Perisa Mikhaila Miller has always felt the need to help others, and was also intrigued by the world of science.
That's why she embarked upon a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) programme of study at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona after she graduated from Meadowbrook High School.
But financial struggles stand in the way of the second-year student realising her dream.
"I am in dire need of financial assistance. Any amount donated would be greatly appreciated. It is by the grace of God that I was able to complete my first year of medical school. I do receive assistance from the Students' Loan Bureau which is a maximum of $1 million, which is equally divided between the semesters," Miller, of Molynes Road in St Andrew, told the Jamaica Observer.
"My mother works as a domestic worker and she was pretty strict and wanted the best for me, as she did not have the best childhood growing up. She is diabetic, hypertensive and works as a housekeeper. She took to the streets, seeking assistance just so I could have the opportunity to do my examinations. It has been a dream of mine to become a doctor and I will not let my financial battles stop me from accomplishing my goals. I was always determined to put my best foot forward in hopes of a better future," she continued.
Tearful, Miller's mother Michelle Cameron visited the Jamaica Observer headquarters last Thursday, requesting that a story be done to help raise funds for her daughter.
Cameron lamented that her daughter has come a far way, and was adamant that she believes she can go farther.
Yearly, the tuition for the MBBS programme amounts to $4.34 million, and each semester, an amount of $2.17 million has to be paid.
Miller is currently in need of financial assistance of $1 million to complete her semester one examinations which are set to begin on December 8. The deadline for the payment is December 2.
Without sitting these examinations, she will not be able to move on to the second semester. Miller grew up in Kingston with mostly her father's side of the family and her mother. Upon starting high school, however, she started staying with her mother. Her father is currently unemployed.
"For me, high school was where I truly unlocked my potential. I worked hard to maintain good grades and kept a positive attitude. I became the valedictorian for the graduating class of 2018, which meant so much to me and my family. It was a symbol that my hard work had paid off. I went on to sixth form and said my goodbyes in 2020," Miller recalled.
She told the Sunday Observer that from that point forward, her eyes were set on medical school.
"I stopped at nothing to reach that goal of mine. I started my first year of university at the Faculty of Science and Technology. I could have continued my education at that faculty, but I was determined and destined to become a medical doctor and so, I applied to the MBBS programme at the Faculty of Medical Sciences and got through six days before the first day of school.
"Being that my mother is a domestic worker, we are struggling with the payment of bills and also food expenses. Also, I do commute to school which is another additional expense for us."
Miller said she couldn't let the opportunity pass, when she thought deeply about the lives she may possibly save in the future.
"Life is way too precious and if I can be able to attain the knowledge over the five plus years of schooling and training to help save a life, why not take on that opportunity? I do believe this is my purpose in life and God has placed me here for a reason. Even through the financial issues faced in my first year of medical school, it was by the grace of God that I was able to overcome these challenges and now move on to my second year of studies," she said.
"At the end of these hard and stressful five years, being able to walk across that stage on graduation to collect my degree would mean the world to me. Apart from saving lives, another important thing for me would be giving back to those in need, especially students in situations like mine, unable to reach their goals in life and further their education because of their financial struggles. At the end of the day, we are the future of Jamaica."
Anyone willing to assist Perisa Miller can make a donation at:
Name: Perisa Miller
JN Bank (Savings)
Acc # — 002094503295
Donors can also transfer money directly to the university, through Paymaster, Bill Express or the university's e-commerce system online. They will have to provide Miller's name and ID number which is 620139186.