By Isanella Patoir
Becoming an attorney and graduating with honours was not an easy journey for 25-year-old Jermane Alleyne. A few months before she started the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad and Tobago, her father passed away.
Hailing from a community of Sophia in Georgetown that is often ‘stigmatised’, Jermane is proud of her accomplishment. The young attorney spoke with the News Room at the High Court on Friday just before she was admitted to the bar. Her petition was presented to Chief Justice Roxane George by attorney-at-law Mayo Robertson.
She told the News Room that she had to put off one year of going to law school because she could not afford the tuition and then when she finally got the money, she did not make the list and had to write the entrance exams. Jermane graduated on the Principal Honour Roll and was admitted to the bar on Friday.
Jermane told the News Room that she always knew she would become a lawyer someday; her passion initially was family law so she can protect and advocate for children.
“As I pursue my career in the law, I began to experience a whole host of other areas where I learnt that I am not only interested in family and the rights of the child, I started developing an interest in international law and estate law and so on,” Jermane explained.
But the road was not easy.
“I am from Sophia, so you know that being somebody from that place, it’s a stigma attached to the area but I don’t believe that coming from a community of that repute could stop anybody from achieving their dreams,” Jermane stated.
Like many others, Jermane had to adapt to online learning when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Caribbean. This she said was difficult since she is a more ‘hands-on person’.
“I need the books from the library to use, I don’t really like the virtual teaching, I need to interact physically with the lecturer so it was a change but nevertheless, I persevered,” a proud Jermane said.
Jermane is the third of four children and the first lawyer for her immediate family. With all the challenges thrown her way, she never stopped pursuing her dream.
“I did not immediately get to go into the law programme at UG, I did one-year pre-law, I did International Relations and then I transferred into UG Law Department. After that, I was placed in the top 25 students to go to Hugh Wooding,” Jermane explained.
But she could not afford to go to law school and coupled with the death of her father, she took the year off and worked in the construction sector.
“I could not find the money and a few months before, my father passed so that was a big shock for us and it was very difficult to deal with.
“So, I took the year off and I did a bit of construction work with my former employers and they decided to assist me.”
But when she finally got the funding for law school, Jermane did not make it on the list of Guyanese students to study at Hugh Wooding and as such, she had to write the entrance examinations.
“I had to write the entrance exams and there I scored high marks and I was able to get a placement and I am here now.”
Before going off to law school, Jermane managed to get some experience in the legal field with attorney Mayo Robertson.
Just before going into the courtroom to present her petition to practice law, Jermane said the moment was bittersweet “because I wanted my father here, he sacrificed a lot for me because he knew I wanted to do law.”
She is encouraging persons to get practical experience for whatever profession they choose.
“…you can get all the teachings, all the theory-based from the book but the practical experience is what really helped so, I would advise if you can find a law firm that would give you an internship; if you have some friend who is a lawyer ask them to give you the advice beforehand and I think it should be something people should think about more.”