Beacon of the day | Television news anchor built by perseverance

The brilliance he exudes as a journalist on prime time television belies the struggles he endured growing up in the rural community of Riversdale, St. Catherine.

“My upbringing was marked by difficulties because I struggled with confidence issues. I woke up most days just feeling I was not good enough – that I would not be able to achieve the things I wanted,” said Vashan Brown.

Despite physiological and financial drawbacks, Vashan was always a hopeful prospect, especially in academics, where tenacity perhaps mattered most.

He copped numerous top achiever awards while enrolled at Mount Herman Primary School in the district of Hampshire.

But he left that school without the fanfare, which his cheerleaders expected when he sat the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT).

Vashan was not placed at the school of his choice, but he tearfully came around to accepting the spot allotted to him at Enid Bennett High School, formerly Bog Walk High in St. Catherine.

“When I started attending Bog Walk High School, I realized that I ended up at an institution with teachers who were dedicated to ensure that students succeed,” he said.

Vashan, who remained an academic standout, represented Enid Bennett High in Schools Challenge Quiz and several other events.

He, after graduating from secondary school, studied Mass Communication at Northern Caribbean University (NCU), where he graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication.

He did a stint as an intern at Television Jamaica (TVJ), and the station eventually recruited him as a junior reporter.

Vashan excelled in his career and became a senior reporter, producer, and news anchor.

He was the producer of TVJ’s flagship current affairs programme, All Angles, for four years. He also served as a director of the Press Association of Jamaica.

Over the years, Vashan belted numerous prestigious awards, including:

  • Award for Best Television Documentary/Feature (National Journalism Awards, 2017)
  • Hector Bernard/Theodore Sealy Award for News (National Journalism Awards, 2018)
  • Prime Minister’s National Youth Award for Excellence in Journalism (2018)
  • Award for Best Television Documentary (Caribbean Broadcasting Union, 2018)

Placing no limit on success, Vashan attempted to bolster his academic credentials.

He applied for the celebrated Chevening international scholarship, but was not successful on first attempt. He did not give up. He tried again and, in 2018, was awarded the scholarship.

Vashan pursued a Master of Science in Media, Communication, and Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He graduated with distinction.

The 28-year-old undoubtedly has accomplished a lot – enough to bring pride and joy to his friends and family, including his parents Cynthia Gordon and Carol Brown.

His sister, Sabrina Brown, commented: “My brother is a role model, a motivational speaker, and the true epitome of hard work, dedication, and determination.”

Vashan’s mother, Cynthia, who now lives in the United States, is elated that her heavy investment did not go to waste.

She recounted how she struggled in Jamaica to send Vashan through to high school and to university. She, at one point, even applied for ‘needy student funds’.

The mother explained: “Tuition to be paid, I didn’t have any money. Vashan said, ‘Mom, I’m coming home; you don’t have any money to pay’. I told him go to the Administration Department [at NCU] and tell them that his mom soon pay the money – which he did. I started to pray.

“After finish praying, Vashan called to say the Administration Department told him that the Central Jamaica Conference of Seventh Day Adventist has paid 50 percent of his tuition. I then got a job to come and work in the United States. I said, to God be the glory. Vashan is humble. Amidst the struggles, he graduated with honours. No student loan debt. Jesus paid it all; all to him we owe,” the mother further explained.

She told The Beacon that her son initially wanted to become a national athlete.

But she saw something else in him.

“I told him, ‘Vashan, you have a great voice; you are going to be on TV reading the weather like Roy Forrester’. I did not know I was speaking it into life,” said the mother, now a practical nurse.

Her son went on to become a journalist – an illustrious one.

Vashan told The Beacon: “I knew I wanted to be a journalist, but I wasn’t entirely sure what that meant. I was that child who had a thousand questions. As I grew older, I decided that I would make it my life mission to ask questions and try to get answers.”

He said his mother has been his biggest inspiration – a constant reminder why he must never accept failure.

“My mother works so hard; I wanted her to see the fruits of her labour,” the media-man declared. “My mother struggled so much, but still managed to overcome.”

Vashan, in the meantime, encouraged other young people to do like he has been doing – working hard to defy all odds.

“Believe in yourselves,” he added.

“It might seem unattainable, but trust the process and it will work out in the end.”

By Horace Mills, Journalist


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