“We must not allow other people’s limited perceptions to define us.” The words of Virginia Satir perfectly describe the philosophy of Rashaun Stewart, 17-year-old extraordinaire. This young man has been making waves, both academically and in his co-curricular endeavours.
Hailing from the crime-stricken community of Piggott Street, Mount Salem, Rashaun’s journey began at the Faith Kindergarten Preparatory School. In an exclusive interview with the Western Mirror, he revealed that he credits the faculty at that institution for providing a foundation for him to build on.
“Faith Kindergarten Prep was really where it all started. I have fond memories of that school. To be honest, the staff there really provided the necessary foundation at the fundamental levels. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have accomplished any of what I have.”
From there, Rashaun relocated to the Catherine Hall Primary School. He attributed the move to financial concerns.
“My mom couldn’t afford to send me back when the fee became too expensive. Our family isn’t particularly wealthy, and so we had to strive to live within our means,” he confessed.
Moving to Catherine Hall Primary was a wise choice. There, Rashaun quickly established himself and began to academically excel. Grades Three through Five passed without him engaging in much representation in co-curricular activities. That changed in Grade Six.
He became Head Boy, and participated in several competitions on the school’s behalf. The ODPEM Disaster Awareness Quiz (where the team finished runner-up, with Rashaun being awarded Most Outstanding Student), the Spelling Bee (where he placed second), the JCDC speech competition and others are all events wherein the young man claims he discovered his passion.
“Catherine Hall was a dream come true. Grade Six was one of the best years of my life. I participated in quite a few competitions and represented my school well,” Rashaun commented.
He went on to sit GSAT, copping a 98% average, which netted him a spot at Cornwall College in 2012. From then, he persisted in representing his school externally and internally. He eventually copped the title of Junior Mayor for 2016-2017, and later secured 11 distinctions in CSEC (10 in the 2017 sitting). He earned grade ones in Additional Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, English A, English B, Information Technology, Mathematics, Physics, Principles of Accounts and Principles of Business. He also has a grade one in Human and Social Biology that he obtained in the 2016 sitting of the CSEC examinations.
When discussing his accomplishments, Rashaun had this to say: “To be honest, the results weren’t entirely surprising. I was confident in myself and certain that the Creator wouldn’t let me down. Besides that, I know what I’m capable of and what I did during the exams.”
Rashaun made special note of the Jamaica Awareness Association of California, a non-profit organization that has financed his education immediately following GSAT. “The JAAC is largely responsible for all the things I’ve accomplished since going to Cornwall. None of it would have been possible without them kick-starting my journey all those years ago. Patrick Williams, Yasmine Facey and Andrew Facey in particular have done well in making the JAAC my second family.”
NEW HEAD BOY
In addition to his academic precocity, Rashaun is also very active in co-curricular activities. He participates in an exhaustive list of clubs and societies, including, but not limited to, the Debate Society, Science and Environmental Club, 4-H Club, Interact Club and Quiz Club. He also bears several leadership positions, the most recently acquired being Head Boy of Cornwall College.
“I really don’t know what to say. Being Head Boy has been my chief ambition ever since I started attending Cornwall. Now that I’ve gotten it, I’m elated, but it’s kind of a muted elation. I don’t think it’s really dawned on me that I’m Head Boy.”
The accomplishments have not caused him to forget his humble beginnings. Rashaun accredited his family with being his inspiration. “My family is the real driving force behind all this. My mom – Tasawn Stewart – is a superwoman. She’s a slave driver, but I know she means well. My dad – Christopher Stewart – and my grandma also support me a lot. My granduncle Peter and other family members contribute to everything too.”
When speaking about the future, the Cornwallian was optimistic. “I plan to become a general practitioner of medicine, then specialize in Neurosurgery. I chose that route because it makes the most immediate sense. Before that, I’m going to do my best to ensure that I help to restore, renew and revitalize Cornwall in any way I can as Head Boy, by working along with all the necessary stakeholders.”
In addition to all his accomplishments, Rashaun served as a member of the editorial staff at the Western Mirror in 2017 and is currently completing a second tenure as an intern. “I’ve liked working at the Western Mirror. The staff are quite welcoming, and there’s never a boring day. Besides that, I’m being prepared for the working world and gaining valuable experience for the future,” the Cornwallian added.