KINGSTOWN, SVG (BreadFruit News) – Several disappointments along the way did not prevent Vincentian Shaneika Mclean from sticking to her life altering decision to join the Royal Navy.
Mclean who is keen on inspiring other young Vincentians said:
“In 2018, I made the decision to apply to the Royal Navy. First of all, I didn’t know how I was going to pay for my ticket or other expenses because at the time I was also sending myself to university and I was no longer living with my parents, so I had to budget everything and then budget that budget.”
“I decided to take on a part time job in the night to help myself earn more so I could pay for my training to get myself fit. I honestly don’t know how I managed working full time in the day and part time at night and then still did catering and wigs on the side and try do university.”
Coming at the crossroads at the time, she made the tough decision to forgo her studies at university as there was simply not enough hours in the day to maintain her busy schedule. Shaneika instead set her gaze on doing all it took to pursue a career in the United Kingdom.
“I didn’t care about losing sleep, so I pushed myself. I also decided to drop university, and my night and side jobs to focus on training.”
However, it seemed that all the sacrifices would go up in flames at the first hurdle. Able Rate Mclean who one person said should have become an ‘airhostess’ rather than a sailor within a military apparatus failed her first attempt at the 2.4Km run.
All recruits are required to pass a pre-joining fitness test which includes a run. This is an important requirement for the rigorous 10-weeks initial training at HMS Raleigh.
“I failed the run …. I got 16:58 and the pass time for my age was 14:58… and on top of that, I was running incorrectly so my knee was hurting after that… so every night I got hot water and put it on my knee until I healed. I started running again and when I finally got to 14:50 I cried so much. The little accomplishments matter!“
Her struggles and troubles would not end there as she had to overcome a second hurdle even before signing her naval contract. On arriving to England, she was told that she had a heart defect which delayed her entry.
“I had one disappointment after another… my heart doesn’t pump blood as it should, so I have to push myself a little harder in physical activities but hey ya girl isn’t a quitter and I wasn’t going to give up that easily…so I kept up with my fitness although I was told to not push myself as hard.”
“I waited three months to hear if they would let me continue with my application process… listen I cried so much during those three months of waiting because the Royal Navy was all I could think about… The day I called, and they told me I can continue with training was honestly one of the happiest days of my life.”
Hurdle no. 3
Here comes hurdle number three. Shaneika who once worried about wasting all the money she had already spent on university had to deal with another health scare which could have permanently derailed her career.
She injured herself fracturing her left foot during initial training forcing her to spend months doing rehabilitation on the naval base.
Fast forward, Shaneika who was momentarily depressed overcame the odds and if anyone had placed a bet that she would have given in to all obstacles, the young Vincentian is reminding everyone:
“Rome wasn’t built in a day so if you failed at something, get up, dust yourself off and try again. Give 1000% of your best effort even in the small things. Help others along the way during their training as well because teamwork makes the dream work. Never give up!”
“Take the step. You will not regret it. It may seem impossible, but you can do anything in this world if you truly want too.”
As the Green Hill resident looks forward to her time in the Royal Navy, she is also set on helping as many persons she can along the way. Speaking to Breadfruit News, she said:
“When I complete phase 2, I’d like to work with or start a non-profit organisation where I can give back to help the less fortunate in St. Vincent and other countries. I’d also like to start life coaching young people worldwide, said a determined Shaneika.”
She has left one more message with anyone going through any personal struggle:
“looking back, I’m honestly grateful for the people I’ve met and the experiences. It made me stronger! So, if you are doubting yourself… don’t! Life is a rollercoaster…but if you never stop believing in yourself, you can do anything!”
“Everyone’s journey isn’t the same… and the race isn’t for the swift, it’s for those who can endure until the end!”
The management of BreadFruit News congratulates Shaneika and wish her story inspire others who are facing personal challenges. We are running a series of inspirational stories to remind all Vincentians, particularly our young people, to never give up!