ANNIELA Halley believes that anything is achievable through hard work. Her journey to achieve her Masters in Civil Engineering, which is a male-dominated profession, was no easy feat. She recalled the many long hours of study, research, and many sleepless nights, coupled with several jobs which ranged from being a waitress; a private Mathematics tutor (travelled to students’ homes); held two student ambassador job roles, and as a course representative, which progressed to a senior representative and then a school representative for Energy, Construction and Environment (ECE). She was also able to secure another job as a Personal Assistant to an Events Decorator during her final year of study.
Born on New Year’s Day in the year 1999, Halley, who hails from Manchester Village, Corentyne, Berbice, has fought the odds to become the youngest in her family and one of the youngest in her class to have graduated from Coventry University in the UK, with a Master’s Degree (distinction) in Civil Engineering.
Halley attended McGowan Primary School, followed by Berbice High School, before moving on to Coventry University. She is currently studying at Edgehill University.
Halley’s focus is not only on academia. She thoroughly enjoyed athletics during her primary and secondary school years and is a National School Sports silver medallist in high jumps.
Her mother Sheron Halley is now a retired headteacher and father, Colbert Halley, a retired police inspector. Her mother always encouraged her to read as many books as possible and to pursue her dreams.
At 10, she decided to enter an Emancipation Essay Competition and emerged the winner in the 9-12 age group, after she penned a document which highlighted the contributions of three individuals to her local community..
Her journey into the male-dominated field began when she was in Grade 10 at Berbice High School. She had no intention to pursue a Mathematics/Technical Drawing, a male-dominated subject. Instead, she opted to pursue Arts and Business, followed by the Technical stream as the final option. However, her teachers identified her potential in Mathematics and put her in the Technical stream.
“My reality at that time was the thing I feared the most came upon me, as I did not want to go into that particular class since it was an all-boys class. As you can imagine, I was not happy. I cried my eyes off on that first day of being in the classroom, but after speaking to family and friends, I decided to remain in the class and that was the decision that changed my life,” she told the Guyana chronicle.
Halley added: “I truly believe that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose,” Romans 8:28. The scripture I held on to during my years at secondary school. It took a lot of dedication and early-morning studies to complete my secondary academic journey. I graduated in 2015 with nine subjects, which included a distinction in Mathematics.”
At this point, she said it was clear in her head that she wanted to pursue a career in Civil Engineering.
In December 2015, Halley migrated to the UK to pursue her dream. She was accepted into Coventry University to pursue a foundation degree in Civil Engineering, which was the basis on which she got into the Bachelor’s degree programme. The foundation programme was full time with classes five days per week, starting at 09:00hrs and ending at 18:00hrs from January 2016 straight through to August of 2016. During this period, the young lady commuted to and from the university for a total of six hours every day: three hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon. It was one of the most challenging times in her life as she was very new to the UK, its culture, and weather, but she fully understood the value of education.
The foundation programme was equivalent to two years ‘A’ level courses. She had to work extra hard to achieve an average of A-plus in all subjects to have gotten into the Bachelor’s Degree programme, which commenced in September 2016.
It was on the train where she did her assignments and studied for her examinations, as she travelled to and from university. She used to feel very exhausted by the time she arrived home. After successfully achieving straight ‘A’s and securing her place on the Bachelor’s Degree programme, Halley moved closer to the Coventry University and lived there for the next four years.
During that period, in an effort to upkeep herself, she worked as a private Mathematics tutor (travelled to students’ homes); held two student ambassador job roles; worked as a waitress and as a course representative, which progressed to a senior representative and then a school representative for Energy, Construction and Environment (ECE). She later secured another job as a Personal Assistant to an Events Decorator during her final year.
Being a personal assistant was also demanding as it required her to spend some weekends away from home, working at weddings. She believes that her ability to balance her life could be credited to her good work ethics. Halley described herself as a planner.
‘It is paramount to remain focused and goal-oriented; success is guaranteed and doors are opened,” she said.
It was during her second year at the university that she was granted the opportunity to be a part of the Global Leaders Programme (GLP), a programme for outstanding students. It gave her access to extra courses, travel opportunities and workshops.
“However, I still needed to keep my grades above average because I wanted to continue to the Integrated Master’s programme. Yet again, I had to make sacrifices. I spent countless hours in the library and school buildings where sometimes I had to stay all night in the library and returned home in the mornings to get ready for class at 09.00hrs. God was and remained my source of strength,” she told the Guyana chronicle.
Despite all the odds, Halley still managed to maintain ‘A’s in her studies. In 2020, at age 21, she graduated with a Masters in Civil Engineering. However, due to COVID-19, her graduation ceremony was held in March 2021 (virtually).
COVID-19 has slowed her Civil Engineering career a bit, but it cannot stop her from pursuing her love for Mathematics. So, she has decided to qualify herself as a secondary school Mathematics teacher through Edge Hill University. She currently has a Youtube channel (AH Academy), which was created in May 2020 to assist students with their Mathematics during the lockdown. Her YouTube channel has been beneficial to students who are writing the CSEC and GCSE Mathematics examinations.
TO HIM BE THE GLORY
“God has always been [at] the centre of my life. Before migrating to the UK, I attended Revival Temple Assembly of God Church. Whilst living in Coventry, I attended a church on Campus (FirstLove Church), and now, I am a full-time member at KCC Assembly of God. Philippians 4:13 states, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’, and this was my reminder and constant reassurance that I can do all things. Faith plus action equals results. I credit all my achievements to God whom I serve,” she said, adding:
“Can anything good come out of Nazareth? Yes, Jesus did. Therefore, do not allow your environment or situations to define you. Take the limits off of yourself and work hard. Sometimes it may appear as though things are not changing, but do not quit on the journey, stay prepared and change will come. I am just a simple girl from the countryside who has an unquenchable desire to fulfil my purpose on earth. So, keep the flames burning!”