Kicked out of UWI for failing - But Clarendon youth rebounds and graduates with honours

December 03, 2020
Giovannie Rowe

Twenty-three-year-old Giovannie Rowe is guided by the mantra, 'When you fall throughout life, fall forward -- Fall down seven times, get up eight'.

Rowe, who recently attained a Bachelor of Science degree in biotechnology from The University of the West Indies (UWI), shared with THE STAR his triumph over adversities after being asked to withdraw from the university due to failing grades.

"Semester one turned out to be a disaster. I ended the semester with a 1.3 GPA -- passing only one course, and received an academic warning. I went on to semester two, hoping for better, but ended up failing majority of my courses again, and getting a 1.8 GPA. At this point, the university sent a final notice for me to withdraw," Rowe said.

I felt so disappointed

GPA is a standard way of measuring academic achievement. Rowe's GPA placed him in the bracket of failures, far from what the former honour roll student at Clarendon College was accustomed to.

"I felt so disappointed in myself and stressed. I thought of ending my life because I felt like a complete failure. I've watched many persons dropping out and I didn't want that to be me. I wanted better for myself and family. Persons in my family, my community of Denbigh Kraal and even friends looked up to me, and that made me feel much worse. My mother was disappointed, but I had to go back to the drawing board," Rowe said.

Following his distressed exit from the UWI, Rowe decided to enrol in a programme at the Human Employment and Resource Training/ National Training Agency (HEART/NTA).

"I decided that since the university kicked me out, I would try HEART instead, so I went by the HEART office in Clarendon and collected some application forms. A friend of mine then told me I could ask the dean of my faculty for a second chance, so I wrote an email to Dr Eric Hyslop, the dean at that time, and surprisingly, he granted my request," he said.

"Year two went by and I progressed and got to good academic standing. I progressed to my final and ended with a 3.2 GPA." Rowe has since been accepted to pursue a Master of Science degree in forensic science.

Amid the academic success, however, he told THE STAR that his journey was hindered by financial woes.

"My mom is a hairdresser and she was the only one paying my rent, buying groceries, and making sure I had funds to keep me going; and business was not always booming. My church family helped me sometimes, and I am grateful. I survived a few hungry days and months, and I was backed up on rent, but now I can say God has been good. I finished my degree with second-class honours and it wasn't long before I got employed," he beamed.

"Sometimes all we need in life is a second chance to show that we can do better. I want to encourage everyone that might be experiencing failures or hard times in university to keep on trying; the race is not for the swift -- you live and learn through adversities. I also want to encourage the parents to have faith in their children and believe in their capabilities," Rowe said.

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