Jamaican scholar moves from coronation bargain to pursuing PhD in neuroscience

Jamaican Malika Allen, 22, will begin her doctoral studies. in Neuroscience in the United States in August 2022. It’s no surprise that Allen is pursuing graduate school, but what’s remarkable is how she overcame serious financial challenges and other obstacles to succeed .

Allen’s childhood was spent in Meadowbrook, St. Andrew where she was an avid reader and played netball. Her parents ran a business in Coronation Market, and she went there every day before and after school. After her father died, she spent the night with her mother and older sister in the market, helping her mother sell and collect her lunch money every morning before going to school. She remembers that at one point there wasn’t enough money to pay the family’s utility bills, but she didn’t let that get in her way. Allen tried to finish her homework before it got dark, and when she couldn’t, she used the streetlight that shone on their porch to do her work.

As her graduation approached and when she discovered that students who had unpaid fees would not be allowed to participate in the celebration, she contacted the principal and received permission to cross the platform. form, if only to receive an empty certificate cartridge. After graduating from high school, Allen received a partial scholarship to attend Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, but his account was suspended each semester due to unpaid balances. Sometimes she couldn’t enroll in classes, but her biggest challenge was taking several months off due to unpaid fees. During this period, she returned to Jamaica, thinking it was the end of her educational dreams. She applied, unsuccessfully, for jobs, then applied, unsuccessfully, for scholarships. She was refused loans and became very depressed, not even wanting to leave her house.

“Close one chapter. Start the other. PhD in neuroscience, here I come. – Malika Allen

However, his good academic performance earned him a full tuition scholarship after returning from leave. His family and his bishop contributed to the cost of accommodation and miscellaneous expenses. Before returning to school, Allen made a plan of all the classes she needed to graduate on her own schedule, set herself the goal of doing research internships and more work in the lab. research. She stuck to the plan with the help of prayer and made up for the semester she had lost. She also found time to be an active member of the Student Council on Diversity and Inclusion and a tutor at the Academic Resource Center.

Allen graduated summa cum laude in May 2022 with a BA in Neuroscience and Psychology. She cites the support of her mother and sisters for helping her achieve her school goals. Her older sister has kept her motivated, she added, reminding her that she has a greater purpose in life and that her setbacks and experiences are just ‘valleys’ she has to cross over the course of her life. his life.

After graduating in May, she tweeted, “Close one chapter. Start the other. PhD in Neuroscience, here I come.

Photo – Malika Allen

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