Giovannie Rowe struggled to fathom the reason he was failing academically to the point where he was kicked out of the University of the West Indies (UWI) at the end of his first year.

“I’ve never encountered such levels of failure in my life,” he told The Beacon.

“After all, I graduated from Clarendon College as a Honour Roll awardee and previous scholarship recipient, attaining good grades in my CXC and CAPE subjects.”

Rowe recalled that, after the university booted him, he returned to his community of Denbigh Kraal in the Four Paths area of Clarendon.

“I felt disappointed in myself, and stressed out to the point where I considered ending my life because I felt like a complete failure,” he said.

Rowe added: “In the summer of 2016, I decided that, since the university kicked me out, my second option was to apply to HEART. I went to the HEART office in Clarendon and collected some application forms.”

At that juncture, a friend advised Rowe to appeal for a second chance at UWI. He took the advice and wrote to Dr. Eric Hyslop, Dean of The Faculty of Science and Technology.

The dean’s response was positive.

Surprised that he got a second chance, Rowe returned to UWI.

At the end of his second year, he requested a change from the The Faculty of Science and Technology. “I requested a change from my faculty to pursue Business instead – and got accepted. However, I rejected the offer because I believed I could push through and finish what I initially intended to pursue,” he explained.

Despite failures and uncertainty, Rowe, who ended up doing an extra semester, stayed his course of study and pushed through the university.

He completed his studies in December 2019 and graduated this year with Second Class Honours. He now holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology and a minor in Management.

Rowe has been accepted to pursue a Master’s degree in Forensic Science at UWI – a feat that will put him within striking distance of his childhood dream of becoming a forensic scientist.

He noted: “I was coming from a place where I was asked to withdraw from the university to the level where I was getting good grades and getting accepted into more advanced studies…

“I stayed the course and didn’t change from my [initial] faculty. Sometimes all we need in life is a second chance to show that we can do better and to make the best of that second chance,” added Rowe, a 23-year-old past student of York Town Primary School.

He told The Beacon that he did not give up partly because he wanted to bring pride and joy to his supporters, including his mother Opal James.

She struggled to financially support her son, who accessed students’ loan while in university.

Rowe recalled: “My mom, who works as a self-employed hairdresser, was the only one funding my education, the over-all cost of living and expenses.

“Business was not always booming on her end, and I had to survive a few hungry days and months where I was backed up on rent,” he further said.

Rowe, whose father is still alive and well, noted that members of his church – Toll Gate New Testament – sometimes helped him financially. “I will forever be grateful to and for them,” he said.

Rowe is now employed at Medical Technologies as a Medical Representative, working with various doctors in orthopedics and neurosurgery.

To young people who are tempted to give up as a result of failure, Rowe gives this advice: “The struggles you are facing right now will only make you a better person. You will live and learn through these adversities. Take your time and achieve your goals at your own pace and remember to always believe in yourself. Prayers worked for me, always pray to God when you feel like you’re at a breaking point in your life. He listens and he answers.”

Rowe also encouraged parents to have faith in their children and believe in their capabilities.

By Horace Mills, Journalist


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By Mills