It was her resolve to prove to her children, one is never too old to achieve anything, that led high-school dropout Veronica Robinson-Malcolm back to the classroom two years ago in pursuit of her secondary school-leaving certificate.
Not only did she attain the certificate that eluded her three decades ago when she became a teenage mother, but she also copped five Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) subjects in the process.
“The opportunity that I get through this is to show my children that even though I am a school dropout I still persevered and pursued my studies. Now I can say I am a 47-year-old with five CXC subjects, and this proves that nothing is impossible once you put your mind to it,”said the grandmother who sat the exams this year as a student of the Jamaica Foundation for Life-Long Learning (JFLL).
She earned a grade two in Electronic Document Processing (EDP), and grade three in Mathematics, English Language, Social Studies and Human & Social Biology.
The pig farmer and upholsterer admitted that her first days as a student at JFLL took a bit of getting used to, especially since she was twice the age of most of the students there.
“I was a bit nervous going in the first morning because I said is pure young people and I have children older than some of them, but the teachers there make you feel comfortable, and so did the young people.”
“Everyone interacts freely and whatever you don’t understand is explained step by step,” she said while admitting she even had reading challenges prior to attending JFLL.
From her home in the Waltham Gardens community in St. Andrew, the mother of four recounted that when she was recommended to sit the CSEC examination she wasted no time.
“I would be up late in the nights and my children them would come and asked me ‘mummy you nah go a you bed’?”
“I went overboard with my studies especially in Maths”
And when news came last month that she was successful in the subjects, her children were as elated as she was.
“Them (children) seh mummy you a gwaan wid things,” she recalled with laughter.
Robinson-Malcolm now has her eyes set on studying web page design or geriatric nursing and hopes her story will inspire others to go after their dreams.
“If you have to go back to school to get what you want, don’t be afraid to do so no matter how old you are. At the end of the day, it is a win-win situation for you, because you are helping yourself and boosting your self-esteem.”
-By Nedburn Thaffe
This story was written for International Literacy Day, September 8, 2016.