Desire knows no boundary; it is the very root of existence. Have you ever had a dream and wanted it so badly that you would sacrifice anything to realize it, give your mind, body and soul to make it happen? Have you ever wanted to cross the finish line so much that you would would do anything to make it happen? Have you ever been willing to fight any battle, to shed blood, sweat and tears just to make sure the dream embedded in your heart is made a reality?
That is my story. I am Rashaun Stewart, a fourth year medical student. I have a dream, a dream to break free from the shackles that bind me, a dream to make my family proud, a dream to defy fate. From a young age, my dream has been becoming a doctor.
Every action I have undertaken from then to date has been directed towards making this happen. Hailing from a family of humble means, the path to achieving the dream has been filled with challenges. The greatest challenge is financial in nature.
I applied to the medical school at the University of the West Indies in 2019. Unfortunately, I was rejected on the basis of not having the financial means to pay the $3,780,000 JMD tuition at the time. I was blessed to receive lucrative scholarships that paved the way for me to gain an acceptance letter a few weeks after that.
I thought my challenges ended there, but I was wrong. Since I started medical school, there have been continuous hikes in tuition fees due to our tuition being pegged to the US dollar. My tuition saw an increase of $168,000 JMD in 2020, then a further increase of $401,800 JMD in 2021. It now stands at $4,349,800 JMD as of 2022. My total fees for this academic year amount to $4,612,159 JMD to cover:
* Accommodation on campus
* Miscellaneous fees
I have been blessed to receive funding from lucrative scholarships, bursaries and grants that have significantly reduced the expenses. However, I still have a deficit of almost $500,000 JMD remaining. My household earnings are insufficient to cover even one semester of my tuition, not to mention the other fees.
I face the prospect of deregistration in the coming year if my tuition fees are not paid. I also face the prospect of eviction from my Hall of residence if the accommodation fees are not paid. These are terrifying possibilities. I cannot overcome this grave hurdle alone. Without your help, I can’t make it.
During my time at UWI, I’ve had the opportunity to touch the lives of others for the better. I’ve organized organized back-to-school treats, awareness conferences for societal and medical issues, fundraising drives, mentorship programmes, and charitable donations, even during the heights of the pandemic. I believe firmly we can all do a little to make a positive impact on someone’s life. I am humbly asking for the same.
I have a dream. I want nothing more than to complete medical school. All the years of sacrifice, all the desperate fights to scrape every penny to pay fees, all the efforts will be meaningless if I don’t make it beyond this point.
I want nothing more than to break free of my chrysalis, shatter the glass ceiling, and fly. I humbly ask for your support in any way possible to help me pursue this dream. Help me soar as Doctor Rashaun Stewart. Thank you for reading.