A man is but the product of his thoughts, what he thinks, he becomes.
— Mahatma Ghandi
DRIVEN by these words spoken by Ghandi, 18-year-old past student of the Convent of Mercy Academy (Alpha), Rochelle Duncan, has sought to think positively and lift herself through her thoughts.
This decision was the reason for her spectacular grades in the Caribbean Secondary Examination Council (CSEC) (2010 and 2011) and 2012 Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) examinations, where she trained herself to focus entirely on doing well in her exams.
Her focus rewarded her with 10 CSEC subjects; six Grade Ones and four Grade Twos. She received the six distinctions in English language, English literature, social studies, human and social biology, principles of business, and information technology and the four Grade Twos in history, Spanish, geography, and mathematics.
She advanced to Alpha's sixth form programme, where in total she received five Grade Ones in Law (Unit 1), Law (Unit 2), Sociology (Unit 2), Caribbean Studies and Communication Studies and a Grade Two in Sociology (Unit 1).
"I was ecstatic," she replied.
"I was jumping around and then quickly called my mother to tell her the good news. My inspiration comes from my mother because even when I don't believe in myself, she has confidence in me and encourages me to do my best," said the student who live in Portmore.
Duncan wishes to be a lawyer and so, she will be attending the University of the West Indies in September where she will be pursuing her dream.
"I worked very hard in preparing for my exams," Duncan ended. "I thought I could have done better in some areas, (but) I also knew that it was just the beginning of my academic journey."
SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLD Kingston College (KC) student, Maurice Fisher, never thought that he would get 10 ones with seven straight A profiles in the recent Caribbean Secondary Examination Council (CSEC) exams. He had high hopes for himself, of course, but according to him, "I did not expect perfect scores."
However, Fisher indeed managed to get perfect scores in biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, English language, English literature, French, information technology, social studies, and geography
"I was lost in a state of euphoria," Fisher recalled. "I literally woke up the whole neighbourhood (in Vineyard Town). It was like living a dream because I expected way less, although those were the grades I asked God for. I felt extremely proud. I could not express much joy because the feeling was extremely overwhelming. However, my mother expressed it all for me."
"My inspiration comes from my mother and my background," the future cardiologist told TEENage. "When I look at what my family was not able to accomplish then and how hard working and determined each and every one of them is, it really pushes me to do my extreme best just to show them some reward or appreciation of their diligence and their resilience."
"Especially my mother," Fisher emphasised. "She ensures that we get the necessary items and emotional support to affirm our social and financial stability and to possibly acquire a more comfortable life in the future. I'm proud to say that my mother, Denise Scarlett, is the best mother one could ever have. She's my mother and my father. She's the constant push to my success and so I love her dearly."
Guided by the philosophy that, "your output is not always equal to your input; your input only opens doors to more output", Fisher intends to pursue five CAPE subjects in the sixth form programme at KC and hopes to continue doing great things.
"The result that you get is not always equal to the work you put in," Fisher explained his philosophy. "The input only leads to output which requires more input to reach the greatest possible and successful output."
INNOVATIVE, creative and trustworthy are three of the words that 16-year-old John-Luke Foster used to describe himself. A student of Kingston College, Foster received nine distinctions and a Grade Two in the recent Caribbean Secondary Examination Council (CSEC) examinations.
After scoring Grade Ones in mathematics, English language, English literature, physics, biology, chemistry, religious education, history, and information technology, and a Grade Two in French, Foster "ran through my house, waking up all of my family to tell them the good news".
"At first, I was shocked when I found out about my results because I surpassed my own expectations," Foster continued. "But after a few hours, that feeling was replaced by pride and happiness. I had some doubts as to whether or not my performance in the exams was good enough but I put my trust in God and hoped for the best. "
Foster, who hails from Stand Pipe community in St Andrew, intends to advance to the sixth form programme at Kingston College in the pursuit of a career in family law.
He understands the hard work he will have to do, but draws his inspiration from his parents and older siblings, who have paved the way for him by accomplishing exceptionally great things.
"If you trust in God and do your best in everything you do," Foster shared, "there's no way you can fail at life."
"I was jumping and screaming like I was crazy," 18-year-old Monique Thompson smiled as she remembered how she reacted when she found out her Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) grades.
