Kadean Lee beating the odds to inspire others
Kadean Lee, a past student of Foga Road High School and who hails from Treadlight in Clarendon, has completely turned his life around. He recently received the Governor General's Award of Excellence for the county of Middlesex in the 18-24 age group for impressive history of academic excellence and community service, complemented by effective leadership skills and an inclination for innovation'.
Reminiscing on the path his life has taken, Lee, whose father migrated when he was very young, said he grew up with his mother, stepfather and eight siblings. Life, he said, was a struggle, as he recalled his mother toiling in the hot sun just to put food on the table.
Lee said while attending Treadlight Primary he got involved in drama, dance, football, and was a student counsellor, with the weekends seeing him helping his stepfather on his construction job.
"At the grade-six level, I was unable to read well due to the lack of interest and never attending reading lessons," he confessed. With all that, he was placed at Foga Road High School after sitting his Grade Six Achievement Test - a school he said he didn't even knew existed. Fortunately, he said for him, he was in the "guinea pig batch" - the first set of students to attend Foga Road High.
"It wasn't a good start. My first day in high school was so depressing because of a reading assessment to place each student in the classes from highest to the lowest (F to H). I was placed in H. My mother was a street vendor and I started helping her after school and on the weekends," he revealed. Lee said that opened his eyes to the harsh reality of what it took for his mother to send him to school, a fact which he said proved to be his motivation in excelling in school.
Lee said from that day he determined that education would be his way out and he made the decision to work towards a specific goal to elevate himself with the help of his teachers.
"There were times when I was frustrated but I persevered. By the time I got to the 11th grade, I was in group F and the first head boy of Foga Road High, but I had no plans for the future, that was as far as I had thought," he confessed.
REPEATED GRADE 11
Lee welcomed the opportunity to repeat grade 11, using the second chance to get more subjects. Acting upon the encouragement he received, he applied to the Caribbean Maritime Institute (now Caribbean Maritime University) and was accepted.
He soon found out the tertiary education was a whole new ball game and he had to make a lot of adjustments
"I still remember my first test at the then Caribbean Maritime Institute. It was mechanical engineering science and I studied. I got three per cent. I was discouraged, ready to throw in the towel and give up," he noted. However, he soon bounced back and with hard work, determination and good friends, things started looking up. He eventually graduated with a bachelor of engineering in industrial systems and made the Deans' Honour Roll along the way.
During his time at university, Lee participated in the tutoring society, as well as being the programming coordinator for the Society of Industrial Engineers, among other activities.
Now employed to the JPSCo as a gas turbine operator trainee with hope of becoming a full-time one by September, he is hoping it will be the starting point of a new journey to accomplish his dream of being a role model for his peers and the next generation.
Looking ahead, Lee said his ultimate life goal is helping others along the way, making a difference in his community by being an inspiration and remaining humble.