Politician, chef, cricketer among West Jamaican student career choices

From left to right: Thadine Tinglin of Anchovy Secondary School in St James; Raphael Coach, Hopewell High School, Hannover; Oriel Spence, Cambridge High School, St James; Kiara Rochester, St James High School, St James; Gabrienna Roach, Little London High School, Westmoreland; and Shania Norman of Muschett High School in Trelawny. The students participated in the recent Jamaica Observer forum held at the newspaper’s office in Montego Bay in recognition of Children’s Month 2022. (Photo: Philp Lemonte)

MONTEGO BAY, St James – In most cases, schoolchildren, when asked to name their career choice, would indicate professions in medicine, education, law, engineering or finance. So when two of the six students who attended the recent Jamaica Observer Child Month forum in West Jamaica said they wanted to become politicians, it sparked interest.

Shania Norman, a grade 10 student at Muschett High School in Trelawny, said that despite “the stigma surrounding politicians” she is undeterred.

“I don’t think people should stop you from pursuing your dream. If you fail, let it be yours,” Norman explained.

Her intention to enter politics, she explained, is driven by her desire to “make a change”, arguing that from her perspective as a young person, “I can see things that the government is not able to see”.

In fact, she insisted that even though she thinks some politicians are “ginnals”, she is capable of making a difference and helping to make Jamaica a better place to live.

A Grade 11 student at Cambridge High School, Oriel Spence, shared that passion, although she identified becoming an executive chef as an option.

“One of the two, by the grace of God, will work,” said an optimistic Spence.

She argued that some politicians on the island had been deemed weak and expressed confidence in her ability to make a difference in the Jamaican political landscape.

“There are people who think no, you can’t become a politician because you’re a woman and women don’t do anything in the country. But I’ve seen most of the men in the communities where their seats are, and they don’t do anything. I think when I become a politician in the future I will make a difference,” Spence said confidently.

Noting that Cambridge, the community where she lives, is poor, Spence said that in the future she would like to tackle poor road conditions, build more homework centers and undertake other initiatives for the good of the community.

When asked how she would fund her projects, Spence said she would seek overseas donations to help.

Thadine Tinglin of Anchovy High School, another Grade 11 student, said she was confident she would become executive chef, but stressed that her mother’s support will be vital to achieving her goal.

“I believe that if someone like me, who grew up with my mother primarily, doesn’t have the support of my mother on this important journey, it will be difficult to enter the world of work…if I don’t have my mother’s support, I’m going to crumble,” she said.

Referring to a recent conversation she had with an individual, the youngster urged people to refrain from harming women and young people in general.

“For some reason he asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I said an executive chef…and he had the audacity to say, ‘Yes, because women should cook. In my mind, I say men have to be strong, but there you are…” Tingling said.

Gabrienna Roach, a Year 10 student at Little London High School in Westmoreland, said her goal was to become a flight attendant.

Roach noted that although she is afraid of airplanes, she wants to be the first in her family “to take such a step in traveling and knowing places.”

“I would like to see the world. I don’t want to be stuck in one place, like Jamaica, forever because my mom grew up in Jamaica. She never leaves to go anywhere. So I want to be the only one in the family to go out and know places,” she said.

Roach expressed concern for the well-being of teachers who she said were “stressed due to a teacher-to-student ratio per class of one in 50”. At the same time, she said there was a need to make the teaching and learning experience more interesting and fun by incorporating more technology.

Kiara Rochester of St James’ High, who wants to be a lawyer, noted that although it is possible to achieve her goal, “I have fears for the future because law school is expensive and my parents are not rich. So where will the money come from? What if I don’t qualify for a student loan, then what? she asked.

The 11th grader admitted that not everyone will be successful in getting a scholarship and finding a job before going on to higher education.

She called for more opportunities and resources and for the secondary school curriculum to be tailored to student needs.

“I think for some students who do certain subjects, it’s no use and they still have to do it because the school said it was compulsory, but what you want to do [as a career] has nothing to do with this topic,” Rochester said.

Raphael Coach from Hopewell High School in Hannover, the only man in the group, wants to become a professional cricketer or a mechanical engineer.

However, he believes that gambling is no longer a popular sport and as such it might pose a challenge for him to fulfill his dream.

“There was a time when Jamaicans loved cricket and so it would have been the number one sport that other people participate in…so it would have been easier to have a chance,” he explained.

Noting that other sports, such as football, are more popular, Coach, who is passionate about cricket, cited the school he attends as an example, saying there is little emphasis on the sport there.

The forum, held at ObserverThe Montego Bay bureau, as part of the newspaper’s focus on children’s issues during Month of the Child, covered a wide range of issues affecting children, including crime and the new pandemic of coronavirus. The forum also encouraged young people to voice their worries, fears, hopes and dreams.

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