Cheryse following Thomas’ footsteps
A PARTICULAR PAIR of eyes stare at every student who enters the hall at Christ Church Foundation School.
And Cheryse Greenidge was compelled to stare back at the framed photograph each time for the last three years of her life there.
Dr Robert Thomas seemed to be communicating with her somehow. Now, if not next to him, Cheryse will undoubtedly have pride of place in that same hall for making history at the school exactly 60 years after Thomas did.
Both of them earned Barbados Scholarships for the school. His was from the non-Government sanctioned sixth form under principal Lee Harford Skeete in 1954, while hers came three years after a sixth form was officially set up at the school with Robert Cumberbatch at the helm.
And if school was not enough, Cheryse said she saw the same portrait on the wall in an office while she was watching a local health programme on television only a few weeks ago.
“The same Robert Thomas! I was like, ‘This man following me’,” she said with a laugh.
But what was it about Thomas’ picture that drew her so?
“I knew what people were expecting of me so I was like, ‘Do I have to see this [picture] every single time? Telling me, ‘Okay try and get this, try and get this?’ It was kinda like pressure sometimes,” the 18-year-old explained.
So that when she saw the results for the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination just after 10 p.m. on August 10, and realised she had qualified for a Barbados Scholarship, it was bliss of the nonchalant Cheryse kind.
“I was like, ‘Thank God’. It was more relief than happiness, I would say, because I was trying to get it [a scholarship] for the school. That is all I was thinking.”
Unlike most of the other 14 Barbados Scholars, Cheryse will not be flying off anywhere in the coming weeks to continue her studies. And it is by choice.
Her only application was right to the University of the West Indies Cave Hill, where she will pursue electronics and a minor in medical electronics.
“If I do go anywhere it will be like on an exchange programme . . . . I don’t necessarily need to go to all the high stuff to show [that I can achieve],” she explained.
She however admitted to looking around for schools offering bio-medical engineering, and that Yale University appeared to be the best prospect at the time.
Cheryse said electronics is a part of biomedical engineering, which she could always pursue at the master’s level.
It was that same practicality which informed her decision to make Foundation her preferred choice when she took the Common Entrance Examination in 2007. She was the ninth highest performer islandwide that year.
“My cousin (Chenia Sue) was there, all the extra-curricular activities that I wanted to do at that time were at the school. One bus to get there.”
Netball and home economics factored primarily then, but thoughts of becoming a chef have long disappeared. When asked if she could even cook, the swift response was “not at all”.
She had a choice of six other institutions two years ago when she gained nine Grade 1s and a two at CXC. Her love of French put Harrison College as a possible place for sixth form, but Foundation won out yet again.
“Then I was like, ‘You may be able to get this ‘S’ word, so stay at Foundation [and] see if you could get it for them’. That is all I was thinking,” she revealed.
“I really wanted to do French, but then [I thought] I could just study French any other time after that by myself, because I have not stopped studying French since then anyhow.”
Not only was earning a Barbados Scholarship her main goal, but she wanted to do it without additional lessons. Mission accomplished on that score as well.
Aware of the choices Cheryse could have made, principal Cumberbatch said Cheryse would have to get the prize for loyalty, if one were available.
“At that point in time we would have been untested because, as you know, we would only have just started again. Two of the subjects she wanted to do, we were not even offering at the time. We actually started chemistry and physics when she started and so she would be among the first persons to graduate in chemistry and physics at the upper sixth level.
“So it really is a tribute to her, I have to say, and my teachers who would have been inexperienced at the time, but they created that sort of educational environment, to my mind, and gave the assistance that allowed her and the others to do pretty well,” he said, adding that Cheryse’s parents Cheryl Greenidge and Jerome Davis had to be credited as well for advising her to remain.
“We’re quite happy. In fact I would say ecstatic . . . . It [the scholarship] is quite remarkable and it really would help us to continue to maintain our position, if not edge us up a bit,” Cumberbatch added.