Reading champion hopes to return to her first passion
Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
Zoie O'Sullivan is using her enforced break from the University of Technology (UTech) to read, and so far, she has been richly rewarded.
O'Sullivan was recently declared winner of the St Ann Parish Library's annual reading competition in the 21-and-over category.
An avid reader, she has had to take a break from the UTech because of financial difficulties, but she hopes to complete her studies in hospitality and tourism management.
Sitting at home pondering her future, O'Sullivan decided to engage in her favourite pastime: reading. Like any avid reader, she reads a wide cross section of subjects, but it was while she was reading one of the titles in the Gatekeeper series by English author Anthony Horowitz that she saw an advertisement in the newspaper about the reading competition and decided to enter.
"I've been reading books on my Kindle for a while, but I thought that maybe I should enter the competition and see what it's all about," O'Sullivan told Rural Express. "So I entered. I didn't think I would reach this far, but here I am now. I'm, naturally, elated! Like I said, I didn't expect to win, so it's a good feeling."
Her prizes include a trophy and other prizes.
O'Sullivan's achievement may not carry much weight with some people, but the importance of reading can never be overstated.
"Reading is really important. People should learn to read and write - be literate. It's the first step in getting an education, and you need to educate yourself in order to elevate yourself."
Being the reader that she is, the competition was right down O'Sullivan's road. However, she still had to put out extra effort to come out on top.
"It was a lot of reading and memorising, book reviews, and everything, so I had to remember whatever I read. The second part of the competition was a little more difficult because I was working at the time, so my schedule kind of clashed," she explained.
She works is as a clerk at the gift shop at Jewel Paradise Cove Resort in Runaway Bay. It is an opportunity that fits right into her career path as she seeks to be a major player in the tourism sector.
"I was going to UTech and I had to stop because of financial difficulties. I want to go back to school; I have to go back to school," O'Sullivan asserted.
She doesn't know when that might be.
In the meantime, she is enjoying her current success.
"Being a reading champion is an important achievement to me. It's something that I didn't think that I would win."
Other winners in the various categories were Shaunti Reid, six to eight years; Janelle Jervis, nine to 11 years; Tashique Gibson, 12-14 years; and Fitzroy Wickham, 15-20 years.
The annual competition, held this year under the theme 'Read Anytime, Anywhere, Any Book', was again a success, according to senior librarian Debbie Bonnick. Bonnick had high commendations for Verona Barrett-DaCosta, whose effort ensured the event went well.
Guest speaker Pauline Nicholson, principal of the St John's Preparatory School in Ocho Rios, while congratulating the library and the participants, underscored the importance of reading.
The winners will represent St Ann in the national competition in Kingston later this year.