Careers & Education

Whizz-kid Damien Dunn hunts engineering dream

BY DENISE DENNIS Career & Education staff reporter dennisd@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, October 28, 2012    

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DAMIEN Dunn, an aspiring engineer who graduated from Ardenne High School earlier this year, has never shied away from a challenge.

That the teen now has 11 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) subjects, two Cambridge O level subjects, one Cambridge A level subject and one Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) subject under his belt is, therefore, no surprise.

"It wasn't really that difficult because the subjects I attempted were subjects I was good at and that I really enjoyed. My philosophy is 'always play to your strengths'," said Dunn, who only recently turned 17.

He has grade ones in CSEC mathematics, English language, information technology, electrical and electronics technology, principles of accounts, principles of business, chemistry, physics, social studies, and integrated science. Dunn has a grade three in electronic document preparation and management.

He was awarded a grade A and B in Cambridge O level physics and additional mathematics respectively, a grade C in Cambridge A level pure mathematics and a grade one in CAPE pure mathematics.

Mathematics, he said, is dear to him.

"I was always a brilliant mathematics student," he said. "I wanted to do additional mathematics, but unfortunately my high school didn't offer it. My parents and I decided that I should do the [Cambridge] additional mathematics in fourth form since Ardenne didn't offer the new CSEC additional mathematics course in which the first exam would be sit in 2012."

"CSEC mathematics wasn't challenging enough and I found myself bored in my math class, so to further my knowledge, I decided to do CAPE mathematics," Dunn noted.

A true mathematics enthusiast, Dunn said he had decided to do physics because it was so closely related to math.

"It helped me by changing how I had to think and approach problems and the [O level] questions require a certain critical thinking that expanded my problem-solving capabilities," he said.

Dunn, who admitted he had to make sacrifices in order to do well in all the exams, said he did additional mathematics and [O level] physics at the Math Clinic on Shortwood Road.

"As for the other subjects, little credit is normally given to teachers, but I was blessed with some brilliant teachers at Ardenne High School. My teachers all put the time and effort into preparing their classes for the exams," he said.

Dunn is now enrolled at Cushing Academy, a private boarding school in Massachusetts. There he is studying advanced placement calculus, advanced placement physics, American literature, US history, and Spanish. He is also studying advanced placement computer science independently.

"Boarding school has a rigorous programme that my parents and I thought would challenge me. I originally wanted to go to college, but I was advised that I was too young to start college," Dunn said. "And boarding schools offer the advanced placement courses that are recognised by colleges that you can use to earn college credits."

He told Career & Education he would like to become a computer engineer as he believes that career would most utilise his mathematical and problem-solving skills. He hopes to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) or Harvard after leaving Cushing Academy.

While at Ardenne, Dunn was vice-president of the photography club and played cricket. He currently plays junior varsity soccer at Cushing Academy and is on the yearbook team as one of the photographers.

He said his competitive spirit has been and continues to be his motivation to do well.

"I like being on top, so I tell myself that I have to try to be the best," Dunn said.

He has advised his peers to work hard at their areas of strength.

"God gave everyone of us a talent; have faith in Him and work hard. Nothing is going to come easy, you are going to fail [sometimes], but the biggest failure you can have in your life is giving up," Dunn said.

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