College’s fab four make history
Make sure you are passionate about your subject, build a strong support network and keep pushing through even when you feel like giving up.
These are the words of wisdom from two students who made history at Bermuda College last week as the first success stories from the dual enrolment initiative.
Krysten Burrows and Sophia Hamilton, along with two others, have become the first to complete both their high school diploma and an associate's degrees in the same year.
They, along with Dejanee Hill-Edwards and Taiyana Allen, will form part of the Class of 2016 at the Berkeley Institute and CedarBridge Academy in June, adding to their achievements last week at Bermuda College.
Krysten said that despite the extra workload involved in studying for his associate's in actuarial science, he never felt like he was at work because he is so passionate about what he does.
Speaking on the day of his graduation, he told The Royal Gazette: “I thought it was a great opportunity because the work at public school was not challenging me at the time — not the fault of my teachers, but due to lack of opportunity for us. Doing dual enrolment was always challenging but at the same time it has been fulfilling. You can't really grow unless you are tested, otherwise you are always performing at the same rate. It is important to find something that can push you and can make you grow. It is also important to get some rest or else you won't want to do anything.
“I have always had to make tough decisions as a trailblazer. Being that this is a basic part of my life and also a crucial part of being an actuary, I don't consider it work. Being in a place where I can use those skills to weigh quantitative risk will be a great benefit to me and a great opportunity for me.”
Krysten will start classes at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in September. He is hoping to return to Bermuda after he graduates.
“My plan is to come back and engage in our luxurious finance industry,” he said. “We are rated No 1 in the world for offshore and inshore businesses. There is plenty of opportunity, so I am looking forward to coming back and spreading my wings.”
Asked what advice he would give to students considering the dual enrolment programme, Krysten said: “I am always doing my hardest and I am always enjoying what I do — I don't have to bust myself. I would say find something you find fulfilling or that you are good at then just seize it. If you are into singing, sing your heart out.
“Important words my parents and grannies and everyone keeps telling me are ‘do you'. I have many mentors — too many to single them out, but if I have to say there was one person who took a chance in middle school and put me on the right track it was Mr [Leyde] St Legere. He gave me the opportunity and challenged me, especially in maths, which is my strongest skill today.”
Outside of academics, Krysten has an “eccentric” interest in video games, enjoys mixed martial arts and runs a peer tutoring organisation for the Berkeley Institute, Project Pangaea.
Sophia said juggling her work for high school and her associate's degree was a challenge but it also helped her to become more independent. Having graduated in arts and science she now wants to study nursing at the University of Perth, Australia.
She told The Royal Gazette: “It was rewarding because I had to be very independent. I didn't have anyone babysitting me, so it showed me how to be more mature. I never expected it to be this hard. I had nights where I would stay up until 4am, especially during finals week.
“It was really a challenge, especially anatomy and physiology. The only downside was I missed out on some of my high school experiences.”
Sophia wanted to go into radiology but changed her mind during the course.
“A family friend, Dwayne Caines, gave me some great advice — he told me about nursing and how there are so many options there,” she said. “He gave me a broad spectrum.
“I enjoyed anatomy and physiology because it was very eye-opening. I would come home and tell my mum about how our breathing works, the respiratory volume ... I was able to learn about the different parts of the heart that are able to open and close.
“All those little details that we forget or don't even know about gave me a knowledge about how our bodies work.”
Focus and dedication are some of the most important things that got her through, she said.
“You have to stay on top of your academics and be serious about the programme,” she added. “You don't want to miss any classes and get bad grades.
“Be grateful for the opportunity that you have been given, build a support network and always push through even when you feel like you want to give up.”
In her spare time, Sophia volunteers for Friends of Hospice and the Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre.
She also does a lot of work for her church, giving away clothes and food to those in need, and ushering and directing the children's choir.
“I love to help others and that is what led me to a career in the health field,” she said.