Top achiever thanks PATH
Jermaine Francis and Raheem McKain, Gleaner Writers
"YOUR MOTHER goin' have to walk wid collection plate to send you to school," Chedukia Longley said a jealous parent uttered when her Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) results came out some six years ago.
Longley said those words stuck with her throughout her years at Glenmuir High School and somewhat propelled her towards achieving 11 distinctions in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations.
"This life experience parallels a favourite scripture of mine, 'I have never seen the righteous forsaken or his seed begging for bread'," Longley said to thunderous applause at the Knutsford Court Hotel on Wednesday.
Longley was on hand to accept the award for the 2012 Programme for Advancement through Health and Education (PATH) Top Achiever Award for outstanding academic performance.
She was one of 15 high school PATH beneficiaries from across the island that were recognised for their stellar performances in the 2012 and 2013 CSEC exams.
Longley credited PATH for helping her throughout her tenure at Glenmuir.
The daughter of a market vendor and a taxi driver said the assistance went a far way in helping to put her and her sister through school. She fondly spoke about the days they were able to get lunch at school because of the social security initiative.
Elsa Marks-Willis, project director for PATH, explained that the programme was designed to assist families that have circumstances like Longley's.
"PATH has facilitated an increase in school attendance and preventative health care visits among its beneficiaries [and] school retention has been positively influenced by participation in PATH," Marks-Wills stated.
She added that the programme plays a critical role in regularising school attendance, especially for boys in poor families.
In addition to the 15 top CSEC awardees, some 12 GSAT top scholars were also given trophies and cash prizes sponsored by Bill Express, NCB Foundation and Xsomo International Limited.
Mother of Colin Rowe, the top-performing boy in GSAT for 2012, said she has been more than satisfied with what PATH has done for her and her son.
"I believe I am responsible for my son's well-being [but] PATH has helped me where I fell short, and I couldn't ask for more," Colleen Campbell declared.
Six health centres and six schools were also recognised for the service they have been providing to path beneficiaries.