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A brilliant girl's dream shattered

Shenordo Blagrove wants to study pathology, but…

BY VERNON DAVIDSON Executive editor - publications davidsonv@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, August 03, 2014    

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Shenordo Blagrove has always wanted to study medicine.

"Ever since I was little, that's why I made a straight path to that," she admitted to the Jamaica Observer.

That path saw her pursuing the sciences and achieving grade 1 scores in eight of the nine subjects she sat in Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) exams.

At the higher Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) Blagrove's Unit 1 scores were biology, grade 1; chemistry, grade 2; and physics, grade 3.

At Unit 2 she achieved grade 1 in biology and physics, and grade 2 in chemistry. She also holds a grade 1 in communication studies and grade 2 in Caribbean studies.

The scores earned her an Advanced Proficiency Diploma and an associate's degree in natural sciences from the Caribbean Examinations Council in August 2013.

To her great delight, Blagrove was accepted at the University of the West Indies (UWI) last September to begin studying medicine.

However, she had a major problem. She was unable to come up with the tuition.

Luckily, though, Blagrove was among a few students whom the education ministry was able to assist with a major chunk of the funds to pursue their tertiary studies.

"I got $2 million from the Ministry of Education, but the school fee was $2.84 million [and] I was unable to come up with the additional amount by the second semester," she told the Sunday Observer.

According to Blagrove, she applied for a semester break, but was not successful as she made the request too late. And even though the university appeared willing to bend over backwards to accommodate her, she just could not come up with the balance of the tuition, mostly because her mother is not working and her stepfather, who most likely would have been able to assist, passed away a few years ago.

In an apparent effort to earn the money to resume her studies, Blagrove got a job at a cafe. That, however, didn't last long, as she fell ill and had to be hospitalised in April this year.

The thought that she was no longer attending university left her in tears, she said.

But, even though she was crushed by the experience, Blagrove, determined to pursue her dream of becoming a pathologist, applied for a scholarship to study in Cuba.

That, however, ended in disappointment.

"Based on the questions they were asking, such as who would support me, who would send me money and stuff like that... I told them my mother, but they said she was unemployed so how could she possibly do that. So I guess that was the reason they turned me down," she said.

Now, the 20-year-old is hoping she can land a job in order that she can pay her way through university.

However, she is encountering another problem: "I can't get anything based on the subjects that I have," she explained with a forced smile. "Most of the available jobs you have to have a degree. Maybe if I had business subjects I would have got something, but the fact that I have sciences, anything relating to those subjects I have to have a degree."

She admitted that she might consider switching careers if she absolutely can't resume medical studies. "I'll probably do pharmacology, or something like that. It's way less expensive," she said. But it is obvious that she has a passion for pathology.

Why?

"Curiosity drives that," she explained. "The fact that there are so many diseases out there, I just want to know the mechanisms behind them, how they work, how the patient dies, all of that. I want to learn how they develop and how they spread."

Her love for medicine, she said, has its foundation in her childhood fascination with science.

"Science facilitates curiosity, it just fuels it," the Convent of Mercy Alpha past student explained, her eyes lighting up with excitement. "It's the cause and effect of every natural thing that there is. I'm just a curious person really. I was always fascinated by sciences. When I was in grade 6 I was so fascinated with sciences that I studied astronomy. My principal was a doctor, and because my friends and I were so curious about science she started teaching us about the stars and how they aged; the planets, the constellations and so on. I guess that's when I fell in love with it."

Although Blagrove is disappointed at not now studying medicine, she keeps her mind active working in her community -- Franklyn Town in Kingston.

"Right now my sister and I are working on a community club which involves getting youths involved in sports, mainly netball, cheerleading and basketball," she said.

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