Stephan Anderson pursues his dreams
To say that life has not been a bed of roses for 22-year-old Stephan Anderson would be an understatement. The newly enrolled Caribbean Maritime University student is pursuing a bachelor of science degree in logistics and supply chain management.
It has been Anderson's faith, strength and the tremendous support he has received from mentors at the Clarendon Youth Information Centre that has now seen him finally on the road to pursuing his dreams.
In 2015, his mother was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a bone/blood cancer disease, and was in and out of the hospital until she suffered a broken hip.
"The hospital then became her home. As the sickness became more serious, the doctors gave up on her, but not me," Anderson shared. "I remember crying, as I felt so helpless. I visited every day, hoping she would pull through, being the fighter I know she was," he sadly recalls.
Anderson was dealt a cruel blow when his mother succumbed to her injuries in January of this year."My life has not been the same since. She was my only source of funding in providing food and hope for me going to university in August this year. Losing my mother, I honestly thought, was the end for me," he said, admitting that there were times when the thought of suicide was not far from his mind.
He went through an emotional upheaval, compounded by the fact that he was hesitant to reach out to others, as he felt he would be bothering them with his problems."I didn't, and still do not, have the support of 95 per cent of my relatives, but I tried not to let that be a problem. Honestly, I haven't overcome many of my life struggles, because looking back hurts and I really find it hard to let go, because my mom was once part of my life. What I can say is that I used those circumstances to push me forward," he told Rural Xpress.
Now at a point in his life where he feels comfortable to pick up the pieces, Anderson is looking back to give thanks to a grand aunt who, briefly, was a comfort to him before his mother died.
He recounted: "I went to bed numerous times not having anything to eat for days, not having anyone to talk to, but lying in bed crying. My grandaunt then died, and I was asked to leave the house. Not having anywhere to stay, I told one of my close friends about the situation and his family was the one who sheltered and fed me for months."
He gives credit to youth empowerment officers Chevelle Campbell and Andrew Williams, as well as the Police Youth Club Movement for completely turning his life around.
Earlier this year, Anderson received the Governor General's I Believe SOS Scholarship. It is his proudest moment and biggest achievement.
"My ultimate dream was attending university and getting a life to better myself and others. Although this was not easy, my mentors Williams and Campbell helped me in seeing my true self and what I am really made of," he said gratefully.
Anderson still has challenges to overcome, as he gets scared sometimes thinking about bus fare, lunch and other necessities , wondering how he will make it through on a daily basis. But he is confident that the grace which has helped him to grasp a hold of his dreams will be with him to the finish line.
Anderson currently serves as the first vice-president of the Clarendon Police Youth Club Council; public relations officer and founder of the Build D Youth Foundation; and deputy chief executive officer of the Jamaican Millennium Vision For Youths.
"My mother was the one who persuaded me to become a member of these organisations and as I got more involved, they became something I -really enjoyed doing. They have since become a channel to express the love I have for myself and others," he said.
The Lennon High School past student said his one regret is that his mother, who was a domestic helper and cherished the dream of her son attending a tertiary education, is not around to see that he is now on that path. Anderson said his ultimate goal is to achieve the highest level of education, as he aims to improve the standard of living for himself and his siblings.