Speaking to the interns who are training at All Solutions International at the CAP Southwell Industrial site on Friday August 30, Ambassador Hazelle who is also the CEO of the St. Kitts Investment Promotion Agency (SKIPA) gave her own example where after becoming a teen mother before she sat her exams, later went ahead and utilised opportunities presented to her.
The theme of the seminar that is into its eighth week, ‘From the Basement to the Attic’, caught the attention of the Ambassador when she said: “I believe that my life maybe a good example of that whole theme.
“When my mother was about five months pregnant, before she realised she was pregnant and then I didn’t give her enough time to even prepare for it because two months later I came out feet first, and I think I have been going that way ever since and that was 61 years ago.”
She informed them that St. Kitts and Nevis, under National Hero, Premier Robert Bradshaw, was the first country in the region to give everyone the opportunity to get a secondary school education, when he abolished the Common Entrance Exams.
“Sometimes we fail in telling you the younger persons what it was like for us back then,” said Ambassador Hazelle. “I think now I see and it hurts my heart all the time when I see young people not taking advantage of the educational opportunities that are offered you.”
In the days she was growing up, there were lots of people in her village (Parsons Ground) who could have had a secondary education but because of where they came from, and probably that their mother might have been a single person, many of the headmasters would make a subjective decision that they won’t put their name on the list to go to the Ministry of Education.
“I think I have learnt from the experience of Mr Bradshaw,” said Ambassador Hazelle. “We have all benefitted from opportunities for moving upward from the vision that we had in our leaders and continues to have now until today.
“Mr Bradshaw, for me, aside from being the National Hero, personally I look at him as an example in that when life knocks you down you can do one of two things: You can become negative and say, well I do not care and get into whatever else you want to get into; or you can say it is not going to keep me back, and I am not going to allow that to happen to someone else, and that is what Mr Bradshaw did.
“He was one of those persons who didn’t get a chance to get a secondary education, not because he wasn’t bright. He was a bright man. And he took it upon himself as the leader of the country when St. Kitts in 1967 became semi-autonomous…. One of the first things Mr Bradshaw did was to abolish Common Entrance Exams.”
In narrating her life story, she told the WICT interns that in spite of her getting pregnant before she sat her exams, she made good use of the opportunity that was provided to her when she went to Canada, and thanked among others Mr Clarence Fitzroy Bryant for his tremendous encouragement.
On her return to St. Kitts she helped make it possible for teen mothers to be afforded an opportunity to go back to school, something that earned her the wrath of a number of persons. She says has no regrets for what she did for the teen mothers because among those who grabbed the opportunity at least one is a doctor, who help her (Hazelle) when she was in need.
“That was my Bradshaw moment,” said the Ambassador. “That was my opportunity to say I am giving back, because I really learnt that ability without opportunity was nothing. No matter what ability you have if you didn’t have the opportunity it would be nothing. If I did not have that opportunity my ability would probably have gone for naught, and so I took it upon myself (to assist teen mothers) irrespective of who preached against me.”
Ambassador Hazelle, who was accompanied by Women in Construction Coordinator Mrs Celia Christopher, told the interns that if they have a conviction, that they make it their conviction, and that if they have a dream that they must strive to live the dream, because the government has given them the opportunity through the People Employment Programme.
“Be proud of the fact that you are being given an opportunity,” advised Ambassador Hazelle. “You know what it is that you want to achieve and you know that this is a step in achieving whatever it is you set your mind to and that opportunity is being provided to you, don’t waste it.
“Don’t ignore it, embrace it and be grateful for it because you have all been given opportunity in this society to move from our basement up to our attics.”