KINGSTOWN, SVG (BreadFruit News) – Listening to Ms. Iesha Richardson, you would believe that you are reading a script for a life-time movie. It is not. It is a testament of faith, opportunity, dedication and an education revolution.
After enduring hardship, being laughed at, and gossiped about, Ms Richardson is challenging her naysers to “spread the great news now, you had doubted me!”
She said in a Facebook post following her graduation from the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Community College (SVGCC):
“Two years ago after sending numerous applications and not getting a job, I decided to go see the Prime Minister Dr Hon Ralph Gonsalves. After a long talk, he said, ‘Miss Richardson, we’re living in a competitive era, CXCs alone won’t cut it, the world is evolving. Why don’t you go back to college?’”
“I said to him, No, college is for people just leaving secondary school and I was on the YES programme before. I need a job to help me and he asked what kind of job will you get that’s paying a lot with CXC subjects only and the college has no age limitations now, you have the potential to do well at college, why don’t you sign up for an Associate [degree] programme out there and see how it goes?”
Just like the turning point scenes in movies go, her life took a new turn. She went on to say:
“I told him I’ll think about it, but I had no intention of going but eventually I went and signed up for the FULL-TIME program and started like a month and some after College started. I had a lot of catching up to do but I made up my mind to do it”.
The college graduate took the opportunity to express gratitude to Prime Minister Gonsalves for believing in her and pushing her to greatness as a symbol of his timeless reminder, “let the young people soar like eagles, with wings unclipped”.
While recounting her college experience, the Biabou resident said her graduation was an emotional day.
“You think this success just came overnight? No, it didn’t. It was met with many sleepless nights of tears running down my face when I thought about giving up. Being a full time Mom to four (4) kids, I felt ashamed going to college. People will say negative things that made me felt it was a wrong decision to want to go further my education”.
“Sometimes, I will try not to wear the official college uniform but will opt for the polo and jeans just so that people could stop asking me ‘Why you waste time go college now you’re an adult? Or, way[sic] you doing in college uniform? “
“To be honest, I just smiled but deep down I was hurting. I had a child doing CPEA who is now at GHS and one in secondary school. I felt guilty sometimes not being to help them fully but they were very understanding. I struggled, I fell, I stumbled, I cried, I even got sick while at college and never one day complained to anyone but I prayed to the Almighty”
“I remembered doing my first exams and literally had nowhere to go as I left where I was living. Each day I came to college with a loaded shoulder asking God what’s next? To make matters worse, I was struggling financially and yet I didn’t tell anyone. Days I would show up with my kids when they were sick and had no one to leave them with. They sat outside while I kept a close eye on them”.
“Days I would show up with my kids when they were sick and had no one to left them with. My Communication Lecturer was very helpful while doing my exams, he allowed my 5yr old son inside who had high fever. Thank you Sir.. Sometimes they sat outside while my friends and I kept a close eye on them”.
“People tarnished my name with titles that were not mines because they saw God blessing me and I suffered severely with anxiety and depression. I had to do all the duties of a woman at home before coming to classes and hurry home on evenings. I had no free time! Sometimes I got jealous of my classmates when they were planning their weekend lime but I knew God had a plan for me”.
Ms Richardson story is a timely reminder in a social media era that dedication through rough times bring success. She told her friends and anyone who would listen:
“Throughout my two years at college, I NEVER failed one course, always maintained a G.P.A of over 3.3, was voted as Student Council president where I gained the respect of many”.
“Second year of college, I moved to a new residence/apt with not even a bed fitted up and slept in a chair for a week without any fridge. I kept asking God, why am I going through all this? My daughter started acting up, woke up one morning, hustling to go college and met a letter on my table from her. That same morning, I had a test and quickly called my lecturer who was very accommodating to say I will be late. Thank you Lord for delivering her from the wicked”.
“I became very ill in the latter part of my second semester suffering with trigeminal neuralgia (very painful minor seizures) where I had to seek medical attention overseas and be on strong meds to help me sleep.”
Facing her health challenge almost pushed the mother of four to give up. She relied on support of friends and teachers who counselled her:
“Iesha you reached so far and why are you going to quit? My lecturers encouraged me not to quit. I got tired of praying one time and use to just cry every time I knelt down to pray. God delivered me!”
Today she is celebrating being a first-year University of the West Indies Open Campus student pursuing a degree in Banking and Finance.
BreadFruit News reached out to Ms Richardson to share her story particularly to young people who feel at times that the world is against them or that their circumstances are beyond their ability to overcome.
She advises from nuggets of life that she has learnt along the way:
To all young people particular young girls: Firstly, prayer is the only and best weapon to fight every fear!
Secondly, ‘Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today’–Malcolm X
“There are days when all you ever encounter are roadblocks, preventing you from moving forward. The moments when your dreams seem so out of reach make you wonder if it’s truly worth pursuing or fighting for. However, the challenges you may face along the way are not meant to make you quit and just spend the rest of your days on the sidelines, being bitter about life. The challenges strewn on your paths are meant to test your mettle, to see how strong you are”.
She encourages young people to use her story as an example:
“take every negative critic and try to make a positive and meaningful difference to drive you forward but never give up on yourself. Surround yourself with people who are genuinely happy for you and who will want you to do better. Stay focused, persistent and relentless!”
‘Never give up, for that is the place and time that the tide will turn’ – Harriet Beecher Stowe
The Management of BreadFruit News CONGRATULATES Iesha on her success so far and wish her God’s continued blessings and guidance throughout her life course.