Wed | Feb 8, 2023

Former Magnum Queen Baby Tash graduates with honours from UWI

Published:Wednesday | November 9, 2022 | 12:06 AMStephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer
Proud UWI graduate Baby Tash.
Proud UWI graduate Baby Tash.
This train line that Baby Tash use to cross every day to and from school is a powerful symbol of her journey from basic school through to university.
This train line that Baby Tash use to cross every day to and from school is a powerful symbol of her journey from basic school through to university.

Dancehall artiste, Baby Tash, is a big girl now, and has the degree to show it. She was one of more than 4,000 students from the Class of 2022 who were conferred with degrees, diplomas and certificates by The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, last week.

Born Tashon Williams, she was raised in the Dallas Lane area in Spanish Town, St Catherine, in a single-parent home with her two sisters. Her mother and grandmother would instil in her life lessons on becoming the strong woman she is meant to be, she said in an interview with T he Gleaner.

Williams also said that her childhood in Spanish Town was “motivation to matriculate” and to pursue a university degree. She had a eureka moment as she prepared to put on the blue princetta, she said, instead of going ahead with her original plan to do her graduation photoshoot on campus, to head back to where it all started.

“I used to cross that train line every day to and from school, from Spanish Town Infant, to Spanish Town Primary School and Jonathan Grant High, where I became head girl and also a Miss Jonathan High pageant winner. I left that community and moved to Kingston shortly after winning Magnum Kings and Queens,” Williams shared.

She added, “The aim of the photoshoot was to capture a true and meaningful representation of my evolution. To depict that it’s not where you are coming from but where you are going. Where you grow up has nothing to do with achieving your goals.”

The confident lyricist, known for singles such as Mix Up, Facebook, Nah Sekkle Down and her feature on Mavado’s Never Believe You remix, is a proud first generation graduate.

“The degree was awarded from February but to participate in the graduation ceremony made me emotional. Everything was cool until that day when I put on the gown ... it was surreal ... it has a lot to do with my upbringing. Growing up in an inner-city community in Spanish Town, you don’t see this happening regularly,” she said. “None of my family members have gone to university; some stopped at high school or never even had the opportunity to graduate high school [so] this is huge for everybody in my family. My grandmother has passed but I’m happy because my mother was also able to witness me graduate.”

She enrolled at The UWI in 2018 and completed her studies earlier this year, earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in Entertainment and Cultural Enterprise Management, graduating with honours. However, Williams’ academic journey as a university student did not begin there.

She began studies in Business Administration at the University of Technology and then switched to Communication Arts and Technology and then had more questions.

“At that point I felt I was just doing a degree as opposed to doing something I was passionate about. It just felt like I was being taught to sit at a desk and file papers. I auditioned for Magnum Kings and Queens because I was passionate about music and I never even had any expectations. When I went on campus, people were questioning me about dubplates and music, I started to feel out of place. I was in class daydreaming about music.”

She made several breakthroughs in her recording career, but when her first European tour was cancelled in 2017, Williams decided to do some soul-searching and after attending a JACAP member’s seminar, she found new direction.

“I got to interact with other professionals in the music industry from Jamaica and overseas and it so happened that a director from UWI was speaking about courses and programmes. Next thing you know, me reach up a di campus,” Williams said in animatedly. She was awarded a scholarship by the Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange in her first year at the university, and then one semester she “signed into the student platform, only to realise my tuition had been paid for”.

“God is amazing, this is why I ‘live by faith not by sight’. I would had some savings to be able to pay for the other years but I can say I have been blessed. Even when I enrolled at UWI, I spent a lot of time in different faculty coordinators’ offices trying to change course ... but here I am now, I made the Dean’s List and I have stamped my mark at UWI as the Cultural and Entertainment Affairs chairperson, where I established the first entertainment and event planning workshop dubbed ‘Aim For Impact’,” she shared.