Amazing Orville - “Brittle bones” can't stop high achiever

Monday, October 07, 2019

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Top performer in the 2019 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination at Jonathan Grant High School, Orville McKellop says the challenge of outperforming his class was not an easy one.

Orville, who is 18 years old, has been struggling with a genetic disorder known as osteogenesis imperfecta, also called “Brittle Bone Disease”.

He says the disease, along with other difficulties, were challenges he was elated to have overcome to be successful in his studies.

“It's a huge honour to be the top student here,” said Orville, who is from Waterloo in Spanish Town, St Catherine.

He attained passes in 10 subjects in CSEC, gaining grade one in English language, information technology, principles of business and principles of accounts, and grade two in mathematics, geography, social studies, human and social biology, office administration and visual arts.

Orville is now in lower sixth form at Jonathan Grant, pursuing accounting, economics, entrepreneurship, art and design and communication studies at the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) level.

With his school on the shift system, Orville says he took advantage of this by going to school early to study.

“I would get here at 9 o'clock, although my shift starts at 11:30, and I would pick one subject [and study], and it's usually one that I see myself lacking in. And I would go through it until it is time for me to go to class,” said Orville.

Osteogenesis imperfecta has caused Orville to undergo surgeries and to be absent from school on several occasions.

But he used his recovery time after surgery to teach himself graphic art.

“During my time in and out of hospital [and while recovering at home], I found that creating things on my computer was very therapeutic. I used that to take my mind off the fact that I was recovering from my surgery, and eventually it evolved into something more that I now want to pursue.

“Being in a hospital was quite draining on my sanity, so I had to find something to keep me as active as possible,” Orville added.

He said while he was admitted at Spanish Town Hospital his classmates would visit and share their notes.

With his love for graphic art and accounting, Orville intends to pursue two different career fields.

“I want to become a chartered accountant and a graphic designer, so I chose the CAPE subjects I am now pursuing because they are most suited for my career path,” he said.

“Being a graphic artist [will be] more of a hobby than a profession [for me], but at some point I do look to become certified in that area,” declared Orville.

He said that in addition to the difficulties at school, living with osteogenesis imperfecta has not been easy for him and his mother, Patricia Hayles, who works as a janitor.

“For the most part, she does her best to help me out… When I was still recovering she would come by the school gate to take me home, and other times, when I was on the morning shift, she would carry me home earlier and leave for work,” he stated.

Another major challenge for Orville is coping with people who sometimes look down on him because of his condition.

“Some people don't understand what it [my condition] is. Some try to understand, while in some cases I am babied, while others just really don't understand,” Orville stated.

He is however, grateful that some people take the time to understand him better, such as his former driver, Junior Hamilton.

For Orville, his daily aim is to do his best at all times.

“I just want try and do better than I did the last time, because looking back each day, you tend to look at yourself and say I know that I could have done better, so today I'm going to try and do better,” declared the confident high achiever.

— JIS


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