…the women who excelled at UG in 2020
ENDURING hardships and overcoming adversities are not alien to Valedictorian Savitree Budram. As a matter of fact, she was introduced to loss at a very young age, following the passing of her father, and she soon became quite familiar with struggles, having seen her mother single-handedly face multiple of them in a bid to raise two young daughters.
Despite all the twists and turns, and uncertainties that plagued Budram’s path, the need for a solid education remained a constant throughout her life. “My mother always stressed the need for a good education, and she always ensured that my sister and I went to school,” Budram told the Sunday Chronicle.
Her commitment remained, and today, the 36-year-old mother of three is the holder of a Bachelor of Education in Administration, having attained an almost perfect Grade Point Average (GPA) of 4.0. She is also the recipient of the President’s Medal, presented to her by Head-of-State, Dr. Irfaan Ali.
Despite her academic accolades, however, Budram said that she is most proud of her 20-year career as an educator. “I teach Grades Ten and Eleven,” the young mother related.
She believes that having the privilege to impart knowledge and mould young minds trumps all of her achievements as a student. Given the passion she has now, one would imagine that a young Budram always nurtured a desire to become a teacher, but, strange enough, her childhood aspirations centered on becoming a medical practitioner. “I always loved science subjects and mathematics and so,” Budram recalled.
Following in the footsteps of her older sister, however, Budram sought to dabble in the art of teaching, would soon fall in love with the profession, and shortly thereafter with the man of her dreams.
Soon enough, Budram’s priorities changed, and her desire to start a family took precedence over attaining a university education. But once her children were old enough, ages 17 and younger, Budram was encouraged to resume her academic ambitions. In 2017, she enrolled at the Tain Campus of the University of Guyana in Berbice, and began her journey towards a Bachelor’s Degree.
“It was no walk in the park; there were some days that I felt like quitting,” Budram reflected on her efforts to balance work, a family life, and her studies, amid a pandemic.
With a solid support system, Budram said she was able to overcome every challenge, and surpass much of her own expectations. “My family members were there with me every step of the way. My husband was there sitting with me when I had to stay up late studying; he really supported me throughout it all. Even my children were supportive,” Budram said.
Reminiscing on her journey to becoming a top University of Guyana student, the young woman said that every difficulty was worth it. She is encouraging all Guyanese to make education a priority, regardless of their age. “If you can’t pursue your goals while you are much younger, that is not the end. Keep at it,” Budram charged.
DRAGGING TO THE FINISH LINE
Jonelle Europe is a 24-year-old Medical Intern at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC). While many university students were fortunate enough to study from within the confines of their homes, this Eccles, East Bank Demerara resident was on the frontlines of the battle against the novel coronavirus, struggling to keep her grades up, and the virus at bay.
“[The emergence of] COVID-19 was particularly exhausting for us,” Europe recalled.
She said that her internship exposed her to all the sacrifices and challenges that come with being in the medical profession. “There were many lows, but many more highs,” Europe recalled.
She told the Sunday Chronicle that her preclinical years were much like a dose of adrenaline: Fast-paced and demanding. “It was amazing to be exposed to such training at GPHC. The programme required a level of commitment and interest that tested your endurance. You had to really want this to keep going,” Europe said. Her experiences at the GPHC reaffirmed all that she had already known; she really wanted to pursue medicine, and she was prepared to stop at nothing to do so.
Europe realised that “medicine demands consistency,” and that the same principles extended to her grades. “I reflect on the many quizzes and presentations, and studying in any little crack we could find on campus… So, here you had a group of young people who were on rotation since March, trying to drag themselves to a finish line that kept drifting further and further away,” Europe recalled.
As the University of Guyana released the grades for 2019-2020, the aspiring doctor realised that she was able to drag herself far beyond the finish line. She recently graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery Degree, passing with distinction. She also became the recipient of the Prime Minister’s Medal, as the Best Graduating Student of the university’s School of Medicine.
“We were really pushed to our limits, as consistency and dedication were constantly demanded of us,” Europe noted.
Reflecting on her achievements, the young woman said that her successes are not all hers, as her journey had the backing of a firm support system. “I’m forever grateful to my parents, loved ones, friends, mentors, church, and even the unknown supporters who were there for me every step of the way,” Europe said, candidly.
As she looks ahead, Europe said that she plans to work assiduously towards achieving a Master’s in Public Health: Health Education and Promotion, as well as a Master’s in Family/Internal Medicine. Asked whether she has any advice for her peers, Europe asserted, “Whatever you want, you can have it. If it’s in your mind, you can reach it.”
She added, “Your grades don’t represent the limits of your greatness. So, seek that you may find; knock on doors that they may be opened; ask such that it might be given onto you, and believe that you may receive. Trust the process, knowing that there is purpose in everything; even failure.”