Sun | Dec 3, 2023

Stellar Grads | Resilient McFarlane to graduate with first-class honours

Published:Monday | October 28, 2019 | 12:00 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer

Twenty-one-year-old Nastacia McFarlane is a product of the phrase ‘one and ready, two and drive’.

Her mother has been in the taxi business for as long as she can remember – first as a taxi operator for a company and now as an entrepreneur, a change she made when she realised that she was not able to attend all the events her young theatre child was taking part in.

What was clear to McFarlane from an early age was that her mother was willing to make every sacrifice for her as an only child.

“She always tried to make ends meet by doing what she does best, which is driving. She has been driving from an early age, and this is her bread and butter. Mommy has always tried to make things work out. She would throw a little partner here, get a little loan from somebody here, and whatever else, she would make up from her business with El-Shaddai taxi service,” McFarlane said.

She explained that as she entered The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, the mother-daughter duo made a plan – she was to do her best in school, and her mother would work on the finances.

The first semester was paid for, and she entered an instalment plan with hopes of being consistent with the payments, but things got slow in the taxi business.

McFarlane ended up being deregistered in her second year, and her mother decided that she would seek employment overseas to clear her tuition balance.

To maintain her mother’s clientele while she was away, McFarlane would do the pick-up and drop-off of a student she was contracted to carry, and that would help to cover her day-to-day expenses.

She did not stop attending classes and described her deregistration as a blessing in disguise as it propelled her major achievements at The UWI. That semester, she was awarded straight As and made the Dean’s Honour Roll.

At the beginning of third year, McFarlane was hesitant about applying for scholarships because she did so in her first year but was unsuccessful.

She characterised her mother as a disciplinarian and a stickler for education who she insisted that she applied for some scholarships. She was eventually called in for an interview. When it ended, she said that there was nothing that she would have changed about how it went and that if she did not get the scholarship, it meant that it was not meant for her.

“They emailed me a week after and told me that I didn’t get that scholarship because I was awarded another scholarship. The lady said, ‘You have been awarded the CB UWI 5K Scholarship’. I didn’t know anything about that scholarship, I didn’t apply for it. I didn’t know how much money I was gonna get, and so I started researching and found out that they donated a million dollars to the university every year,” she recounted.

She was awarded $300,000 - the exact amount she needed to finance her final year.

“When I told my mother, she literally collapsed in my arms. She was so shocked that she cried. I called my grandmother, and we all cried together. It was a blessing to receive the scholarship.

“Sometimes my schoolwork was neglected or I felt that I wasn’t gonna pass a course. First-class [honours] was on the back burner for me at one point because I was not managing,” said a reflective McFarlane.

The love for arts never left McFarlane, and so for the three years she spent at The UWI, she was a member of the university’s dance society. It was never easy balancing dance with schoolwork because each member of the dance group had a different schedule and choreography was not always easy to learn.

The Holy Childhood High School past student has indeed fought battles, but as the school’s motto says, ‘After the battle, the reward.’

She now serves as an internal public relations officer in the Ministry of National Security.

McFarlane will graduate on November 1 with a first-class honours degree in integrated marketing communication and entertainment and cultural enterprise management minor.