Mom paints a brighter future for daughter
Kaiya Richards ran out of money a year into her studies abroad.
It was a huge setback but she returned to the Island determined she'd find a way to fulfil her goal of becoming an animal behaviour specialist.
Two years later she's still short of cash despite saving every penny from her job at Ettrick Animal Hospital. The 22-year-old has just over a week to pay off her 2012 fees at Harper Adams University and find funds for the coming school year.
She's convinced she can do it — with the public's help.
Her artist mother Richelle Richards is selling her work on doublersart.com with all proceeds going towards her daughter's UK tuition.
“I would normally give my art away but a friend convinced me to sell it because it could help pay for fees,” said Richelle, who is pursuing a master's degree in art therapy.
The former Somerset Primary School art teacher is offering 50 unframed acrylics and crayon and dry ink drawings. Prices range from $100 to $2,500.
A complete sale would ensure Kaiya's place at the Shropshire school next month. Tuition is approximately £9,000.
She began her studies there in 2012, having graduated with honours from the Berkeley Institute earlier that year.
“I'd always been interested in animals but wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do or even if wanted to make a career of it,” she said. “My inspiration came from the dog I had as a child, Doggie [pronounced dog].
“He had behavioural issues. I want to come back and focus on canines. I want to train therapy dogs for autistic children, for anybody who needs help.”
The foundation course she took in animal management and welfare at Harper Adams assured her she'd made the correct decision.
She then began a four-year degree at the agricultural school in September 2013.
Her hope was to graduate with a bachelor of science in animal behaviour and welfare and eventually become a certified clinical animal behaviourist.
But, her money ran short.
“I had to come back to Bermuda in December 2013,” Kaiya said. “I was able to defer until September 2015. I was worried that I wouldn't find a job in my profession in Bermuda and didn't want to get off course, but I got a position at Ettrick and volunteered on my days off at [Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo].”
Work at BAMZ eventually “got too much” with the long hours she was putting in at Ettrick as a kennel assistant.
“I've worked every public holiday,” she said.
“I don't mind. I'd rather be doing something productive that I enjoy than getting into mischief or staying home doing nothing.”
It's an outlook she's held throughout her life.
Kaiya volunteered as a candy striper at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and the SPCA while in school here. At Berkeley, she was tasked with helping students sort out disagreements through mediation and she also mentored children with behavioural issues at Northlands Primary School.
With those efforts and her academic record she doesn't understand why she keeps getting turned down for scholarships.
“I've asked but nobody's told me why,” she said.
“I have been applying; I just haven't received any. It's been a bit disappointing. Bermuda's a little bit of a black hole, you can get stuck in it at times.
“I really do want to go in September but I have to pay by August 21.”
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