Shemario Geddes is a picture of resilience and hope. Geddes holds seven Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) subjects, including six grades ones, and four units of Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE), copping two grade ones.
His journey to success, however, was no easy feat. Geddes graduated from Treadlight Primary in Clarendon as the most outstanding Grade Six Achievement Test boy and earned a place at Denbigh High School. Due to financial woes in the single-parent household with eight other siblings, he migrated to St Thomas and was placed at Happy Grove High School in Portland.
“I had to leave because my father, whom I had seen only twice before, was in a better financial position; so to take some stress off my mother, I made the hard decision to leave her. My mother endured struggles with little to no support. She would carry water for people for only $100 and wash their clothes.”
This journey, he said, was tumultuous.
“I started getting low grades and was being abused emotionally, physically and verbally. I had to go back to my mother, without my father knowing.”
Geddes told The Gleaner that attempts to have him re-registered in Denbigh High were futile. He was accepted at Lennon High School in Mocho, but the journey to and from school was another hurdle he had to cross because he had to take four transportations to get there.
“I didn’t go to school some days because my mother could not afford it. When I did go, I didn’t have lunch. I was depressed and scared for my future because I was getting extremely low grades while missing out on classes. I started developing anxiety.”
After being out of school for a while, Geddes made the decision to seek a place at Glenmuir High.
“I was anxious because my grades were not up to Glenmuir’s standards, but I remained faithful, trusting that the Lord would give me this opportunity to excel.”
Glenmuir’s principal, Dr Marsha Smalling, recounted Geddes’ 2017 visit to the school, stating that she was not hesitant to meet his request to complete his secondary studies at the institution.
“His grades were very low but they were not reflective of the articulate, ambitious and assertive young man I was meeting. I wanted to partner with him in pursuing his dreams,up and he has not disappointed.” Smalling hopes that Geddes will get the financial support to pursue his dreams. “He is a promising young man,” she said.
Amid the challenges, an enthused Geddes was geared up to capitalise on the opportunity. “Some days I would go to school without lunch, but I was determined to achieve and conquer poverty, so I didn’t mind bearing a few hungry days. I was determined to get it right this time.”
Geddes graduated with seven CSEC subjects, including six grade ones, and decided to further his studies by attending sixth form.
“I was unsure how I would attend, then I was told that I received a scholarship from Mr Otis James’ foundation. The Glenmuir Florida Chapter Past Student Association also made my dreams possible by providing me with another scholarship,” said a grateful Geddes.
“It was CAPE time, and Mr James again intervened and paid for my subjects. He has impacted many lives with his considerate and selfless nature.”
Otis James, of James and Friends, a Clarendon-based charity foundation, said he was introduced to Geddes by principal Smalling. “I like to give youths with ambition and vision chances. It’s not just about giving a bright person a chance, because being bright with no ambition is a waste.” He said the foundation plans to re-sign Geddes’ scholarship when he is ready to pursue his tertiary studies.
“To those who are struggling, don’t let your hardships determine how you turn out. If I had made my circumstances get in the way, I would not have achieved anything,” Geddes said.