Alessandro Boyd, Gleaner Writer
In a world that relies on vision to strive in virtually every aspect of life, 15-year-old Kareem Vassell, a student who is visually impaired, has managed to excel and perform beyond expectations as he recently received multiple awards for academic excellence at Jamaica College's Achievement Day ceremony.
"I was blind from birth due to the fact that I was premature. The doctors did all kinds of things to save my life and they even had to put me on oxygen. When they put me in the incubator, the light was too bright which caused my blindness because they didn't cover my eyes," Kareem told The Gleaner.
Despite his lack of sight, Kareem has been able to perform outstandingly well in his academic work and placed first in his class. He also received the award for top performer in mathematics at the second-form level for the institution.
"I feel good about coming first in the class but I really don't want to get ahead of myself. I work very hard and whatever I get I deserve. I am also currently looking forward to the CXCs (Caribbean Examinations Council) and I hope to continue like this. It would be great for me if I could keep this up," he said.
Kareem is also desirous of pursuing a career as a lecturer and translator.
"In the future, I want to be a translator and impart my knowledge by lecturing students in different countries. I could also help students who are in the same position as I am," he added.
Ricardo Blake, Kareem's grade- seven math teacher, also acknowledged how amazed he was by the student's performance abilities.
"Kareem is exceptionally gifted to be quite frank. He has surprised me on a number of occasions and has done things that are just beyond explanation. When I just met Kareem, I was a bit worried because of his situation as he was the only blind student in the class," Blake told The Gleaner.
"What I discovered, however, is that his listening skills and reasoning ability are beyond comparison. The way he deciphers things just by listening is quite amazing. His computation ability is all in his head; when other students spend about five minutes working out a problem, Kareem does it in his head within a matter of seconds," he added.