The clichéd quote, “Heights of great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight; but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward through the night” composed by Shakespeare of Old is insufficient to describe Jamilia Brown.
Jamilia is a second-year student at the Montego Bay Community College and the president of the Student’s Council. Her infectious charisma amplifies her personality in such a way that it infiltrates the minds of others to emulate her. At the age of 19, Brown possesses a steadfast, determined and conscientious approach to school life. She has reached a milestone along the journey to her ultimate career having recently received a Cuban Medical Scholarship to pursue her career in Forensic Pathology commencing August 2017.
M.B.C.C. Press Club (PC): Who is Jamilia Brown?
Jamilia Brown (JB): I am a determined individual. I love to help others. I am also a spiritual person and I am dedicated to what I put my mind to. I love to lead and I like to make persons become leaders. Though persons may say that I am too much of an extrovert, I can’t help it! I am very outgoing and this has helped me to reach out to people.
PC: When did you know you wanted to study medicine [forensic science] and why?
JB: My mother died in 2009. Before that, when I was younger, I always liked forensics and I made up my mind to become a forensic pathologist. My mother once spoke to me and said, “Jamilia, you know you can go to Cuba to study medicine but you would have to learn everything in Spanish.” When she told me this, I was a bit sceptical because I don’t know Spanish. Nonetheless, I was intrigued by the idea to study medicine and ever since, I wanted to do it. After she [my mother] lost her battle to breast cancer, [and not being able to help her], I was further inspired to pursue a career in medicine.
PC: How did you see yourself throughout high school? Were you always that determined person, one who is able to juggle between extra-curricular activities and school?
JB: It was a difficult transition into high school. Because right after mommy died, it was GSAT and then I moved on to high school so Grade 7 was hard adjusting. But, I had to push against all odds. I did extremely well. I was involved in a lot of extracurricular activities like Speech and Drama and Debating. In fact, I was the president of Speech and Drama and I was a part of some executive bodies of different clubs and societies. I also copped leadership award [for lower school]. I also participated in the Junior Mayor Competition where I was placed fourth and I was involved with the community. So, yes I displayed the same characteristics.
PC: This is an impromptu question and I was sceptical in asking because I know that this topic is a sensitive one. What strategies did you use to overcome the death of your mother especially during a time when you were transitioning from primary school to secondary education?
JB: You don’t get over the loss of someone. My mother knew she was going to die. I asked her “What if you die now?” and she said, “Well it will be the Lord’s will; all will be well”. So, when she died, yes it was a shocker, but based on what she has taught me [spiritually], God has been my strength. I have a supportive father, family and friends and they have been my tower of strength too. She [my mother] is the main reason for me to do what I left her with.
PC: What experiences best prepared you for hard work?
JB: Cancer. This was a lot of money. My father had was to spend a lot of money [millions of dollars]. I knew I was not from a rich family so I said to myself, I have to do the work. I do not want to stay in that same position and this situation motivated me to do the work. There is this intrinsic motivation to do my best even though at times it would get rough, still, I had to continue.
PC: What philosophy/ biblical quote do you live by?
JB: Hebrews 11 v. 1 [For faith is the substance of things hoped; for the evidence of things not seen]. I believe that once you have faith in God, then everything will work out. That’s my philosophy.
PC: What is the most challenging part of schooling?
JB: The challenge is balancing between leadership roles and academics. One can get into the other. In most instances, it is the leadership roles because I have a duty and it takes up most of my time so this is a challenge that I face.
PC: What do you find most enjoyable?
JB: I love to read! I like to serve. I am very active at church. I am a part of the AY body. I am also a part of the AY STORMS, a youth movement in the Seventh Day Adventist Church, West Jamaica Conference. I am also a part of the Jamaica-Cuba Friendship Association.
PC: What lifelong skills have you garnered at the Montego Bay Community College that you will take with you to Cuba?
JB: Survival, having a strong back bone. Survival in the sense where [you] are no longer in high school anymore where teachers are going to constantly remind [you] that [you] have [your] homework to submit. So, that has helped me to survive amidst the pressure [in terms of having a strong backbone and being a student council president was not an easy feat]. There are a lot of struggles I faced and that has shaped me and moulded my character and for that I am grateful.
PC: What educational preparation would you recommend to students to reap the rewards of success?
JB: Study. Study hard. It sounds clichéd but study, study, study. If [you] don’t understand something, consult [your] teachers. Be dedicated. Sometimes, you will have to sacrifice sleep but then think about the fruits of labour. Think about what you will achieve. Be confident and understand that somewhere along the line you will fail but failure is not when you fail; it is when you stay that way. Therefore, you must have the strength to get back up and that is true success.
PC: Describe how you feel now having being a successful recipient of the Cuban Medical Scholarship.
JB: I am so excited because I had applied for it last year but didn’t get through as a result of pending CAPE results. To find out that I got this, I am still elated! I am fulfilling a lifelong dream. This is something I always wanted. I have been to Cuba before and it is a wonderful country. So, to go back there, studying for seven years, it is really exciting!