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Aspiring neurosurgeon seeking help for med school

BY SHANAE STEWART
Observer reporter
stewarts@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, August 26, 2019

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AS a child, Cornwall College past student Rashaun Stewart knew that becoming a medical doctor was his calling, and he eventually narrowed his interest to neurosurgery in grade 12.

However, with the new school year fast approaching, the 18-year-old is uncertain about how his tuition fees will be covered, and is seeking financial assistance to fulfil his dream.

The Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery degree (MBBS) at The University of the West Indies that he wishes to pursue costs US$28,000 per year, and although he has sought scholarships, he has not been successful thus far.

Stewart told the Jamaica Observer that he had received an e-mail from the admissions department at the university, which informed him that although he is eligible for the MBBS programme, he will not be extended an offer until he is able to provide proof that he is able to pay the tuition in full, after failing the means test, which is used by the university to determine if applicants will be able to foot the bill for medical school.

He also mentioned that the Government usually provides students with excellent grades a grant, but that funding has been reduced in recent times and only a few people now benefit.

“The spots for this year's subsidy were all occupied by candidates who were deferred from previous years. As such, only candidates who can pay the full fee are offered spots,” he said.

“I am currently enroled in the Faculty of Science and Technology because so far I have not seen a way to pay the fee for medical school. I plan to spend one year and seek a transfer thereafter.

“With excellent grades, I hope that I will be able to obtain scholarships and finance my pursuit of the MBBS programme, but if I were to receive the assistance I need, I could then head straight into medical school, which is what I really want,” Stewart explained.

He added: “I initially applied for a loan through the Student Loan Bureau (SLB) to help with the fees for medical school but the maximum loan amount is $1 million, so I would still come up short,” he said.

Stewart has a total of eight distinctions, one credit (grade two) and three passes (grade three) at the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) level.

At the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) level, he has 11 distinctions in additional mathematics, biology, chemistry, English A, English B, human and social biology, information technology, mathematics, physics, principles of accounts, and principles of business.

Although he did not have a lavish life growing up, he said his parents did the best they could and always ensured that he had something to eat, even if it meant borrowing.

“Growing up, my life was never a luxurious one. We never really suffered or were in a state of penury, but there were occasions where my mom discussed having to resort to borrowing cash from friends to cover the costs of primary school, and more. I never went to bed hungry or anything of the sort as my mom fought tirelessly to provide for me, but we were definitely in a hand to mouth kind of situation,” the aspiring neurosurgeon said, while adding that he was able to make it through high school with the help of a full scholarship from the Jamaica Awareness Association of California.

Stewart likes to read books, browse the Web, and watch movies for leisure, and told the Jamaica Observer that he really wants to become a doctor so he can help others.

“I wish to help devise measures to alleviate or cure illnesses that plague people worldwide. I also have an insatiable thirst for knowledge and becoming a doctor would challenge me to constantly keep abreast of the knowledge base in the medical fields. Becoming a doctor would also enable me to engage in upward mobility and elevate my family while doing so,” he said.


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