Shaniel McLean’s academic excellence at the local and regional levels belies the sacrifices she makes, mindful that she is building a foundation for a brighter future.
“My mom [Simone Thomas] is a single parent and so it is kinda stressing to her in terms of our financial situation,” she told The Beacon. “And with classes online [due to the COVID-19 pandemic], sometimes we don’t have any internet connection. But we just have to make it work.”
Shaniel already earned a total 14 subjects from the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC). In 12 of those subjects, she scored the highest grade achievable – Grade One.
“I am still in shock [about the quality of the grades],” she said, notwithstanding high achievement being a norm for her. “I worked really hard and so it has paid off,” she added.
Shaniel, now in her final year at Old Harbour High School in St Catherine, is pursuing five subjects at the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) Unit II level.
In the last set of subjects she sat at the CAPE (Unit I) level, she reaped Grade One in all four of them – Biology, Communication Studies, Chemistry, as well as Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technology.
With those perfect grades in mind, Old Harbour High declared Shaniel its top CAPE (Unit 1) student last year.
And CXC is now announcing that Shaniel is the Caribbean’s top performer in Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technology (Unit 1). In fact, she was among only two students in the entire region who scored the perfect grade in that subject – the other student being Raheim Bernard of St George’s College, Jamaica.
Shaniel attributed her stellar performance to discipline. “I have to make certain sacrifices. When I should be having fun watching television, I have to just cut back and maintain the focus,” she explained.
Discipline also was a factor when Shaniel previously attained 10 subjects (eight of them with perfect grades) at the Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate level.
Her academic accomplishment has placed her a step closer towards fulfilling her dream of becoming a pediatrician or an engineer.
Asked how she feels about possibly entering the engineering field that is still dominated by men, the teen quipped: “That’s why I like it.” She clearly does not support glass ceilings.
Shaniel, who hails from Bannister district in Old Harbour, is a member of the prefect body at Old Harbour High. She also is a past student of Davis Primary School.
Her advice for other students: “You can achieve as long as you put your mind to it and you put in the work. You also have to believe and have faith in order to be successful.” With faith and discipline, Shaniel is looking forward to completing high school in fine style academically later this year.
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