Donut vendor with 17 subjects - UTech dropout determined to earn nursing degree

November 21, 2023
Calder shows his academic qualifications.
Calder shows his academic qualifications.
Calder said that it has always been his dream to be a registered nurse.
Calder said that it has always been his dream to be a registered nurse.

Janoi Calder, a donut vendor in Half-Way Tree, St Andrew, desperately wants to go back to university to pursue a nursing degree.

With 17 subjects at the high school level, Calder considers himself to be an 'educated hustler' who is persistent despite the possibility of falling through the cracks. He started his tertiary education in 2019, pursuing a Bachelor in Science degree and Education at the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech, Ja) with his donut sales funding his studies. But he found it difficult to balance both, and financial constraints caused him to drop out in his second year.

He is now applying to The University of the West Indies (UWI) to pursue a Bachelor of Science in nursing, and Calder is facing US$5,200 (approximately J$805,636) per year tuition, which is subject to change.

The Faculty of Medical Sciences requires at least two, 2-unit CAPE subjects at grades I to IV, one from mathematics, physics, chemistry or biology and one subject from any of the other subject areas. Brown, who is a past student of the Eltham High and Jose Marti Technical High School, said he has grade II in CSEC mathematics and integrated mathematics, grade IV and V in CAPE biology and grade III in chemistry at CSEC and CAPE.

"I know I got a good amount of qualification and I am a very dedicated individual when it comes on to academics. I realise that it's a bit tedious being a vendor and trying to achieve things," he said. Calder said that nursing is his lifelong dream.

"I am a helper, there are many occasions where people in Half-Way Tree might faint or be under a seizure attack and I'm always here to help. Those things drive my passion for a field like that. It's just the money part," he added.

Calder even made a video in which he is in the back of a bus, pleading for a guarantor to help him get a student loan.

"The day I made the video I was getting a bit frustrated knowing that I have so much qualification and I am not doing anything with it. It brought tears to my eyes because being a vendor for almost 10 years, it is not easy on the road. There are times I come out with my goods and not even half of them sell and I have to give them away because donuts don't have a long expiration date," he said.

At times, Calder had to sleep in a storage area so he could get to the factory early enough to get donuts to sell. He also said he was beaten by men with a hose for catching water on their property to bathe.

"I have tried a lot of things. I was a lab technician at UTech, I had applied for jobs but didn't get through, and then COVID came about and things got even more tedious. I even opened up a restaurant and had to close it down because of the area being volatile," he said. Calder, who said he doesn't have any dependents, said he is ready to take the steps to start the four-year programme.

"Nursing is really time consuming so I won't get any chance to sell. With the help of student's loan, that could be dealt with but it's just the guarantor I don't have," he said. "I have some courses that I did at UTech and can transfer the credits to UWI but the thing is I have $150,000 outstanding at UTech."

Calder is hoping to start the process and said he'll continue to work at least part-time to fund his additional expenses.

"I am hungry for this degree so I am doing everything I can to pursue it."

He said persons have suggested that he should start a GoFundMe account but he was unsure if the platform would allow him to withdraw the contributions if the goal was not met.

"Anyone who is willing to support me in being my guarantor, I welcome it, but ideally if persons want to help me by contributing I would want it to be paid to the institution," he said.

Persons wishing to assist Janoi Calder may contact him at 876-700-5429.

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