Now pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in computer science through the University of London, former Junior Mayor of Black River Brandi Dennis is still basking in the highs she attained in recent months in academics and the performing arts.
She has won a previously elusive national award in the speech competition hosted annually by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC).
Brandi also recently completed her sojourn at Hampton School for Girls, earning nine CSEC subjects from the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC). Putting the proverbial icing on the cake, she reaped the best grade attainable – Grade One – in eight of the subjects, namely: Physics, Mathematics, English A, Information Technology, Chemistry, Economics, Principles of Accounts, and Agricultural Science.
“It was challenging, but I had a vision and determination to always perform at my optimum,” Brandi told The Beacon.
Her father, Vincent Dennis, is not surprised. “From as early as kindergarten, it was noticeable that Brandi was able to comprehend materials several levels above her peers. She could absorb information after just a few repetitions,” he explained.
Her mother, Luciana Henry, is among her most ardent cheerleaders. “Brandi is my only child and I always motivate her in her endeavors. I always support her to showcase her extraordinary talents in academics and extra-curricula activities,” she said.
A product of the tranquil community of Beacon, St Elizabeth, Brandi had her talents and scholarly aptitude keenly harnessed at the noble Mountainside Primary School.
While enrolled there, she achieved eight medals and three trophies at the parish level in the JCDC’s speech competitions. Although she advanced to national finals four times, she was always disappointed not gaining the ultimate goal – a national award.
That award eventually came last year when Brandi, while in fifth form at Hamption, was encouraged to end her four-year hiatus and give the competition another try.
Brandi winning a national award, albeit after numerous attempts, was sweet vindication of sorts for Ebanks, her speech coach who also teaches at Mountainside Primary School.
Ebanks is author of the various pieces that Brandi performed over the years. They include the poem, “Dem Envy Crown”, which earned Brandi the national award and a gold medal at the parish level of the JCDC competition, which was held virtually late last year due to the novel coronavirus disease pandemic.
“To say I feel tremendously satisfied about Brandi’s extraordinary progress in literary performances is an understatement,” Ebanks told The Beacon. “The competitors, including Brandi, usually beam with pride and get an overwhelming feeling of joy when they medal. If I can add to someone’s joy with my natural talent, I consider myself grateful.”
In addition to entering competitions hosted by the JCDC, Brandi became a “little celebrity”, delivering electrifying performances on different occasions at the prestigious Calabash Literary Festival, held annually at Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth. She first performed there in 2010 when she was just seven years old.
Involvement in the performing arts has not only brought Brandi numerous awards, but it also helped her to become more self-confident and to develop a greater level of appreciation for the English language, the 18-year-old said.
She encouraged her peers to aim at becoming all-rounded. “While academics is the main focus in school, it is very important to pursue a well-rounded student life by adding things such as clubs, societies, and forming lasting friendships. Whatever you do, be focused and don’t give up on achieving your dreams,” added the former Junior Mayor of Black River.
When she was appointed to that post in 2015, she was the first primary school student on the island to serve as a junior mayor, she told The Beacon. In creating that piece of history, Brandi outperformed a number of other candidates, all of whom were in secondary schools at the time.
An impressive record in the background, Brandi is bent on achieving even greater things.
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