Monday 20 November, 2017

Scholarship winner overcomes odds

It’s not failure that defines a person, but how they overcome it.

These are the wise words of 18-year-old Kevelle Cooper, who overcame many challenges to win an Additional Scholarship in Business Studies this year.

Not many people know that Cooper, a student of St Augustine Girls’ High School, failed her math exams many times during her high school years and could not afford extra lessons.

Not many people know that Cooper, who was financially strapped, worked part-time and typed up assignments on her smartphone since she could not afford a laptop.

Many people may also not have known that for Cooper, sometimes the struggle seemed almost too daunting and she would struggle to get out of bed on mornings.

Cooper took to social media after winning her additional scholarship to help her peers and other students and to convince them that they, too, can achieve their dreams.

Speaking to LoopTT, she said that often, the most important part of any goal is getting up and trying again, especially if the results are not what one was hoping for.

You can always try again, failure is not the end of the world. There are always other avenues to pursue. I don’t believe that everyone needs to pursue formal education and I don’t believe that it’s the end of the world if you don’t get a one or two."

"Just keep trying because there are a lot of people who may not do well in high school but then they graduate with honours at university."

"I failed maths from Form 1 straight up to Form 5, and I just kept trying. I sat down with the books, I went through it over and over, and I got through,” she said.

Cooper got the news while working at her father’s carwash business Coop Cars, and she said she couldn’t believe it.

My dad was there, we called my relatives, we called my mom and everybody was just ecstatic,” she said.

Cooper, who has three younger sisters said that her sisters look up to her and hope to follow in her footsteps.

Cooper’s social media post went viral after many were inspired by her journey.

“I went to SAGHS for 7 years and they were 7 difficult years, more so in the later part. Winning a national scholarship is a dream come through, granted it’s an additional, I’m still proud of it!”

She outlines several tips for others who are preparing for their exams.

“I wouldn’t have made it out without my friends and classmates. And that brings me to my first point:

“CHOOSE YOUR FRIENDS WISELY! During your tenure at school, they become your family, you'll gain some, youll lose some, but choose wisely. You won’t be best of friends with everyone, but stay good with your classmates too.”

“No excuses. My family didn’t have a lot of money and so things were a little hard especially before I started working in form 6. I never went to lessons. And I say that for all the other people who may be struggling as well and feeling like no lessons is a death sentence. It's not,” she said.

Cooper said she copied the syllabi from classmates and bought or rented books, obtained past papers and used the internet for research. She saved her money from her part-time job and bought a smartphone and used it to submit her SBAs other assignments.

In form 5 for Mocks, I got 23/120 in math and i was just devastated, it wasn’t a shock cuz [sic] I failed for 5 years before but I went home and sat with the math book, and attempted those math questions and corrected it myself until I was satisfied. I got a distinction. Where there's a will, there's a way ," she said.

Cooper added that time management is crucial.

Time management will make or break you. Make your timetable and stick to it. I didn’t think it was something practical, but when you wake up and realise its April 1st and you don’t even know the definition of economics, you’ll realise how absolutely great it is. As a classmate said, utilise that AIRPLANE MODE. Switch off your phone for an hour, then turn it back on for a half half hour etc.”

She warned against comparing oneself with others.

Dont compare yourself to anyone. My name is Kevelle, I will never be Mary. It’s okay to not be Mary, be YOU and be the best you that you can be!”

She also emphasised the importance of proper role models in keeping one focused.

However, Cooper added that having a social life is also important, whether it means spending time with friends or simply doing extracurricular activities.

Most importantly however, Cooper opened up about a critical but not often mentioned topic – mental health.

Cherish your mental health. I struggled with mine throughout high school and there were some days that getting out of bed was just not a possibility.”

“Understand that it’s okay, and you need to take care of you. Take that "rest and reflection" day, talk to someone, join a sport, go do your nails, something! But don’t be so focussed on other people that you forget to take care of yourself,” she said.

Cooper said she hopes to pursue a degree in Finance or Economics is looking forward to the next phase of her life.

Congrats to her!