Akieem Henderson and his mother Ishanna Gordon during his high school years. The top photo shows him in his university graduation gown.

Known to voluntarily help students of his community to prepare for exams, Akieem Henderson is now basking in his moment of academic glory.

He told The Beacon that he will graduate from the University of Technology (UTech) on December 12 with the highest quality degree – first class honours, which is usually acquired only by a small number of university graduates.

In attaining his Bachelor’s of Science in Accounting, Henderson recorded a cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.6 out of 4.0.

The writing appeared on the proverbial wall from as early as his first year at UTech, when he got the highest GPA (3.8) in the School of Business Administration.

“Achieving first class honours is a great feeling,” said the resident of Orangefield district in Linstead, St. Catherine. “I have good work ethic; I know what I want and I work for it.”

Members of Henderson’s community have been showering him with praise since they became aware of his latest feat.

“They dub me their role model and are now motivated that they too can achieve great things because we are from a similar background,” he said.

Being a standout in academics is nothing new for the past student of Orangefield Basic School, Jericho Primary, and Calabar High.

He recalled topping his class on many occasions at the top flight Calabar, maintaining a presence on the school’s honour roll, and eventually graduating as valedictorian.

Finishing high school at lower sixth form, Henderson amassed 14 subjects administered by the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC). They comprise 10 CSEC subjects and four CAPE. In eight of those subjects, he earned the highest grade attainable – Grade One.

Henderson draws inspiration mainly from his mother, Ishanna Gordon.

“My childhood dream was to make the best use of my mother’s resources since she was not able to further her education beyond the high school level, even though she had the ability, but she lacked the resources to do so,” he commented. “I planned to make the best use [of my mother’s resources] by becoming a well-established accountant who would be able to provide for my mother.”

His mother is elated.

“I feel real real good about my son’s accomplishments. He made me a proud mom – not only me, but his families and teachers too,” she told The Beacon.

Henderson, in the meantime, expressed gratitude to the people who assisted him, not least among whom is his step-father, as well as Member of Parliament for St. Catherine North West Hugh Graham.

He noted that Graham, in helping him, never questioned whether or not he or his family is associated with any particular political party.

Graham simply stepped in and assisted where scholarships fell short, the young scholar said. Graham even helped him to fund some of his community projects.

The youngster is the founder and president of the Orangefield Youth In Action organization.

Although the group has been slowed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), it has been making a big difference.

It has repainted Orangefield Basic School, created a play area for students at Mount Zion Basic School, and seasonally donates care packages to elderly and differently-abled residents, Henderson explained.

He added that, as part of the group as well as individually, he hosts free classes at the Orangefield Community Centre for students preparing to sit the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC).

He also seeks sponsorship to provide books and refreshment for the students, he said.

Henderson is currently employed as an assistant accountant II at KPMG, which is a global network of professional firms providing audit, tax and advisory services.

Bent on fulfilling his childhood dream, he intends to make the next big step in January – which is to start studying for his Association of Chartered Certified Accountants qualification.

Henderson wants other young people to do what he has been doing – aim high.

“When you were born, you were given a blank book in which to write your own history,” he reasoned. “When you work hard and believe in your dream, there is no limit in what you can achieve.”

By Horace Mills, Managing Editor


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