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Vincentian valedictorian succeeds despite the odds

Vincentian valedictorian succeeds despite the odds


Twenty-four-year-old Terral Mapp says that he is living out a dream.

The young man recently graduated from the University of the West Indies Cave Hill campus with a degree in Economics and Accounting, with first class honours.{{more}}

But it was not all hard work, as Mapp said that he was well liked amongst his peers; after all, they voted him the class valedictorian.

In achieving his goal, he beat out some of the finest from across the region, to graduate as the top student of his class.

Among those were students from the OECS, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and host nation Barbados.

“It feels like a dream come true, because it has always been my intention, ever since I heard the good news that I was accepted to the University of the West Indies…so it was a huge accomplishment,” Mapp said.

“When I got the phone call on October 2, I jumped for glory…I was so happy so, so happy,” he continued.

According to Mapp, a lot of people expected him to do well, because of his outstanding performance at university.

“When I went to university I knew it wasn’t about books alone, but also about building networks,” he said.

But the young man commended himself for possessing one trait that has brought him success – leadership.

“I’m a leader, people look up to me.”

And that has been one quality Mapp said that he has carried out throughout his life.

Hard work was the other important quality, he said, adding that he has managed to impress all with whom he has had a working relationship.

But one should not conclude that the young man is arrogant.

Mapp says that he wants his success to be a lesson to other young men, particularly those in his community of Carapan.

His mother, Bernice, plies her trade as a vendor at Little Tokyo, he told SEARCHLIGHT.

Mapp grew up in a single parent household.

And he said that he never knew his father, who left the responsibility to his mother, whom he said sacrificed and worked to ensure that he and his two older siblings were taken care of.

He also credits his older sister Diane, who dropped out of school to assist her mother in taking care of him and his brother Fitzgerald, who took care of the finances that allowed him to complete his education.

Mapp attended the Stubbs Primary school before going on to the St Vincent Grammar School, where he obtained eight O’level passes, before going on to the Division of Arts, Sciences and General Studies at the St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College, where he obtained four A’ level passes.

But growing up was not easy, he said.

“I would see my friends with things that I wanted…I always wanted a bicycle, but just had to do without.”

His ability was questioned, Mapp said, adding that he was subjected to ridicule by others in his community, who doubted his ability.

“A lot of people told me that I would not have made it, people in the community because of where I had come from,” he said.

Like most young men, he said that he followed bad company; the difference however, according to Mapp, was that he saw the consequences of the actions of those involved in illicit activity.

Rather, he said that he made a decision to own things the old-fashioned way, through hard work and perseverance.

Mapp used all his previous disappointments and endeavoured to the end.

Things would eventually begin to look up after graduation from secondary school, when he was able to find employment at the Kingstown Cooperative Credit Union (KCCU); he would later do a brief stint at the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) in St Kitts, after completing his degree.

He would eventually receive a student loan to pursue his first degree, but that too was a struggle.

“There were times when I felt that I was not going to make it,” Mapp said, as he reflected on the day of the interview with the officials from the Ministry of Education.

Even he had begun to doubt his own ability, saying that because of the way he spoke, that might have prevented him from qualifying for the student loan.

He would, however, get a call the following week, to say that he had been successful and that he was university bound.

“Everything went nicely… the first year [at university] went well; the people at the Bank (ECCB) liked me,” Mapp said, adding that the bank officials here were impressed with his academic performance.

The secret to his success, according to Mapp, was that he left St Vincent to attend university “fully charged and fully motivated.”

“When book came first, book came first…when friend would say that you are a nerd, I would say I came here for this. I borrowed my $100,000 to come here to study. I am not playing at all, so no one could influence me … no one!” he said.

It was not all about academics for Mapp, as he said that he enjoyed some free time as well.

“Life was balanced, that’s the reason why they chose me as valedictorian,” Mapp told SEARCHLIGHT, adding that if it were purely about academics, then no one would have known who he was.

Mapp said that he used to get out and that he would also try to be helpful to his colleagues.

“Because it is not about you alone; it is not about being the brightest person…you might be too arrogant and no one likes you, then how can you work in an environment where no one likes you?”

He said that he believes life is a balance and that interpersonal skills were far better than academics.

In the meantime, he said that he wants to make a contribution to society.

“I speak to the youths in Carapan…almost all the youths do not go to school,” he said.

He encourages them to attend church, something he says that he has failed in doing.

“But the least I can do is try,” he said with a smile.

“Hopefully, when they see how successful I am, they would move in my direction, so I try to be successful to motivate people…action speaks louder than words right?

“My mom wants to see me succeed, so she can say that her son has made her proud and I have been doing it all my life,” he said.

Mapp also offered some advice to future students, saying that they needed to understand the consequences of failure, adding that no one will respect you as a failure.

“A first class is nice, but don’t focus only on that…when you go to university go to learn, go with motivation.”

He further explained that students should learn to add value and not A’s.

“Everybody wants to get A’s, but when it comes to the real world, they don’t know anything,” Mapp explained.

He now looks to the future saying that first he, intends to pursue a masters degree in Economics, but that may be next year.

Mapp also said that he is still undecided about the institution he will select for this leg of his academic journey, saying that he may opt to study in England.

Pursuing a master’s degree would prepare him for a career in Economics, as he believes he will become a better writer.

“Because writing for economics is different…in economics you cannot be too colourful, you have to be objective,” he said.

“That’s what I learnt from the ECCB, while doing a research paper…they told me plain talk, take it out; this is not a poem, you have to be simple and just give the facts,” Mapp continued.

He is undecided on a career, saying that he would like to give back to his country.

According to Mapp, becoming a teacher would allow him to give back to the nation’s youth. He also said that he would like to be an advisor to the government. (DD)