NAJEER Najay Nish was just in third form at Munro College when he sat and passed three Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations with grade ones – human and social biology, information technology and English language. He was in quite the form.
In grade 10 he took another swing at CSEC, tackling and passing four subjects as he attained grade ones in principles of accounts, principles of business and mathematics, and a grade two in chemistry.
The 16-year-old, who celebrated his birthday on Tuesday, September 13, is currently in fifth form at Munro — already with seven subjects under his belt.
"I was flabbergasted by my results, which was reflective of my actual potential. It was the best feeling ever. The moment I saw the grades, I felt so happy that I could not stand in one spot. I was screaming on top of my lungs and running up and down in the house," Nish told the Jamaica Observer last Friday as he recalled his reaction to his CSEC passes while in grade nine.
The following year, for his second sitting, his reaction was pretty much the same.
"Sitting and passing the four additional CSEC subjects, I was ecstatic. The year was extremely stressful as I had gone back to the regular school schedule, leaving home at 6:00 am for day school and getting home at 5:00 pm. With the evening classes I did not get home until 8:00 pm, sometimes 9:00 pm. I attended extra lessons, four days per week," he said.
In-between you could catch him playing the piano, drums, singing, playing chess or solving puzzles.
"I was usually very tired and I had to find a way to get both school and extra lesson work done on time. I must admit that I became flustered while trying to balance all the classes and, as a result, procrastinated on my chemistry labs — which had really set me back. I ended up having to work even longer hours to catch up with the rest of the class, and I was able to secure a grade two."
During this time, his parents were out working and he was charged with supervising his younger siblings at home in-between online classes.
He said they would endeavour to finish work in time to get home and transport him to evening classes on time.
He added: "I am ecstatic mainly because at only age 15 I have achieved something that no one else in my family has ever achieved and I am on a quest to be able to provide a decent life for my family in the future — especially my parents who have made so many sacrifices for my future. I am glad that their sacrifices actually count for something."
His parents enrolled him in an evening school programme at Genus' Day, Evening and Saturday CSEC Classes to keep him afloat during the novel coronavirus pandemic. This, they thought was a good idea since he was now attending classes virtually and thus had four free hours that would have previously been used to travel to and from school prior to COVID-19.
"They also thought it would give me some experience at CSEC and give me an advantage over my peers. Additionally, my ambition is to become a lawyer and so I thought my resume would be far more impressive to the universities to which I will apply, and would also increase my chances of getting a scholarship. I welcomed the challenge and agreed to do three," Nish, of Dry Harbour District, St Elizabeth, added.
Nish was born in St John's, Antigua, to Jamaican parents and came to live in Jamaica when he was young. He lives with both parents and two younger siblings.
His education began at Roseville Play and Learn Early Childhood Institution and Preparatory School up until grade three, after which he went on to Black River Primary School through a transfer, after he said his parents "faced harsh economic challenges".
"My dad being an electrician and a technician graduated high school with only one CXC subject; and my mother — currently a life insurance agent — graduated with only four. We lived in a small house and had a barely functioning car, but we were grateful and tried to work with what we had," Nish told the Observer.
The youngster has been participating in the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) dance and speech competitions since 2015. He took home a bronze medal in 2016 and 2017.
At Black River Primary he was appointed deputy head boy.
"The quest continued, and I was successful in the GSAT examinations which I sat in 2017. This achievement awarded me a spot at the prestigious Munro College. Academic success was sustained and in my first two years at Munro… I was placed first in my class with high averages," he told the Observer.
"My family is extremely proud of my achievements and I have become the pride of the family. I have also set a standard for all the younger children in my family to strive towards, and that of surpassing, what I have done and putting our family name out there, and creating a better life for themselves and their families."
Currently, Nish is a student council representative, a member of Munro's chess club, music club, band and choir.
He intends to "sit and pass" eight additional subjects this academic year, "which should set me in a spot to secure a scholarship to a law school in Canada or the USA".