Kerone Miller : From 'Red Devil' to role model
MAY PEN, Clarendon:
Last November, Miss Police Youth Club second runner-up Kerone Miller was voted as Clarendon's Most Influential Youth Leader - Female, at the annual Social Development Commission awards.
That accolade shows the journey Miller has taken to get to that place, as she recently opened up and shared her story with Rural Xpress on how far removed she was from the award at one point in her life.
The Bethel College and Central High past student who was known by several names, which included 'Red Devil' and 'troublesome female', admits that at one point she was a 'holy terror'.
"I attended Bethel College for one year. I was very bright in class, but I just loved to fight. I was a part of several gang groups at that particular school. We would fight anybody that violates a member of any one of the groups," she shared.
Although her form teacher was proud of her because of the type of schoolwork she presented, she still disappointed him with her refusal to stop fighting and bullying others.
Miller, who said she would leave home early each morning, reached school late because of idling with friends at Shoppers Fair in May Pen. If she was locked out, she would just jump the school gate or cut the fence to gain entrance.
"My level of disobedience got worse; I was a quick learner so I used to disrupt class sessions to hinder other students from learning. I even started to fight teachers and also the vice-principal at Bethel College, until they decided to let me go because I had a negative impact on that school," she shared.
After leaving Bethel, Miller enrolled at Central High and nothing changed about her disruptive influence.
Every week she was involved in a fight and was suspended almost every month.
She continued to disrespect the teachers, ancillary staff members and visitors at the school.
"I was the leader of a gang that I formed which is called the 'TPG'; the meaning cannot be disclosed. I used to carry weapons to school, skip classes with my groupies and hide from Vinroy Harrison (principal) and my class teacher," Miller revealed.
Her last fight saw her being sent to the Clarendon Peace and Justice Centre. It was there that she finally realised her worth during the counselling sessions.
"They moulded me, and after they were finished with me, it was a different Kerone attending Central High," she said.
With all the best intentions, she still slipped into her old habits, but she said the dean of discipline at the school, Marcia Freemantle, and the principal took her in hand.
"In the early mornings before school began, she (dean) would allow me to walk with her around the school compound and pray, she even prayed for me to change, and I started to change. Unfortunately, she died after I started to change," she said, but fortunately for her, the principal took up the mantle, giving her daily encouragement and even referring to her as his 'daughter'.
After hearing about the Clarendon Youth Information Centre summer camp, Miller attended, and Youth Empowerment Officers Chevelle Campbell and Kerrisa Gordon worked on her behavioural issues, earning her the award of the Most Outstanding Summer Camp Performer.
Miller said her 'loosened areas were tightened up' when she joined the Police Youth Club and was mentored by Gareth Warren (Clarendon Police Youth Club Council president).
In 2009, her life changed when she embraced Christ as her Saviour and was baptised at the Palmer's Cross Seventh-day Adventist Church. She has since moved on to the Breakthrough Deliverance Ministry.
Now 'walking the straight and narrow', she said her main challenge has to do with music and the genre listens to.
"I often tend to feed my spirit with the wrong songs at times," she said.
Reaching out to those who are now walking the path she has left behind, Miller said she makes it her duty to empower them - especially in high schools, as she said that's where most good children go bad.
"So having empowerment sessions with secondary students is one of the ways I use to reach out to troublesome students," said Miller, who shared that her ultimate goal is to go to college and earn her teaching degree so that she can assist her parents the way she really wants to.
She also wants to focus her aid on the elderly in her community.