The adage “hard work brings success” could not be truer for Ethan Mohammed, who, in 2019, earned a national scholarship in the open category for mathematics.
Mohammed, 20, who attended Hillview College, El Dorado, said it was not an easy road to traverse in order to land such a reward. He is currently studying at the University of Miami where he is pursuing his bachelor's degree in software engineering and will be entering year two of his journey in August.
He was home on spring break when the borders closed in mid-March because of the covid19 pandemic, and hopes they reopen in time for him to return to university, otherwise, he will have to do his courses online.
Like many others who found math to be a challenge, Mohammed, who lives in Valsayn, also had stumbling blocks, but said this should not demotivate people.
“I understood my strong points as well as where I was weak and took the necessary steps to ensure I succeeded. There was a point where I was at the bottom of my class and was told I would not be able to succeed in this area.
“I know what it was like to be demotivated but at the end of the day, my only competition was me. I would do all the past papers and tried to gather as much information from alternative sources to better help me understand. This also meant going over the content and going over all the work and concepts.”
It was difficult, he said, to balance being a teenager, family life, school, and extra-curricular activities, but the sacrifice was worth it.
He said, “Leading up to exams, probably months before, I would not go to parties, I would completely cut-off liming or hanging out with my friends. It was because I sacrificed my comforts, I was able to focus.
“Everyone is different and what they choose to do may work for them. But this is what I needed to do to guarantee that I reached the goal I wanted to reach.”
Mohammed said while sacrifices must be made to achieve one’s goals it was also important to maintain a balance in life. He pointed to the importance of managing stress and getting adequate rest to prevent burnouts and mental strain.
“As young people, we need to be mindful of our surroundings, peer pressure, and societal pressures. We need to know when to take a break and to re-group. I enjoy football, tennis, and badminton and at times I would engage in these activities to clear my mind.
“Having a positive support team is also important to assist with mental, emotional, and physical stresses. The very little things, like receiving a cup of tea from someone in your circle, relieves stress and makes the journey easier,” Mohammed said.
For Mohammed, his family and friends were his support team, but he noted that not everyone was fortunate to have this.
He encouraged young people to find groups that have similar positive likes, passions, and interests that would motivate them to achieve their desired goal.
Mohammed said, “Some kids may not have a support system but having a support system is essential. It does not have to be family and family does not always have to be blood relatives. Your support system can be your teachers, or your religious institutions, or people who really want the best for you.”
With this in mind, Mohammed started a Facebook page a few months ago called Scholarly TT, which has been geared toward assisting those who have challenges with mathematics.
The classes take place on Facebook Live and are completely free on Mondays and Thursdays from 4 pm to 5 pm and its target is students from forms one to five.
Mohammed said covid19 has made studying more difficult and students need an easy fun way of studying.
He said, “I wanted the page to be an avenue for people to access help and to also make available a platform for people who are good at what they do to share their knowledge, not just in math but other subject areas.”
He added that he does not know what is in store for Scholarly TT but was willing to take it as far as possible down the learning path to afford meaningful and interactive sessions for all participants.
He advised students to be pro-active, pay attention to the teachers, and put in the necessary work.
“Discipline is important because hard work beats talent when talent does not work. Investing time and hard work can change and accomplish anything,” Mohammed said.
Mohammed hopes to land an internship at Google but ultimately wants to own a system engineering firm.
To access Scholarly TT, message the Facebook or Instagram page if you are interested in the sessions.