Money woes force top student to drop out of school

March 24, 2017
Kemar Williams is prepared to sell some of his works in order to the $1.2 million he needs to cover the expenses of his schooling.
Kemar Williams poses with a plaque he received after he emerged the top Visual Arts student in the 2011 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination.

Having secured the highest grade in the region in visual arts in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination in 2011, Kemar Williams felt that was the impetus he needed to get his career as an artist off to a dream start.

With hopes of becoming one of the best in the field, the 22-year-old St Thomas native sought employment after graduating from Seaforth High School.

His goal was to get at least a masters level education. However, knowing he was not from the wealthiest of families, he had to delay enrolling in a tertiary institution.

Two years after leaving Seaforth, Williams enrolled in the bachelor of arts education programme at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in 2013.

However, his vibrant dreams have been threatened by a dark financial cloud that has already forced him to drop out of school after two semesters.

"I used to work with National Irrigation [Commission] and I saved up enough money to start the programme, but in the third semester, I wasn't allowed to do the exams because I couldn't afford to pay the fee," Williams said. "My parents don't really have it. So I have to do this on my own."

According to Williams, he has been out of school for almost a year now, but is still yearning to go after his passion which he discovered at primary school.

"From a very young age, when my mother would buy paints for my art class in school, I would use them out before school even start," Williams said.




He said the passion grew in high school as he would find himself spending an entire day in the art room perfecting his painting and drawing skills.

That's when his teacher first found out his talent. Williams, who resides in the rural district of Winchester, said his teacher explained that if he didn't do well in other subjects such as mathematics and English, he wouldn't be able to matriculate to the tertiary level to further develop his skills.

"So when him tell mi that, I started going to the other classes, and I passed seven subjects and was able to go to Edna Manley," Williams said.

In the summer of 2011, Williams travelled to Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, where he was presented with a plaque for his CSEC achievement.

The work, titled 'Spirit of the Caribbean', hangs on a wall at the Norman Manley International Airport, welcoming visitors from the four corners of the world to Jamaica.

When he spoke with THE WEEKEND STAR yesterday, Williams had several pieces of his work which he said he is willing to sell in order to reach the $1.2 million he needs to cover the expenses of his schooling.

"I can do portraits of people, so if anyone wants me to do that I can," said Williams.

Kemar Williams may be contacted at 401-4402.

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