Mon | Jul 15, 2019

Law school student dream stalls, seeks break to continue

Published:Monday | January 14, 2019 | 12:11 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston/ Gleaner Writer
Monique Clayton

University of the West Indies (UWI) law student Monique Clayton has had to put her studies on pause as she could not come up with the money to pay off the outstanding balance that she owes on her tuition fees. She could not sit her exam and now she is in limbo where the continuation of her studies is concerned.

Despite her challenges and disappointments, however, Clayton is still expecting a miracle and hoping that something will eventually turn for her.

She said she has tried everything to honour her financial obligations. Her family also did their best, but it just wasn't enough. She applied for scholarships, but her GPA was 3.46, a 0.04 point below the average scholarship range.

"I was awarded the UWI law bursary, but as a result of the outstanding balance, the amount was not credited to my account," she shared with The Gleaner.

Even with the knowledge that she would not be able to sit her exam, Clayton said she still attended classes with the hope that it would somehow all work out.

"I studied for my exams, regardless, and, of course, was barred. I was devastated, I was depressed, I cried, but nevertheless, I tried to pick up the pieces and start again. Did it hurt? Yes, it did? Was it easy? Absolutely not! There was a point when I was so disappointed I almost gave up on school, but I knew my family was counting on me to be the first tertiary graduate of the entire family, so I had to press on," Clayton shared on the emotional roller coaster she has been on regarding her studies.

This past summer she went on the J1 programme with the intention to earn enough money to clear off her debts, but unfortunately, it did not pan out.

Clayton, who hails from the gritty inner-city community of Canterbury in St James, said that although she is the only child for her father, he is still challenged by the added responsibility of running a household which comprises her grandmother, an aunt, an autistic cousin and himself, all from a low-income job.

Her mother lives in Westmoreland with her two sisters and a 10-month-old grandson.

"Throughout high school, my father was the one who shouldered most of my responsibilities. At that time, I had no issues attending school and getting school supplies. My father did his best to ensure I had all I needed for school, and he superseded all expectations of a father in the inner city. My mom pitched in when she could, and her mother assisted greatly in the latter half of my education when I moved from grade 11 to university," she shared.




Coming into a saturated field like the legal profession, Clayton said it has always been her dream from as far back as she can remember.

"My family members and family friends will tell you, I have ALWAYS wanted to be a judge! This is the field I have to go in to pursue that dream," she shared.

"I've always wanted to be a force of significant change to the Jamaican justice system, and thus stems my passion for the law, equality and justice. My ultimate goal as it regards law is to be a prosecutor and a judge sitting in the Supreme Court of Jamaica," she shared on her dreams.

Now living on hope and a prayer, Clayton said she still tries to reassure herself that God is going to come through for her, even on days when she feels like she wants to stop pushing, stop believing and just return to her inner-city home and find a 'regular' job and help take care of her family.

It helps that she has been receiving support from her church family and some previous assistance from Jamaica Values and Attitudes Programme, which, she said, played a significant role in offsetting some of her debts.

Monique Clayton can be contacted at