Teen mom overcomes to become math teacher

November 21, 2023
Contributed Photos 
Amy Muir
Contributed Photos Amy Muir
Amy Muir is flanked by her mother, Anesha Symister (right), and Mellissa Boothe Anderson, manager for the Savanna-la-Mar Women’s Centre.
Amy Muir is flanked by her mother, Anesha Symister (right), and Mellissa Boothe Anderson, manager for the Savanna-la-Mar Women’s Centre.

As a native of Sheffield, Westmoreland, Amy Muir aspired to work in the hotel industry. The desire was not because she loved the service industry, but it was the only thing she thought she knew that could improve the quality of her life.

"My main goal was to graduate high school and be employed at a prestigious hotel in the parish, because at the time I didn't know better. I wasn't from a family where anyone left school and went to higher education. All I knew was to graduate, work at hotels, bars or call centres," Muir shared with THE STAR.

But as Muir held tight to that childhood dream, she became pregnant at the age of 16. She was still a student at Frome Technical High School. Although her family was disappointed, they supported her by enrolling her at the Women's Centre of Jamaica in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland. The facility serves girls, 17 years old and under, who have dropped out of school due to pregnancy. It was there that Muir said her hope was restored.

"They were my backbone. As a matter of fact, it was through the Women's Centre that college applications were sent out. I knew nothing about it, but they were so invested in me, they saw my potential," she said, indicating that with the administration's intervention, she was named the recipient of the education ministry's Mathematics and Science Award in 2018.

She sat and passed three CSEC subjects while she was pregnant. At the time, she attended the Godfrey Stewart evening institute. She also sat and passed three subjects at the Women's Centre.

Muir then took the leap of faith to enrol at the Church Teachers' College to read for a degree, which was fully funded by the ministry's award.

"I grew up in a situation where there were no role models in the household or the family. Instead of role models, I had persons that I didn't want to be like. I always wanted to do something big, something exceptional, something that nobody in my family has ever done; my main aim was to break cycles," she said.

Now, some four years later, Muir has graduated with a Bachelor of Education degree in secondary education, specialising in mathematics. Her final grade point average was 3.3.

The 23-year-old told THE STAR that her daughter and mother were the motivating factors to complete the degree.

"I just knew that I could not allow my daughter to grow up and know that her mother was a victim of teenage pregnancy and that's it. I wanted it to be a story that will motivate her, a story that will be hope to her, a story that will make her proud. I had to put my best foot forward. I never see myself settling for anything less than the best version of me. The feeling on graduation day - I was, and still am, honoured, humbled. [To say I am] grateful and proud is an understatement. It was really a heart-warming moment, seeing my family, especially my mother; you could tell by the smile that she wore that she was proud," Muir said.

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