Power of influence; will to achieve
PAUL GIBSON knows full well that life is a journey, not a destination.
?By many standards his own life story could have been different. Now he’s an accomplished pharmacist and business professional. But there were times during his own childhood journey when his future seemed so unclear and impossible.
“When I entered Ellerslie at 11 in 1979 I did not understand or appreciate excellence,” he said. “I was placed in Form 1B1 and I was not much of an A-student. Studying and planning for the future was nothing I wanted to do, I wanted to play. By second form I met teachers who took an interest in me as an individual.”
Those teachers took him under their wing and taught him the value of studying and striving for balance to meet the demands of the work in secondary school.
“I have had the privilege of meeting some of the greatest teachers you could ever want to meet. Some teachers don’t realize the power of influence that they possess,” he said. “The ability to empower, remove fears, inspire, counsel, plant vital seeds of character, impart learning DNA and tricks of the trade of education. Teachers are part of the process of shaping the spirit of excellence.”
For Gibson, those teachers were instrumental in shaping and helping him along his journey toward excellence, which he acknowledged was coloured by many personal challenges.
“My mother and father at a certain juncture in my life got divorced,” he revealed. “My father got into a very bad car accident and the person in the car died and he took it on and got depressed and began to drink and got abusive with my mother and that caused them to separate,” he said, choking back tears while addressing students at the Ellerslie Secondary School speech day and prize giving ceremony on Wednesday.
??No lunch money
?“For a short while I was hungry when I came to school because my mother didn’t have enough at that time. Some days I went to school, had no lunch money and came back home.”
Knowing that things were hard for his mother, Gibson tried to do his part.
“For a short while I had two white shirts that I wore to school and I washed them every morning and put them behind the fridge,” he said. “I would circulate those shirts for a couple of months until my mother was able to catch her hand.”
Gibson was very aware that he had to help his mother. In fact, he attributes his success to the values and support of his mother, sisters and grandmother who shaped and kept him, particularly during that time.
While Gibson emotionally talked about his challenges, he also willingly shared his triumphs.
“My father subsequently left Barbados moved to Canada and got his life together, and my mother pulled herself together, built her house, sent her kids to university and continued to sacrifice out of her lack so that we could do better,” he said. “So it’s a good story but it was painful.”
Follow this link to see video from Gibson’s speech.
Gibson was able to channel that pain into a passion for learning.
“While at Ellerslie I was a prefect, I played violin, was a member of the chess club, played volleyball and I loved chemistry,” he said. “This simple love for chemistry allowed me to experience life at a different level. I left Ellerslie, completed my CXCs and attended Community College in the science faculty to pursue A levels in chemistry and biology, and did an associate degree in pharmacy. I further did a Bachelor’s in Science at the University of Technology in Jamaica.”
Gibson was fortunate to work all over the world doing a variety of different things.
“I became a clinical pharmacist at Bayview Hospital, managed a branch of Knights Pharmacy, then became a medical rep with a Canadian company,” he said. “This company later became Glaxo Smith Kline and offered me a position as the marketing manager for the Caribbean based out of the Jamaican office.”
Sixteen years later Gibson returned to Barbados after travelling the globe. Those years of work and personal and professional growth have made him the man he is today.
“I wanted to be a pharmacist as a goal. I wanted a good wife and have two children. I have a great wife and my two children are now at university, he said. “I was just an Ellerslie boy, pursing his dream, travelling the world, achieving.”