Once a janitor.... man now on verge of completing university degree
Six years ago, Kirkton Bennett was a janitor, wiping the floors of the Church Teachers' College in Manchester.
Today, he is just one semester away from completing a double major in English at the institution.
The 26-year-old, who hails from Hopeton, Manchester, told THE STAR that he has always been an ambitious young man. But he has faced many obstacles, particularly because of his humble background.
Hopeton said he had dreams of grandeur after graduating from DeCarteret College in Manchester with seven CXC subjects.
"When I was leaving high school, I planned to be an executive chef. I planned to be on some cruise ship, so I started the hospitality programme with Knox Community College," Bennett shared.
He financed his education at Knox, in part, by selling bootleg DVDs to his classmates, but got kicked out before completing the programme because he could not pay the full tuition.
"As fat as I am, I had to run from the police. One evening I was running from the police, and it so happened that one of the young ladies in Juici-Beef (restaurant) knew me and I was able to throw the bag to her and run through Juici-Beef. The police couldn't really lock me up because they didn't see me with anything," Bennett recalled.
Determined to make something of himself, despite the odds being piled against him, Bennett started applying for jobs by making the 35-minute walk from Hopeton to Mandeville daily to drop off application letters. He said he had sent out some 200 applications but without much luck.
In 2010, Bennett had a breakthrough of sorts when he landed an interview with the Church Teachers' College for the position of a chef in their kitchen.
Unfortunately, he did not get that position but they advised him of a janitorial position that opened up. He took the job.
"It was real hard that first day because there were people here [pursuing their degree] that I had graduated with from high school," Bennett said.
He continued: "I had a girlfriend at the time and she flat out told me she she cyaa deh wid janitor."
Nonetheless, Bennett took on his janitorial job with zeal until, a year later, a clerical position opened up in the accounting department and he was recommended for the job. Bennett soon decided to pursue his degree at the college, though he was uncertain of how he would finance it.
"For the first semester I begged to sit my exams because my fees weren't paid, and I got all As," Bennett shared.
Bennett said he had to sit out a year of school because he was unable to pay his tuition. However, he is now back on track, in his final year, and is working part-time as a secretary for the school library.