Sixteen-year-old Chioke Holder is living proof that hard work pays. By the time he had completed fourth form at Harrison College, he was the proud holder of 12 Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) certificates – one in second form, three in third form and eight in fourth form. Having been promoted from fourth form straight to the lower sixth form last September, Chioke, shared with the SUNDAY SUN how he attained this rare achievement while juggling basketball, athletics and playing the piano. The fact that he “skipped” fifth form was not without precedent since his brother Chinelo did the same thing, at the same school, about two years ago. “I guess I just wanted to see and feel what it was like. My brother told me it would be hard work – although he made it look easy – but I did it too so I believe it must be possible,” the former Eden Lodge Primary School student said. Still, he conceded that a lot of time and hard work went into preparing for eight CXCs outside of school while playing basketball for the Combined Schools team, playing the piano and taking part in the Barbados Secondary Schools Athletic Championships. He still had to keep up with classwork at HC. “I sacrificed a lot of sleep and social time to do work. I went to the Queen’s College Continuing Education Programme [four days a week] for chemistry, biology, physics and electronic document preparation and management. I also went to French classes on Saturday,” he said. Even though Chioke already had a full plate, he also opted to do his SATs in fourth form because he “wanted to see what it was like. I did quite well and I also went to Jamaica to do my LSATs. That was also an experience that was memorable,” he said. Throughout all this, the national youth volleyballer said his original classmates have been supportive. “They always remind me that I left them behind but they are happy that I am getting along with my new year and that I am still striving for excellence not only academically, but also athletically,” he said. Although the teen is currently studying biology, chemistry and physics, he has his sights set initially on becoming a lawyer. “I would like to be a lawyer because I have always liked productive arguments and I have always been quite good at them too. I possess a quality of letting people see my point of view and making them understand why my side may be better than the alternative. “If for some reason that was not to work out for me, I would like to be a doctor not only because I get along very well with people in general, but also because I enjoy the sciences and enjoy helping people in any way I can,” he noted. Among his hobbies are playing the piano, learning new languages and spending his limited free time with his friends from his “old year”. Chioke attributed his success to God but also acknowledged the importance of a positive mindset and a strong support system. “I believe my frame of mind was also a key factor in my success. I just kept on going and remembering ‘it is possible’ and ‘anything worth doing is worth doing well’. “Other vital things responsible for my success would be my teachers, my mother and brother and my best friend Ashlee Tang, who all helped to encourage me and keep me going,” he said. His mother Claudette Holder, brother and Barcelona footballer Lionel Messi are his role models. Of his mother he said: “She is awesome and has always been supportive of me; and, contrary to [popular] belief, has never once pushed me or forced me to do any CXCs, SATs, LSATs or anything else of the sort early.” He says his brother, a second-year medical student, is “without a doubt the most intelligent 18-year-old” that he knows. On Messi: “I believe that Messi has a confidence when he is playing football that any sportsman/woman would want to have so I aspire to be as confident as he is, at my work and when I am playing basketball and volleyball.” Like most positive young people, Chioke has some concerns about Barbadian youth. “Young people today seem to be caught up in the most recent trends instead of being caught up in the homework they have to do. “Of course, we will want to dress to impress and let our friends know that we are wearing the latest brands but there must be a balance between work and entertainment if one wants to be successful in this life,” he advised. He also believes a lot of focus is placed on young people involved in crime while very little attention is paid to their achievements and accomplishments. However, he is also of the view that he can help his peers to see that things which seem impossible can be done. “I think I can help people in Barbados, with the help of others such as my brother, to realize that things which may at first seem impossible to not only you, but to everyone, are possible once you put your mind to it and have decided ‘this is what I want to achieve and what I will achieve’,” he said.