From hustler to scholar


“THE race is not for the swift but for those who endure to the end” may be a fitting proverb to summarise the life of Linden-born youth, Aaron Leitch, who overcame several challenges including financial family constraints and academic disappointments to become one of the youngest Guyanese scholars in his field.

Aaron is the epiphany of determination for success and, to many youths who would now get a chance to hear his story, his story is a testimony that has evolved out of the many tests that fought against his pursuit of his life’s goal of excelling in the academic field.

The window was always dusty, hiding the many opportunities that have now materialised, but it is with that determined spirit, a humble soul and a contented heart that wiped that dusty window clean. Aaron grew up in Blue Berry Hill, Linden before moving to Amelia’s Ward in the mining town of Linden. Despite not having the fancy things in life, Aaron enjoyed an active childhood and enjoyed playing many street games with friends. He never got distracted, however, for he always wanted to be more than just the boy on the corner and he knew that the only gateway to this is education.

His first academic disappointment, however, was just a stumble, not a permanent fall. “My biggest childhood academic disappointment is that of failing to secure the top secondary school in the Region at the time I wrote the then Common Entrance Examination,” Aaron told the Pepperpot Magazine. “I was really disappointed even though there were a number of constraints that would have acted against me, and prevented me from attaining that school. I will always remember those four (4) marks [I missed] but I have no regrets going to Linden Foundation Secondary School.”

As a result of financial constraints, he could not have been the average child who went to school, went home and played ball on the street corner. He had to ‘hustle’ to make it through. “I had decided to take it on my own to create avenues to generate income for me and my family, which would have offset the issues at the time. [So] I focused my attention in the area of small business and to ‘hustle’ legally until I completed my secondary education,” Aaron said. He surely balanced the two perfectly, as he was awarded the Best Agriculture Student award for his school in the year 2006.

This motivated the `scholar in the making’ to continue pursuing academia rather than to hustle ful time since the hustling was for immediate gratification, but knew he needed to focus on the future.

“After GSA, I was awarded a scholarship by the Government of Guyana to attend UG in 2008 and I spent three years there reading for a BSc in General Agriculture, after being given a year’s exemption. I met some people there who actually impacted me a great lot, both negatively and positively.

Like any college student, I had all the challenges which I overcame through prayers and support from various persons,” Aaron said. His next academic disappointment came when he missed the Grade Point Average for a distinction by 0.01 because of an administration error in one of his courses. Despite this, the walk across that stage proved to be another testimony. More importantly, he made his family, especially, his mother proud.

In 2011, Aaron was contracted to the Ministry of Agriculture, where he served as an Agricultural Officer and subsequently he was seconded to NAREI where he served in the capacity of a District Crop Extension Officer and a Research Assistant until 2017. “I worked in mostly the outlying areas of Region 10, disseminating technical information to farmers in the Berbice River from Kimbia to Kwakwani, for most of that period,” he said.

In August of 2017, Aaron was awarded a scholarship by the Government of Guyana and the Government of Thailand (Thailand International Corporation Agency -TICA) to pursue studies in Asia. He is currently attending the Kasetsart University at the Bangkhen Campus in Bangkok, Thailand, where he is pursuing an MSc in Tropical Agriculture with major studies in Soil Science. This, he deemed, an opportunity of a lifetime. Looking back at all the challenges he faced, all the hurdles he overcame, he is now a proud scholar.

Despite experiencing difficulty adapting to the food, culture and language, this is minimal to the positives of being graced with this opportunity. Aaron could have been another ‘hustler’ on the street, but as he rightfully said, “it takes the boat of knowledge to cross the river of ignorance.” In that boat, Aaron is paddling proudly.

His advice to the many youths who may be looking through a dusty window is “if you have a dream or vision, go all out until you attain it, for only you can fail yourself and in the world, we live in today; you either adapt or perish!”