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Ambitious Chantel Reid defying the odds

Published:Thursday | March 17, 2016 | 5:13 PMOkoye Henry
Chantel Reid

Chantel Reid, a twenty-four-year-old third-year trainee nurse at the University Of Technology (UTech) School of Nursing in Montego Bay,

St James, is on a mission of self-fulfilment.

The ambitious young woman, who is from the volatile Norwood community in Montego Bay, wants to prove that one's poor background does not determine one's future, despite the challenges one is likely to face.

For Reid, the journey between graduating from Irwin High School to where she is now in pursuit of a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing, has been quite challenging, primarily due to the lack of immediate funding to pay the institution $416,955 for her four-year studies.

"My grandmother was the person who inspired me because she was a midwife herself," said Reid. "So I decided that becoming a nurse is what I am going to do, no matter what."

Despite the challenges, Reid, who graduated high school with nine CSEC subjects, has been quite resolute in chasing her life's ambition, working at two jobs one in the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector and the other in the Citizen Security and Justice Programme to earn the funds to pay her tuition fees.

She also found the time required to take on evening classes at the HEART Trust/NTA's Career Advancement Programme at the St James High School. According to her, after classes end in the nights, she would remain in downtown Montego Bay until it was time for work on the night shift. She would sometimes fall asleep while awaiting the time to past.

"One night, I was attacked while coming from classes. My phone and money were taken away, and my life threatened. I was told to run off. That night, I didn't go to work," recalled Reid.

After working for two years, Reid applied for nursing school and was accepted. Pooling the funds she saved, with monetary assistance from her mother and an aunt, she was able to fully pay for her first semester at UTech. However, she struggled to pay off the second semester fees and even had to take a leave of absence from her studies in her second year, as she failed to secure a loan from the Students' Loan Bureau (SLB).

She resumed her studies in 2014, securing funding from the SLB and a part-time job she had secured. Juggling work and studies were quite difficult and, as a consequence, she sometimes missed classes due to work commitments.

She also benefited from the generosity of others, including a "complete stranger, who demanded nothing in return, after assisting her financially; and a lecturer at her school, who also gave her money at times.

"In the third year, we go to the hospital for work experience, and if I am tired I still ensure that everything is done for my patients. For days, sometimes I don't sleep, I'm tired, overworked, worried and stressed out," said Reid, who is determined to complete her studies.

Reid, who is the eldest of her mother's seven children, is driven by her determination to succeed and become an example to other young persons in her community.

"I am from a community that tends to think it depicts what happens to people," said Reid. "So, you may find people who say nobody out a Norwood won't excel, but I am like, 'Yeah?' we will see."