Komal Wahab, a 24-year-old Research Assistant at the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) recently graduated from the University of Guyana (UG) with a degree in chemistry.
Wahab, the last of three children, is the second in his family to successfully complete tertiary education.
The young man graduated with a distinction while facing several challenges such as being forced to resign from his job and later borrowing money to pay for his tuition.
“From my father’s side, I am the first person to graduate and from my mom’s side I am actually the second person to graduate. It feels amazing from where I came from to where I am right now,” Wahab expressed during a recent interview with the News Room.
Wahab completed his secondary education at the Hope Secondary School, East Coast Demerara and started working at Sigma Labs right after. He spent a year there before he secured employed at NAREI.
It was at NAREI, while working with graduates of degrees, masters and PhDs that Wahab was motivated to start his degree.
“Working with persons with bachelors and masters and PhDs that just motivates you and from coming out of poverty, education is the key out of it,” Wahab related.
He grew up in Foulis on the East Coast of Demerara and lost his father when he was eight-years-old. After completing secondary school, he had to work and support his mother.
“My biggest supporter is my mother. I remember the day I told her I wanted to start UG and she said to do it. But, to go I had to resign and she told me to do it, she was my main supporter,” an emotional Wahab said.
During COVID pandemic in 2020, the young man was forced to switch to online learning and he returned to work at NAREI to support his mother. He recalled that he could not afford to go out with friends and had to budget for transportation to attend in-person classes for labs.
“I wasn’t working and I was the only breadwinner for my mom. It was just me and my mom and whatever savings I had to really budget myself.
“I could not go out and watch a movie or go out and hang, I couldn’t afford those things so when the COVID pandemic hit, I had to go and find a job,” Wahab recalled.
Now, he feels grateful to have completed his studies and said “it feels amazing, this is something I had wanted and I am at the stage where I have achieved it and it just feels great.”
He relishes in the fact that his struggle did not last. In his third year of studies, he secured a scholarship from the Government of Guyana.
According to Wahab, to get through university “you need a really good group of friends who will push you and together support each other.”