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Thursday 19 September 2019
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Scarborough students urged to take risks

40 Under 40 school caravan rolls in

WORDS OF WISDOM: Dr Crystal Benjamin, seated right, gives career advice to students Shania Shortt, left, and Akel Jack on Friday.
WORDS OF WISDOM: Dr Crystal Benjamin, seated right, gives career advice to students Shania Shortt, left, and Akel Jack on Friday.

Don't be afraid to take risks.

This was Dr Crystal Benjamin's advice on Friday to a group of Scarborough Secondary School students in Tobago.

Benjamin, a marriage counsellor and Newsday Tobago columnist, was among seven personalities who participated in the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs' 40 Under 40 school caravan series at the school.

The initiative, launched on May 1, gives secondary school students the opportunity to interact with individuals aged 40 and under who have excelled in their respective fields.

The students were taught about the importance of building their self-esteem, being positive role models and making wise career choices.

Last Friday's caravan also featured media personality Hans Des Vignes; clinical psychologist Dr Alina Williams; Waterholics founder Alex Nedd; wedding planner Asha Mars-Lewis; fashion designer Shari Cumberbatch; and WhyFarm founder Alpha Sennon.

"If you have that inner desire, inner gut feeling that you want to pursue something, go for it ā€“ take that risk," Benjamin said.

"I would say that as you are young, use this time to do things that are risky. You don't have any children yet. You don't have loans and credit cards. That is the time to take risks."

Benjamin said when she was in school she travelled more than she does now.

"I have responsibilities, I cannot just pick up and go. One time, I picked up and went to Europe for a month, went to Switzerland, Spain, France, Italy. I just went because I was free.

"I had no children and I had no husband. I went to the Cameroons for two weeks to do a mission trip. Once you take that first step, everything is going to come into place."

Under 40 caravan personalities (seated from left) Hans Des Vignes; Dr Crystal Benjamin; Alex Nedd; Shari Cumberbatch; Dr Alina Williams; Alpha Sennon; and Asha Mars-Lewis at Scarborough Secondary on Friday.

Benjamin, who went into private practice one year ago, recalled the struggles she experienced to start her business. "I started with zero dollars."

She said after quitting her job as a policy and research officer in Tobago, she had to rely on her husband and other family members for support "because I had not been paid for four or five months.

"I don't know what would have happened because I was depleting my savings and I had expenses."

Benjamin said when she was eventually paid "I was like, 'I am taking this money and bouncing.'

"This money had to make me survive until my business start to pick up."

She said she now has a thriving counselling practice in TT "where people said people do not go to counselling."

The other personalities also shared their stories of the adversities they overcame to achieve success.

Form four student Jaydon Du Verney welcomed the initiative.

Scarborough Secondary School student Jaydon Du Verney

"I felt the programme itself was something needed for students of this generation, seeing the way the country going and the bad influences that around the students nowadays," he said.

Du Verney also said he felt the initiative was long overdue.

"It should have been done a long time ago. It was very interesting and it gave us a lot of information as to how to pursue our career and things to do in order to be successful in life."

Du Verney said he wants to become a mechanical engineer.

"From since very young, things about cars just seem to interest me, the engine and different parts of it just piqued my interest," he said.

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