UPDATED: Top grades, but no money for college — Bright student seeks funding to attend university

August 30, 2017
Shannon Marshall (right) stands with her mother, Nicole Phillips.
Nicole Phillips, the mother of Shannon Marshall.

From recording the highest grade for CSEC (Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate) mathematics in Jamaica, second highest in the Caribbean, to passing all the 10 CAPE subjects she sat across both units over the past two years, Shannon Marshall has done everything required by a student to be given a chance to pursue her dream of studying medicine.

But a lack of funding is causing a dark shadow to loom over that dream, as Marshall has not secured the money needed to pay her school fee for her first year at University of West Indies (UWI), where she has received provisional acceptance to study medicine next academic year.

Despite money being a scarcity in the Marshall's household throughout her childhood, the 18-year-old told THE STAR that she never imagined that a lack of money would be standing between her and her dream of becoming a medical doctor.

"Even though I grew up poor, I never allowed it to stop me from going after my dreams," Marshall said. "I cry at nights when I think about it, or I would get sad when my friends tell me that half of their school fees have been paid, and I know I don't know where the first dollar is coming from to pay mine."

Marshall's dream of becoming a medical doctor is fuelled by a shooting incident which occurred when she was six years old.

Marshall's mother, Nicole Phillips, told THE STAR that gunmen mistakenly riddled her home with bullets, causing her to use herself as human shield to protect Marshall. "I had to lay on top of her and I got shot here," Phillips recounted, pointing to her side. "Her father also got shot in his legs."


Meagre income


Marshall said she felt helpless when her parents were suffering from gunshot wounds and decided from then that she wanted to become a medical doctor.

Phillips said the meagre income she acquired as a caregiver when she was employed wasn't enough to put something away to fund her daughter's university fees.

After proving to be one of the outstanding students of her class when she was in first form, Marshall secured a scholarship that funded her school expenses throughout her years at Wolmer's High School for Girls.

"But because it is university, it is way more challenging. At nights, it makes me cry to know that she is very bright and I can't afford to send her to school," Phillips said.

When Marshall recorded the highest grade in Jamaica for CSEC mathematics in 2015, Phillips said she felt as though her daughter had fulfilled the promise she made when she recited the two times table on her first day at kindergarten.

"I felt excited because it confirmed what I know from she say the two times back then," Phillips said.

She added: "She always into books. She is always reading."

According to Marshall, she got an advanced offer to study medicine next year, but would like to study science and technology to prepare her for the rigours of studying medicine.

Marshall said she needs $276,753 to cover the school fee for the science and technology course, and she is asking the public for assistance. Those who wish to help can contact her at 368-1194.


EDITOR'S NOTE: Since the publication of this article, Marshall has indicated that she is yet to secure a loan from the Student Loan Bureau. This is because she has not yet been accepted to the UWI to study medicine. She has, however, been given an advanced offer.

"This decision was not an easy one to make and certainly not a dismissal of your academic ability, or promise, but a reflection of the keen competition among the applicants for the limited sponsored spaces," the UWI's letter to Marshall said.

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