...rearing pigs, poultry spurs him to university degree
IT is not every day that one hears of a child who grew up in the care of his father while the relationship with his mother was distant.
But for Michael Lewis, not having his mother around propelled him to strive for excellence.
Lewis, who grew up in Denbigh, Clarendon, lived with his grandparents and father for most of his life before leaving home to further his studies at the University of the West Indies, Mona.
He said that in his earlier days, he would help his grandfather rear pigs — something he said that he enjoyed.
"Helping my grandfather as a young child with the pigs made me feel big. I was never once embarrassed. I considered it to be intensive agriculture as I would run from the bigger ones as they were harder to manage, so it was really a task," Lewis said.
However, he maintained that his grandfather, now deceased, taught him to do things for himself and with those teachings he eventually did poultry care and management which allowed him to help his grandmother with her chickens and also to gain the National Boy of the Year award for 4-H Club in 2007.
Among Lewis's many accolades are that he was interviewed on television programme Hill and Gully Ride in 2011; he was the first student ambassador for Denbigh High; he won the Prime Minister Youth Award for Arts and Culture in 2012, took the Hollywood World Championship of Performing Arts award for best fashion designer, and gained a scholarship to the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts.
But according to Lewis, he had to decline the scholarship as it covered only tuition and he could not finance boarding and his daily expenses.
However, that circumstance did not deter Lewis as he had previously gone above and beyond the call of duty to equip himself with the necessary skills to attain one of his dreams of being in the entertainment industry.
"While at Denbigh High, I travelled to Mona High School in Kingston where I attended CSEC classes for Theatre Arts. I was very determined and I received a grade one in the exam, the highest in Jamaica and I placed fourth in the Caribbean," Lewis said.
With that accomplishment, Lewis said that he had shifted his focus from the performing arts school in New York and applied to the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts to further his studies, but his family members did not approve.
"I had everything in place and got approved for a student loan, then when I approached my family members, I got turned down. They said no, not Edna Manley, so I had to choose another option," Lewis said.
From that disappointment Lewis said that he applied to the University of the West Indies (UWI) to do his Bachelor of Arts degree in Entertainment and Cultural Enterprise Management and was successful. This he said fared better with his relatives.
However, financing his studies was not the easiest thing to do but he got word from one of his high school teachers that his tuition for university for the duration of his degree programme would be paid once he agreed to give back to Jamaica. The person, Lewis said is a mystery to him as he has remained anonymous.
But Lewis said that there have been occasions where persons have told him that he is doing too much and making himself sick as he oftentime sacrifices sleep to achieve his goals.
"When persons say I'm doing too much, I stick to the positive and remain positive. What I do is a part of me and I won't allow persons to take away my love. For me, I practise the five Ps — persistent practice promotes perfect performance," he said.
While attending the UWI Lewis won the award for Spanish at the Caribbean Language Theatre Festival, best main storyteller for Tallawah.
Lewis, who is a devoted Christian, said that his main push factor was not having his mother around, but with the support of his peers he held fast to his Christian philosophy that he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him.
Lewis maintained that he is a strong believer in self reliance and said he plans to give back to his country in the form of social entrepreneurship and volunteerism.