Teen overcomes bone disease to excel

October 07, 2019
Orville McKellop
Orville McKellop

Despite missing school to undergo various surgeries, Orville McKellop was still top performer in the 2019 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination at Jonathan Grant High School.

McKellop, 18, has been struggling with a genetic disorder known as Osteogenesis Imperfecta, also called brittle bone disease.

He says the disease, along with other difficulties, were challenges he was elated to have overcome to be successful in his studies.

"It's a huge honour to be the top student here," said McKellop, who is from Waterloo district in Spanish Town, St Catherine.

He attained 10 subjects in CSEC, gaining grade one in English language, information technology, principles of business and principles of accounts.

McKellop is now a lower sixth-form student at Jonathan Grant, pursuing accounting, economics, entrepreneurship, art and design, and communication studies at the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination level.

With his school on the shift system, he said that he took advantage of this by going to school early to study.

"I would get here at 9 o'clock, although my shift starts at 11:30, and I would pick one subject [and study], and it's usually one that I see myself lacking in, and I would go through it until it is time for me to go to class," he said.

Despite missing school time due to the surgeries, McKellop says he used his recovery time in hospital and at home to teach himself graphic art.

"I found that creating things on my computer was very therapeutic. I used that to take my mind off the fact that I'm currently recovering from my surgery, and eventually it evolved into something more that I now want to pursue," he said. "Being in a hospital is quite draining on my sanity, so I had to find something to keep me as active as possible."

While admitted at the Spanish Town Hospital, he said his classmates would visit and share their notes.

With his love for graphic art and accounting, Orville intends to become both a chartered accountant and a graphic designer.

"Being a graphic artist [will be] more of a hobby, than profession, but at some point I do look to become certified in that area," he said.

He admitted that some people look down on him because of his condition.

"Some try to understand, while in some cases I am babied, while others just really don't understand," McKellop said. He is however grateful that some people take the time to understand him better.

McKellop said that his daily motivation is to do his best at all times.

"I just want try and do better than I did the last time, because looking back each day, you tend to look at yourself and say, I know that I could have done better. So today, I'm going to try and do better," he said.

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