Denham Town standout aims to inspire women
Carved out of the gritty concrete jungle of Kingston, Ionie Clarke’s big, broad smile is as disarming as her rock-solid confidence.
The student leader, a trainee in the Jamaica National Service Corps, said that she has always been driven to make a difference and to inspire young women.
“Being the only female in my class, I felt no different. When all the other females were choosing cooking and clothing (and textiles), I am the one who said, ‘Not a lot of females are doing this. I am going to do electrical,” the 24-year-old told The Gleaner last Saturday at Denham Town Primary, where she took part in a school-beautification project.
Having gained some experience as an electrician, Clarke said she could not resist what she believed was her destiny for high-level leadership. The sight of soldiers at the ready gave her the push to finally sign up for the Jamaica National Service Corps, a quasi-military stream of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) that targets young people for career development.
“I love to lead,” she declared, adding, “I think that I can encourage people because being a female, a lot of other females look at me and say, ‘She’s a solider’, so when females see me, [that] also gives them motivation.”
“Choosing electrical, I knew it wouldn’t have been so hard, because electrical work isn’t so easy, mixing mortar and carrying buckets upstairs, and so I knew within myself that I could manage the JDF,” Clarke further added.
The private told The Gleaner that community service gave her joy, explaining that it was difficult to strike a balance between the gruelling, intensive activities of the Jamaica National Service Corps and her philanthropic work.
“It really warms my heart to give back, because that is what I really love,” she said.
Because of her outstanding performance in training, Clarke copped the honour graduate award for her batch, 1801. She also said that she is not intimidated by the testosterone-filled environment of the male-dominated organisation even as she acknowledged her own limitations.
“The males sometimes think that the females cannot manage what they do, but I, personally, want to prove that wrong. If a male is carrying a bag of cement, I want to carry a bag, too, just to let them know that I can carry it just like him.
“Maybe we are not strong enough like them, like if we are going on a run, they might lead us, but I know I am going to cross the line,” Clarke said.
She told The Gleaner that she intends to do further electrical studies in the JDF while expanding her charity work.
The Jamaica National Service Corps is a parallel arm of the JDF that exposes young people to core values and attitudes and aims to make them job-ready for a variety of industries. It also serves as a feeder for formal enlistment in the military.