Making my dream come true
Jevon Williams clung to two things through a difficult time in university: his mother's support and his faith in God. In his final year, he had to resit two of his exams on three separate occasions. He awaited his results knowing that if he didn't pass, he would fail the entire programme.
Mr Williams's greatest worry was that he might disappoint his mother, Carolann Griffiths. She'd sacrificed a lot to make his dream come true.
“We often see the finished product but never the struggle to get there,” he said. “Everyone likes to see a shiny diamond but never the stressful process and necessary pressure required to forge the diamond into a precious jewel.
“I decided to pursue law as a career, but the path to getting there was tumultuous and difficult, not just financially but academically. I had to work very hard.
“My mother worked extremely hard to afford me the opportunity to pursue law, so a failure was not just mine to shoulder. I felt it was hers as well and that weighed heavily on my spirit.
“I was at a crossroad, because I felt abandoned by God. I felt as though God had opened so many doors and brought me through so much, only for me to fail at it all.”
The 33-year-old grew up in the Friswell's Hill area in Pembroke. His involvement with the Salvation Army church was something that kept him away from negative distractions.
His mother made sure he participated in church activities and community service. When she saw him starting to lose focus with his studies at Northlands Secondary, she made the necessary sacrifices so he could attend Bermuda Institute.
The private Christian high school helped him to buckle down academically, and develop a thirst to know God on a deeper level.
The family was in a tough spot financially while he was at BPP University Law School in the UK. Their savings and the money they had borrowed covered tuition but they had not factored in additional costs: Mr Williams had to make extra trips to England to retake exams and could not work during the summer because of his studies.
“I doubted everything and thought maybe I'm not where I am supposed to be, or maybe my reach exceeded my grasp with this one; I simply dreamt too big,” he said.
“But I couldn't have been more wrong. God had never left my side. God was teaching me I had to rely on Him and have faith though these difficult times. Ultimately, I pressed forward and asked God for the strength to press on.”
He was relieved when he learnt he had finally passed one of the two exams, but worry began to settle back in when he discovered the high stakes for the last test.
“It was my third and final attempt to pass,” he said. “If I did not pass the third time, I would fail the programme entirely. The pressure that I placed on myself was unbearable.
“I finally prayed a prayer of submission — as my mother had always encouraged me to do — giving it over to God entirely, and then doing my best to prepare.
“The outcome was irrelevant at that point because the larger point was that God was in control of what came next. The burden of worry was no longer mine to carry, but His.”
He waited an “agonising” month for his results; once again, he had failed.
“The following week found me on a roller coaster of emotions. One day, I was deep in prayer asking God to show me His will for my life, the next day I would be drowned in self-pity, worrying about the direction of my life.
“At the end of that week, I received news that the law school I attended had recently amended its rules and procedures to permit students who had passed all but one elective law course to have the opportunity to retake the exam.
“I later learnt that no greater administrative overhaul had happened in the faculty of law in the past fifteen years. I knew that God was at the centre of this huge development. Everything my mother would say was correct. I only needed faith.”
He received word he had passed all his exams that June. He immediately dropped to his knees and thanked God.
“I knew that I would use this experience going forward in my life and that it would transform my faith and my testimony to hopefully encourage others,” he said. “It made me realise how wonderful God truly is and reminds me just how much we do not know God, until we truly need Him.”
His mother set a strong example with her faith, Mr Williams added.
“I've watched my mother over the years and I realise now that she's a remarkable woman of the utmost integrity and strength. She is one of those people that everyone loves and, although I am her only child by birth, she is ‘Mums' to an innumerable amount of people.
“I will always be eternally grateful to God for her and her guidance throughout my life.”
Through his relationship with Christ, his personal definition of success has changed.
It's not so much about awards or accolades but about having a healthy relationship with his wife, Shade, and being able to teach their son, Akanni, to pursue his own walk with the Lord.
Community service is also a key component. Mr Williams remains involved with programmes such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Coalition for the Protection of Children and a programme with Victor Scott Primary School and his employer, XL Catlin.
“Those things embody success to me,” he said. “My mother taught this to me and my dream and hope is to teach faith to my son.”