Tawana Peters

Congratulations to us, and by us I mean every single person who at some point  passed through my life. Whether you made a positive impact or a negative one; whether you wished the best for me or not; whether you motivated me or looked down on me … I just want to say, thank you!

It’s been a long journey, but my path would have never lead to me to where I am today, if it wasn’t for you! I was 15 years old when I became preganant and I vaguely remember the people who told me that my life was over. Strangers insulted me and used harsh words, and I was told I was an awful person. I also remember the few who tried to lift me up, but at the time their encouragement was drowned by the adversaries I had to face as a teen mother.

My dad sent me to the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation in Mandeville, and it was truly a blessing! It was the only place I felt free and at ease. It was my safe haven. I was going through so much, but the counselling helped me. I once told a friend, “if I didn’t commit suicide while I was pregnant, there’s no way I’m ever going to kill myself.” I did a year at the Women’s Centre, had my baby. and went back to regular high school.

My father and mother encouraged me to return to high school. Lucky me! However, I had to find baby stuff on my own and it was rought because not only did I have my own baby to take care of, I had to keep my twin sister’s baby while she finished school in town.

I started raising chickens and I even took them to school (even though it was against the rules). I sold them teachers, some of whom happily supported my hustle. While I was at school my aunt, uncle and especially my grandma (may her soul rest in peace) would asisst with the babies. During the week and on weekends I had to try and make it work. If you think high school is hard, try raising two babies on top of it. There were nights I had to stay up because they were sick,  and then I’d have to wake up for school the next morning. I slept in amost all my classes in high school. But God must have been by my side, because sometimes I think back and wonder how did I manage to get through the trials and tribulations.

After high school, I started working for minimum wage for almost a year in dead-end jobs. I couldn’t find grocery money after spending most of my money on transportation. I knew I had to do something because there was no way I could live like this for the rest of my life.

I went to my local MP, Mikael Phillips, and asked him if he could assist me with securing a decent job. Taking notice of my nine CXC, he advised me to go back to school. He said, I will help you with your University studies.” And that he surely did!

My four years of University was paid by programs such as National Youth Service, JAMVAT (the Jamaica Values and Attidues Programme for Tertiary Student), my supportive parents and of course MP Mikael Phillips.

It’s been a rollercoaster mentally and financially; I struggled; I lost a few love ones along the way; I almost decided to quit but here I am today, a proud recipient of a Bachelor of Science University Degree in Mathematics (with emphasis in Actuarial Science).

I’m not extra ordinary, God favored me! Thank you all for your love and support. – T. Peters