Prayer, support key to President Medal winner's success

Friday, October 26, 2018 - 06:45

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