Seriously!' and then I just started crying tears of joy," the young lady enthusiastically declared to The Sunday Gleaner.
Achieving results - mathematics, 89 per cent; social studies, 92 per cent; science, 95 per cent; language arts, 92 per cent; and communication task, 9/12 - her teachers and principal, Sharon Williams, had always expected her to do well.
"In spite of her challenges, she always achieved at a high level, most often in the top four," noted Williams.
"She came to us having severe burns on one side of her body, including a deformed hand. I have watched her overcome the stigma of being called 'bun up' and develop a positive self-esteem."
Beautiful inside and out, when she was only a baby of one-year-old, Ebony was caught in a fire accidentally started by a next door neighbour, severely deforming the left side of her body from the face down. She spent a long time in the University Hospital of the West Indies recovering.
Growing up, she was often bothered by the scars, sometimes going home in tears and asking not to go to school after being subjected to teasing and name calling from schoolmates.
"I think that is what motivated her," said her father, Kenroy Douglas.
His heart would ache for his firstborn, but he gave her nothing but encouraging words, telling her often how beautiful and smart she was, that there were big things in store for her, and that one day she would leave them all behind on her way to greatness.
"When she would tell me she had no friends and no one wanted to play with her, I told her to just take her books and go to the library and study and at the end of the day it will pay off," he said.
With the constant encouragement from those who believed in her, Ebony soon grew into her own, today beaming with such confidence and determination, that she lets nothing or no one deter her focus.
"This is the beginning of that determination paying off for her now. Everyone in the family is so happy for her, because we never got that opportunity," said her proud father, who shared that Ebony was the first one in his family to attend a traditional high school.
Beaming with pride, Ebony said she was always impressed with Excelsior's academic standards and deportment of the students.
"When I get to Excelsior, I plan to continue working hard, focus on my dreams and don't let anything distract me from my studies. I hope to learn to swim so that I can swim for my school. I also really love drama and debating, so I want to take part in that too," she said.
When asked about her career choice, without hesitation Ebony exclaimed, "A brain surgeon, because I think the brain is a fascinating area of the body and it controls everything and I find it quite interesting."