Girl with chronic spinal disorder scores big at CSEC exams


Nineteen-year-old Shontay Hawker, who uses a wheelchair because of a chronic spinal disorder, is one step closer to her dream of becoming a lawyer after she passed eight subjects at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) exams.

Although she has been dependent on a wheelchair for as long as she can remember, it hasn’t made her give up on her dreams. Her CSEC passes include Grade One passes in Theatre Arts and Integrated Science.

“…theatre Arts was like a last minute subject and the teacher was like, ‘You can do this’ and I was like, ‘Miss other children can dance and do other stuff.”

She decided to push ahead with it anyhow.

Hawker told the News Room that she was pushed by her classmates and teachers to pursue her goals which included writing the relevant subjects that would help her pursue a law degree.

“I got six Grade Twos- in Social Studies, History, English A, Geography, EDPM, Agricultural Science. After the pandemic, I didn’t like want to write CXC because I thought I wasn’t ready and I didn’t cope with the online schooling so it was a bit difficult for me.”

“I was thinking to do it the next year but then the nurses helped to boost my confidence. The teachers at North Georgetown boosted my confidence, saying, ‘You can do it this year’ and I did it,” she explained.

The teen spent her childhood at the Harold B Davis Special School. However, she entered a mainstream primary school, Stella Marris, just before writing the National Grade Six Assessment. She later attended North Georgetown, where she sat the exams.

“I first came here [Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Centre] as a patient to do physical therapy and then my family saw that here has a space for me to stay.”

Hawker said she had many challenges when pursuing her studies but the most challenging was adjusting to online classes. She also had chores at the centre.  She is rewriting Mathematics, for which she got a Grade Four, and is awaiting the review of another subject. Hawker thanked her teachers at school and lessons, the nurses at the centre and all her friends for their support.

She is currently enrolled at the Bishops’ High School where she will continue her studies in effort to become a lawyer.

“I intend to study law…my dream is to go to the University of the West Indies. The campus, living there would just be so amazing. I even saw that they have special scholarships for persons with disabilities, so that’s amazing. I would really like to go there,” she said.

She noted that she will work hard to get a scholarship to further her studies after sixth form.

Hawker further said it is her hope that her story can inspire other children living with disabilities to pursue their dreams.

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