Better than Normal — Finding Myself at UWI

by Chivaughn Charles

I grew up in rural Trinidad in a place called, Brazil. While growing up, I never had many “normal” things growing up like consistent water, reliable transport even access to the internet. I would feel left out and I didn’t have many friends because I lived so far that no one would visit.

Towards the end of secondary school, there still weren’t many things I could count on, including my career path. I realised that I was wrong about my lifelong dream to be a doctor and it scared me. I wanted to be a doctor since I was four years old, yet when it came time to choose programmes I wasn’t sure. In fact, I was frantic.

I combed through all of UWI’s faculty booklets looking at EVERY degree offered until I came across something that felt like me. That degree was a Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Computer Science and Mathematics because I always loved mathematics and fell in love with programming when I was a teenager.

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Coming to UWI, helped me discover who I was. During my second semester, I had a severe mental breakdown that became a blessing in disguise because I got a diagnosis — I suffered from bipolar disorder. Honestly, I am thankful to the counselors at UWI that helped me through it and now, I’ve never been happier.

My self-discovery continued when I started taking gender courses in my free time and that helped me to come to terms with my sexuality. UWI provides so many platforms, such as the student clubs. I was the Vice President of PRIDE UWI, which focuses on creating a safe space for persons in the LGBTQIA+ community to express themselves. There, I got to meet other people like me and learn more about sexuality through informal talk sessions. I have gotten to meet and talk directly to many academics who I look up to and learned so much from. Getting involved in both on and off campus activism is something that I credit a lot to UWI.

In my second year, this Brazil boy was given the opportunity to go to a country I had dreamt about since I was 13 - Canada! It was challenging mentally and emotionally to live on my own, but it made me a more responsible person and mentally stronger. My journey to become a UWI graduate and find the real me was long and arduous, but I know this is just the beginning and I can’t wait to see what else life has in store for me.

Thank you UWI. #UWISTAGrad2019

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