Wed | Oct 4, 2023

After pregnancy setback, Shaunteau Brown will collect honours degree today

Published:Friday | November 4, 2022 | 12:06 AMSashana Small/Staff Reporter
Shaunteau Brown and her daughter  Shayna-Anique Berry.
Shaunteau Brown and her daughter Shayna-Anique Berry.
Shaunteau Brown
Shaunteau Brown

While preparing for her Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) exams seven years ago, 17-year-old Shaunteau Brown found out that she was pregnant. The Camperdown High School student was devastated as this news crashed the well-laid-out plans she had for her life.

“It was my plan to finish high school, get a degree after and probably go further with my studies,” she told The Gleaner.

Describing the initial stages of her pregnancy as emotionally taxing, Brown said she also had to endure the stinging disappointment expressed by her mother and two older siblings.

However, she was determined to complete her education. She was sent to the Women’s Centre in Spanish Town, after which she went to the Jose Marti Technical High School, also in Spanish Town, to complete her studies.

Brown then matriculated to The University of the West Indies, and today, she will walk across the stage and collect her second class honours degree in economics with a minor in management studies.

“I am really elated to say the least. I am extremely happy and proud of where I am and of my achievements thus far,” she said.

The 24-year-old said her family’s support played a vital role in her getting to this point.

“Most teenage mothers had to find it to send themselves back to school, or to achieve what they want to achieve. They probably had to work and study, but with my family I didn’t have to do that. When I went back to school, my sister and my mother ensured that my daughter was sent to the daycare, and when I had major exams like CXC and CAPE, if the daycare wasn’t open, my sister would leave work early and go for my daughter and stay with her,” she said.

Additionally, Brown said she did not have to take a student loan to fund her tuition as her mother and siblings ensured this was taken care of. She also participated in the work and travel programme which provides foreign university students an opportunity to live and work in the United States during the summer.

But despite her cushion of support, the onset of the coronavirus pandemic posed some new challenges. She started her first year with face-to-face classes, but by her second year, she had to transition to online because of the pandemic. Describing the transition as “difficult”, Brown said it was made even more so, as she had to be monitoring her daughter as well.

“I had to also be juggling her school, because at one point school was online for her and I had to ensure that she was paying attention in her class, and also focusing on my class as well,” she said.

But she used this as motivation as she was determined to become someone her daughter would be proud of.

“That kept me going, and also my very supportive family and friends,” she said, adding that her seven-year-old daughter is very excited to see her mother graduate university. “This pregnancy happened for a reason and I’m grateful that I could overcome it and be a role model for anyone who may get pregnant early.”

And as she basks in her achievement, Brown is looking forward to getting back on track with her initial plans.

“I’m not gonna just stop at this degree, I want to pursue my master’s shortly,” she said.