Sun | Jun 16, 2019

Nattecia Bohardsingh: Realising, excelling, becoming – Part II

Published:Friday | April 26, 2019 | 12:15 AMVanessa James/Gleaner Writer
Nattecia Bohardsingh
Nattecia Bohardsingh

Nattecia Bohardsingh’s experiences as St James Festival Queen brought her into circles where she was often asked which university or college she attends because of her poise and intelligence. Since the truth was that Bohardsingh was not enrolled in a tertiary institution, she started thinking that maybe that should be her next step.

She acquired the prerequisites for university and realised other talents during her stint at Montego Bay Community College.

“While at MoBay Community College, I realised that I could incorporate culture and intelligence and my different talents, and because of this, I was a member and leader of many clubs there,” she said.

For someone who was not interested in school, Bohardsingh excelled in her studies, leaving with distinctions in law and history, along with other subjects, after completing her Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations.

“I’ve never tried history before going to community college, so I didn’t know that I had a knack for it,” she stated. “It occurred to me that I could be in school and still be me.”

She served in positions in the Tourism Action Club, the Pre-University Department, and the student council. Upon leaving the institution, she was awarded the Outstanding Graduate Service Award, the Wayne Brown Award for Excellence in the Performing Arts, and the Award for Excellence in Tourism Awareness.

Governor General’s Award

Bohardsingh matriculated to The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in history. In the same year, she was nominated for the Governor General’s Award for Excellence for St James.

“I was shocked when I saw what they used to nominate me. I didn’t do them to get noticed; I did them because they were the right, human thing to do,” Bohardsingh stated.

“It was during this time (the nomination period) that I understood the value of community, self-sustenance, and the value of the people who inspire me and how you treat them,” she stated.

Bohardsingh expressed gratitude to the people in her life who have assisted her. One of whom is Professor Verene Shepherd, who, according to Bohardsingh, changed her life.

“Professor Shepherd shaped how I looked at life in the world of academia. I would often go to her for advice, and she helped me to get my first job out of UWI to interview Dudley Thompson,” said Bohardsingh. “Nothing completes me more than to sit at the feet of greatness and soak in all I can, and that is what I got from that first job.”

She came in contact with other great people and experiences which helped to shift her focus to human rights and what it meant for the residents of a country.

“I started to get very concerned about rights,” she said. “I realised that without having equal rights, persons like me would not be able to take advantage of most of the things that we are guaranteed.”

Bohardsingh decided to study law with the intention to help. After applying for, and successfully getting into law school, she waited a year to begin because her dream was to complete her degree at The UWI’s Cave Hill campus. Many told Bohardsingh that she had been crazy for waiting as she was already accepted at UWI, Mona, and the University of Technology, Jamaica, but she believed in her dreams.

While she waited, Bohardsingh satisfied her mother’s dream of her becoming a teacher. While at Wolmer’s Boys’ School, Bohardsingh hosted the first Mr and Miss Wolmer’s pageant, which was greatly supported. This pageant also served as a platform to help students with self-esteem issues.

“What drives me is impacting that one life positively, so I give everything when I set out to do something,” Bohardsingh expressed.

At the end of her tenure at the high school, she was asked to continue teaching, but she realised that she would not be able to give 100 per cent to teaching while studying, so she declined.

A perfect fit

Bohardsingh felt that law was a perfect fit; this was the woman she wanted to be. However, she felt her dream slipping away when she had to drop out for a year.

“In the space of a year, I almost lost my dream!” Bohardsingh said, “I almost lost my potential, I almost lost the woman I was becoming. At this point, I had everything to lose.”

She further described this year (2014-2015) as a make-or -break year for her as she had feelings of doubt and started questioning whether law was for her. Bohardsingh went back home to Granville, her foundation.

“All the things I didn’t know I wanted, I almost lost, but a saying kept me going: ‘The secret to life, though, is that when you fall seven times, you get back up eight’, and that is what I did,” she said, “That year taught me character building and taught me who really stood with me.”

She expressed gratitude to her mother, who is the most important person in her life, and others who have inspired and encouraged her throughout her journey of becoming the woman she is.

Bohardsingh is the legal support officer at Jamaica AIDS Support for Life and hopes to launch a mentorship programme.

vanessa.james@gleanerjm.com