LARGE ABROAD: JA­MAICANS FIND SUC­CESS OVER­SEAS Late bloomer seeks pro­fes­sor­ship in US

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Jodi-Ann Gilpin Gleaner Writer jodi-ann.gilpin@glean­

KIRK DUNK­LEY strug­gled to keep his emo­tions to­gether as he re­flected on the abuse he ex­pe­ri­enced as child, in ad­di­tion to be­ing un­able to read at the age of nine.

To­day, Dunk­ley ea­gerly looks for­ward to com­plet­ing his mas­ter’s de­gree in crim­i­nal jus­tice at Mon­roe Col­lege in Bronx, New York, in a bid to be­come a pro­fes­sor.

The 32-year-old, who is from Mile Gully in Manch­ester, said though he bloomed late in life, he is thank­ful for his ex­pe­ri­ences, which he said have con­trib­uted to his suc­cess to­day.

“My fa­ther left for the United States when I was three years


old, so I was liv­ing with my mom at the time and my other brother. I wasn’t go­ing to school reg­u­larly [and] I was ne­glected. When I was nine years old, my aunt, [who] didn’t have any kids, took me, so I was be­tween the Cay­man Is­lands and Span­ish Town. I was home-schooled for a year be­cause I couldn’t read,” he said.

“Af­ter re­turn­ing to Ja­maica in 1997, I was en­rolled at the Villa Road Pri­mary and Ju­nior High School in Man­dev­ille. I re­alised that in or­der for me to be suc­cess­ful or at­tain any­thing in life, I would have to work hard to achieve what I want. That was the time I re­alised that school was very im­por­tant,” he con­tin­ued.

Dunk­ley told The Gleaner that his sis­ter, who was in high school at the time, was a huge mo­ti­va­tion for him, which re­sulted in him de­vel­op­ing a love for read­ing – a habit he be­lieved pro­pelled him to do well in gain­ing a place at the sec­ondary level.

“I did the Com­mon En­trance and I passed for Holm­wood Tech­ni­cal High School, [where] I did the arts. I started look­ing at the re­quire­ments to ma­tric­u­late for the NCU (North­ern Caribbean Univer­sity) and I re­alised that you needed English lan­guage and four other sub­jects. I worked re­ally hard in get­ting those sub­jects,” he said.


He, how­ever, had sev­eral bar­ri­ers to over­come in or­der to ma­tric­u­late to univer­sity, as he was only rec­om­mended to sit two Caribbean Sec­ondary Ed­u­ca­tion Cer­tifi­cate sub­jects.

“I re­alised that I loved Span­ish as well. I got four CXCs (Caribbean Ex­am­i­na­tions Coun­cil) at Holm­wood and did the rest at pri­vate in­sti­tu­tions to ma­tric­u­late. At fifth form, my teacher didn’t rec­om­mend me for CXC English, say­ing I could not man­age. I reg­is­tered at a pri­vate in­sti­tu­tion that same year and I was suc­cess­ful,” he said.

He was able to at­tend univer­sity, where he pur­sued a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in com­mu­ni­ca­tion stud­ies and Span­ish. He, how­ever, had to bal­ance both work and school as he was un­able to pay for his tu­ition.

“It was very ex­pen­sive, so I did an as­so­ciate (de­gree) in Span­ish so I would be able to get a teach­ing job. I got a part-time teach­ing job with St Michael’s In­sti­tute (Man­dev­ille). The JAMVAT (Ja­maica Val­ues and At­ti­tudes) paid 30 per cent of my tu­ition. I had an­other job as well, and some­times I would sell sweets to help with lunch money and fare,” he re­called.

Though he ad­mit­ted that it was a rough jour­ney, he said mi­grat­ing to the US in 2013 has opened new doors for him.

“It took a while for me to ad­just (to the US) – the sea­sons and the food. It all boils down to you, as the in­di­vid­ual, to know what you want to achieve in life. It doesn’t mat­ter your sit­u­a­tion; once you work hard, you will achieve,” he said.

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