4-H Clubs Girl of the Year eyes biochemistry

Antonique Headman wants to combine her love for science and agriculture

BY JAVENE SKYERS
Observer staff reporter
skyersj@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, August 15, 2017



Antonique Headman will tell you that she was attending 4-H Clubs meetings before she was born. It's actually not totally incredible. The fact is that her mother was very active in the 4H movement while she was pregnant.

In April this year, that firm commitment to the 4-H movement paid off for Headman as she was named Jamaica 4-H Clubs' National Girl of the Year.

The budding biochemist, who was also president of the Morant Bay High School 4-H Clubs, entered the competition in the agriculture category with a number products made from coconut oil.

“As president of the 4-H Club of Morant Bay High School it was my job to be involved in events and encourage persons to participate in different events,” she said. “With this in mind, I decided to participate in the girl of the year competition.”

However, Headman said she started to second-guess her decision as the various criteria as well as the fast-approaching Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Exams were seen as too challenging. Ultimately, she decided to move forward with the competition, as she wanted to “leave [school] with a bang”.

“My products were based on coconut oil because as a natural hair person, I know coconut oil is good for the hair. So what I had was a coconut cream which can be used in hair which gives moisture and shine, and also a moisturising coconut oil soap —this gives moisture to the skin,” Headman explained.

She said the recipe for the soap came from her chemistry teacher, who also helped her to make the two products at the school's chemistry lab. Noting that on the first try the products did not come out as expected, Headman said the second attempt yielded better results in terms of consistency for the hair cream moisturiser. Eventually, a third try did the trick for the soap.

When it came time for the parish level of the competition, Headman admitted that she didn't think she was prepared enough. However, she made sure that she put in the extra work for the national competition, although she was worried about one particular competitor.

She explained that she went as far as to familiarise herself about then newly elected US President Donald Trump for the current affairs aspect of the competition, all the while providing encouragement to fellow 4-H member and schoolmate Tavoy Barrett, who contested and won the Boy of the Year award for his castor line of cosmetic products.

“Well, I went with the idea we were going to win; we had that as a goal that we were not coming back without the trophy.So I was nervous, but I knew I had to get over it,” Headman stated.

At the national competition, the 4-H Boy of the year was announced first, which was awarded to Barrett for his castor oil line of cosmetic products.

“My heart was beating when they were calling the results,” Headman shared. “When they said third place and then second place I was standing and shaking, and then they said first place, the girl of the year is... and they took so long, then they said Antonique Headman from St Thomas and I started screaming. I was so happy.”

Headman, who studied physics, mathematics and biology, has been admitted to The University of the West Indies, Mona, to pursue a degree in biochemistry.

Headman, whose father is a coffee farmer, explained that she plans to combine her love for science and agriculture as a biochemist in order to better propel the agricultural sector.

“Persons tend to move away from agriculture because they are afraid of getting their hands dirty,” she said. “But it's not only dealing with the farm; you can do more things in agriculture; you don't have to go on the farm, you can be a supervisor. So I think that with my 4-H background and my involvement in agriculture I can motivate young people towards agriculture.”

She noted that following the completion of her degree, she hopes to get a job in the agricultural sector or with a local food conglomerate.

“Many persons are not going into agriculture so there is a job demand. So if you do something in agriculture there is a great chance for you to get a job when you are finished with college,” Headman stated.

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