‘Pride cannot feed you’: Nicholas Chesney’s ‘chips’ business enabled him to complete UG

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By Shena Henry

Nicholas Chesney, 30, is a cameraman and is now the holder of a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering. But his achievement did not come without struggle; his is a story of sheer determination.

When the expenses of attending university began to add up, he had to find a way out, and so he took up selling chips. The idea was originally a partnership with a friend, but he soon decided to venture out alone.

“It’s a good thing it started like that because I didn’t have to prepare; I just had to buy it from the supplier so it was easy for me.”

THE MAIN SOURCE OF INCOME

“At times, I didn’t have any money – for transportation – especially. I used to take the bus, I took a taxi one time, and then I started riding my bicycle. But one day, the bicycle got punctured and I had to walk home from UG to Mon Repos.

“I told myself I have to find another way to reach to UG. Eventually, I went on and got a motorcycle and then I realised transportation wasn’t the only thing I needed.  I needed money to print assignments, I needed money for miscellaneous fees. My father was paying the tuition and I still needed extra money.”

Chesney’s once had a ‘Chips stall’ in Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara

Chesney initially resided with his family in The Bahamas but they re-migrated to Guyana in 2013 and so he decided to further his studies. He lived in New Amsterdam, Berbice, before relocating to Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara.

During a recent interview with the News Room, Chesney explained that he had to figure out a way to make money on campus as his programme, Mechanical Engineering, was a full-time course that required dedication. Because of what he deemed his weak foundation in Mathematics, he had to work extra hard.

“I looked at the chips and said, ‘well this is the right thing to do’, because in Technology (Faculty of Engineering and Technology) we don’t have a lot of food places there. We’re all the way at the back of the campus so we’re far away from food and our classes are close together. A lot of people were hungry there and I took the opportunity to feed them, basically,” he said, letting off a laugh.

‘A CHIP A DAY WILL RAISE YOUR GPA’

Nicholas said that upon the commencement of his business, he had a “Chips group” and gave free chips to anyone who came up with a catchy slogan. From this, came the slogan “A Chip a Day Will Raise Your GPA” by a friend of his.

DON’T LET PRIDE WIN

The University graduate explained that he realised he was shy about marketing his chips because it wasn’t the “cool” thing to do, but he put pride aside.

“…I realised some people didn’t have the money to buy the chips. That was sad for me because here I was feeling bad for selling chips and there were people who couldn’t buy the chips even though it was $120. So, I was like, ‘I gotta do this’ and I would encourage people to put pride aside.

“Pride cannot feed you; pride can’t provide what you need, you have to put that aside and you have to be a real Guyanese – a hustler – and you have to work, and when you sweat you will feel good because you worked for it,” Chesney said.

He added: “You have to make it fun because people might laugh you. I didn’t like the name ‘Chips Man’ at first because that’s not a nice name, that’s not a cool name, but it’s cool now. Ask yourself ‘What do you want? Do you want your degree? Or do you want to be shy?”

ENCOURAGEMENT

The young graduate implores persons who are in a similar situation not to give up.

“They don’t tell you until you finish. I know a lot of people told me they were looking up to me. If they had told me that before, I would have put in more work but a lot of people are looking up to you: Your parents, your family are depending on you.”

The 30-year-old said his method of motivation is to get as far away from poverty as possible.

“Education is something that will take you far away from poverty. I ask myself ever so often, ‘how did I manage to get away from poverty after all these years?’ And I’m not that far away actually because I have one source of income and if you have one source of income, you’re one step away from poverty, some people say. So, I’m not so far away, but I’m trying to get as further away from it as I can.”

He is now employed as a cameraman and a video editor at the Guyana Learning Channel.

 

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