Expressing elation at having tied for the President’s Medal award, Sadhana Balladin last evening said she was surprised when Education Minister Anthony Garcia announced her name for the coveted award based on her performance in CAPE exams yesterday.
In an interview with Guardian Media, Balladin said, “It was unexpected and I was honestly quite surprised. I want to thank God, my parents, my family, my teachers in school and lessons and all those who supported me.”
Balladin, 19, said although she never expected to get to the pinnacle, her parents always had faith in her.
“My parents had told me that it was more than possible,” she said.
Asked what she did to achieve the award, Balladin said, “My special preparations included prayer, late nights studying and unwavering support from everyone in my life.”
Balladin is currently pursuing studies at the University of the West Indies Faculty of Medical Sciences at the St Augustine campus.
Her father, Dr Derrick Balladin, is an associate professor at the University of the T&T while her mother, Sunita Misir-Balladin, teaches at Siparia East Secondary. Her younger brother Dipak Balladin is a Form Six Naparima College student. All three visited her at her apartment in Mount Hope yesterday to celebrate the good news.
The family reside at Mootoo Lands, Marabella.
Derrick said his daughter always had great faith in God. He said apart from studying she enjoyed playing badminton and swimming and also has a black belt in karate. Saying he was extremely proud of her accomplishment, Derrick said Balladin was also proficient in music.
“She was involved in astronomy club and Girl Guides since Form One. We always made sure she had a well-rounded education. She plays the steelpan and has a grade one certificate in pan,” Derrick revealed.
He said last year Balladin also represented T&T in the Caribbean Youth Science Forum and placed first. She also got a coveted telescope for her work with the Astronomy Club.
Asked how he planned to reward his daughter, Derrick said, “I really don’t know what she wants. She has everything, a car and a computer. It depends on what she wants.”
Meanwhile, there was a celebration at Balladin’s alma mater as Upper Six students jumped for joy upon hearing the news.
Principal Jennifer Manwaring said it was the first time to her knowledge that St Joseph’s Convent had won the President’s Medal, although numerous students have won additional and open scholarships over the years.
“We are elated and we will be making an announcement to students at the Assembly tomorrow,” Manwaring said.
Describing Balladin as a quiet and diligent student, Manwaring said, “She was a very hardworking and committed pupil. She worked consistently and had a very methodological approach to her studies. She was very self-motivated.”
Manwaring said she always knew Balladin would do well.
“This President’s Medal is the icing on the cake for her. I am not surprised that she won. I have not called her as yet to express congratulations. I have not seen her since graduation, so I am not sure whether she is studying here or abroad,” Manwaring added.
She said over the years St Joseph’s Convent has produced outstanding students.
“We did not do anything different this year. Our girls worked very hard and very well so this year it’s our turn and for that we are thankful,” Manwaring added.
She said Balladin will be honoured at the school’s upcoming Achievement Day.
Manwaring said the values imparted to students at the school were grounded in spirituality.
“We also ensure that students are involved in extracurricular activities as well as spiritual development. The school offers a little of everything,” she added.
A total of 376 scholarships were award by the Ministry of Education - 186 Open Scholarships and 190 Additional Scholarships. The lion’s share of scholarships went to St Joseph’s Convent, Port of Spain, which received a total of 41 scholarships: 24 Open and 17 Additional.
- by Radhica De Silva