St Bess teen overcomes odds to ace CSEC exams
Seventeen-year-old Moesha Johnson, a grade-12 student at Maggotty High School in St Elizabeth, has overcome enormous financial odds and other challenges to secure eight subjects in the 2022 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations.
The youngster now has 10 subjects, having sat principles of business and English Language in grade 10, which she passed with distinctions. For this year's CSEC sitting, she attained five distinctions in biology, physics, food and nutrition, information technology and human and social biology, with three credits in chemistry, geography and mathematics.
Moesha is no stranger to academic success, as she has consistently been a top performer. "I have been coming first in my classes from basic school up until 11th grade," she said.
Yet, young Moesha's journey to her educational success at Maggotty High was not without challenges.
She recounted starting each day from as early as 5 a.m. to make the one-hour journey from Brighton to Maggotty in order to get to school on time.
"For me to get to school, I'd have to take a vehicle from where I live to the main road to catch the bus. If the bus leaves me, I have to take two extra taxis to come to school," Moesha shared. The aspiring physiotherapist sometimes gets home as late as 8 p.m., whenever she stays behind to attend extra lessons.
"It is even more challenging to go home than to come to school. Going home I have to take three [taxis]," she told JIS News. She admitted that there are moments when she was unmotivated and wanted to quit.
"Then I saw circumstances that I don't want to see myself or my children in when I am older. So because of that and things that I have been through, every time I feel unmotivated, I tell myself that I am not doing this for anybody else ... I am doing this for myself, so that I can be a better individual," she said.
Moesha recounted that when the COVID-19 pandemic shifted learning to online in 2020, she fell behind in her studies due to a compact schedule.
"I had a lot going on then. I had normal house chores, I was also helping out with two children at home, and I had a lot doing. It kind of affected my academic performance in a sense. But I came back to school and decided that I would have a next go at this to do better," she said.
"I'd have to study the topics before examinations, or months before and practise every day. I hated physics. So because I know I was weak in that subject, I'd sit at home on weekends and I'd practise the formulas, I'd watch YouTube videos to ensure that I grasped the topics that we did or what we would be doing so I would understand them more. That was how I picked up my grades," she explained.
Moesha is being raised by a single mother, assisted by guardians who ensure her well-being is safeguarded when her mom travels overseas on the farm work programme.
Moesha's faith in God also helps to keep her grounded. When she isn't focused on her academics, she finds time to read and draw, which are good stress relievers.
Principal of Maggotty High School, Sean Graham, described Moesha as a very diligent student who consistently performs well academically.
"Moesha's performance is something that is heartening because it took place in the middle of the pandemic. Teachers had to go the extra mile to ensure that students were learning; they had to activate the Google classroom spaces to make sure work was there. Students had challenges and, therefore, that's why I want to really commend Moesha and all the students who did well in the pandemic," Graham said.
Moesha's mentor and physics and chemistry teacher, Leighton Thorpe, is optimistic about her prospects.
"Moesha is the type of person who, if you ask a question and she starts talking everybody listens. She is a person who has great potential, and with more guidance, she will definitely accomplish her dream of becoming a physiotherapist," he said.