IT is often said that anything is possible with hard work and determination, and this was proven by Caressa Henry when she was admitted to the local bar on Wednesday.
The 33-year-old mother of three was admitted to the bar by Acting Chief Justice, Roxane George at the Demerara High Court.
Her petition was presented by attorney-at-law Sandra Bart, a former State Solicitor and lecturer at the University of Guyana.
Her work experience include a stint at the Supreme Court of Judicature as a clerk; the Ministry of Health as a Confidential Secretary; the Attorney General’s Chambers as Personal Assistant to the Solicitor General and the NGO National Coordinating Coalition as Policy/Advocacy Officer; Technical Officer and, Policy and Projects Development Manager.
Henry attended St John’s College and St Stanislaus College followed by the University of Guyana where she pursued a Diploma in Administrative Professional Studies, Public Management and then her Bachelor of Laws Degree (LLB.)
After completing her LLB, Henry attended the Hugh Wooding Law School (HWLS) in Trinidad and was awarded her Legal Education Certificate (LEC) during September 2021.
She was successful in attaining eight As during her two years of study. She was granted a Government of Guyana scholarship for year two.
During her studies at the HWLS, Henry was the Welfare Officer of the Guyana Jurisdiction Committee, and a member of the HWLS Welfare Committee which advocated and supported students’ welfare.
Henry has been a volunteer peer educator for over 15 years, educating youths on HIV/AIDS and other health and social issues. She also serves as a volunteer with the Civil Defence Commission from 2020 to present.
With her love for the law and volunteering, there is no doubt why Henry won this year’s Guyana Government prize for the best performance by a student from Guyana and a deserving spot on the HWLS Principal’s Roll of Honour.
Henry is an impeccable young woman, who is a wife, a mother and now an attorney.
During an interview with the Guyana Chronicle, Henry said that her “dream job” was to become a lawyer.
“I ignored my dream for sometime and ended up pursuing management. However, it was inevitable that I would end up finally pursuing my dream,” she said.
Henry said that in 2007, she started working at the Supreme Court of Judicature and it was from there her love for law was further ignited.
“The journey for me was definitely not an easy one.While this may sound similar to many of the stories you hear of law students, I had the task of balancing family life as I am a mother of three and married, as well as working a full time job while I was pursuing my LLB,” Henry said.
The young attorney explained that her biggest challenge was leaving my children and venturing to another country to study.
“This was hard for me as my eldest was preparing to write the NGSA. But thanks to the support of my husband, mother and other family members who ensured they were taken care of even in my absence,” she added.
She explained that balancing her studies and her family life was overwhelming at times, but like every other challenge in her life, she overcame it.
“It was not easy, as at times I had to focus on my studies in order to pass my exams. The balance meant I had to schedule everything including family time. It was challenging. At times it was overwhelming but with a good support system I was able to manage,” the new attorney added.
When asked how it felt being on the Pincipal’s Roll of Honour and the best performing student from Guyana, Henry modestly said “ It is surreal. When I got the news I was very much surprised. I knew I worked hard but I didn’t expect those accolades. But it is an honour and I am truly humbled by the reward of my hard work, especially being one of the few mature students in the class.”
Noting that most of the law students were under 25 years, Henry said she worked harder to keep up and be better among the intelligent bunch while also being a mentor to some.
According to Henry, one of the biggest lessons that she learnt during her journey was that adaptability is key to success.
“The COVID-19 pandemic reminded me of the importance of adaptability. During this unprecedented time, I believe that my success was considerably dependent on my ability to adapt. The more adaptable you are, the better you will be able to respond to change and the greater your ability to thrive or succeed in life,” she said.
According to Henry, one motto she lives by is that she believes that the temptation to give up is a common one, and nobody is exempt.
“Failure isn’t something many of us can handle gracefully. But failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue and the perseverance to win that counts. In the words of Henry Ford, ‘Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently’,” she added.
The newly-admitted attorney said for now she will be practicing general law so that she can have a “rounded wealth of experience” but did disclose to this newspaper that she intends to specialise in a particular area of law.
For now, Henry said she will be working with the State and would like to pursue a Master of Laws.
“However, I need to spend some valuable time with the family before venturing into studies again. I will use that time to garner the financial resources needed to further my legal education,” she stressed.
In giving words of advice to her peers, she said: “Always believe in yourself and your ability. Self doubt would destroy your dreams and aspirations. Set your academic goals and go for it. It’s never too late.”