This is the story of a Jamaican woman who refused to give up on her childhood dream. How many of you remember as a child being asked the question: What do you want to be when you grow up? Well Marva remembers that at the age of eight she wanted to become a Registered Nurse but a major obstacle stood between her and her dream: poverty. Life was difficult as she was the 5th of 9 children being raised by a single mother in a poor rural agricultural district in St. Mary. In fact her family was so poor that people in the district expected very little of them and some community members even remarked that she would never amount to anything good. Marva, however, took these words to heart and was determined to prove them wrong.
Educational Challenges and the Dream
Marva was very intelligent and paid careful attention in school. Despite not having lunch on many school days, she would not be deterred from attending school and she worked hard. Her hard work was not in vain and she won a place at a new High School, Jose Marti Technical, but once again, poverty prevented her from seizing this opportunity. Disappointed but determined Marva remained in Mount Angus All Age School and eventually gained a place at another school: Guys Hill Secondary. This time she was determined to seize the offer and it was here that her entrepreneurial skills began to surface as she would sell coconut oil and oranges and save to send herself to school. However, the distance to travel to school began to take its toll and eventually the school principal was kind to her and gave her residence closer to the school. However, this good fortune did not immediately propel Marva any step closer to achieving her dream. Lady Misfortune presented herself through peer pressure and at the age of 17 Marva found herself embarrassed, ashamed and dejected. She became pregnant with her first child.
Pregnancies and the Pursuit of a Better Life
Despite the setback and the disruption of her education caused by teenage pregnancy, Mr. Blessing smiled on Marva once more, through the generosity of her child’s relatives. With this blessing, Marva’s hope of achieving her dream was renewed. She then left St. Mary and moved to the city of Kingston in search of a better life. This move landed her in the Inner City of Olympic Gardens. Life in Kingston was not easy because Marva was unskilled and securing a good and stable job was challenging. However Marva was very teachable and good mannered and these traits brought more blessings. She found a home with some kind strangers who encouraged her and helped her to get a fresh start. Nevertheless five to six years later, Lady Misfortune appeared again and by the age of 24, Marva had her third child. This time around, there were no relatives to help and Marva had to do her best to care for her children.
Marva being very teachable and hard working over the next thirteen years held several jobs. She worked in the garment factories and quickly learnt the skill of a seamstress. She employed her entrepreneurial skills by selling goods and produce at Coronation market; she sold juices at the gate of primary schools and did the same at home. Eventually she got married and became a practical nurse and for a while all her effort and investment were focused on caring for and educating her three children. By this time all three children were living with her in Olympic Gardens and in due course she gained steady employment at the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) as a Ward Assistant.
The Turning Point
One fateful afternoon, at a parent teachers’ meeting at her daughter’s high school, a presenter challenged parents to not only invest in their children but to also invest in themselves and not to give up on their dreams. Marva took what the presenter said to heart and at the age of 37 decided to once again pursue her childhood dream of becoming a Registered Nurse. This was no easy feat for Marva because she had no CXC subjects and the requirement was 5 CXC subjects including Mathematics and English but Marva was determined to succeed this time. Thus she worked and attended evening classes for three of the subjects and taught herself two of the subjects. Math and English were very challenging. After four attempts she passed the Math and after at least 7 attempts she passed CXC English. Her hard work and determination had paid off and finally she was able to enroll in Brown’s Town Community College to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the age of 43.
Success at Last
Fortunately for Marva, the community College had a partnership with the University of the West Indies and this was the second batch pursuing this degree course. Previously nurses after three years would graduate with a diploma but Mr. Blessing had yet again smiled upon Marva. Although life as a student was challenging those three years, with faith in God, a good attitude and hard work, Marva graduated with second class honors as a Registered Nurse with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. You should have seen how Marva and her mother proudly walked the campus of the University of the West Indies to celebrate! Finally after 38 years, at the age of 46, her childhood dream had become a reality! Marva created history at Kingston Public Hospital as the first Ward Assistant to move from that position to become a registered nurse with a degree. She had after 38 years defied the odds and silenced the naysayers but the story did not end there.
Within three years Marva improved on her qualification by becoming a Nephrology nurse, specializing in caring for patients with End Stage Renal failure. By the age of 50 she had not only achieved her childhood dream career but she had purchased a home and ensured the success of her three children who by then all had careers. At the age of 50 her children honoured her publicly for her sacrifice and persistence which had paid off tremendously. Today Marva continues to work at KPH. She is a member of the Tower Hill Missionary Church where she leads their annual health fair initiative as well as assists with the Senior Citizen’s group. She is also a motivational speaker along with her eldest daughter. Recently in one of her speeches at a Parent Empowerment meeting, Marva told the parents that she wants to be remembered as the lady who never gave up on her dreams. I am simply proud to call her mom.
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