Yemalla Edwards now living his dream

BY CECELIA CAMPBELL-LIVINGSTON Career & Education reporter

Sunday, October 13, 2013

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UNIVERSITY of the West Indies (UWI) student Yemalla Edwards is on his way to realising his dream of becoming a medical doctor.

His belief in helping people with the best gift ever -- good health -- has seen him overcoming many obstacles to stay focused on achieving this goal. It has not been an easy road getting to this point in his life, but he is propelled by an unshakeable faith in God.

From his student days at McCooks Pen Primary School in St Catherine, Edwards had to deal with meagre resources, as 40 per cent of the time he would attend school without lunch money. With six brothers and three sisters to share the paltry earnings of his mother, a vendor at Coronation Market, and his father, a minimum wage worker, Edwards pushed himself to achieve even more.

"My family is special to me because they are my all in all. I love to be around them because they are always motivating me, especially my mom and dad," he said.

Edwards said most of his motivation comes from within, as he is a determined individual.

"I set attainable goals and work tirelessly towards achieving them. Going through my struggles I've come to realise that the harder the nut is to crack, the sweeter it is when it's open," he said.

"I think about what I can control, like getting a good GPA, what I'll be in the future, and so on."

The St Catherine High School graduate was awarded a trophy for commendable performance in CXC in 2010 and a trophy for commendable performance in CAPE in 2011. In September 2012 he was accepted as a full-time student at UWI to read for a degree in science and technology. He did exceptionally well and was promoted to read for bachelor of medicine and surgery degree in the Faculty of Medical Sciences.

When he entered UWI, he had to be even more determined to survive as he didn't have a place to stay. He basically bounced around on campus, turning up at his classes never having enough to eat, while all the time maintaining good grades. It was his faith in the Lord that kept him going, even though he kept asking God when his breakthrough would come.

"I slept in various corners and places, some I can't even explain here. I had sleepless nights because of the intense studying as I didn't have any textbooks to aid in my studies. I had to stay in the library after school until in the morning, then get a bath and then head off to school by 8:00 am," he said.

Throughout these trying times, Edwards said he prayed earnestly to God to bring his precarious existence to an end.

"As a full-fledged Christian I know that all things are possible to those that believe and seek the Lord," he said. His prayers are now being answered, as through the assistance of the Peace and Love Academic Scholarship (PALAS) foundation, he has now secured a place to stay, a portion of the funds toward his fees, a computer, and a part-time job.

PALAS was conceptualised by Rula Brown, an Atlanta-based retired engineer and Internet radio show host who hails from Jarrett Lane in East Kingston.

Brown said he was motivated to start the scholarship after the killing of 18-year-old Bridgeport High School student and budding reggae artiste, Vanessa Campbell, whose body was dumped behind a Portmore post office.

Edwards has one more reason to rejoice as he has received a bursary from UWI for $250,000 towards his tuition.

Edwards said his ultimate goal is to become a neurologist as he is fascinated by the whole development and functions of the brain.

"Plus I like complex things; I want to make a mark on the medical fraternity," he said.

For Edwards, all that he has been through hasn't changed him at all, as each experience, he said, inspires him to appreciate what he has.

"Life isn't easy. It's worse when your financial background is weak. It also gives me the urge to help other persons like me when I'm out of school and can do so," he said, while acknowledging two persons who saw him through the worst -- friend Rohan Green and his teacher Mr Blake.

"Whether you are a youth or an elder, success is for everyone. Giving up isn't an option. Believe me when I say that life is what you make it. So just focus and get the work done and please remember to pray. God is listening," he said.

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