First published on March 21, 1990

Four Scholars Who Triumphed By Hard Work

THE Public Service Ministry has offered six scholarships this year for successful students at the 1989 GCE ‘A’ Level examinations.

For probably the first time in history, top Secon­dary school Queen’s College has made it a clean sweep.

The six scholars are: Ashni Singh, Roger Arjoon, Ferona Haniff, Rawle Sergeant, Andre Griffith and Devika Singh.

Our reporter, Ryan Naraine interviewed four of the scholars who were available. Three of the interviews follow:

Ashni Singh

“I remember distinctly when I went into Queen’s College in the first form, my classmates and 1 developed a competitive spirit … the emphasis was not only on passing our end-of-term exams, we were fighting to beat each other… this must be the reason for three of the six scholars for this year to come from that class.” This year’s leading scholar, Ashni Singh, feels the reason for his success was the will to be at the top, and “just natural ability”. Born 17 years ago, he is probably the youngest Guyana scholar ever, but his age was never a deterrent.

“I was afraid of being left back in primary school because I was too young to do the Common En­trance exams, the teachers hinted that I may have had to wait and I was a bit worried.”

After gaining three As and one B at the GCE A Level exams, he is still basking in glory. “I feel satisfied but still slightly disappointed in not get­ting four As. That was my aim, but as with the ‘O’ Level, I missed one.”

In 1988, Ashni was also a disappointed lad when he failed to get a distinction in Geography. He gained eight As in Maths, English Language, Literature, French, Spanish, Principles of Business, Accounts and Office Procedures. He got an A at Additional Maths but missed at Geography.

“Some day soon, I want to get into the field of Financial Accounting and I went into the Business stream. The sciences never really appealed to me and I thought that I could make a valuable career in the Accounting field.

Having finished his ‘O’ Level, he entered “the difficult” Sixth form, was elected as Head Prefect and member of the Queen’s College debating team.

“As soon as I entered the sixth form, I realised the difference between the O and A level examina­tions. The need to study harder was evident and I decided to work hard.

That was when Lady Luck decided to abandon him. On sports day, a stand on the field collapsed and as expected, he was in the ‘thick of things’. “I got a minor fracture to my skull and after spending just over two weeks at the hospital, I was pondering if I would be able to write the exams.” He decided to work harder at it and says he developed various ways to adjust to the problems. “I found I could not read as much as before and so I got a friend to go into school with me on Sun­day afternoons and just rap about Economics… and it paid off,” he says.

His teachers rate him as a brilliant lad with “an ambitious mind.” But, they all echo, he was extremely talkative. “I guess I was talkative but it was a ploy to keep everyone involved in the discussions,” he said, defending himself.

He decided to take four subjects after being en­couraged by friends who swear they knew “he could do it.’

He entered for Maths, Further Maths, Economics and Accounting. “I could swear I got four As but was happily disappointed with the results.”

Right now, he has his eyes set on the future. “I hope I get a Commonwealth scholarship to enter the London School of Economics and do a three-year degree programme. From there, I may go for my Masters right away or just wait a while.”

He is willing to return and work in Guyana. “Somewhere in the Accounting field, wherever I am needed, I am willing to return my services.”

Giving a service to his alma mater is what he has already started to do. He is the youngest teacher on the staff, teaching Accounts and Maths. His major disappointment, he says, is never being able to compete in the sporting arena but he is working hard at lawn tennis. “Someday I may make it to (Wimbledon…) who knows?”

Rawle Sargeant

THE shy, soft smile on the outside can fool any­one looking for a personality. The fierceness be­hind those eyes is noticeable and the ambition is enviable.

After studying for an average eleven hours a day it still came as a surprise to Rawle Sargeant when he was “actually” awarded the Guyana scholarship. His hard work earned him two As and one C at the GCE ‘A’ Level.

Born 19 years ago to “loving parents”, he suffer­ed the misfortune of losing his father. Determined to make his mother proud, Rawle set to work.

He entered St. Rose’s High School to begin his secondary education and immediately stamped his authority as a “head to be watched.”

He did seven subjects at the CXC ‘O’ Level exams and only gained one distinction. But with five Grade 2s and a B, he was surely on his way.

“I never let my love for cricket and music ham­per my studies and just became obsessed with my books,” he explained. I expected the results and must say the Practical was the downfall of all of the Physics students; we weren’t exposed much to the labs and the lack of equipment made the practical quite frustrating.”

