Jermaine Francis, Staff Reporter
A PINT-SIZED, demure child who has experienced his fair share of hardships, Shaquille Thomas is on his way from Murray Mount Primary School in rural St Ann to the North Street-based Kingston College.
Shaquille said he is not very talkative and describes himself as a thinker with a passion for the sciences.
His dream is to become a paediatrician, and he is not daunted by the fact that his parents may not be able to fund that dream, as he is confident that somehow there will be a way.
a better life
One of the few sentences Shaquille uttered during an interview at The Gleaner's North Street offices in Kingston was: "I want to be successful."
He said his ambition to achieve a better life and make his family proud is the reason he scored an 85 per cent average in this year's Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT). He said he studied extremely hard to get good grades.
Shaquille noted that his favourite subject is mathematics, in which he scored 94 per cent, because he likes working with numbers.
Growing up in a one-bedroom abode with his two parents (both farmers) and four siblings in rural St Ann, Shaquille is confident that an education at Kingston College will get him closer to his dreams.
"I always watch them (Kingston College) on Schools' Challenge Quiz and read about them and wanted to go there," he said with a broad smile on his face.
His aunt, Kasherah Braham, though unemployed, has volunteered to be his guardian while he pursues his studies at his dream school.
She said the extended family has offered to help her with Shaquille's back-to-school expenses, but they, too, are struggling to make ends meet.
"Growing up, going to primary school, things were difficult for him," Braham said. "Sometimes they had to take turns going to school because he had siblings in high school and others in primary school, and the mother could just not afford it."
Braham said life was always difficult for Shaquille and his siblings, but she is willing to play her part in providing a better environment for him to succeed.
She said she nominated her nephew for selection as one of five LIME-Gleaner Inner-city Over-achievers, recognising that her only other option was to go to the school and beg for some time to pay the school fees.
scholarship will do a lot
Braham added that apart from the school's entry package, which costs $6,500, she has not made any inroads in purchasing much-needed back-to-school supplies such as uniform and books for Shaquille.
"This scholarship would do a lot in terms of helping him to finance his schooling, so I'm really looking forward to it," Braham noted.
As for Shaquille, his one desire going into the academic year on his back-to-school list is not the typical wish that many 12-year-olds would have.
"If I had a wish now, I would wish for a house to make my family comfortable," Shaquille said boldly after little consideration.