Young volunteer on path to success despite setback
SEIDG Rowe, a 21-year-old single mother and final year nursing student at the International University of the Caribbean (IUC), has for the past 10 years devoted herself to serving others.
It was, therefore, no surprise that she was recently selected for the Prime Minister's Youth Awardee for Excellence in Youth Service.
"I'm in love with volunteering... I don't see the change overnight but I know there are youths that look up to me so it's a motivation to continue," says Rowe, in an interview with JIS News.
Her years of service include coordinating health fairs for her childhood community of Rae Town; visiting and assisting the elderly at Golden Age homes; working with the Kingston Eastern Police Youth Club; and serving as assistant co-chair for the Caribbean District Committee of Service. She is also actively involved in her local church.
Rowe fondly recalls growing up in the inner-city as a time filled with fun and laughter. Life seemed to be going according to plan until she was 16-years-old and heard the words that no teen wants to hear, "you are pregnant".
She said: "I went to the doctor for just a general medical check-up and then to find out I was pregnant... I was like three months and two weeks along. It was kind of scary."
She was in shock and denial. Confused and with no help from the child's father, Rowe said she was even more determined to shine through the clouds of despair and self pity that seemed to be closing in on her.
Unable to continue attending high school, Rowe, with the support of her parents, enrolled in the Women's Centre of Jamaica Foundation which has a programme for adolescent mothers. The programme assists pregnant girls, 17 and under, to continue their secondary education.
Looking back, she said the experience changed her outlook. "Before I got pregnant, I was like, 'things are going on for me so I don't need to pay much attention to school work'. I didn't like to study but I said a child is involved now, I have to get my subjects... I have to get focused now. I think that she (her child) motivates me to do more," Rowe said.
Her mother, Paulette Williams, a patient care assistant at the Kingston Public Hospital ( KPH ), says when she found out that Rowe was pregnant she was more than upset, especially since she had already paid for her to sit the CSEC Examinations. However, she still decided to give her a second chance.
"She said she wanted to go to the school (The Women's Centre) so I put out the effort. She did the exams and got all seven subjects and I'm glad for her," recalled Williams.
However, there was no slowing down for Rowe who had given birth to a beautiful baby girl a few weeks earlier. The new mother soon enrolled in the nursing programme at IUC.
Seidg Rowe has made quite an impression in the tertiary institution. One of her lecturers, Merle Jean Dyer, said that at first encounter with the Prime Minister Youth Awardee, she knew there was something different about her. She was not surprised when news spread throughout the campus that Rowe was a recipient of the Prime Minister's Youth Award.
"I knew she was special, even her name was different and she came across as being very mature. I think it (the award) is well deserved and I wasn't really surprised because the young lady in question, Seidg, is an ardent worker and based on her activities here at IUC and outside, I believe she met the criteria for the youth award. So I was pretty confident that she stood a good chance based on what I know about her," Dyer said.
Laughing, Dyer says that while nursing is an admirable career, she does not envision Seidg staying in that profession for long. "I know that nursing is dear to her but somehow I see her in some managerial position, some leadership post. I even see her becoming the minister of health. Somehow I see her being responsible and taking care of business rather than at the bedside."
Rowe, who is currently doing her internship at the same hospital where her mother works, agreed with her tutor. She was confident that she possesses leadership qualities and has even given thought to a future in politics.
Thankful for her successes, Seidg Rowe is urging other girls who may be going through hardship to rise above their circumstances.
"Use those obstacles; use them to the best of your ability and use them as a stepping stone. I know some persons may go into depression because of a lack of care or family support, but just use it as a stepping stone," she said.