Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Determination, dedication and education - Nicole’s ‘prescription’ for overcoming poverty

Published:Sunday | July 9, 2017 | 7:22 AM
Nicole Taylor (right) making use of the facilities at the Grace & Staff Community Development Foundation on Harbour Street in downtown Kingston.

For aspiring nurse Nicole Taylor, life in one of Kingston’s inner-city communities offered little hope of progress, much less achieving her dreams.

“My parents didn’t have it easy either because they did not complete their education, and so they struggled financially,” said Nicole.

Of course, with seven children to feed (Nicole has two brothers and four sisters), there was a burden for her parents to make ends meet, much less to create a meaningful future for the family.

“Very often, I would go to school (Norman Manley High) without lunch money, and also I would walk at least two miles to and from school when there was no money to take the bus.”

INVALUABLE SUPPORT

Invaluable support came from the Grace & Staff Community Development Foundation, of which Nicole has been a beneficiary since grade nine.

“I heard about Grace & Staff from a friend who knows about the foundation,” said Nicole, as she noted that the foundation has provided invaluable help in enabling her to be at the point of furthering her academic qualifications ­ with CAPE ­ before taking on the next level of formal nursing study, and has filled her with optimism for the future.

With help from Grace & Staff, Nicole has done well in lower school, achieving passes in four subjects she sat in external exams.

She is now attending Portmore Community College, pursuing CAPE Unit 1 subjects while nurturing her dream of becoming a midwife. A full-fledged nursing course is still ahead, but the 17-year-old is confident that she will cross that bridge.

RENEWED SELF-ESTEEM

“My plans are to finish my CAPE subjects and move on to UWI (University of the West Indies), where I will complete my nursing course with the help of scholarships and self-help (which defines as getting a job).

“Afterwards, I will work for some time in my country then travel aboard to work so I can earn more money and improve my skills through the work and travel programme,” added Nicole, as she underscored that the Grace & Staff Community Development Foundation has made a big difference in her life.

“Most of all, the staff at the foundation showed me that not because I’m from the ghetto it means I’m bound to the ghetto. The programme gives me a chance to reach my dreams and my goals, and I’m truly honoured to be a part of it.”

Through its network of homework centres in several inner-city communities, the Grace & Staff Community Development Foundation is helping thousands of students like Nicole find their academic footing and, more important, renew their self-esteem.

Outside of schoolwork and her nursing ambitions, Nicole enjoys reading novels, watching the television and singing; pretty much like many of her peers.

But, unlike many of her peers, she has a message for everyone. She encourages fellow students to pursue their dreams and not allow the harsh realities of their surroundings to stifle their ambition.

“There is hope, not because poverty is an obstacle, we are just going to give up. We, the new generation, need to learn how to overcome it, and that is with determination, dedication and education,” said Nicole.