JELICA Thompson doesn't make her situation define her, but rather she uses it to push herself to excel. The 12-year-old struggled to be present in her online classes during the pandemic because of a lack of devices to log into her classes, but she was able to find innovative ways to keep up with her class.
That determination and grit resulted in her excelling in the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) exams and being awarded the JN Scholarship for the parish of St Thomas to pursue her secondary education at Convent of Mercy Academy "Alpha".
"It was difficult because half the time I didn't have a device for myself. It was very challenging until my teacher loaned me a tablet," she said, noting that she would ensure that she did the homework and activities that were present in the Google Classroom.
She pointed out that with the support of her mother, her assignments would be submitted to the school for her teacher to mark. So even though she did not have an online presence, she was doing the schoolwork.
Things got better for her when school returned face-to-face. Her hard work and determination paid off as she did exceptionally well in the PEP exams and attained a score of 356.3.
Her words of encouragement to students sitting the PEP exams is to: "never give up on what you want to be and always strive for excellence and work very hard."
Jelica, who wants to one day to become a lawyer, is also passionate about the creative arts and would like to become a playwright. She is especially inspired by the work of Louise Bennett-Coverley, renowned Jamaican poet, folklorist and author.
She is the recipient of several Jamaica Cultural Development Commission certificates for debating competitions which she received while attending White Horses Primary and Infant School in St Thomas. She was also a member of the school team that placed second in the Region 2 mathematics video competition in 2022.
She credits her success at PEP and being awarded a JN Scholarship to her teachers Miss McDonald and Mrs Campbell and her mother. For her mother Jenhell Madden, Jelica's success is not a surprise as she was always a good student.
"Jelica is a diligent worker, who continuously strives towards achieving excellence. She has excelled academically and maintained her place on the honour roll, which led her to become a member of the prefect body," she disclosed.
The single mother of three is elated that her daughter was awarded a scholarship as she said this will assist in covering the finances related to her school work.
She also shared that parents have to take an active role in their children's education to enable them to excel. "You have to put out your all for them. This means ensuring that the homework is done as the teacher alone cannot do it. Try to go through one-on-one with your child with the schoolwork especially if they don't understand it. If you the parent don't understand, find a friend, relative or neighbour who can explain it to the child," she advised.
Jelica is one of 47 students to be awarded the JN Foundation PEP Scholarship and grants for 2022. Since 1983, The Jamaica National Group has been supporting the educational pursuits of hundreds of young people at both the secondary and tertiary levels.