Region One UG graduates hoping to inspire others to pursue higher education
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Alicia James
Alicia James

-say new knowledge will help improve their communities

DEALING with the culture shock of being in a new place, leaving their families and facing financial challenges are just some of the struggles endured by many hinterland residents who take the bold step to relocate to the coast to pursue a university education.

However, every year, dozens do it nonetheless and stand out as inspiration to others to never give up on pursuing their dreams. Pursing tertiary education is not among the life goals for many in the hinterland, but several, who are scheduled to graduate from the University of Guyana (UG) next month are hoping to use their experiences to change this mindset.

Their plan is to return to their respective communities and help fellow villagers understand the importance of higher education.

“I just want to inspire others. I’m glad of my accomplishment and that I can now go and impart my knowledge to children in my community, where I can be a leader and role model to others in the community,” shared 29-year-old Alicia James, who has completed her Associate Degree in Education.

A mother of two, James is a teacher at the Four Miles Nursery School in Port Kaituma, Region One (Barima Waini), and is looking forward to returning to the classroom as the first university graduate teacher at her school.

James has been a teacher for the past 12 years, and loved the idea of developing herself academically. Her aim was to pursue university studies so that she could be better equipped to impart knowledge to those she taught, as well as her own children.

“I love spending time with the children. The whole reason I became a teacher is to impart knowledge to others. Through becoming trained I’m gaining a lot of knowledge and experience. It helps me as a teacher to better be able to conduct myself and to help others,” she shared.

James is particularly cognizant that many residents in her community do not see education as a priority and she hopes to be part of changing that culture so that one day hinterland students will display a burning desire for pursing academics.

But for James, coming to the coastland meant a lot of changes and sacrifices. Now, she is glad to be able to reap the success after years of hard work.

“It’s a challenge leaving your family and coming out away from them, especially for me because I’m married and had to leave my husband behind. I was able to bring my children with me and had them attending school out here. But it was really hard at first figuring out the transportation out here; that was indeed a challenge, but I had to learn my way around,” she told this publication.

Ameena George

Meanwhile, 25-year-old Ameena George, who is also a teacher, shared similar views. Like James, she is also from Region One and prior to her relocation to the coast to attend the UG, she taught at the St Nicholas Nursery School in Manawarin Village.

Graduating with her Bachelor Degree in Education, George said it was no walk in the park getting to where she is today.
“I am overwhelmed and very happy because I couldn’t believe I would’ve been able to do it because I am a single mother and you can only imagine how hard it was. At some parts, I thought I would’ve given up but I had supportive friends and family that actually pushed me and  made me complete my studies and I am very happy and feel so lucky,” George told the Guyana Chronicle.

The mother of two shared: “Sometimes I even felt like I was neglecting my children as I’m studying but I always try to think on the positive side. Now I want to take a little break so I can spend time with my children before I go for my Master Degree.”

George, who became a mother at the age of 16, told this publication that she was all too cognizant of the need for her to ensure that she became educated to set an example for her own children and those she was responsible for educating.

She entered the teaching profession in 2015, and is overjoyed at how she has been able to grow since then.

“I started in 2015. I was the lowest teacher in status there, and I am surprised at how far I am and I am so proud of myself to have come so far,” she expressed.

Among her biggest struggles over the years was finding the finances to get by while she tried to develop herself academically. Nonetheless, the jovial young woman said she tried to stay positive and hoped for the best.

What she loves most about teaching is how even in her own dire circumstances she can still be able to touch the lives of others, especially children.

“Sometimes there are some children that [sic] come from homes where they are going through so much[sic] problems at home, and sometimes they come to school and are just so happy to see you. They feel almost like you’re a parent also, and I just feel so happy when I can get these children to learn because a lot of them are willing to learn, even though they don’t get that core support from home. When I can see them be happy and feel comfortable with me that is all I need,” she added.

Now returning to her community as a university graduate, she feels that she is more equipped to help the children at her school whom she loves so dearly.

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