Shavel Ebanks is a shining example in Canterbury
Eighteen-year-old Shavel Ebanks of the tuff inner-city community of Canterbury in Montego Bay, St. James is seeking to balance the score society places on her community while seeking a better education for herself and other children in the area.
Inner-city communities like Canterbury are widely regarded by many as a community that is unable to rise from the dust of poverty, especially in its current condition. However, Ebanks who has had to struggle with the scar of being a member of this community since birth, is adamant that the finished picture can be difference through education.
Ebanks, who is the third and only female child for her mother with whom she lives in the community, is a first-year primary education student-teacher at the Sam Sharpe Teachers' College.
"There are a lot of struggles, because I am from the ghetto, along with the notion that nothing good will come from here, but I am determined to change that as there are others before me like my brother (Andre Cleghorn) who has gone to college and is gainfully employed," Ebanks told the WESTERN STAR.
"I have been living with negative views of the ghetto since my time at Chetwood Memorial Primary School, it continued through my high school years and even now that I am in college. The opinions of many are that the pressures of the ghetto will see me getting pregnant and drop out of high school, but I have made those opinions redundant and prove them otherwise," she said.
"It is surprising to many, knowing that I have come this far," said Ebanks who earned a place at Green Pond High School after she took the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT).
"When I passed for Green Pond High, the first thing that people said was that I am a dunce girl, and was slow in learning because I pass for Green Pond and that my mother should let me go to a special education school because that's where slow people go."
LEVEL OF DETERMINATION
"I graduated from Green Pond High with five of six subjects sat at the Caribbean Secondary Examination Council (CSEC) at Grade 3 of which I am now resitting them because I know I can get them at level 1," she said.
In her level of determination to prove that the people of her Canterbury community can achieve in the same manner as those from more stable communities, Shavel Ebanks enrolled at Shape Teachers College.
Ebanks said that she still finds time to motivate children in her community, helping with homework and mentorship.
"I have a programme here, where I gathered 15 to 20 children and teach them in the evenings."
"It is overwhelming for me to tend to be attending to the needs of the children in my community coupled with my own course work as a student teacher but I have to continue to do it for the community in order to help lift the profile of the people here and I know it will be worth it in the end," she said.