At eighteen, Kevelle Cooper has already shown grit and great resilience as she triumphed over her economic hurdles to earn a national scholarship. The St Augustine Girls’ High School alumna is one of 36 students to receive national scholarships this year. She was awarded an additional scholarship in business.
Cooper’s driving force to reach her goals was not only to make her parents, Rachel Edmund and Kevin Cooper, proud but also to be a role model to other teenagers and young adults. She tells Sunday Newsday, “My family did not have a lot of money and still I never compared my journey to any of my peers. I knew my journey was different and I knew I had to work hard and find a way out to help my family, and this way out was through education. My mother is a strong praying woman and she would always say that things would get better one day.”
The Chaguanas resident emphasised the importance of setting goals and remaining focussed on them. “Write down your goals and remind yourself that you must work hard everyday at it. I envisioned myself winning a scholarship, and everyday I worked hard towards my goals. I knew my family was struggling but I did not allow such to define me.”
When she was in sixth form, the teenager worked as a cashier in a supermarket after school to help out at home. Her shift began at 3 pm and ended at 10 pm, after which she would immerse herself in studies until the wee hours of the morning. “It was always difficult. There were days I would be so tired, but I knew that my sacrifices would not have been in vain.” She obtained eight distinctions in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC), and six distinctions and two ones in Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE).
While working, Cooper had saved her money and purchased a smart phone which she utilised to complete all her school based assessment assignments. “I could not afford a laptop, so a smart phone was my only other option.” She recalled in fifth form, not being able to afford internet at home and having to find a way to get her CSEC results, which were announced online. “I literally ran out of the house with my phone to get a wireless connection. I stayed a while searching for a free wireless connection.”
When she saw her results she was thrilled. “I was screaming. I was so happy, I ran home screaming. My mother was waiting for me at the front gate and when she saw me screaming, she too started screaming and jumping for joy.” Edmund said she was proud of her daughter’s achievements.
Cooper tells Sunday Newsday she is always optimistic and when many of her peers were taking extra lessons, she knew her family could not afford to pay for lessons. She spent her lunch periods in the library reading other resources relevant to her subjects. “I followed the different syllabuses, got past papers and even rented books from the library. I always believed that where there is a will there is a way. I was not going to let my situation define who I was.” Cooper adhered to her goals, determined to succeed. She has since shared her story online to give other students a reason to believe in their goals - a story which has gone viral. She has taken a year off from studies and works in her father’s company, Coop’s Car Care as the accounts manager. She plans to further her studies in economics.