Road crash can’t stop teen’s CSEC success
"In a split second, my life flashed before my eyes, and when I realised I couldn't move my neck I panicked." These are the words Shamila Holness used to describe her traumatic experience when the vehicle she was travelling in was hit by a bus in Providence, St James, last November.
The Westwood High School student said she will never forget the day she almost lost her life, just months before she would sit the regional Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate (CSEC) exams.
"I hit the left side of my head, and at the time I just had a headache. They took me out the bus and said I should keep my head up. But when I was being transported to the hospital, that's when the adrenaline kicked in," she said. Her neck stiffened and the forceful impact of the accident left Shamila in excruciating pain.
At times, she could not walk properly, and experienced days of backaches. Doctors at the Fairview Medical Centre recommended a neck brace to ease her pain, but that only caused more discomfort, as it often squeezed her neck.
Sustaining a neck injury made preparing for CSEC hard, as moving around became painful.
"I had to stop wearing the brace and I realised my neck would hurt a lot more. Once my neck was hurting, my back was hurting, and it would move down to my waist. I struggled with (preparing for) visual arts because I couldn't sit up, and I wouldn't hand in work sometimes. But I still tried my best," the 17-year-old said.
Furthermore, with the novel coronavirus changing the delivery mode of school lessons, Shamila soon faced another hurdle. Her mother, Kehlia Wright, who works in the tourism sector, was laid off. This further disheartened Shamila. When she sat her exams in July, Shamila could not shake her feelings of anxiety.
However, she had the support of her schoolmates, teachers and family members, who constantly reminded her that she did her best. On September 22, the portals opened for students to check their results, and Shamila was scared to do so.
"I was coming home from Montego Bay and I just took a deep breath and checked," she said. Shamila successfully attained passes in seven subjects: music, history, geography, English language, English literature, mathematics, and clothing, textile and fashion. This is in addition to electronic document preparation and management, which she sat in 2018.
Shamila said weeks before the exams, she forced herself to literally sit up and tackle her work, and advised others to have a similar mindset.
"Do not give up, some persons have it worse. Do what you can, and what is best for you. I have proved myself wrong," she said.
Shamila is preparing to enrol at the HEART/NSTA Trust in Mandeville, with a focus on food and beverage management.