• Feature
    Minister with responsibility for Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Karl Samuda, with medical student Quwayne Howell, at a press conference at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, in September, to announce scholarship support for needy medical students.
    Photo: Donald De La Haye

    Story Highlights

    • Ninteen-year-old Quwayne Howell wants to become one of Jamaica’s foremost facial plastic surgeons.
    • The young man, who hails from the community of Allman Town in Kingston, wants to help people with defects or disfigurement to the face, resulting from birth or trauma, to live normal lives.
    • Quwayne studied hard in school, earning eight grade ones in the 2019 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination in English Language, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Information Technology, Mathematics, Add Mathematics, and Spanish.

    Ninteen-year-old Quwayne Howell wants to become one of Jamaica’s foremost facial plastic surgeons.

    The young man, who hails from the community of Allman Town in Kingston, wants to help people with defects or disfigurement to the face, resulting from birth or trauma, to live normal lives.

    Quwayne studied hard in school, earning eight grade ones in the 2019 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination in English Language, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Information Technology, Mathematics, Add Mathematics, and Spanish.

    He also attained six Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) passes in Pure Mathematics, Communication Studies, Caribbean Studies, Chemistry, Physics, and Biology.

    These grades were more than good enough for him to get into the coveted Medical Science Faculty at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona.

    But, the St. George’s High school valedictorian hit a major hurdle in realising his dream, when, after doing the financial assessment at The UWI in August, he was told that despite having the required grades, he could not be accepted into the medical faculty due to financial challenges.

    The medical programme at The UWI costs approximately $3 million per year, which his family could not afford.

    “That was one of the saddest days of my life. My only dream was to become a plastic surgeon and I thought that my dream was over. My whole life was gearing up to this moment. I was feeling like a failure,” Quwayne relates to JIS News.

    Disappointed, he says he decided to sign up to do the more affordable Biochemistry programme in the Faculty of Science and Technology.

    Weeks later, Quwayne got the surprise of his life when he received an email informing him that he had received a scholarship from the Government, which would cover 80 per cent of his medical school fees.

    The scholar was among 47 needy medical students to benefit from the support.

    Quwayne tells JIS News that he was in the midst of taking out his identification card for the Faculty of Science and Technology when he received the news and immediately abandoned that process.

    “I was just so elated and I called my parents to let them know. They have always been there for me providing not only financial but emotional support as well,” he says.

    Quwayne, who is the fifth child for his father, a welder, and the third child for his mother, a housewife, tells JIS News that he wants to do well in life to motivate other youngsters in his community.

    “Knowing that you are from an inner-city community …there are stereotypes that people put on you, which just hinder you and make you question what you are doing,” he says.

    “When you walk in the community you don’t see any lawyers or doctors, you don’t see many teachers,” he adds.

    He notes, however, that that he has always been determined to succeed, and cites his father as one of his greatest inspirations.

    “He is the main breadwinner for the family and he goes out there and work every day from Sunday to Sunday. He tells me anywhere I want to go in life he will try his best to find the money and that I should just do my part and God will do the rest,” Quwayne says.

    He says he is proud that not only will he be the first doctor in his family but the first to attend university.

    Quwayne tells JIS News that every morning when he walks into the “prestigious Faculty of Medical Science” he feels like he is living a dream.

    “I was one out of 255 students who got the 30 points needed to enter medical school. So every time I walk into the lecture theatre and see the lecturers, I am like ‘what a dream I am living’ so I just need to capitalise on this dream and make my family and community proud,” he says.

    Quwayne says he plans to use his skill as a doctor to impact people’s life in a positive way.

    “I think plastic surgery is an area that people undermine because they believe that it is not life-saving.

    “But I think it is life-saving because it is saving the patient mentally. For example, if somebody has an accident and their entire face is disfigured, this may cause them to have low self-esteem. So, I want to correct that and help them. I want to impact their life both mentally and spiritually,” he says.

    Quwayne tells JIS News that he will be eternally grateful to the Government and people of Jamaica, who have made it possible for him to attain his dream.

    He plans to start his own charity when he becomes a doctor to give back to his community via a mobile clinic. He says a number of his fellow students have committed to the cause.

    “It is taxpayers’ money that help us to be here so why not give back? It is the simplest thing that we do can do to help make a big difference,” he notes.