JIS News

Story Highlights

  • A St. Catherine mother of two, whose formal education was interrupted at age 15, is today a proud academic achiever, with a scholarship, and is on course for a brighter future.
  • Sherine Mullings Hughes, who hails from Top Mountain near Kitson Town, passed the four subjects she sat in this year’s Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) tests, three with distinction and one credit.
  • After being pulled out of high school by those who did not believe in her ability to succeed, she did many odd jobs, including working as a shop assistant.

A St. Catherine mother of two, whose formal education was interrupted at age 15, is today a proud academic achiever, with a scholarship, and is on course for a brighter future.

Sherine Mullings Hughes, who hails from Top Mountain near Kitson Town, passed the four subjects she sat in this year’s Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) tests, three with distinction and one credit.

Along with the three subjects she passed in 2013, the 24-year-old now has seven CSEC subjects. While her achievement may seem modest to some, it is an outstanding accomplishment for someone, who has overcome many obstacles over the course of her life.

After being pulled out of high school by those who did not believe in her ability to succeed, she did many odd jobs, including working as a shop assistant. Over the years, she got married and had two children and her one desire was to create a better life for her family.

In 2012, at the age of 22, she decided to enroll at the Kitson Town Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Evening Institute, an evening programme run by volunteer teachers, to do CSEC subjects so as to qualify for a steady job.

“I was working at this place, and a lady there who had three children, and her husband in jail, she was in class doing well, and I said ‘if she could do that, I can do better’,” she tells JIS News.

Mrs. Hughes passed the three subjects she took in 2013, with the kind assistance of a community member, who paid for the exams.

Proud of her success, the determined young lady decided to do more subjects. “I had cried throughout the years already, and there are no more tears left. I always wanted to put all those people that didn’t believe in me to shame,” she states.

The day of August 16, 2014 will forever be etched in her mind. as it was then that a celebration of achievement became a life changing moment.

The 24-year old was among students invited by the Institute to the Kitson Town Seventh Day Adventist Church to give thanks for their success.

When the reports were read to the congregation, representatives from the Spanish Town-based Westmore College, who were present immediately offered her a one-year scholarship to study the Canadian Live-In Caregiver Programme.

“They have done so much for me; if they could just see my heart right now. I never knew that a girl like me could receive two scholarships; the first one was to cover all my (exam) fees, and this one, to help me to become somebody in the future. It is so great, and I am very grateful and thankful,” she gushes.

Mrs. Hughes says her ultimate wish is to become a psychologist. She is encouraging youth in Kitson Town, who are not in school, to make the Kitson Town Seventh Day Adventist Evening Institute their choice for social mobility.

“The teachers here, they are great. If they see that you have the potential, they work with you. Coming here is the best choice you could ever make,” she says.

Principal of Westmore College, Leanora Taylor, tells JIS News that the institution offers training in practical nursing, Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) classes, as well as the Canadian Live-In Caregiver Programme. The latter course prepares persons to provide care for a child, an elderly person, or an adult with disabilities in Canada.

Miss Tayor says she was impressed by Mrs. Hughes’ determination to succeed. “Not a lot of people go to evening schools and achieve what she has achieved. They have work and other things to do; and for her to come out and pass all of her subjects, that’s a great achievement,” she says.

Pastor of the Kitson Town SDA Circuit of Churches, Wayne Smikle, says the evening programme “is a good venture for the church, and persons have benefitted from it. Eighty percent of the students are members of the community, and they are doing well.”

“We are touching the lives of persons in the community, and to God be the glory, great things He is doing,” he adds.

He also lauds the work of the volunteer teachers at the Institute.  “To the volunteers, thank you very much; we can’t pay you because we don’t have it. You have given of your time, you have made the sacrifice, and now we are seeing the fruits of your labour,” he says.

For his part Vice Principal of the Institute, Errol Martin, tells JIS News that the objective is to change lives for the better.

He says the teachers are “motivated by the hunger in the people’s eyes, and their yearning to do well.”

“It spurs us on. We try to tell people that the best is always out there, and not because you dropped out of school, you can still do well; and as long as you come to this school, we push that every evening,” Mr. Martin says.