BY INGRID BROWN Associate editor — special assignment firstname.lastname@example.org
HAVING to walk four miles uphill to and from school and often going through the day without food did not prevent 16-year-old Seaforth High School student Nashawn Madourie from topping the school's Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) exams this year,, with a total of nine subjects.
Not only has this accomplishment made his rural St Thomas school family and single-parent mother very proud, but underscored the importance of determination, sacrifice and hard work.
Madourie, now a sixth former, got grades one in information technology, social studies, English, accounts, principles of business and office administration, grade two in biology and grade three in mathematics and Spanish.
"He has always been a very disciplined child who is always in his book and he never miss school," his mother Marcia Bonfield proudly told the Jamaica Observer North East.
"Sometimes is just a bottle of water him have to put in his bag and him walk from Whitehall to Seaforth for school," she added.
Madourie explained that when he is on the morning shift he sets out walking from before daybreak to get to school on time, as he will not allow not having money for taxi fare to deter him from getting an education.
Described as a quiet student who always wears a smile, the teenager said he often spends long hours at school as this was the most suitable place to study.
"Studying at home was difficult as there are many distractions there so I usually stay back at school until late in the evenings," explained Madourie, who lives with four brothers, a sister and his mother in their humble dwelling in Whitehall.
And on the days when he does not have lunch, which is most of the time, Madourie said he walked around the school while his peers ate, so they would be none the wiser.
But it is this hardship and the deep desire to make proud all the people who had high hopes in him that kept him motivated.
The former student of Whitehall Primary said his first choice of high school was Morant Bay High, and as such, he was naturally disappointed when he could not take up a place there because he did not receive his birth certificate in time.
But it did not take long for him to get over this disappointment and immediately decided that it was not the school that maketh the man but the work he was willing to put in.
"It's not the school you go to, it is the hard work you put in and my main aim was to make my school proud," he said.
As one who thrives on competition Madourie said it also did not take long for him to settle down at Seaforth High and start working towards his goal.
"I know I have a goal and so I make use of my time by studying and reading as many books as I can," said the teen.
He had high praise for the staff at the school, who he credits with helping to motivate him to excel.
"They really motivated me as they were always there to give their opinion and suggestions on things I would benefit from," Madourie said.
Dean at Seaforth High Donna Williams, who first brought Madourie's story to the Observer North East said the thing she first noticed about the teen was how quiet and disciplined he is.
"In the morning I would stand at the gate to ensure everything about the students was OK and I would notice his quiet demeanour and he would look my way and just smile," she explained.
Williams said when she heard about Madourie's financial hardships she took a personal interest in him as it reminded her of similar struggles she faced as a child.
"I want to see how I can get some financial help for him to continue his education because I know he is going to be someone great in this country," Williams said.
Madourie's first choice for a career is medicine but that dream is being put on hold as he will not be able to fund that course of study just now. In the meantime, he said he is working hard to ace the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Exams (CAPE) so he can earn a place at the University of Technology to pursue studies in information technology, web page designing and animation.
"I know my family is not financially capable and since I love computers, I am going to do this instead," he said.
Madourie's mother said she is often unable to afford taxi fare and lunch money since she has been unemployed for sometime now.
"Sometimes I worry because I don't have it to give him," she said.
Language Arts teacher Arlene Crawford said Madourie is a focused and disciplined student who always ensures that his school work is done in a timely manner.
"He is always striving to excel and I have never had to speak harshly to him at anytime," she told the Observer North East.
She explained that it was some time before the school's administration discovered Madourie's financial constraints as he never complained or asked for help.
The school, she said, was expecting him to perform well at CSEC because of the craving he has for knowledge.
Spanish Teacher Norman Rose said the three things which stand out about Madourie are his deportment, punctuality and respect for authority.
"He has a thirst for knowledge and is always in the library and is always asking questions," Rose said.
"You couldn't tell that he had a lot of needs because he never complained and so it was when I learnt of his situation that I understood the depth of Nashawn," he said, adding that he is expecting him to reap even greater result in the CAPE exams.