Help me, please! - UTech student seeks assistance to complete her studies
ROCK RIVER, St Mary:
For University of Technology (UTech) student Sasha-Gay Smellie and her mother, Bridgette Livingston, it's been a long challenging journey on the road to Smellie achieving a bachelor's of science in environmental health, with a major in public health.
Smellie, who hails from Rock River, St Mary, has been making the daily trek to school and barely manages to keep her head above the waters.
Now in her third year with one more year to go, Smellie and her mother are reaching out for assistance to complete the process.
With a part scholarship from Peace and Love Academic Scholarship and Sydney Phillips Memorial Academic Scholarship, although very grateful for them, the challenge remains overwhelming.
"The scholarships weren't able to cover my tuition for the entire school year due to the ever-increasing cost of tuition, and twice since I started attending college, I was faced with deregistration because of insufficient payment," she said.
The 21-year-old aspiring public health inspector said she is propelled by the former United States President Barack Obama's quote: 'The best anti-poverty programme is a world-class education' and those of Nelson Mandela: 'Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world'.
"I strongly believe these quotes and I use them as great motivation throughout all my academic endeavours, as I am the first of my immediate family to attend university, and I want to make a difference and also use education as a way to take myself and my family out of poverty," Smellier told Rural Xpress.
With her mother shouldering the responsibility alone and having three other young siblings, there are days when she makes the trek to school without lunch money, with bus fare being a priority.
Livingston said she would love some peace of mind where her daughter is concerned and having her live closer to the school would give her just that.
"Sasha leaves out at 4 a.m. and it's so dark, I have to stay with her until she gets a taxi. In the evenings, sometimes she is stranded at Grand Hole (Junction) and I have to send a bike for her and that normally runs me about $500 which I definitely can't afford, but her safety is a priority," she said.
For Smellie, the journey takes a toll on her as by the time she reaches home, sometimes at 10 p.m., she is tired and frustrated.
"It's hard to get transportation in those rural communities, which seriously cuts into my study time, as I am tired half the time from the excess travelling and getting home that late," she said, adding that there are other sacrifices that she has to make, which includes skipping a few classes so the money can go towards her other siblings not missing out on school.
"Sometimes my mother doesn't have enough for my fare plus my siblings expenses, so in that case I have to ask friends to get the notes for me, which is another challenge as I do not own a laptop," she said making the request for one, noting that it would be of great benefit to her.
In spite of all the opposition, Smellie is determined not to allow her challenges to hinder her and has managed to maintain a 3.0 grade point average, although she said she could do much better if she is more settled.
"Just imagine being so close to your dream and being afraid you won't grasp it! I am therefore appealing to Jamaicans here and the diaspora to help me with a laptop, finances to deal with boarding and to get that precious degree," is the heartfelt plea coming from her.
That plea is echoed by her mother, who works part-time at the Rock River clinic, but is seeking help to go into chicken rearing and a house from Food For the Poor so the rent money can be diverted to her children's education.
A Christian of seven years, Livingston is looking for a miracle as, she said, Smellie tried the students' loan route, but because she (the mother) does not have a steady job, she could not stand as guarantor.
Livingston, who shared that she had dreams of being a teacher or cosmetologist, fell short of her ambitions owing to similar challenges - one she wants to ensure her daughter escapes.
Smellie can be contacted at 296-6520 and Livingston at 285-8207.