One’s teenage years can be very rocky, particularly when one has to battle peer pressure, learning disabilities, poverty and depression, among many other things which often contribute to many teenagers becoming school dropouts.
While dropping out of school is not encouraged, many prosperous men and women in today’s society had been school dropouts, with perseverance as the backdrop to their success stories.
The story of Leandro Grant, who moved from being a school dropout who lost his mother in his young adulthood to being an electrical foreman, is a living testimony of this fact. Grant, a humble, determined, and inspiring resident of Kwakwani, Region 10, Upper Berbice River, was unfortunately unable to complete his secondary education, due to his family’s financial deficit at the time of the fourth year of his secondary education.
He was forced to not only cut ties with his secondary education, but to seek employment to aid in sustaining himself and his parents, primarily his mother, who was at the time bedridden with an unknown illness.
“Life growing up like everyone else, there were good times and bad times. Things were not well with us financially, so I dropped out of school in fourth form to assist my parents,” Grant said.
Fresh into the world of work, he entered the logging sector as a chainsaw operator/choka-man, after which he turned to carpentry with the hope of gaining a skill, but that stint was short-lived. He worked for some time as a salesman at a general store, but while being able to sustain his family was well-pleasing to him, it was, on the other hand, not what he has destined his life to be.
The 30-year-old always had a passion for things electrical, patterning his father, who was an electrician. His academic shortcomings created a barrier, but he was encouraged by family members to knock that barrier aside and apply for a Linesman-Electrical Course offered to youths by the Board of Industrial Training (BIT) in collaboration with the Kwakwani Utilities Incorporated (KUI) back in 2009 in the community.
Grant explained that that was one of the best decisions he has ever made, and that was the doorway that led to many opportunities, despite the battle to stay afloat in his economic situation.
“It was kind of difficult to just train alone. I needed to continue assisting my family, and, as such, I return to the life of a logger while I continued my course, which was not full time,” Grant recounted.
He successfully fought the odds and completed the short course, which aided him in gain employment with the KUI, a utility company subsidised by the Government, as a meter reader on September 1, 2010.
The enemy called death strikes
The joy of being integrated into the public sector with a skill was tempered in 2011 when the Grim Reaper took Grant’s mother from this life after she had been bedridden and was battling an illness unknown to the family for approximately one year.
“Life was not the same. Many days, when you go home to have lunch, you accustom gracing your mom’s presence; but things change. I was hurt at the outset, but I always conditioned my mind for this day, because the pain she was going through was not easy,” the downhearted Grant stated.
Kept his eyes on the prize
This determined and self-driven man, who is the third of four children, said he had to quickly dust himself off and get back up after the passing of his mother. “I said to myself that I have to get past the hurdle of not being able to write CSEC and gain employment, and I can get up and dust myself off from this too; and I used this as a booster and keep the fire burning, since I was tasked to maintain my younger sibling,” he posited.
With no CSEC subjects, he went on to acquire several certificates relating to his job. Grant worked tirelessly in his endeavours to better himself over the years at KUI. He said his hardworking, persevering, and honest attributes landed him a spot as an Electrical Foreman in 2018. His promotion came with much criticism, and he was even threatened with losing his job when the APNU/AFC lost the 2020 elections, but he remained steadfast in the face of what he classed as “mere talks”, and maintained his humble disposition since he was optimistic that the PPP/C Administration would rely heavily on young, industrious, and talented minds to get the job done.
“I am a pushy guy. Even before I became a Foreman, I was carrying out the duties of one. I never sit around awaiting instructions on what next to do; is either I ask, or do what is to be done next. My punctuality played a major role in this as well. I was never absent or sick, no matter what the circumstances may be. When my mother was ill, I worked right through.
“When the PPP/C Administration took office, a lot of persons were rallying for me to be fired on the grounds that I am young and not a holder of a CXC certificate. It never bothered me. I knew I had what it takes, and I continued to be the humble person I always am, and here I am on the job to this day,” he said.
Being groomed for higher heights under new management
When this publication asked Grant what it is like to work under the company’s fairly new General Manager David Adams, he said, “The man (David Adams) does really push me. I might be an Electrical Foreman, but I have been entrusted with duties occasionally that are outside of my job description, which I take on with confidence; and (it) has really boosted me over the past eight months he is here. He pushes you to be somebody better, while also acknowledging the hard work you are doing.”
Grant recently obtained a scholarship to study “Photovoltaic Power China” which will cement his knowledge in the Government’s transition to renewable energy while simultaneously acquiring a Diploma in Electrical Studies. The school dropout who is now an Electrical Foreman and aspires to be KUI’s General Manager extends praise to his family and workers for believing in him over the years.
“I would like to thank my family for always believing in me. Even my workmates, although I might be younger than many, they encourage me to do better. I would like to thank my friends, and not forgetting my wife, who has always been by my side,” he said.
Grant’s advice to school dropouts is: “While life is filled with many challenges, it is up to you to determine your future. Despite what you are going through, there are better days ahead. You may not have CSEC or degrees, but put your mind to what you want to achieve.”