I was born in Worcestershire, into a bustling working-class family of seven siblings. My parents and siblings, all born in Jamaica, instilled in me a deep appreciation for our Jamaican heritage. We'd relish Jamaican food at home, and our hair would often be styled in plaits, a nod to our cultural roots.
Growing up, my parents never let on about the racism and struggles they faced, shielding us from the harsh realities of the world. But as I got older, I began to see the same obstacles looming over me throughout my own life and career. I believed that for me to progress in my career I needed to remain silent, just like my parents had done before me. However, I understand now how important it is to use my voice to fight those who can’t.
It was my mother who sparked my love for learning, pushing me to excel academically. Even when I struggled with reading and writing, she never let me give up. It wasn't until I was 42, during my undergraduate studies at the University of East London, that I discovered I had dyslexia. Learning this was a turning point for me. I finally had the tools to make things easier, but it made me realise how hard I had been working to get to where I was.
I was shocked to learn that dyslexia is prevalent in the Afro-Caribbean community, and it's frustrating that most curricula don't account for it. It's disheartening to see students with learning disabilities being neglected, often placed in disruptive classes and punished for things beyond their control. I firmly believe that every child, regardless of their race or background, deserves equal access to resources that support their learning.
I'm pursuing my master's degree not for my career but to inspire the next generation. I want my nieces, nephews, and godchildren to see that no matter what age they are, it's never too late to chase their dreams. I hope to continue inspiring young minds long after I retire.
To the next generation, I say this: never stop learning. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't or that you're not smart enough. You have the same opportunities as everyone else, and with hard work and perseverance, you can make your dreams a reality.