“Never Be Ashamed of Where You Come From” Says Trinidadian Oxford University Graduate

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Andre Che Blackburn, a young Trinidadian man obtained his Master’s degree from Oxford University in early August of this year

In a post on Facebook, Blackburn shared his journey and a message of hope for all Caribbean youths.

Yesterday, I graduated with a Master’s degree from Oxford University. If I was told that this could ever be, I wouldn’t have believed it. What a journey it has been. From Mt Hope Junior Secondary, to Barataria Secondary Comprehensive School, to Sixth Form Government to UWI..

The journey was not easy. Many tears, many sacrifices, and many struggles along the way. This was my second offer to study at Oxford, since I had to turn down the first one a few years ago because of financial reasons. This time around, I received a partial scholarship which covered my tuition fees. Timing, and persistence really matter.

This degree and time studying here was no walk in the park. I had to face all of my insecurities and demons head on. Those voices in your head that tell you, you’re not good enough, you don’t deserve to be here etc were loud. And at times, they drowned out the truth: that I worked hard to be here and was accepted (twice) because I was more than deserving.

While still a work in progress, I am now able to quiet those thoughts. To do so, it took counselling and surrounding myself with people who build me up and uplift me. In this regard, I am indebted to my friends at home who checked in with me regularly, who read my essays and who encouraged me to push on. I am also grateful to my friends in Oxford, who became family and who by their own example helped me to realise my fullest potential.

I would not be here today without my family. Specifically my parents, who made many sacrifices and did the best they could with what they had at their disposal. Special shout out to my mom, (who tells everyone I am at Harvard, as it’s all the same to her lol). I’ve seen this woman turn water into wine, make a little go a long way, swallow her pride and did what ever it took to provide for me and sisters.

I also remember all of the teachers and mentors along the way who saw something in me, that I couldn’t see in myself. I appreciate all of them.

I am excited about the present and even more about the future. Stay tuned!”

Tisha Ricketts

Born and raised in Freeport Bahamas, I am a lover of Caribbean life and all things equal. I believe that someday, the Caribbean will come together as one nation

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