Yemalla Edwards – beating the odds
Now in his fourth year at the University of the West Indies, where he is pursuing his ambition to become a neuro-surgeon, Yemalla Edwards is giving God thanks for opening doors for him.
Today, a three-time recipient of the Peace and Love Academic Scholarship (PALAS) and a protÈgÈ of the founder Ruel 'Rula' Brown, he has just returned from an internship in Atlanta, where he has been receiving valuable experiences learning from doctors there, all in his quest for his ultimate goal.
Edwards, whose life is totally powered by his supreme faith in God, had to overcome a lot to get to where he is now.
Coming from a large family - seven siblings to be exact - it was a struggle from his student days at McCooks Pen Primary School in St Catherine as he recalls that many times he had to attend school without lunch money.
His father was earning the minimum wage and at the time, his mother was selling in the market. money was tight.
What the family lacked in resources, they made up for in encouragement and faith, which was what saw Edwards looking past all those roadblocks to focus on his books.
A past student of St Catherine High School, he was over the moon when he was accepted in September 2012 as a full-time student at the University of the West Indies to read for a degree in science and technology. His excellent performance saw him being promoted to read for the
bachelor of medicine and surgery degree in the Faculty of Medical Sciences.
His performance was amazing, considering what he was going through at the time.
"I couldn't afford to make the trek home, so I bounced around on campus. I slept in various corners and places, some I can't even explain here. I had sleepless nights because of the intense studying as I didn't have any textbooks to aid in my studies. I had to stay in the library after school until in the morning, then get a bath, and then head off to school by 8 a.m."
HID THE TRUTH
Yemalla said his parents had no idea he was living this way as he shielded them from the truth as he didn't want them to worry.
"I prayed a lot and I questioned God on when my breakthrough would come," he said.
"The many days when I had to go to class hungry, I knew that God would eventually come through," he said.
That moment arrived for him after a chance meeting with Ruel Brown, who he met when the PALAS scholarship was closed, but somehow, he made an impression on the Atlanta-based philanthropist, who secured some help for him.
Edwards said part of his faith and stability came from his mother, who was a tower of strength.
"The main characteristic that I got from her is basically never to give up. she goes over the normal to get things done."
Edwards said it is not hard to keep his focus in accomplishing his dreams as his situation is a big motivation.
"I believe if my children grow up and face the same challenges I faced as a youth, then I would have failed as a parent," he said.
Looking ahead, he said he wants to make it so he can make his parents' dream come true.
"Words can`t explain the dreams I have for my parents. I want for them to be financially independent first and foremost and thereafter come house, land, car, etc. I just want them to enjoy to the fullest the time they have on earth," he said.