Life goes on after SEA


Supermarket Association of TT president Rajiv Diptee with cancer patient and successful SEA student Sidara Akalloo at the Mayaro Past Pupils Association top 20 SEA Awards on July 9. – YVONNE WEBB

CANCER patient Sidara Akalloo who defied all odds to sit and pass the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) for her first choice, appealed to parents, guardians, friends and relatives of the 9,000 students who scored less than 50 per cent, to see beyond that.

“We must now move past this and understand that the past cannot be changed. However, the future is ours to shape by what we do now and our mindset.”

“No matter what your results were, there is life after SEA results – An entirely new world filled with limitless possibilities.

“All schools are great. The school is just a building but it is we who make them great by our mindset and our determination.”

Akalloo was a guest of honour as the Mayaro Past Pupil Association celebrated students at its SEA awards ceremony last Saturday evening. She was also one of two valedictorians at her own school’s – Grant Memorial Presbyterian – graduation function two weeks ago. She will attend Naparima Girls’ High School in September.

Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly has expressed concerns about the reduction in achievement of students in this year’s exam, which she attributed to the covid 19 pandemic. She announced Government’s intention to spend some $10 million to provide remedial mathematics and English Language classes to the 9,000 during the August vacation.

Acknowledging that many may be disappointed with the results, Sidara appealed to the adults to get into the habit of “seeing beyond,” the theme of the ceremony and her personal mantra. Children, she said, need the support of parents to succeed.

Invited as a guest speaker, Sidara recalled immediately looking beyond her initial diagnosis, about a year ago, as a new adventure.

“I presented symptoms never seen before in TT and just below 10 per cent in the world. I could not walk for nine months and I could not even remember my name for three months.

“How then did I manage to succeed in a year where more than 50 per cent failed? I never sat and felt sorry for myself.”

Instead, she told the class, which included feature speaker Rajiv Diptee of the Supermarket Association, she and her mom, Simi, developed a motto.

“We work when we are well and rest when we are ill.”

Doctors and nurses gave assured her that there was life after cancer and she would beat it.

“Therefore, today I tell you, no matter what your results, there is life after SEA. This is just the beginning. My advice is to keep your eyes on the prize.”

She encouraged her peers to put their trust in God at all times for solutions to whatever obstacles they may encounter.

“Thank God it is over for you,” Diptee said as he addressed the students.

As they transition to secondary schools, he encouraged them not to feel less privileged but take advantage of the opportunities presented to achieve further success.

He cautioned parents about fast-tracking their children into professions such as medicine, law, engineering while neglecting their development as a well-rounded human being.

He said he was looking forward to seeing the little faces without masks as Government had already announced a lifting of the mask mandate on Sunday.

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