An elated Phia Rochford, winner of an Additional scholarship for Natural Sciences, is as excited as her mother with her achievement.
“Before the results (came out) my mom and I were very anxious. When she got home from work she’ll ask, ‘the scholarship results out yet’,” she recalled in a Facebook interview with Newsday Tobago on Sunday.
“I worked really hard so part of me knew it was possible to get a scholarship,” she said.
Eventually, Rochford, who is from Goodwood, received the news of her scholarship via a WhatsApp group conversation with her classmates and class teacher at Bishops High School, where one of the students had posted the list of winners and offered congratulations to Rochford and other winners from the school.
She is one of four students from the school to win national scholarships.
Saying that she was ‘tremendously grateful’ for the award, she noted challenges in in Lower Six when she was diagnosed with shingles and had to be away from school for the entire month of March, just one month before her exams began last year.
“The doctors that dealt with me insisted that I stay away from my books because of my low blood count and extremely high stress level,” she recalled. She said forged a close relationship with her doctors during this time and they were a source of motivation.
She also strengthened her relationship with God during this time.
“As head altar server at the St Dominic’s RC Church, God was and is most important in my life. My parents are always amazed by the relationship I have with God,” she said.
Rochford caught up with her work, and writing the CAPE exam in 2016, got all Grade 1s.
As a source of inspiration, she credits 2014 scholarship winner Jahlin Stephen, a BHS student she got to know well while at school.
“He tutored me at the CSEC level in Physics and always saw my potential, he motivated me constantly to always believe in myself as I often doubted my ability. From the moment I began to follow his advice, I was unstoppable. So today, I have him to thank for always believing in me,” she said.
Rochford said Zalisa Guy, a 2016 national scholarship winner, with whom she shares a close friendship, is also being a source of inspiration.
“There was too, the constant motivation from my parents and siblings. My classmates also motivated me, there were other students who would say ‘Phia, you have to get a scholarship girl, you work really hard, and you put your all into your work.’”
“I also extend a heartfelt thank you to all members of my church community for always praying for me,” she said.
Both her parents, Phillip and Corinne Rochford are primary school principals (with Mr Rochford soon to be a school supervisor) and both graduated last Saturday from the University of the West Indies, St Augustine with Masters degrees in Educational Leadership.
Having taken the year off to consider her choices, but spending her time tutoring two students who will do the CSEC exam next year, Rochford said she would like to pursue a medical degree at UWI, Mona, Jamaica.
“My long-term goal is to become a cardiothoracic surgeon. I take a particular interest in the heart due to past experiences with my father and grandparents,” she said.