Yet, he overcame the odds. How? “Hard work and more hard work.” He explained that he always found a viable solution to the everyday problems that must be faced. “When there was a blackout, I studied by candlelight and when there was no text­book, I either found an alternative or borrowed.”

For his first year in the sixth form, he also had to do without a Chemistry teacher and says the “home studies” helped with the A he gained at Chemistry. He expected his A at Mathematics and says that “the scholarship was worked for.”

He says he saw the need for extra lessons twice a week and just enrolled. “I adapted to the plight when it faced me and when I knew that I needed something, I just tried to get it; if it is not avail­able, I do without it and make alternatives.” He is now teaching Mathematics and Chemistry at Q.C. as part of his National Service stint and says he has become a part of the school. He is involved with the revival of the steelband and plays cricket at the El Dorado Cup level.

He says he once played table tennis and billiards at a competitive level but abandoned these when exams approached. He has not yet earmarked a University to pursue his scholarship, but is quite confident he will make it as an Electronics Engineer.

“A Commonwealth scholarship for the U.K. would be excellent for the four-year degree pro­gramme which is required.”

He says he has already done his National Service stint and is just rearing to set off on his scholar­ship, whenever that is.

He dedicates his achievement to his mother, Mrs. Clothilda Sargeant who he says he “owes it to.”

He also wishes to acknowledge the support he received from “everyone at Q.C.” and to his lessons master Mr. Roshoeveld and his entire family who, he claims, “are as proud as I am.”

Ferona Haniff

IF there ever could be a father prouder than the Parris’ for their children’s scholastic achievements Sheik Haniff must be that man.

His eldest son, Nishawn “hit it big” in 1989 with a maxi­mum four As at the GCE ‘A’ Levels exams. One year after his “darling daughter” has again done him proud, gaining two As and one C.

Always relishing the Sciences, Ferona Haniff had hopes of being a scholar but was still surprised when she realised she had done it.

“Since in the first form, I can remember a few of us in the class racing to beat each other, scholarship was never on the mind then, it was just the glory of going up on the stage on speech night and receiving your prize.

She can hardly remember an instance when she failed to make it in the top three but regrets never being able to con­vincingly beat her “friend” Ashni Singh. They grew up together and parted company in fourth form when she chose to go into the Science stream. “We still met for English together and always exchanged ideas for our studies”

By 1988, she had already placed a Grade One at Mathe­matics under her belt and was heading for bigger things when she took another eight subjects. The results did not startle her — Four Grade Ones at English Language, Chemis­try, Physics and Geography three Grade 2s at Biology, Spanish and English Literature and a B at Additional Mathematics.

On her ‘A’ Level results, Ferona says she expected the two As at Mathematics and Chemistry but thought at least a B at Physics would have rounded of years of “hard study­ing.”

She says she is thankful for having been afforded the opportunity to push in some revision in the nights, but I never took extra lessons. She says she is thankful for having been afforded the opportunity to study at the leading school. “At Q.C. I got all the required teachers for both my years in sixth form and they provided books.”

Now, Ferona is giving back what her school gave her. “I am now teaching Spanish and Chemistry as part of my National Service stint and I am enjoying every minute of it.” She says she could not conceive the idea of teach­ing at another school other than QC.

There were the usual bugbears for Ferona at her examina­tions. “The Physics equipment was not available and I could only do three of the required five questions.’’

There was also a new edition for the Physics text her class was using and she could not get one to buy. “I made an effort and ended up borrowing one.”

After her brother got his scholarship, Ferona remembers trying to emulate him. She even gave up her weekend entertainment of going to view an Indian movie at the cinema. “The Indian movies are so touching that I just hate missing them,” she says adding that they often bring tears to her eyes.

She has also been a prefect at the school and a staunch member of the Science Club. She played chess at a competitive level when time permitted and boasts of placing fourth in a competition at the Chess Hall.

A practising Moslem, Ferona prays twice a day and fasts during the month of Ramadan. She thinks computers are the instruments for the future and is dreaming of becoming a computer scientist. She earmarked the McMaster Uni­versity in Canada as the place where she will do the ground work for her degree which will be done in four years.

Then, she says, it will be her Masters and on to “wuthering heights.” The only advice and road to success is, for Ferona hard work and sacrifice. “You have to be prepared to put studies in front of everything and work real hard.”

The scholarship she gained is dedicated to her parents, who did literally “everything I wanted them to do.” Describing herself as a spoilt child, Ferona is as soft spoken as a first former on her first day but says the teaching job she now holds has made her a stronger person.

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