Anntonieka Garriques initially did not have a computer and she had to walk a mile away from her home daily to access internet for online classes in preparation for regional exams.

Online classes had become the in-thing for countless students due to a ban imposed nationally on face-to-face classes to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“My biggest challenge was when I was preparing for my CSEC exams and not having any internet at home. I had to walk one mile to use internet at my primary school. And I did not [initially] own a device, but received one at a later date,” she told The Beacon. “Despite those challenges, I was able to overcome with determination and persistence.”

Garriques ended last school year at Guy’s Hill High with success in eight CSEC subjects administered by the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC).

In six of those subjects – Biology; Information Technology; Chemistry; English A; Integrated Science; as well as Food, Nutrition and Health Technical, she scored Grade One – the highest grade attainable. She also reaped success in Mathematics and Social Studies.

An aspiring board certified dermatologist, Garriques is now pursuing higher studies in Grade 12 at the St Catherine-based Guy’s Hill High School.

She is the winner of the Youth Academic Achievement Award 2021, presented by the National Child Month Committee and the Ministry of Education and Youth. She was selected from among 20 shortlisted nominees. To qualify for the award, students must attend a non-traditional high school, attain at least five CSEC subjects at one sitting, and overcome great odds to achieve those outstanding results. They also are required to be involved in community service, in keeping with the spirit of volunteerism.

Garriques grew up in an extended family setting in the rural community of Cox Piece, Pembroke Hall, St. Mary, and is a past student of Hartland Basic School as well as Donnington Primary.

She encouraged others to never allow their ambition to be crushed by failure. “Work hard, be determined and never allow the fear of failure to stop you from going after your goal,” the 17-year-old added.

Her parents, Neslyn Fyffe and Selvin Loyd Garriques, are proud of their daughter’s accomplishment – so too is Guy’s Hill High School, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Cecil Donald, principal at Guy’s Hill High, said Garriques’ story is one of resilience.

He noted: “There was no internet connectivity at her home, but she had her academic goals and would not be waned. She traveled at least one mile each day to access online classes, initially using a cellphone with limited capacity until she was blessed with a laptop…

“We are extremely proud of Anntonieka’s success and we celebrate her accomplishment as a gift to Guy’s Hill on our 50th anniversary,” the principal further said.

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