Life has taught transitioning ward of the State, 18-year-old LeChelle Walker, to live with a heart of gratitude and always look for the silver lining in every situation.
It is, therefore, no surprise that the teenager, despite not achieving eight distinctions in the 2020 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination, as she had hoped, is nonetheless still happy and thankful to have passed all eight subjects sat.
The Cedar Grove Academy student secured a distinction in Information Technology, grade two in Mathematics, Spanish, History, Social Studies, Geography and English Language and a grade three in English Literature.
“I am grateful for what I got, because the Bible says in everything give thanks,” the Liguanea Preparatory past student tells JIS News.
The devout Christian and member of the Oneness Apostolic Assembly of Jesus Christ in St. Catherine further states that “I believe what I got is what God wants me to get, so I am grateful”.
The aspiring attorney-at-law believes she prepared sufficiently for the exams, which she described as being “manageable”.
“I studied for them, so I had faith that I would pass. So I wasn’t really nervous to do the exams, but I was nervous when I was waiting for [the results] because I really wanted to do well,” she adds.
According to LeChelle, the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak did not affect her studies, noting that it positively impacted her preparations.
“Honestly, I found the whole COVID thing as a blessing… it did not affect me at all. The more I stayed home, the more I actually got time to study and to actually say that now I know my education is really my responsibility,” she further shares.
However, prior to the onset of COVID-19 and her becoming a Christian, LeChelle, who since age two has been living with her grand-aunts, one of whom is her foster mother, struggled with personal challenges, including low-self-esteem and depression.
“I struggled emotionally a lot. My self-esteem was low because of many other personal problems that made me depressed. [Though] my grades were off, my teachers were telling me that I was brilliant and that I could do better.
But I wasn’t in for that; I wanted other things; I wanted to party,” she adds.
However, the young lady had a turning point after reconnecting with her best friend, Britallia Bygrave, who introduced her to God.
“I found this relationship with God when I was in grade nine. I saw where I was headed, so at the age of 15, I told God that I needed help, as I was afraid of going in the same direction as my mother [had]. I began to pray and I got motivated to do better as I prayed and had faith in God,” LeChelle said.
“I was suffering a lot and He was there, being a best friend… and just speaking to me and encouraging me,” she recounts.
“Because of that, I started to change overall. I started to look at life differently and wanted more for myself. When I started talking to God I felt like I could get more, I felt like an eagle,” the former Grade 11 Prefect, Block Monitor and Grade Overseer says.
Although LeChelle confesses to having no recollection of living at the children’s home she was placed in for a short time, she says there was a point when she felt ashamed to be associated with such a facility.
“There were times when I was really embarrassed, because people use to say you come from homes… but I prayed a lot,” she recounts.
And according to the impressionable young woman, she is no longer bothered by her past and now regards her time spent at the children’s home as a blessing.
“I used to cry, and I remember asking God why he has put me in this family… why me in this situation. But after my encounter with God and I looked back on the situation I say… in everything give thanks,” LeChelle adds.
“I don’t cry anymore, I just say let’s do some more. It’s like it just pushes me to take up a book to do some reading, to do something to make myself better. Now I am happy for the situation and my thing is that in everything, give thanks,” the sixth-former further states.
LeChelle, who will be doing Law, Caribbean History, Sociology, and Communications in the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE), says she is now more determined to ace the external test.
She encourages other wards of the State not to be disheartened by their current situation, but to make the most of it, develop a closer relationship with God and trust that everything will go in their favour in due time, adding that “when you are with God, the worldly [distractions] don’t matter”.
LeChelle says she is very grateful to her grand-aunts, who have been assisting her, and is even more thankful to God for placing her in a situation which enables her to benefit significantly.
The teenager, who enjoys reading and spending time with God in her spare time, commends her grand-aunts for being there for her and helping to strengthen her self-belief.
Meanwhile, Attorney-at-Law, Linnette Malcolm, LeChelle’s foster mother and role model, says she is overjoyed with the youngster’s performance in CSEC exams.
“I am happy that she has succeeded, and based on her interest I believe she will achieve her goal. She works hard and she is very ambitious,” she says.