November 2016

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This year Megan Simmons graduated with first class honours from the Bachelor of Education Early Childhood Care and Education Programme. Her ‘superlative’ achievement was really no surprise to us at the School of Education. From the start we expected Megan to master the programme. She stood out for her commitment to excellence and hard work. Megan truly “read for her degree.” But that’s not all. She has an affective side which truly makes her outstanding. Megan is a genuine good- natured person. She is a team player who always took time to seek the wellbeing of her peers. Further, her ready smile radiates outer and inner beauty, reflecting the kind heart of a teacher, now fully qualified to teach young children.

Megan explained that even though she received the award for most outstanding student from level I to level III, her achievement was “no easy road.” Whenever tribulations and trials surfaced, she reminded herself that, “This was a choice I made for myself and am committed to.” Megan stated that her desire and passion to work with young children guided her in the direction of studying early childhood care and education (ECCE). After completing an associate degree in ECCE in 2010, she applied to The UWI for professional development to become more knowledgeable in the field. Throughout her time at the university she also worked at a preschool. She attended full time evening university almost every day. Some semesters it was every day. This meant, “rising at 6 am to head to work, finishing university classes at 8 pm and reaching home at 9 pm most times.” Saturdays consisted of assignments and projects while Sundays was often the same. She gave up the luxury of restful weekends. It was a choice and a sacrifice she made.

During her second year there was a difficult period when she contemplated giving up. There were a few assignments which, “I thought I would never finish or rather accomplish.” Fortunately for her, that’s when family support kicked in. The boost of encouragement she received from her family helped Megan to put aside her fears and propel herself through. Support helped her to stay up late at nights into early mornings. Her classmates could not understand how after a long day she had the stamina to go home and still do work. They needed a good night’s rest to begin again early the following morning.

Two personal characteristics helped her to succeed. One quality was her drive to never be a procrastinator. Once she got her assignments Megan started mapping out a plan on her calendar. She tackled and completed assignments giving herself a few days before handing in to review. Another quality was her commitment to attending classes. She said, “Missing classes was out of the question!” She wanted to be present to get the information first hand. For her missing classes meant playing the catch up game which led to additional work in the long run.

Her happiest memories involved her friendship with, “the group of girls.” Her friendship circle provided motivation, support and encouragement throughout. She added that the female friends helped her, “To be at the place where I am today.”

Megan expresses gratitude for the support system provided by university lecturers, family and friends. She attributes her success to understanding that sacrifice is needed to achieve the vision one has for oneself. Her final reflection is, “As I graduated with first class honours I can safely say, hard work really does pay off!”

Dr Sabeerah Abdul-Majied is a Lecturer at The UWI’s School of Education.