Single-parent mother, daughter to graduate from UG  
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Deandra Daniels, left, and her mom Pamela Atwell
Deandra Daniels, left, and her mom Pamela Atwell

IT will be an extremely proud moment for 47-year-old Pamela Atwell, and her 21-year-old daughter, Deandra Daniels who will both “walk” the University of Guyana’s virtual graduation stage come February 11, 2022. The occasion is the pair’s successful completion of the requirements for a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Social Work, and a Diploma in Communication, respectively.

As a single-parent, Atwell shared with the university’s Public Relations Team that she’d always wanted to achieve higher education. The proud mother of one explained: “I always wanted to achieve higher education in order to ‘lift’ myself out of poverty, and make a bigger impact on society.”

The newly-minted qualified Social Worker praised the university for helping her to stand out as a professional, since the goal of social work is to always be of help to persons in society.

Though Atwell stands proudly beside her daughter, it was not without tremendous challenges for both of them. “Finance was my biggest challenge while attending university. I completed my Diploma in Social Work many years ago, while my daughter was in high school. I returned to campus in 2019 to acquire my Bachelor’s, and that’s the same year my daughter started her studies in the area of communication.  Being a single-parent placed a financial burden on me, since I had to ensure both of our tuitions were paid, while also paying back a loan for my previous course. Coupled with that, I also have to pay a mortgage for my home, and fulfill other financial obligations in my home. At this juncture, my daughter is graduating with her diploma, while I am graduating with my Bachelor’s degree. Glory be to God,” the elated mother said.

When asked how she managed to deal with the challenges, Atwell replied: “I kept my eyes on the prize, and used my motivational skills on myself. I knew that I had to be strong and steadfast; I listened to wholesome music, and danced while at home and at my best friend’s house.”

PURSUE YOUR DREAMS
As a mother and proud graduand of the University of Guyana, Atwell wishes to encourage current and prospective students to pursue their dreams of acquiring higher education at UG. “At the end of your studies, you have a chance to become a well-rounded individual, irrespective of your major,” she urged.

Her daughter, Deandra Daniels, who will be graduating with her Diploma in Communication Studies, reflected on the morals and values her mother had instilled in her. She noted that because of that she knew that straight out of high school she had to further her education. Deandra is currently pursuing her BA in Communication Studies.

“Being raised by a single-mother, she has always instilled in me that I should aim for a career, and not a job. The University of Guyana is where I would have to hone those skills. My mother always told me it doesn’t matter what it is I study, I should walk that stage one day; we didn’t allow anything to hold us back,” said the young aspiring communication specialist.

When asked what was one of her most fond moments at UG, the enthusiastic graduand boldly reminisced on her self-defence classes. She reflected: “I joined the Female Empowerment Movement Club in my first year, and they taught us self-defence every Wednesday and Friday afternoon; Tai Chi with Sensei Rushana Wong, another student herself. They were really refreshing, and gave me a sense of strength, both in body and mind.”

BOLDER AND OUTSPOKEN
Deandra also praised the university for grooming her to be bolder and outspoken.

“I have definitely become bolder and outspoken; I always was, actually, but my tongue is sharper with words, and my brain thinks faster when a topic arises. Though I hate the group work at the University of Guyana, it has helped with my understanding and patience with people and their personalities, mannerisms, sudden behavioural changes like family, friends, and significant others,” she said.

Unlike her mom, who highlighted financial challenges as the main challenge she encountered during her studies at UG, Deandra’s was finding her true calling and purpose at the university.

“When I enrolled into the University of Guyana in 2018, I was a Biology major, as I was a science student in high school. But a small part of me knew I was in a place where I ought not to be; I had the mind of a writer or creator or an artist. They call us the dreamers.  I buried my true self deep down, and continued pursuing a career in biology. In Year Two, Week One as a biology major, I went into my mother’s room, crying and telling her I can’t do this anymore. I admitted to her that I had been thinking of changing my major to Communication Studies for a while now, and her reply was, ‘I know.’ She had noticed that I was unhappy, but was waiting for me to figure out who I truly am, so I was scolded for burying my true feelings; wasting money and time. Then I switched my major and never looked back. Now we laugh about it,” the proud graduand stated.

Like the March 2021 convocation, events this year will be even more special, since the university’s administration is consistently underscoring that the great resilience displayed by students to complete their degrees in very difficult circumstances of COVID-19 deserves to be richly applauded and celebrated.

A record number of attendees are expected this year, since, due to the Online nature of the event, there will be no limit to the number of invitees who can join the proceedings via Facebook Livestream. (UG)

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