Pauline Ellis jumps hurdles to earn degree

January 09, 2018
Pauline Lewis
Pauline Ellis
Pauline Lewis

When 47-year-old Pauline Ellis started teaching at the Learning Cottage 12 years ago, she didn't even have a single CXC subject.

However, she said that her employer decided to give her a chance when she hired her.

"When I went for the interview, I didn't have any CXC. My employer said to me that 'I am not supposed to employ you without subjects, but I am going to take the chance. Seeing that you have the potential, I am going to take the chance with you'," she told THE STAR.

While growing up, Ellis lived with her mother on a farm in Clarendon in what she describes as an 'humble' situation, but would spend holidays with her father in Kingston.

"My mom didn't have it like that to send me to school sometimes. I remember one morning, she said: 'I don't have any breakfast to give you', and what she gave me that morning was some warm water with syrup and said, 'Drink it! Belch the gas and go to school and tek in what you can'," Ellis explained, noting that she didn't have running water or a television.




Her struggles increased when she got pregnant during grade nine at Edwin Allen High.

Because of her pregnancy, Ellis didn't get a chance to complete high school. Shortly before her 17th birthday, her mom died leaving her with a young baby, forcing her to move to Kingston to live with her father.

After she arrived in Kingston, she was still determined to make the best out of life, so she got a few jobs and did some short courses.

Still not satisfied, Ellis said that she was at a crossroad and was intent on becoming a dressmaker when she heard a radio advertisement seeking persons to be trained by Heart Trust/NTA.

Learning Cottage was where she developed her teaching skills as she only had level one and level two certification in Early Childhood Education from Heart Trust.

But after a number of years at the Learning Cottage, she decided that it was time to upgrade her qualifications.

"I spent six years at The Mico University. I did two years pre-university and then four years in early childhood education," Ellis said.

And after balancing university and working at the school, she completed her degree in early childhood education.

"For me, if someone had told me 12 years ago that today I would hold a degree in early childhood education, I would say no. You have to have a desire for something and push very hard for it," Ellis told THE STAR.

Based on her experiences, she is urging persons not to allow their circumstances to determine their future.

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