His eloquence and charm are as admirable as his wit and intellect. At 17, Jarnickae Wilson has been thrown into the spotlight for his achievements at the Caribbean Examination Council. The St Mary’s College graduant attained thirteen distinctions in Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Information Technology, History, Spanish, French, English Literature, Principles of Accounting, Economics, Human and Social Biology, English Language and Mathematics.
Jarnickae was a guest on Claudius Francis’ Straight Up program on Friday. I listened as SMC Principal Rohan Seon called in, beaming. His call was followed by Leon Hess Principal and Samarian Rohan Lubon who offered his congratulations and encouragement. I remember thinking, maybe Claudius is on to something with his CDC theory. During the joyous occasion, I felt a swell of pride for my comrade.
His recent achievements have made me reflect on our friendship—laughing as I remembered the pipsqueak who entered SMC in Form One, the comedian who was my co-host at the 2007 Youth Awards, the sharp-tongued Youth Parliamentarian, the talented musician and the daring giant who left SMC and is beginning a new journey at the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College.
Curious about his subject choices? This is what he had to say, “In absolute honesty, I chose my subjects based on two factors: my perception of their level of rigor; and my passion and interest in the subject area. Economics and Physics in particular resonated with me for their relevance within the framework of our everyday lives, as did most of the other subjects. In the case of History and English Literature, I was inspired in my selection by the knowledge that analytical skills and artistic consciousness are extremely essential in today’s changing world. Additionally, I was especially drawn into Caribbean history with the belief that our present social milieu is driven heavily by the region’s past. Thus, in order to assist in delineating a better future, we must first fully comprehend tradition and the past.”
While rigorously pursuing his academics, Jarnickae participated in a range of extracurricular activities including debating, The Environmental Club, Young Leaders, volleyball, Junior Achievers, SMC Orchestra, St Lucia School of Music String Orchestra and National Youth Parliament.
Jarnickae had difficulty answering how he found balance and success in his life. He said, “In many ways, I was so highly motivated in every aspect of my school and extracurricular life that naturally, I was able to find the time to do every single thing which I loved. In retrospect, it was simply a matter of knowing exactly what I desired, how to achieve it, and how to do so while maintaining a sense of complete joy and satisfaction with my life.
“It is, at its core, simply a matter of time management. However, it is imperative to indicate that extracurricular activities and academics are complementary components which complete the equation, not opposing concepts.”
Speaking of his triumph, Jarnickae corrected me saying “I believe this moment is not only my victory, but is one that we can all share in. When one performs extraordinarily well, we all succeed!”
He went on to give his views on the challenges his generation experienced while preparing for their CXC exams. “It is painfully obvious that the educational system, though certainly adequate, has also failed to meet many of the needs of our nation and region’s youth. Summarily, syllabi must be made to include the most relevant information in a form which is highly adaptable and conducive to self-discovery and innovative thinking. Students must be encouraged to think and operate independently through research driven and student-centric learning; learning that inspires students to formulate their own knowledge, rather than conforming to set boundaries predicated upon ignorance.
“I believe the largest issue has been the trend towards students writing a greater number of subjects, as opposed to receiving a more thorough quality education in each of the subjects they select. The standard must be raised, and the intellect must be challenged in order to liberate our nation and human resource from the four walls of the classroom, toward the wider world of beyond where opportunities may be created. True education inspires,” he said.
As this year’s and probably this decade’s top achiever for CXC on island, Jarnickae offered his advice to students young and not-so-young saying, “Understand the value of education, not only as the vehicle through which knowledge is delivered, but also as a means to liberate yourself from many of the intellect restrictions imposed upon us. I think the importance of focus and faith in oneself is indispensible on the road to success.
“Your greatest asset will be security and understanding in your own personality, and ability to succeed. Never underestimate the value of passion and happiness. Surround yourself only with individuals who will inspire you to be better, and encourage you to try again regardless of your failures. Remember, we are not only defined by the success we achieve, but also by the impact we make upon others. Have faith in God, and trust that whatever may occur in your life is for the greater good. God always has a plan. He only denies us great opportunities to present us with even better ones later on.”
As with any teenager, Jarnickae partied with his friends to celebrate and will continue to celebrate until his summer officially concludes. He took the opportunity to chastise me for neglecting to join in the festivities. To this I say, I’m certain that should I miss this celebration, I can almost guarantee there will be another.
NOTE: Javed Samuel of the Vieux Fort Comprehensive Secondary School attained thirteen CXC distinctions in 1998. Trent St Rose left SMC in 2008 with twelve CXC distinctions.