Shanique Samuels, Gleaner Writer
Fourteen-year-old Shanele Emanuel was given a chance to make her dream of becoming a pharmacist a reality when she was accepted to the James and Friends Education Programme.
Earlier this week, this quiet, grade-nine student of the Vere Technical High School in Clarendon was pleasantly surprised when her name was called in Monday morning's general devotional exercise.
She was presented with a full scholarship from the foundation to offset her finances for the rest of her tenure in high school, beginning January 2014.
She is described as an exceptional student who constantly oozes brilliance.
Teacher, Marshay Stewart, saw her need and recommended her to Otis James, the founder and coordinator of the James and Friends Education Programme.
"She is a humble and dedicated student who you can always depend on to deliver when it comes to her work. She is not a mediocre person and doesn't settle for just the average. She always works for 100 per cent in whatever she does," said Stewart.
Shanele's father died from a heart condition more than five years ago and since then, her mother, Iona Hewitt, has been working tirelessly to make ends meet to school her children.
deserving of scholarship
Shanele is the last of four children and is one grade behind older brother, Roneil, who also attends Vere Technical High School.
"Shanele is well deserving of this scholarship and I know she will make good use of this opportunity. I know she will do well. She is doing well and will continue to do well," said a confident Stewart.
One of the school's vice-principals, Annette Walker, also had high praises for this high-achieving student. She said Shanele had been quite consistent in her school work and since grade seven, she had always been a recipient of awards at the school's annual prize-giving ceremonies for her excellent achievements.
"This scholarship I'm sure will really help her, and it will also help to motivate other students to work harder."
Mother, Iona, said she had been doing her best since her children's father died despite not having a steady job. She said after more than 11 years of service to the Moneymusk Sugar Factory, she has now been laid off.
"I feel very good because this is a very big help for me because I can hardly find it (money) at times to school them," she said.
She vowed to continue to do her best to school her children despite not having a job. "There is no work now, so I have to try and create work for myself, if it is even to do small domestic duties so that they can come to school. Every little help."
This proud mother said she is determined to continue to do all she can for her children.
An excited Shanele told Rural Xpress that she was very grateful for this kind gesture.
"I feel really good. It is a pleasure to be a part of a foundation such as this that helps young people like me to achieve our goals and make something of our lives. I will definitely continue to work hard because I want to further my education and make something worthwhile of my life."
Sprung into action
An article published in Rural Xpress recently stated that the James and Friends Education Programme had more than 170 students. Despite this, Otis James decided to adopt Shanele and school her through the programme. James, who went to support some of his students at the school's prize-giving ceremony, noticed that Shanele was being awarded. He enquired and was told she had an average of 82 per cent to top the entire grade eight stream in the school.
As a result, he sprung into action and readily accepted her into the programme when she was recommended to him by Stewart.
James said, "A jus God send me a Vere that day. When the teacher approach me and me hear her story, me couldn't do better. Me affi jus take her in. A same way mi did have it hard like her, but there was nobody to sponsor me in my time. So mi a do my best and help all who me can help. She is a brilliant student an me know she naa let me down."
As for those parents who may be facing a similar or worse situation, Hewitt had some words of advice, "I will certainly advise them not to give up because the child's future depends on the parents, and if you want the best for your child, you have to put out your all because if they don't have an education, they don't have anything."
She also had a word of thanks to offer. "I want to say a very big thank you to the James and Friends Education Programme for seeing the potential in my daughter and deciding to help. I am really and truly grateful."