I had traveled the higher education road before when I completed my Diploma in Mass Communications at CARIMAC. Then, it was understood that the education path was to go through Primary school, then High school, then on to University. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to go, but it took two attempts before I made it, because Mass Communications is a very competitive course and everyone in media wanted a spot. 

At this stage in my life, I think I have a greater appreciation for UWI life than I believe I would have had in 1997. The university is not so ‘theory focused’ any more and the courses have become so much more practical and hands on. This is something that I loved about the course I chose.

I wanted to improve on my skills and I asked a close friend for advice on what I should do. When he suggested that I pursue a fairly new degree in Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC), I gave serious thought to finding new friends since going back to school was not what I had in mind. Couldn’t I just wave a magic wand or drink some kinda potion or something, c’mon dude! 

I felt that at my age, who on God’s green Earth would want to subject themself to that kind of commitment and hard work and assignments and deadlines and playing nice with other classmates?  Not to  mention the godawful, wretched, mandatory English Language entrance test I’d have to do in order to get in, even though I had passed both English Language and English Literature at the CXC level. Turns out that mi proppa, good up grade dem nevva matta because dem doh recognize CXC! Yuh si how di devil bad mind?! I don’t like tests, they don’t like me, we don’t like each other…but I studied the 40 odd page book, sat the test, passed it like a boss and the 3 year journey began.

It took a minute…like a year…before I got my UWI rhythm and grew over time to love the versatility of IMC. This course complements my media experience. It also introduced…and frightened the crap out of me…to elements such as poetry, creating a website, creating surveys and conceptualizing and implementing three events, yes sah! Tossed off of a cliff and told to fly! 

Group work is a great part of UWI life; it preps us to be able to deal with varied egos, personalities and scenarios. Trust me it wasn’t fun at times, because no matter how strong the group is, you’ll always have those that won’t pull their weight. Truth be told, sometimes you’ll want to just slap somebody! I can say with pride and a great deal of relief, that I had wonderful groups during my tenure; we leaned on each other whether or not we had a project, studying and  helping each other, even with courses we weren’t doing, upholding the pledge that we would leave no one behind.

The friendships formed over the 3 years on campus are priceless and we all keep in touch… thank God, I am better versed in using social media #coversface. Love them all as they still cannot believe my age, still requiring signed proof 🙂 

Love you all forever….(There aren’t enough pages for all the pictures I have 🙂 )

Listen, I may be a graduate with a degree but I’m not so smart. In second year, a message was sent in the wattsapp group about team members that made the Dean’s list. I was showering them with love and telling them how proud I was of them, only to have them say “Rox you made the list” Whaaaat??? I was so damned focused on not failing any part of the course, that I wasn’t watching GPA or Dean’s List! (I made that list twice, by the way, and had to be told both times, oy vey!) Hard to believe I’m allowed to wander around without parental supervision!:) Those were proud moments for me, it meant all my hard work and dedication were paying off.

Let me tell you something, I did not attend UWI alone. God has blessed me with such an incredible circle of friends who were there with me when I felt that failure was a sign of the  times and I should just pack it all in and slink off to raise sheep in New Zealand; supporting me late into the night when the paper for midnight submission was looking anything but ready; being there when my part of the project refused to come together, offering themselves as interviewees or test subjects for many of my projects and showing up for the events my group had to put on. I don’t have enough words to express my eternal thanks to all my friends who are family. When I graduated I said ‘We finish UWI’ and we are all graduating.

I did it……
Family and Friends…well some. UWI wouldn’t let them all in 🙂

Each course came with a variety of lecturers, running the gamut from the sweetest, who took the time to assist and encourage, to the harshest ones, who, with a little help, sent you to figure that baby out yourself! There were others that were so mean, I had to take to prayer in order to subdue the thoughts I had about them. Mummy would have been ashamed. Shi try wid mi enuh! 

But get this…for my entire school life, I always thought I wasn’t a bright student. School seemed to be harder for me  than it did for my friends and classmates. It seemed to take more effort for me to grasp things, I had to work harder and do extra classes. I hated school. But then, in my second year at UWI, when I felt I would fail because of a particularly difficult course, a lecturer took the time to assess me and informed me that I am what is called a ‘Kinesthetic learner.’ Hmm? What now? Well, it means I learn best by writing out my notes, highlighting sections during the lectures, using sticky notes with topic areas. This process helps me retain the information better. Remember I said me and tests don’t gree? I freeze up even if I know the subject. After my diagnosis 🙂 I got pass papers and wrote out the essays where it was required, wrote out the answers to questions. Study groups also helped a great deal. When I got into the exams I remembered what I had written, it helped to spark my memory and calm my nerves, and I did better in the exams going to the end of my time at UWI. 

A humbling and gratitude filled moment was when I got my results and realized I had received Second Class Honors.  When I started my journey to being a Pelican again…I didn’t think I could do it, I doubted myself during the process but I learned so much from the books, the lecturers, my fellow classmates and all the experiences in my 3 1/2 years at the University of the West Indies…again.

UWI’s motto “Oriens Ex Occidente Lux” means “Light rising from the West.” My light has risen and will continue to shine as I make my mark and continue to learn and grow in whatever I decide to pursue.