Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
—Guyana’s top hinterland CSEC student on the way to becoming a family doctor
By Lisa Hamilton
Guyana’s hinterland top student at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination, Keron Williams, has defied the stereotypes placed on hinterland students and manoeuvred the COVID-19 pandemic, advancing one step closer to his dream of becoming a family doctor.
“It’s very easy to want to give up if you look at all that’s going on around you. It was very easy to just look at it and say ‘I don’t care anymore. I just don’t want to study because there’s a pandemic’,” he told the newspaper during an interview in which detailed his choice to do the opposite to achieve success.
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Education announced the CSEC results highlighting Williams as the top hinterland student from Port Kaituma Secondary who secured 9 Grade Ones and 3 Grade Twos. The Minister acknowledged that there is a disparity between students on the hinterland and those on the coast, gaps the Government is working to fill.
However, even as improvement is on the way, Williams was not prepared to wait. He has determined to make the best of what he had and excelled in the process. “Many people think that hinterland students cannot perform well or that your success at CSEC is determined by which secondary school you attend, but I would just like to tell people out there that that isn’t the case…all that determines what you do is how you allocate your time, how you study and how you perform by yourself,” he said.
The former Port Kaituma Secondary student said that when COVID-19 hit Guyana, it wasn’t easy for him and others from his community. His school closed and, apart from the impact on education, initially there were food shortages as persons scrambled to prepare themselves for the unknown. As the months progressed, his exams approached, and the country adapted, online teaching was introduced. Williams sought out ways to motivate himself to keep studying and leaned on his family, teachers and friends for support.
He told the newspaper: “I started thinking of ways that I could continue learning and studying by myself in order to cover the syllabus because we hadn’t gotten through with the syllabus at the time when school was closed. So, straight away, I created a study timetable for myself and I ensured that I followed that. It took a lot of discipline.”
When there was a new concept he didn’t understand, he’d watch YouTube videos. He would also contact his friends who were studying at different schools in Guyana who would send him links to useful information and share what they were learning from their Zoom classes.
In-person study groups were no longer advised so his teachers sent him and other students work via WhatsApp and students faced the challenge of studying on their own. Though it was very difficult, Williams said that he remains forever grateful for the resilient support of his teachers. He lived by the words of caution that ‘procrastination is the thief of time’ and stuck to his timetable. However, when the results were initially released by the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) Williams received a chilling shock. Mathematics and English, for him, were marked as ungraded.
This concerned him but, following the review of CXC, he was pleased with the changes that reflected his current grades. “At that moment, I can remember the sigh of relief and the exhilaration that I felt and I was so happy and excited for that. Recently, I became aware I am the top student for the hinterland region and I am very much overwhelmed to know this and it’s very encouraging to me so that I can keep pushing to achieve even greater things,” he said.
One of those great things that Williams hopes to achieve is to become a family doctor. After he received his results from CXC, he applied to the University of Guyana (UG) and was accepted to pursue an Associate of Science Degree (Biology). His plan is to later attend med school so that he can fulfil his dreams. Asked what motivated him to want to become a family doctor, the young man spoke about his grandmother.
“My influence to become a family doctor started at a really, really young age. I can remember this one time, my grandmother and I were in a farm and she was picking the vegetables from the garden and she told me that her knees were hurting. So, I looked at her and I told her ‘grandma, don’t you worry, when I grow up and I become a doctor your knees would not have those pains anymore because I would have them taken care of’. She just looked at me and she laughed. I had no idea why she was laughing but then I grew up and figured out she wouldn’t be the same age when I do grow up and become a doctor. However, I want to be able to help people anywhere in any situation regarding their health in order for them to live a long and prosperous life,” he said.
When he comes across health-related information, Williams can’t help but give in to the urge to want to know more. He wants to be a doctor not for the title but for his passion for the profession and his love for caring for people. He wants to be able to address health conditions that affect families, in and out of the hospital, ranging from prenatal all the way to senescence.
“I have that passion for it. If you don’t have that passion, there’s no way you’re going to be a very good professional,” he said. Williams advises students now preparing for the CSC exams to practice discipline; to set study timetables and adhere to them, and to seek out ways to motivate themselves even in the midst of a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic. He said: “[Practice] perseverance. You need to be consistent and not give up regardless of what’s happening around you.”