Carol-Ann's second chance
Shanique Samuels, Gleaner Writer
At 47 years old, Carol-Ann Mitchell is being given a second chance at education, and it is an opportunity, she says, she has grabbed with both hands: "I hold it so tight, not even breeze can pass through!" she exclaimed.
Mitchell is one of 28 scholarship recipients of the Jamalco Educational Assistance Programme. She received a scholarship to further her education at the tertiary level.
Rural Express caught up with Mitchell, who is from Manchester, after the award ceremony in Hayes, Clarendon, on Wednesday.
Mitchell said she got pregnant with her first of three children at 14 years old and had to drop out of school. She migrated to Canada three years later, where she lived for more than 20 years. She got into trouble and was sent back home as a deportee. "I started thinking during this time, 'What am I going to do?' My family was disappointed. I'm at this age and I don't have a career."
Mitchell said it was a friend who introduced her to the Jamalco Career Enhancement Programme, where she did mathematics and English and passed both as the top student from the group.
Mitchell did so well in the evening programme that she was asked to join the day programme. "I was sceptical at first because I had to wear a school uniform, and I was like, 'Me? In a school uniform at my age among 16 and 17 year olds?'" She eventually did - after much consideration.
Mitchell said she was a mentor, teacher, and a motivator to the teenage children at the Winston Jones High School in Manchester. "I shared my experiences with them just to help them make the right choices and not to make the same stupid mistakes I did. The experience, for me, was a great one. Jamalco has given me back my life because, honestly, I don't know where I would go as a deportee back home here in Jamaica at my age to help me build back my self-esteem."
Mitchell did four CSEC subjects and passed all four with grade two's. She has since applied to the University of Technology to study architecture and was accepted to do industrial technology, after which she says she plans to seek a job in industrial technology.
"I am so grateful and blessed. I am thanking God for this opportunity," she said.
Manager of corporate services and government affairs at Jamalco, Leo Lambert, applauded Mitchell for her determination, stating that she was the epitome of what determination and true success could be if people made up their minds and worked hard. "Carol-Ann is the example especially young people should try to emulate. She is hard-working and dedicated and she is now reaping the fruits of her hard work."