A grade: Keziah John proudly displays her CSEC exam results for mathematics. She received As in each category
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
It is this faith in God, and herself, which is guiding Keziah John to success.
At just 11-years-old Keziah, a primary school student, is being celebrated for earning a distinction in mathematics at the January sitting of the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations which are set for older students in secondary schools, and even adults.
Despite attracting national attention, the math whiz insists she is just an ordinary girl, with an extraordinary work ethic.
Keziah, alongside her mother Caron John, spoke to Newsday Kids about her achievement, challenges, expectations and most importantly her love for puzzles.
A student of the Specialist Learning Centre in St Augustine, Keziah, who sits the SEA exam in May, credits her passion for problem-solving and above average analytical skills to her teacher Noble Felice.
However, Keziah's walk to success began with her first steps, according to her mother, who fondly recalls going to pick her daughter up from pre-school only to find her sitting and listening to lessons in the kindergarten on the same compound.
"I knew there was something special about her. I couldn't describe it but I could definitely see a mature sense of understanding behind her eyes. It was something I have tried to nurture within her without taking away her childhood."
While many students have found themselves within a rigid routine of school, extra lessons and deep study, Keziah does not confine herself to a particular schedule, instead making up her study plan as she goes along.
"The first thing I need to do is eat when I get home. Then I go through the workbooks and see what has to be done. It's something I've grown accustomed to and I don't really follow a particular schedule. People do that?" she says and laughs.
She places more attention on topics she does not understand rather than reviewing and reciting material wholesale.
Keziah is no stranger to routine and discipline as she is active in the Roman Catholic church and serves on mornings as an altar girl at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, Port of Spain. This means that she must wake up at 4 am for the latest to get to the cathedral's 6.30 am mass and then make it to school in St Augustine on time.
"My family has done a lot to give me the strength and discipline I need to succeed and make it through the day. Sometimes when it feels too much I know I have their support. Their advice really goes a long way."
In the face of her success at the CSEC level, Keziah is still nervous about sitting the SEA examination. Admitting while she believes she can do it, the mere idea of the exam can be intimidating. But how can someone so familiar with complex equations years ahead of her grade level be intimidated by a simpler exam?
"In the exam room you're by yourself. It's just you and the paper and with mathematics, you either know the answer or you don't."
However Keziah continues to move forward, hoping to pass for her first choice of Holy Name Convent, Port of Spain. She hopes to one day be able to motivate other students to go beyond their comfort zones and excel in their passions.
"But that's all in the future," she says with a smile.
Source: The Loop, April 5.
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