Abuse, losses among several challenges UG graduands overcame to succeed


Close to 2600 graduands of the University of Guyana (UG) will walk the virtual graduation stage in a series of ceremonies beginning February 4, 2022. However, they each have a unique and inspiring story of how they were able to beat the odds in their journey to academic glory.

As part of our ongoing series of student success stories, we feature below some of the graduands who have overcome various obstacles, including losing a loved one, dealing financial hardships, health complications, and domestic abuse while they were pursuing tertiary education.

For 38-year-old Tandy Tappin, it was facing an abusive relationship and losing not one, but two, of the closest persons in her life, all while completing her Bachelor’s and Post Graduate Diploma at UG.

According to Tappin, she faced constant abuse at the hands of her partner following her decision to pursue further studies.

The veteran educator explained: “A course that was supposed to last only four years ended up taking almost eight years for me to complete. I wanted to stay in the relationship for my son because at the time he was preparing to write the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) and I didn’t want my absence to cause him to do poorly.”

“I stayed, my son got President’s College and I was happy for him, but then we were in a car accident and he died and I didn’t get to mourn as I wanted to. I resumed classes at UG and I thought I could have made it but I was overwhelmed and I had to take a break. So, I ended up taking two years leave from UG.”

However, just as Tappin was regaining her strength, tragedy struck again with the sudden death of her mom. With tears in her eyes, she recounted: “That was my breaking point, because she passed away exactly two weeks before the death anniversary of my son. So, my mom’s death helped me to come to grips with what’s happening and that I don’t have to pin it all up but I can let it all out. It was at that point I recognised that life has to go on and I have to live for my other child, my daughter who is now 12-years-old. I told myself I have to be strong for her and be that positive role model for her, despite all of the challenges.”

Tappin who has been in the teaching profession for approximately 2o years echoed sentiments of appreciation and love to UG and her colleagues for showering her with compassion and support.

“I thought I needed some help in getting myself together. UG provided support by providing a counsellor to help me along the process until I was mentally strong again…

“That gave me the drive to complete and that encouraged me know that it’s ok to do what I had to do in order to make yourself better. I would really, really like to thank the University for providing such services for students like me and others who may be going through other issues in life,” Tappin expressed.

20-Year-old Leah Cummings is set to graduate with an Associate’s Degree in Biology come February 12, 2022. As Cummings reflected on the journey of attending the University, she expressed: “It was rough at the beginning because no one from my family actually came here so I had no help at all but it got better at the end.”

Leah added that the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in her family facing severe financial hardships as her parents became unemployed, “I had tremendous financial challenges because my mom and dad were both out of a job due to the pandemic. It had put a strain on me and I wanted to drop out as I asked myself who would pay my tuition fees.”

Leah expressed that luckily she was able to secure a scholarship from the church which helped to take care of her tuition fees.

The aspiring Chemist is currently employed as a lab technician at Demerara Distilled Limited (DDL) and is hoping to return to the University soon to further her studies.

Gerard Budhan is the eldest of three siblings and is the first in his family to graduate from the University of Guyana with an Associate’s Degree in Information Technology (Distinction).

Like many other graduands, Budhan faced many challenges in his quest to pursue further studies. “It was challenging because it took me about five years to come to UG after leaving high school and this was mainly due to financial reasons. I had to work within those five years before I got that opportunity and the timing was right to start the University. I had to try catching up with everyone else who were fresh out of high school and also I was working while coming to the University. Sometimes I was not getting any time off and those were very difficult days, I had many days when I was lacking sleep. It was difficult sometimes to complete the assignments and not feel sleepy in class,” he explained.

Budhan expressed that he had to make up for the lost time at work. “In order to overcome the challenges at work I had to work extra hours on the job in order to make up for the time lost.”

In terms of the impact UG has had on his life Budhan highlighted: “UG has allowed me to have a different outlook in life. I am more confident and able to express myself better. When I started UG it was an encouragement to my younger siblings. They literally started UG the year after I started. They had doubts and all these things before but seeing me in this position, I was able to inspire them.”

Ms. Marinella Glasgow, an aspiring oncologist is graduating with an Associate’s Degree in Biology (Distinction).

Glasgow who hails from Victoria on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD) detailed that during the course of her studies she became ill, “When UG started online I got really sick because I couldn’t manage it anymore and I found it very difficult that particular semester in the second year. I got some really hard hits, I got some difficult grades, I got some Cs but I worked hard to pull it back and I am here today and now I am graduating with a distinction.”

She added that another challenge was juggling work and studies, The journey started quite comfortably since I had a background in CAPE, however it became very hard when I started to work. Sometimes I would have to come to a class in the morning and leave right after class and then come back for class again and then go back to work, it was hectic.

In offering words of encouragement to other students she said: I want to encourage students to be patient with themselves, when we come to University we meet with so many people from so many different backgrounds and when we measure ourselves sometimes with think we aren’t good enough, but the fact that you are here means that you are good enough and the fact that you start, you can end, and you will end.” (University of Guyana press release) 

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