WHITEHOUSE, Westmoreland —Eighteen-year-old Mannings School student Andrae Douglas left for the USA a week ago to take up a scholarship at the prestigious Princeton University, starting next week.
The scholarship which covers boarding, tuition and books among other things, is worth roughly US$55,500 annually over a four year period.
The outstanding scholar who was head boy at Mannings School was offered three other scholarships but chose the Ivy League American University where he will be pursuing a degree in Chemical and Biological Engineering.
" I was awarded a scholarship to Princeton University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Wesleyan University and I also received a Jamaica Independence Open Scholarship to UWI (University of the West Indies), through the combined efforts of A-QuEST, Mannings School, myself and my parents," the unassuming scholar told the Observer West.
Dr Dennis Minott, is head of the A-QuEST organisation which routinely guides Jamaica's top scholars to leading universities, primarily in the USA.
Andrae said he selected the highly regarded Princeton University because "they offer students to learn a second or third language."
"I find that quite interesting because I have always had interest in Economics, Psychology, foreign languages so I saw Princeton as the more ideal match when compared to the other universities," expressed the young scholar.
With six distinctions in Communication Studies, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Pure Mathematics and Geography in Grade 1 of the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE), Andrae is optimistic of similar results in Grade 2 of the same subjects, in addition to the Grade 1 Spanish, which he also sat in June.
Before that he earned 11 distinctions in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) exams and a B in Additional Mathematics.
" While at Mannings—where I started in 2005—from first to fourth, I have been first in my form. In fourth to fifth I was place overall best student in Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Geography," disclosed the outstanding student . " In the CSEC I achieved 11 ones, and a B in Add Maths. I was awarded the Dr Hayden Cup for best performance boy as well as the best overall performance in CSEC for the school. In other internal award I was awarded the past students' association best CSEC performance for 2010," he noted.
Andrae's penchant for academic excellence manifested from the tender age of five, when he started at the Good Hope Primary in Westmoreland, where his mother Novelette Douglas teaches. The school is located in the Whitehouse community of they parish, where they live.
"When he was five I asked the principal to allow me to take him to school. He was placed in Grade 1 and at five years he was placed first and that I wanted him to stay at Grade 1 but a teacher told me no it would stunt him," the proud mother told the Observer West.
" He was always a year ahead so when he reached Grade 3 and I noticed his ability — because he was an exceptional student — then I doubted that we would be able to school this guy."
She reflected that she and her husband, Alva Douglas Snr started rearing chicken, lodging all the proceeds from the sales in an account towards financing their gifted son's education.
" I was not looking to see him receive any scholarship so I didn't want to disappoint him in any way at all, at all," the educator reasoned.
Andrae continued his educational journey at Mannings School after leaving New Hope Primary as the top student averaging in 90's in the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT).
Despite his impressive academic achievements, Andrae, who is a devout Christian, has been integrally involved in extra -curricular activities at school.
" Actually I am in a lot of clubs: Science Club, the Debating Society, the Inter-School Christian Fellowship, a member of the Quiz Club of Mannings, head boy of Mannings and a member of the Prefect's Association. I am also a part of the Sixth Form Association and a member of the Environmental Club," he pointed out.
He underscored that "beating the books" has been the main factor which has contributed to his success.
" Sometimes it seems very cliché when I say I work very hard, but it is very hard work. I cannot count the nights I have stayed up until 2:00am just to cover the amount of work. I like to go ahead on the class just in case some unforeseen event occur I can still say I am still with the class trying to follow their rhythm," Andrea explained. "It was really difficult I must say, especially since I had Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and Cape doing at the same time. Its time management that made the real difference. The adjustment was very sharp and for me to make that adjustment it required a lot of effort initially, but as I worked into the system I realised that it can be done."
Besides the "hard work" Andrae also attributed his success to parental support and guidance.
"They were very integral in my development. I mean my parents would stay up at nights with me sometimes they usually fall asleep around me because they have work to go to in the mornings, but with them around me their presence there kept me going," said the star performer.
"Really and truly they actually motivated me by being there for me. So I am doing this not only for me, but for them as well."