Jacques Road youth overcomes adversity, moving on to study law
DESPITE being a slow learner while growing up in the depressed and often violence-ridden community of Jacques Road, which runs off Mountain View Avenue, 21-year-old Renee Atkinson has managed to beat the odds and will enter university to study law this semester.
The well-spoken young man is testimony that poverty is no excuse for lack of ambition, and despite all the negative distractions is sternly focussed on using education as a tool to lift himself out of poverty.
“I stay inside most of the time so I never got involved,” Atkinson told the Jamaica Observer yesterday. “My grandmother keeps the family together and makes sure we don’t get into any wrongdoing. It wasn’t easy at times, but I knew what I had to do.”
Atkinson attended St George’s College where he passed eight Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate subjects — Mathematics, English Literature, Religious Education, Principles of Accounts, and Information Technology at grade one level and English language, Principles of Business and History at grade two.
Of note is the fact that he gained the highest possible grade in Mathematics while still a fourth former and was awarded twice by the Home School Association for being an outstanding student.
He then matriculated to sixth form where he gained eight CAPE units with four distinctions and four credits.
Now he is heading to the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus to pursue his dream of becoming an attorney.
“I always wanted to be a lawyer. I am not sure if I will do criminal law or financial law, but I am sure that I want to become an attorney-at-law,” the modest young
But life was not all roses for Atkinson, who lives with his grandmother and not his parents.
Although his schoolmates were from more affluent backgrounds, he was never intimidated by his economic circumstances.
“Luckily my friends don’t stereotype, so I never felt too much pressure, and because I was doing well academically it took off some of the negatives,” he said.
Living in the tough Jacques Road neighbourhood was not easy for the young man who oftentimes studied while gunshots rang out as community gang members fought each other or defended themselves from heavily armed thugs from neighbouring communities.
Those street battles threw the Mountain View area into chaos for years before peace was brokered.
“Sometimes when we hear the gunshots we have to just ignore them and keep studying,” Atkinson said. “It was scary, but because I hardly go outside it never really affected me that much.”
Atkinson was one of 70 students from the East Kingston and Port Royal constituency who were presented with cheques to assist in their tuition by Government member of parliament Phillip Paulwell at the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica auditorium yesterday.
Although Jacques Road is situated in the neighbouring constituency of South East St Andrew, Atkinson was still singled out for assistance by Paulwell because of his academic achievement and economic situation.
“He does not really live in the constituency (East Kingston and Port Royal), but we have to help all the young people we can because education is the vehicle of progress for our people,” Paulwell said.
Atkinson has been getting assistance from Paulwell since his days at Rollington Town
“He was a slow learner, but we kept him back in the After-School Project and made sure he caught up. I am very proud of his achievement and know he will do well at the tertiary level,”
The After-School Project is part of Paulwell’s constituency educational drive for students at the primary level who are slow learners.
Yesterday, Atkinson was also handed a cheque to assist with his university tuition by Paulwell, who doled out $5 million worth of awards to needy students. This is the 10th year the member of parliament has assisted students in his constituency.
“I have not opened the envelope, but I am very grateful for the assistance,” the young man said, flashing a smile.
Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Renee-Atkinson-rises-above-poverty–violence-and-is-heading-to-law-school_14931084#ixzz2cnc4Z88D