Sun | Feb 25, 2018

Living Large Abroad | J'can student cops Miami university law scholarship

Published:Tuesday | December 13, 2016 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
Stephen Rampaul

He failed twice in his quest to matriculate to the Norman Manley Law School in St Andrew. That, however, opened the door for Stephen Rampaul to enrol at the St Thomas University of Law in Miami, Florida, where he was awarded a scholarship to pursue the Juris Doctor degree which will enable him to sit the Bar in 2018.

In an interview with The Gleaner, the 24-year-old said he was still in the process of adjusting, having left Jamaica in 2015. He, however, said he was grateful for the foundation he got at the University of Technology, having done his Bachelor of Laws degree at the institution.

"I applied to the St Thomas University of Law here in Florida to do the master's programme. Thankfully, I did very well and they offered me a scholarship to do the Juris Doctor Degree as an advanced standing student. After that, I would be able to take the Bar here. They also reduced the years, so instead of doing a three-year programme, I'm doing two years," he said.

"Last month, the Jamaican-American Bar Association also gave me an Icon Award for accomplishing so much at a young age," said the Calabar High School past student.


Persistence and patience


In sharing the impact of the disappointment of failing to matriculate to Norman Manley Law School had on him, he said it taught him persistence and patience.

"The first time I did it (exam for Norman Manley), when I came out, I thought I got in, I thought I did well. However, when I got the results, it was the contrary. After that I started to look in other directions. I remember I was cleaning my room and I saw the book I was studying from and I said to myself that I can do this again, so I tried once more and I had the same feeling. I thought I got in but I failed again. At this point, I just thought to myself that this isn't my path," he recalled.

Though he was crushed emotionally, he said being a student at his current university has opened many doors for him, especially as it relates to networking with other students globally.

He expressed profuse gratitude to his mother, who he said has contributed greatly to his success. He said it has not been a stress-free journey, but quickly pointed out that he is determined to do well.

"Everything that I am is because of my mother. She is the angel behind my back. When I feel like I can't do it anymore, her words of wisdom keep me going," he said.

"There are many times I call her and I am like, 'Mommy, I can't do this, Mommy, I'm hungry because as an international student you can't work here.' Some months I can't make the rent but I tell you that I have never missed a month. Even two days before, I don't know where it (rent) is coming from, but someway, somehow, God works it out," he shared.

He added, "God had a purpose for my path. When it comes to brilliance, I am not the smartest person in the world, but I try really hard at whatever I do."