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22-year-old Sarah Bowman recently graduated from the University of Guyana, as she copped a Bachelor’s Degree in Law – Pass With Distinction.
She grew up in Number 22 Village on the West Coast of Berbice.
As it relates to her education, she attended Hopetown Primary, The Bishops’ High School (from 2012-2019) and the University of Guyana (from 2019-2022) where she recently completed her Law Degree.
She is currently a student at the Hugh Wooding Law school in Trinidad where she is pursuing her Legal Education Certificate (LEC) as she aspires to be an attorney-at-Law. Sarah was employed at Hughes, Fields and Stoby (HFS Corporate Services Inc.) as a legal clerk and then as a Paralegal from 2019- 2022.
“After completing CSEC at The Bishops’ High, I was unsure of what I wanted to do and started contemplating my next step. During that time, I was on work study attachment at H.F.S. While there I observed the lawyers; how they analysed the law and what they had to do to ensure that their client’s needs were met, and interests protected. As I looked on, I became intrigued and wanted to know more about the law and that led in this direction,” added Sarah.
She described juggling school and work as undoubtedly the most difficult thing she has ever done in her life.
“I started my job in July of 2019 and started law at UG in September of the same year. I had no idea what I had signed up for. The first semester of UG was like learning to walk and falling every time you got up. Law was a full-time course, so that meant some classes were during the day including early mornings. Luckily, for me, the management and Staff at HFS were kind enough to give me the time off to attend classes during the day. However, the work still had to be done, so some days I’d work late in the evenings to catch up on my work, or go in on some weekends to ensure I’m not too far behind at the start of the new week,” Sarah said.
She further added, “However, this meant less time to study and do assignments. I tried to do at least 1 hour of reading in the nights when I got home from work but some days, I was too exhausted to even look at a book. During my second year, I found a new technique which meant applying for leave for the entire month before exams so that I can study for everything that was covered during the semester. This was tough, but it allowed me to focus on one thing at a time.”
When COVID-19 started, classes were shifted online, Sarah became happy because she no longer had the hassle of travelling up to campus and then back to work. She can simply just connect her headphones and log in to class from work.
“But this didn’t exactly work out as planned. Many times, I was so consumed with work that I forgot to join my classes. However, I had to make up for this during that one month that I’d take before exams. So, all in all, balancing work and school was extremely difficult. It meant not having as much recreational time because when I was not working it was time to play catch up with my UG work and vice versa. Nonetheless, I was happy to have found that balance during my second year after figuring out what worked for me,” she added.
One of Sarah’s biggest challenges was balancing work and school. However, she overcame this by finding a method that worked for her, so that she was able to complete the tasks for both work and university in a timely manner.
Sarah added, “This included scheduling activities and making my diary my best friend so that I never forget what I needed to do. I would literally write down everything that needed to be completed.”
She continued by saying, “At the end of the day, whatever was incomplete, I would go over to the next date and write that down first. So, I would never forget to deal with anything that was left over. This helped me to have clear direction on what needed to be done and provided a clear path for my day.”
Sarah’s second challenge was moving out for her family’s West Coast, Berbice home to relocate to Georgetown because of work and studies, as travelling from Berbice to Georgetown everyday was exhausting and time-consuming.
“In August 2019, I moved out of my parents’ home to live at an apartment on the East Coast of Demerara in order to facilitate working and studying. It wasn’t practical for me to travel every day to work and then have to deal with school after. Because I had never been away from my family before it called for some adjustments. I now had to do everything on my own while going to work and studying. So, I’d have to cook, do my chores, pay my bills and adjust to a completely new environment.
“At 19 this was a lot for me, because my job was 8:30am -4:30pm and on some days the evening class ran until 7pm. When I got home it would be about 8pm providing that I got transportation immediately. Most times this means I am super exhausted and unable to cook. My mom would try sending food for me sometimes because so many things were happening all at once. I started my first job, I started university and I was now living on my own in a strange environment. However, by the end of the first semester, I started to get a hang of things by scheduling all of my activities. I did most of my cooking on the weekends and had specific time slots for cleaning, studying and taking breaks,”
In the future, Sarah plans to explore various areas of law, in the criminal and civil arenas, after completing her LEC.
However, as it currently stands, she feels more connected to the civil side, especially corporate and family related matters. As such, she plans to focus on Corporate and Family Law.