“Education nah spoil”– GOAL valedictorian recalls late mother’s words

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
GOAL valedictorian Rohanie Beeram

…tells her story of resilience, desire for academic growth

Having some 600 academic certificates, qualifications in accounting, a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management along with a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) in Aviation Management may seem excessive for some, but for 27-year-old Rohanie Beeram, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Growing up in Number Four Village on the West Coast of Berbice (WCB), Rohanie was not surrounded by many who had seen value in education, but, from a young age, she was determined to break barriers and prove to herself and others that “education nah spoil”, as her mother would say to naysayers.

The elder of two children to her parents – a shopkeeper mother and an auto electrician father – Rohanie explained that life had not always been easy, but her parents’ hard work and determination ensured she and her younger brother enjoyed a good life.

Rohanie Beeram along with her father and now late mother during her UG graduation in 2019

Rohanie attended the Cotton Tree Primary School and then the New Amsterdam Multilateral Secondary, before she became CAT/ACCA-certified as an accounting technician, after which she studied at the University of Guyana and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management (Distinction) in 2019.

Rohanie had always dreamed of a career in aviation, but life had other plans for her. In 2021, she signed up for an MBA programme through the Guyana Online Academy of Learning (GOAL), in a bid to finally pursue her passion of working in a leadership role in aviation and to help with her battle with depression.

“I needed something to focus on, something that could help me redirect my mind and energy. I believed that once I got accepted and the classes started, I could channel my attention towards my studies. Learning and exploring new subjects have always been my escape from the struggles of the world,” Rohanie told this publication during an interview.

Signing up for GOAL was not at all daunting, and the process was seamless, according to Rohanie, who expressed, “It was not hard at all.” Navigating the online learning platform was also simple, Rohanie admitted, explaining that her “extensive experience” with online courses through Coursera helped in her journey with GOAL.

It was through Coursera that she had studied some 600 different courses, ranging from personal development to finance and management.

Not an easy journey

The GOAL programme she was studying, MBA in Aviation Management, was being offered through JAIN University of India. “It was not an easy journey,” Rohanie admitted. “Since the programme was entirely online, it required significant time and dedication”.

While she was undertaking her academic journey, Rohanie was also helping her mother manage the shop which they operated from their home. One of the biggest challenges she faced in her GOAL studies was the poor internet connection.

According to her, it would “get on my nerves!”

“It was acting up, especially during exams, and if GPL felt a little nice, even they would play a role. In my area, ten consecutive villages struggle with internet connectivity despite being on the public road. GTT does not offer internet services to us, despite villagers raising their concerns numerous times. To complete exams, I often had to rely on my mobile data, which was a struggle,” Rohanie bemoaned.

“Trying to finish exams on time while dealing with connectivity issues was very frustrating, especially when I started to panic,” the young woman further lamented.

However, her mother’s love and support through it all was like a beacon of light in some of her darkest times.

“She would keep me company until midnight when I had exams, and I will always remember that,” Rohanie fondly expressed.

Despite having only a high school-level education, Rohanie’s mother saw extreme value in her daughter’s academic pursuits, and would often stand up against detractors.

“Once I had gone to a family function because of my mom, and we had to leave a little early due to a revision class, and it’s not like those classes were being recorded so that I could’ve watched it back at a later date; but they did not understand that,” Rohanie disclosed. “…and I was told ‘what will I do with so much of education?’, and my mom looked at them, smiled, and said, “Education nah spoil,” and we left,” Rohanie explained.

“Most of the negative remarks came from extended family members. I believe the reason for this is that they don’t value education, and don’t realise the pace at which the world is moving today and the importance of getting yourself qualified…,” she added.

In fact, Rohanie has aspirations to further advance her academic journey.

“I actually wanted to pursue another MBA in finance. When I mentioned this to my mom in the final semester, she encouraged me, saying, ‘Go for it! But you need to get married as well, I’m getting old’ – typical mom concerns. However, that plan is currently on hold,” Rohanie expressed.

Mother’s death

Rohanie’s mother: her rock, her sister, her best friend, passed away shortly after she finished her exams, causing her whole world to come crashing down.

“My mom ‘took in’ less than a week after I wrote my final exams. She was getting dressed to go to a wedding, and I would normally set her dupatta, so I told her to give me a call when she was ready for me to do so, as I was in the shop. When I heard her call, I knew something was wrong because of the tone of voice, and I immediately ran to her, and she told me she would not be able to make it to the wedding, and I asked her what happened? She was already fully dressed. At that time, it was just the two of us home. And she told me she wasn’t feeling well, and I quickly wrapped my arms around her and hugged her, and placed her on a chair to sit because she began to lose her balance, and I immediately called my dad and my brother, and we rushed her to the hospital, but she had slipped into a coma. She woke up and was recovering slowly after spending three weeks in the hospital, and we brought her home, and a few days after, she passed peacefully early morning,” Rohanie recalled.

“Life itself felt unbearable. I wanted to give up, because my entire world came shattering down that morning when they declared her gone,” she added, using the opportunity to call on hospital staff to do better in delivering soul-crushing news to family members.

“The hospital staff showed no empathy nor sympathy. God forbid, only when they experience such a loss it might change their attitudes when talking to grieving families,” Rohanie contended.

Mom’s legacy

The death of her mom took a serious toll on Rohanie. Sher did not even want to go to the GOAL graduation ceremony, and more so to deliver the valedictorian speech.

“…because the two of us had a lot of plans for it [the graduation], and I felt it was wrong to even be there without her. But my dad, my brother and my boyfriend encouraged me to go, because they knew what I went through during the programme, and if mommy was here, she would’ve wanted the same. And despite agreeing, I was not able to bring myself to do my hair and nails or anything, because I’m still mourning for my mom, and only God knew where the courage came from to stand on that stage and give the valedictorian speech without breaking down,” Rohanie explained.

With her mother’s passing, the young woman’s life plans, including her wedding, are currently on hold, as she focuses her time and energy on ensuring her mother’s business flourishes.

“It is not something I had seen myself doing, but I choose to do it because I cannot let my mom’s years of hard work go down just like that; and by doing so on a daily basis, it helps me to cope with my grief a little, because it feels like she is right there with me,” Rohanie expressed.

“While my immediate goal is to honour her legacy by ensuring the business thrives, I still hold my passion for aviation management close to my heart,” she explained. “What keeps me going are the numerous memories my mom and I built, which I will always cherish dearly…I am just taking it one day at a time, trying to get better and cope with the loss of mommy. Will I ever be able to fully cope? I’m not too sure, but as everyone keeps telling me, I can’t give up, I have to live for her.”