Rashaun was born and raised in Montego Bay, a community that suffers from a double dose of poverty and lack of opportunities for upward mobility. For several years, the area had the highest crime rate per capita in the country, and during Rashaun’s school years, gang violence often escalated to the point that the barrage of gunfire was an obstacle to concentrating on his schoolwork – not to mention a danger to his life.
Despite this, Rashaun’s parents did their best to give him opportunities and instill a love of learning. As a result, Rashaun became a voracious reader, consuming books on a wide range of topics. As a child, his goal was to change the world, so he threw himself into the pursuit of academic achievement. His journey has been fraught with challenges – but he has endured and is now pursuing his dream of a medical degree, after which he intends to specialise in neurosurgery.
As well as achieving highly, Rashaun has worked hard to help others, particularly with their education. As Head Boy of Cornwall College, he led a funding drive for student scholarships that raised $90,000 JMD, and as Junior Mayor of Montego Bay, he coordinated mentorship programmes to assist grade six students in preparing for their placement exams. After a period of work experience with the Western Mirror newspaper, he also developed his journalistic talents, and has since written over 100 articles for the paper.
Nonetheless, Rashaun has had to fight for educational chances throughout his youth. At primary level, he earned a 98 per cent average in exams – one of the highest scores in the country. This gained him admission to a renowned secondary school, where similar success followed. To cover his tuition fees for medical school, however, he had to search exhaustively for scholarships, applying to over a dozen and winning three. In 2019, he received a special commendation from the Prime Minister of Jamaica for his outstanding academic performance over the years, as well as the Governor General’s Achievement Award for Excellence in 2020. During his university career, Rashaun has also maintained high standards while struggling with chronic asthma and the problems of the pandemic – including online learning and power outages. He also helps to care for his grandmother, who requires full-time supervision.
Winning the Global Student Prize would allow Rashaun to cover the costs of pursuing the third year of his medical degree, including tuition, accommodation, medical equipment and more. The prize funds would also be used to help his fellow medical students who lack funds, as the costs of studying increase each year. Finally, Rashaun would donate to the campaign to end period poverty in Jamaica by providing sanitary pads and other products to women free of charge.