Rebound from failure - After flunking high school Tawes Meadows resident gets master’s degree

July 01, 2022
Avadean Willis
Avadean Willis
Willis hopes to be a role model for persons from tough communities like Tawes Meadows.
Willis hopes to be a role model for persons from tough communities like Tawes Meadows.

When Avadean Willis graduated from Spanish Town High School with only three Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) passes in 2008, she felt as if she had let herself down. Although she admits to wasting a lot of time in school, she knew she could have done better had she applied herself and focused on her lessons.

Willis said that she felt dejected as her dream was to do forensic science, but was unable to pursue due to her failure to achieve a passing grade in mathematics and English.

But the Tawes Meadows, Spanish Town, St Catherine, native refused to see failure as a fatal blow to her ambitions. She focused instead on becoming a nurse.

"I pulled myself together when I saw how disappointed my mom was in me," the 31-year-old healthcare worker told THE WEEKEND STAR.

She said that her mother had sole responsibility for her care and development as her father migrated when she was nine years old. Determined to make her mother proud and to make something of herself, Willis said she "decided to stop with the time-wasting and make her proud of me again".

A determined Willis did additional CSEC subjects at an evening class and was successful. She then enrolled at the Sigma College of Nursing and Applied Sciences, where her sojourn into nursing began. The Tawes Pen native recently earned a master's degree in public health from the University of South Wales, and now has her sights set on doctoral studies in public health, which she hopes to start this year.

"It makes me feel good to know that I am coming from such humble beginnings and a community known for violence," she said. "It is an accomplishment. I love and respect everyone in my community and there are other success stories there, but this gives me a wonderful feeling, trust me."

Even as she focuses on delivering quality healthcare to Jamaicans at the Spanish Town Hospital where she works, Willis said that she is equally motivated to assisting nurses through her Ava Nurses/Healthcare Foundation.

"I want to go as far as possible, so that one day I will be the one giving directions at a major hospital in this country," Willis said.

She expresses a desire to "be the one effecting positive changes for nurses" who she said "are not being valued properly".

"I am not just talking this because I have since started a foundation to address some of the fundamental issues affecting nurses in Jamaica. I have since managed to garner support from Milestone Restaurant in St Ann's Bay, Flip and Floss Financial in Canada, Sound Trooper and recording artiste Patexx, all of whom have seen the vision and appreciate the direction in which I am heading," she said.

Even as she uses her foundation to help nurses in need, Willis wants her story to be an inspiration to persons in tough communities like Tawes Meadows.

"It is never easy to live in an environment where almost every day you hear the sound of a gunshot or hear of people getting shot or dying. It can break down the best of us, and as we have seen, influence the most impressionable," Willis said.

"But what I would tell people living in these situations is that you must always ensure that, as much as possible, you set a strong foundation for your child so that he or she will not be caught up in any criminality, even though it is never a sure thing that the values you instil in your child will stay with them. But at least you do what is best for their sake."

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