PURSUING a Bachelor's degree in medicine or surgery has always been one of Andrew Ellis' dreams. What he never imagined, however, was that he would be awarded a full scholarship
Ellis, 19, matriculated into the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona with the highest average for the 2013-2014 academic year, having aced 22 Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) examinations — 11 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and 11 Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE).
Even with all that success, he never saw the honour coming and was surprised when campus registrar Dr Camille Bell-Hutchinson made the announcement at the annual matriculation ceremony for freshmen Thursday evening, where he symbolically signed the Matriculation Register on behalf of all first year students.
"It's really humbling and it's just a good feeling to know that I did so well and all the hardwork and the long nights have paid off," the overachiever told Career & Education immediately after the ceremony.
But it was no walk in the park. Ellis hails from the community of Canaan Heights, May Pen, which has been plagued by crime, teenage pregnancy, a lack of skills and low levels of employment for years.
It took discipline, time management and the support of his family, particularly his older siblings Roberto and Joy-Ann, who had already sat CXCs and helped to guide him in his pursuits.
"My challenges included time management. I was doing extra subjects, so I had to put in extra work. There were times when I thought that I wasn't managing the subjects and I had to rely on my friends and teachers to help me," Ellis said.
It wasn't just bookwork for Ellis, as the youngster participated in a range of extra curricular activities as well.
"When pursuing my academics [at the secondary level], I participated in activities such as chess, Inter-School Christian Fellowship (ISCF) and quiz. I also enjoyed playing sport such as football and volleyball," he added.
He placed second in the National Junior Chess Championship for 2010 and 2012.
The former Glenmuir High student fell in love with medicine as a child and apsires to become an orthopaedian surgeon.
"From an early stage I realised that I loved the whole medical aspect of life and that passion has grown with me," Ellis said.
What is his daily motivation you may ask?
"My relationship with God," he answers.