Just as Yunique Francis was preparing to begin her journey at the University of the West Indies (UWI) in September of 2010, tragedy struck.
Francis' father died after battling cancer for two years. Despite all of this, she managed to maintain a 3.59 grade point average, becoming the first recipient of the Patti-Ann Allyssa Lothian Foundation for Youth (PALFY) scholarship in October last year.
The PALFY, founded in March 2011, is a charitable organisation made up of driven young men and women whose aim is to empower the youth of Jamaica through the implementation and/or support of educational and welfare programmes for youth.
Francis, who is currently a third-year media and communication student, told The Gleaner that it was a heart-rending experience for her and the family.
"I was really excited about coming to UWI, making all the plans and everything and one evening after leaving orientation, I went home and saw my mother crying and she told me the news," Francis recalled.
"I was closer to him than my mother, even though we do not live together. I found that I would just go to classes and go straight home. No clubs, no friends, nothing," she said.
More was to come for the 22-year-old student.
"After going through all of that, the following December, my mother suffered two strokes, so her right side became paralysed, hence she could not work," she lamented.
"There were times I had to leave classes and go to KPH (Kingston Public Hospital) and then come back for classes in the evening. I had to find jobs in-between classes because we just couldn't keep up financially," she said.
She added: "I couldn't stop crying and even now I still cry but I always had my father in mind and knew that he would want me to succeed."
The hard work paid off and Francis was awarded with the PALFY scholarship, valued at J$50,000, and was also designated top student in her specialisation.
"This took alot off me big time and it helped tremendously. My mother is still sick, so it came right on time," she said.
"I can't give up. My father would want me to do well and that's what I plan to do," said the determined final-year student.