By Kristen Macklingam
“I knew I wanted to become an engineer but I hadn’t decided on a specific one until earlier last year when Guyana discovered oil. Then I was saying I can give back to my country, become a petroleum engineer and come back to Guyana to develop my country,” says 16-year-old Fatima Karim who gained 19 Grade Ones and one Two, securing the top spot in this year’s Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations.
The elated teen told INews that while the examinations were challenging the most difficult part for her was compiling and completing her School Based Assessments (SBAs).
“To do them (SBAs) and have clashes, that was the hardest part of the whole doing 20 subjects. Some days were like I had to correct an SBA and I had to do another so that was the hardest part. I gave up on some things but I was still able to do some of the things I like just like in smaller portions, I had a study time table obviously, but I didn’t follow it all that well, but it helped,” she explained.
According to Karim, her older sister was her inspiration as well as her role model. Another motivation for the scholar was the success story of Queen’s College 2014 top CSEC student, Elisa Hamilton, who had secured 19 Grade Ones and One Grade Two.
“I read about her achievement and I was like I could do this. I want to do what I want to do with my life and I need a scholarship that is available to do well, so I could fight, if she could do it then I could do it. Now I plan to go 6th form or if I am able to get into university, preferably the University of Texas in Austin, because it is the best university for petroleum engineering which is the course I would like to follow,” she told this online publication.
The 16-year-old explained that a major influence with her future career comes from her family since her grandfather, uncles and one of her older cousins are involved in engineering.
Her advice to students who will sit the CSEC examinations next year is to never give up.
“I am saying how many subjects you decide to do, then do it. Don’t ever say you will fail…if you believe you will fail a subject just fight, fight, fight until you get that grade one. Don’t ever give up.”
Meanwhile, Kayshav Tewari of Queen’s College obtained 19 Grade Ones, securing the second spot at this year’s CSEC exams.
“It was wonderful learning what I achieved, even though I always had it in the back of my mind that I could have done this, seeing the results was like Christmas. Mostly, it was my parents who motivated me, they always pushed me to do the best I could; and then I had my teachers who always stood by me. They not only saw that I had academic potential, they pushed me to be a better person and that is why I am grateful that I achieved this because not only I did something , I was able to say I have great academic access,” the teenager said.
He explained that the amount of work that needed to be done for him to sit those examinations were challenging but he maintained that the most challenging aspect for him was handling the numerous SBAs.
“After that, the studying was easy, but the SBAs were very time-consuming. In the nights I would wake up at 10 pm and work to 3 or 4 am… as of now I would like to go study engineering but afterwards I would like to do an MBA which is to bring in the entrepreneurial perspective.”
In an effort to encourage students who will face CSEC examinations in the coming years, he urged that whenever a student wants to achieve a goal he/she must believe with all of their heart that they can do it.
“My motto is education isn’t a skill, it is an attitude. The moment you lose your conviction you lose everything else. So if a student believes that he can do this amount of subjects he should,” Tewari added.
As for 16-year-old Sariah Singh, another student of Queen’s College, her inspiration was solely her parents since she aimed to make them happy and proud of her. She obtained 18 Grade Ones.
“All I wanted to do was to make my parents proud, that was my goal, just to hear them tell me that Sariah you made me proud so that was all I worked for basically because that is all I wanted to do. The preparation period for examinations was hard but I guess it all paid off… I would like to be a doctor; I am not sure what kind yet and I’m going back to 6th form right at QC,” the young lady posited.
She explained that her career choice is a reflection of her desire to help others and make a positive difference in the lives of as many persons as possible.
“I just like helping people, I want to know that I can make a difference, I just want people to remember me like I did something for them, I want to know I helped make a difference,” she added.
Meanwhile, her father who was overwhelmed with tears after learning of his daughter’s success humbly stated that she was always hard working throughout her stint at Queen’s College.
“She stuck to her goals, pushed in a lot of late nights and effort into succeeding in her examinations, and she made us proud,” he said.
(Carl Croker photos)