DELLIE-ANN Green is one of five Jamaicans who will, at the start of the next academic year, begin medical studies at the Latin American School of Medicine in Havana.
This is after she was awarded a scholarship from the Cuban Government just over a month ago.
Growing up with her parents and four siblings in New Haven, Kingston, Green longed to one day become a model, actress and doctor. However, as she got older, she relinquished her acting and modelling aspirations, clinging instead to what she describes as her true passion — a career in medicine.
"I love attending to the needs of people — the young and the old. And having seen on numerous occasions the joy that doctors bring to individuals' faces after they have aided their loved ones, I yearned to bring someone that same kind of feeling, and for myself to have that pleasure inside, knowing that I have, like Ben Carson, gifted hands," she told Career & Education.
For a while, however, her dream seemed out of her reach. After graduating from Campion College in 2011 with eight Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate passes — seven grade ones and a grade two — and passes in eight Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination units, Green began to apply for colleges and scholarships.
She was accepted to the University of the West Indies, but had to decline the offer due to her inability to afford the tuition. Kalamazoo College in Michigan, Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts all responded, offering her major scholarships. Still, none of them covered her most basic needs. And with her father, a mason, the sole breadwinner for a family of seven, she was forced to turn them down as well.
Instead, she got a job at the Electoral Office of Jamaica.
"That was a tough decision to make, but I am happy that I made it because I got the opportunity to serve my country," Green said.
During that time she applied for the scholarship to study medicine in Cuba.
"This was my first time applying. I knew the selection would be highly competitive, but I believed that I would have been an ideal candidate for this scholarship, given my display of service to people in various communities, coupled with my academic achievements," Green said.
She was right. Her portfolio revealed that Green has been involved in more than 10 different voluntary activities in Duhaney Park, the community she now resides in, and elsewhere. She was also a part of a mentoring programme for children in the Chambers Lane community and a part of the Big Brother Big Sister Programme and six other voluntary activities while at high school.
This was in addition to 16 extra-curricular groups in which she was actively involved, among them the debating society, the drama club, the Young Entrepreneurial Society, swimming, tennis, and the Campion College United Nations Youth Group, which she co-founded.
It came as no great surprise, therefore, when she learnt she had been selected for the scholarship, which covers her studies for seven years in addition to dormitory housing, three meals a day, textbooks, uniform, toiletries, bedding, and even a monthly stipend of 100 pesos.
"I was proud and overjoyed. When they called my name, indicating that I was a part of the five chosen to go to Cuba, I felt that everything that I had worked for, all the time, energy and effort I had put in had finally been acknowledged, and I was reaping what I had sown," Green said.
She described the scholarship as a 'message of hope', as it gives her the opportunity to practice medicine and to serve her country.
"I can now help my parents [so that they] can, one day, stop working so hard. So many things I can now do, all because of this scholarship and because of Cuba, its people and its government. It means everything to me," Green told Career & Education.
She is not yet certain what branch of medicine she will settle into, but is leaning towards medical research.
"When I was much younger, I wished to work with babies in either paediatrics or obstetrics, but as I matured and became more involved in the sciences, I saw all the benefits as well as importance that research provides. Jamaica, I believe, has so many interesting species that are worth investigating so I know definitely that I would like to be a part of a research team in Jamaica to see how I can contribute to the medical society," she said, adding that she would also like to study genetic disorders, oncology and cardiology.
In the coming days, she will ready herself to leave the island on August 18.
"I am very excited. It will be interesting to learn about the Cuban culture, to be taught their history, music, dance, language, right on their soil. Studying medicine in Cuba is definitely something I cannot wait to experience," Green said.
She encourages other young ladies to stay focused, as the journey to success can be a long and tedious one.
"Create in your mind objectives that you wish to achieve and work your hardest at achieving them. Keep the faith and don't lose sight of your mission. This nation was built by some real lion-heart gyals and our Government and nation are now being led by one. Study her life; in it you shall find precious gems to enrich your own," said Green, who credits her parents for her success.
Meanwhile, she was eager to express gratitude to Jamaica Money Market Brokers, who awarded her a grant through the Joan Duncan Foundation, to meet any additional needs she may have in preparation for her studies in Cuba.
"Their grant represents a fraction of what I required to meet critical and basic needs, but they did not hesitate to extend themselves and to make an investment in me," she said.