Wed | Apr 1, 2020

Jaheim Mullings: | Maintaining momentum towards excellence

Published:Sunday | February 16, 2020 | 12:30 AM
A few of the awards the young high achiever has received over his academic life at Wolmer’s Boys’ School in Kingston.
Jaheim Mullings

Beyond football, and perhaps some popular performing artistes, such as ‘Dexta Daps’, the kind of news that often emerges from Seaview Gardens, one of the many inner-city communities in the Corporate Area, isn’t usually positive.

However, similar to Nazareth of the Bible, Dian Stone Mullings, a mother of two, was determined to prove that even being in the stranglehold of a depressed community cannot asphyxiate greatness.

“It’s a tough community, so what I do is try to give them as much as I can to keep them focused,” she related about rearing her two children, one currently a webmaster at The Jamaica National Group and the younger a lower sixth-former at Wolmer’s Boys’ School.

The younger of the two, 17-year-old Jaheim, was her reason for telling her story, hoping to secure a scholarship for him to pursue his dream of becoming a medical doctor.

The Wolmer’s Boys’ School sixth-former was among the top performers in his cohort, achieving nine distinctions in the 2019 sitting of the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) exams, including add maths, and received the award from the Association of Principals and Vice Principals for the best overall performance in the sciences at CSEC. And, at his graduation, he was selected valedictorian of the Class of 2019.

From the outset, the young aspiring medical professional was a bright spark, a characteristic which Stone Mullings herself helped to influence.

“When he was very small, I bought him a lot of toys to keep him inside [the house] and, as he grew, I bought him games and that helped to develop his focus and discipline for studying,” she recalled, pointing out that she often encouraged both her children to carefully maintain friendships with like-minded peers who could support their development.

Her approach to rearing her children was not always positively received by some community members; however, it did not deter Stone Mullings.

“Some say you think your children are better off than others, but that’s not really it. It’s just the goals that you want them to achieve and you work towards that,” she said.

Strong parental support

It’s, therefore, no surprise that Jaheim recognises his mother as one of the sources of his motivation.

“She instilled various disciplines and things that I had to follow; and even now, without her push, I’ll do it by myself,” he said, highlighting her influence.

The other source of his energy is his father, Wane Mullings, who also plays a very deliberate role in Jaheim’s school and home life, assisting Stone Mullings to not only organise his time, but with assignments.

“He always tries his best to provide me with all the tools and equipment to achieve my goals and aspirations.”

The young achiever, who is a school prefect and an active member of the Wolmer’s Boys’ Schools’ Challenge Quiz team, is himself an ardent and meticulous planner, who carefully crafts his schedule to ensure he meets his goals. He was also an avid hockey player, but gave up the sport to support the quiz team and volunteer in the school library.

Although he is keen on involvement and some leisure time to play football, he is careful not to stretch himself thin, by being involved in too many activities, which could diminish his academic focus.

His parents play an integral role in preparing and managing his schedule. Stone Mullings habitually attends school at the start of the year to get the timetable for her children and then assists them in setting up their study schedule.

“Each day when he comes home, Jaheim studies a particular subject, and on weekends, if its maths, or the subject that carries the most work, he’ll do those on the weekend and the reading subjects he’ll do during the week,” she said.

Jaheim’s father is very careful to ensure his son is always punctual for school and supplied with whatever tools he needs to complete his assignments.

When exams are near, the schedule changes and marathon study sessions become a part of the rigour.

Jaheim’s passion

Jaheim is passionate about becoming a medical professional, although he’s still assessing his area of focus.

“From a very young age, I’ve always had a passion to help people; and when I entered high school, I recognised that I always excelled at the sciences, I always said I’m going to be a doctor and I’ve just worked at achieving that goal,” he said.

Human and social biology and chemistry are the subjects that fascinate him most.

“Biology, because of the emphasis on the human body and how we interact with the environment; and, in chemistry, I like the formulas and the equations and the challenge of balancing those equations,” he said with glee.

Throughout his school life, Jaheim has always been at the top of his class. At Wolmer’s Prep, he was recipient of the Gold Award for academic excellence. And throughout his time at Wolmer’s Boys’, he maintained his momentum, emerging as the top performer and recipient of the coveted John Wolmer Award.

“He is just exceptional, and I am just saying that in all honesty,” said his mathematics teacher of three years, Roxanne Francis. She has taught Jaheim general mathematics, advanced mathematics and, currently, pure mathematics.

What strikes her most about her pupil is what she describes as his level of maturity, displayed in his ability to balance the complexities of mathematics with his commitment to other activities, such as the quiz team; and also his strength of character.

“I could always depend on him to do his work. He is well-mannered and he is a critical thinker,” she said in describing her protégé.

Supporting his peers

However, Jaheim recognises that his success is not for him alone to enjoy.

“If my peers have any problems, I am the first to help them; and if they have any questions, I am always there to answer. I try to help others because, in turn, you better yourself,” he reasoned.

His older sister, Daveena Swearing, said that she has always drawn inspiration from her baby brother.

“Sometimes he actually motivates me, because of how he is serious about anything he does. It drives me to be just as serious about anything I do,” she said. “I’m proud of him.”

In return, she supports his goal to become a medical doctor, assisting him in identifying scholarships and avenues to unleash his greatness.

“I believe he will achieve his goal one day, but he’ll be among the best,” she said, almost with a sense prophetic foresight.