She recalled that her cousin kept laughing at her, but she couldn't stop jumping and screaming. What else would you have done after receiving three distinctions and a Grade Two at your first time doing CAPE?
"After the way I'd heard people talking about CAPE, as though it was a big monster. I had doubts, but I know I tried my best. Actually, a few days before I got the results I was saying to God that I wanted four Grade Ones, but I would settle for three," said the proud student of the Convent of Mercy Academy (Alpha) couldn't stop laughing as she remembered. "That's what he gave me."
Thompson, who lives in Dela Vega City in Spanish Town, received Grade Ones in communication studies, chemistry and pure mathematics and a Grade Two in biology. Previously, in CSEC, she received a total of seven Grade Ones and three Grade Twos, with the ones in mathematics, English language, English literature, biology, social studies, principles of business, and information technology and the Twos in geography, chemistry, and French.
"Honestly, I just don't want to be poor because I've seen people in extreme situations of poverty and I don't want my family to live that way," Thompson told TEENage after being asked to tell where her inspiration comes from. "So, I just try my best to excel in everything I do."
Thompson intends to spend another year in the sixth form where she will obtain her subjects in the second unit and do even better, as she hopes to become a psychiatrist and knows how competitive that field is. She is driven by the philosophy that, "Success is not the key to happiness, happiness is the key to success, so if you love what you are doing then you will be successful."
"IF I don't feel as if I am going to go crazy, I'm probably not working hard enough," 17-year-old Nicolas McCaulsky told TEENage. That rule of thumb that he lives by guided him to copping a whopping 10 Grade Ones in the recent Caribbean Secondary Examination Council (CSEC) examinations, with seven straight A profiles.
He received his ones in English language, English literature, mathematics, information technology, physics, chemistry, social studies, technical drawing, geography, and Spanish.
"The world stood still for a second as my results were loaded," McCaulsky recalled that fateful night. "When the page came up, my attention was zoned in only on the grades column. My brother and I counted 10 ones (then) he grabbed and hugged me in excitement! We both started jumping. I didn't know what to do with myself. I couldn't believe I did it! I ran upstairs to Mommy's room, jumped on her bed and started shouting, 'I got 10 ones, Mommy!' Afterwards she hugged and kissed me. My 87-year-old grandfather cried when I told him my results the following day, which really moved me."
This near impossible feat was fuelled by an inspiration that is three-fold.
"It comes from the heavenly father, who has blessed me with everything I need to excel and my hard-working parents, who do their very best to provide all my needs and to ensure I have a comfortable life," the Kingston College student from Vineyard Town informed TEENage.
"I really wanted to show them how much I really appreciate and love them by paying back a fraction of what they have done for me and what better way to do so than giving them 10 ones."
"My final inspiration is life," McCaulsky continued. "I see the products of opportunity and preparation around me every day; people who have worked assiduously to reach where they are in life. Then there are the victims of lack of opportunity who may never get the opportunity that I have been so blessed to receive. The contrast is what fuels me to do well and not waste my blessing and potential."
McCaulsky plans to advance to the sixth form at Kingston College and later pursue a career in commercial aviation with hopes of becoming a pilot.
"The feeling was unexplainable," McCaulsky beamed, "but I can guarantee you it was the best I've ever had."
IF you received eight Grade Ones and two Grade Twos in the recent Caribbean Secondary Examination Council results, would you be calm when you receive your results? Probably not.
Probably you would scream, cry, laugh, but not remain calm. Well, calmness was Kingston College's 16-year-old Jovae Taylor's response when he found out his results.
"I was very calm upon seeing my results," Taylor reiterated. "I felt somewhat satisfied with them and very thankful to God for his hand in my study period for the exams."
Taylor received the eight disticntions in biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, information technology, social studies, French and English literature and the two Grade Twos in English language and geography.
"My inspiration comes from past academic scholars within my social arena and also some level of self-motivation," the TEEN from Kitson Town shared. "Without a shadow of doubt I was confident that I would have done well in the 2012 CSEC exams."
Indeed, when you have done all the necessary work, and have placed your faith in the one who never disappoints, you can differentiate yourself from the thousands of students who could barely contain themselves when they heard results were out.
"My philosophy in life is Philippians 4:13," Taylor told TEENage. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (And) in the future, God's willing, I would like to be a biochemist."