Ashroan Fraser strongly believes in the philosophy that success is not determined by where one begins in life, but is instead influenced by how well an individual moves on from where they started.
It is this mindset that motivates this young man, who is one of the 2012 Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH) tertiary scholarship recipients.
Born and raised in Truro,Westmoreland, the aspiring neurosurgeon says he is grateful for the tremendous support received from PATH over the years, including the recent scholarship that he was awarded, for outstanding academic performance at the secondary level.
“Having received the scholarship, valued at $1million, is truly a heart-warming feeling. It has opened up new doors for me to pursue my studies in the field of medicine,” he says.
He tells JIS news that before receiving the scholarship, he often wondered how his parents would fund his tertiary education at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona.
Committed to succeed, he managed to obtain nine Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations, and 10 Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Exams (CAPE), at Monroe College, which allowed him to pursue his studies in the field of medicine at UWI.
Because of his exemplary performance at the CAPE level, he was awarded top science student for 2011, which he considers a major achievement.
The scholar says his passion for the sciences developed in his first year at Monroe College, and he then decided to pursue medicine at the tertiary level.
“I believe that going into this field will actually put me in the position, to make a difference in my community, because most of the residents there normally resort to herbal doctors and medicines, so my aim is to educate them about acquiring proper health care,” he says.
Ashroan recalled that while growing up, he faced some challenging times, because his parents were unable to provide for him effectively, particularly his high school education.
“I remember the days when I had to walk to school, which was about seven miles away from home. I did this because I didn’t have the required textbooks to facilitate my studies, so I would save my bus fare, in order to purchase my books, because I was determined to pass my exams,” he says.
He tells JIS News that he was enrolled in PATH in 2005, when he started high school, which helped him tremendously.
Ashroan says he benefitted from the school feeding programme during that time, which provided him with lunch three days per week, and to a large extent, eased some of the financial burdens he faced.
He adds that as a result of his circumstance, he became stronger, and was more determined to succeed, because he realised that he had to successfully complete his secondary education, which was the key to pursuing his dreams.
“I was contented with what I had, because I knew that I would rise above my circumstance, despite the struggles faced. I am from a very humble beginning, and I knew that my parents weren’t in the position to provide for me in many ways, so I just accepted that fact,” he says.
The youngster says the hard times he faced helped him to realize that education was the only vehicle to drive him out of poverty, so he became more committed to academic success.
The Monroe College past student says, during secondary school, he was engaged in a number of social activities, which contributed to his overall development.
“I am the founder and former president of the mathematics club; a former member of the inter-school Christian Fellowship and Science Clubs at Munroe College. I also tutored 5th form students at Frome Technical High School, in a number of subject areas, including mathematics, biology, physics and chemistry on Saturdays,”he informs.
Reflecting on how PATH has impacted his life positively, he encourages beneficiaries to be proud of such a programme that has touched so many lives.
He urges beneficiaries to accept where they are in life, and use their situation as a driving force to move forward, and excel in their academic endeavors.
“I am imploring beneficiaries at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels to feel good about themselves, and make the best of the programme, given the fact that it is the only social security programme that caters for the most vulnerable in Jamaica,” he notes.
He is especially encouraging boys at the secondary level to complete their high school education, which will prevent them from becoming unattached youth in society, and will therefore break the inter-generational cycle of poverty.
Ashroan however points out that there are certain aspects of the programme that needs to be improved, such as customer service, and how information is transmitted to the public regarding the programme.
He adds that most persons in the rural areas are unaware of some of the benefits that currently exist, such as available grants and scholarships.
In concluding, he advises youngsters to choose a career path that they are passionate about, so that they can give of their utmost best throughout their school life, and when they enter the world of work.
Ashroan Fraser is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery(MBBS) at the UWI, Mona, with an emphasis in pediatric neurosurgery.