From tragedy to triumph
Mentors stop mother’s murder from pushing future medical doctor in wrong direction
WHEN DR Jason Dawson’s mother, Delta Bailey, was fatally stabbed 18 years ago, he knew, at that point, that his life’s mission was to become a medical doctor and to try to save the lives of other persons in dire need of medical care. Bailey was...
WHEN DR Jason Dawson’s mother, Delta Bailey, was fatally stabbed 18 years ago, he knew, at that point, that his life’s mission was to become a medical doctor and to try to save the lives of other persons in dire need of medical care.
Bailey was stabbed in Manley Meadows, a Kingston community in which she resided with her family, during a tussle with a thief who stole a bicycle.
“Mommy got stabbed in the same community where I still reside with my father. She went to my aunt. She walked around bleeding and it was a big hullabaloo trying to get her to the hospital, and I think it’s just the delay in medical treatment and primary management,” Dawson, who was nine years old at the time of her death, explained as he outlined why he would later pursue a career in medicine.
“I think we [in Jamaica] just lack primary medical knowledge overall,” he said.
Like many youth who unfairly lose a parent, especially during the developmental stages of their lives, Dawson had the choice to rebel and become a menace to society as revenge for his mother’s death but, instead, the positive energy that mentors ensured was always around him, directed him in the right way.
Their investment bore fruit when he was awarded the Top Performing Boy in the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) from the Windward Road Primary and Junior High School in 2008, and was awarded a place at Wolmer’s Boys’ School.
That victory was followed up with him being taken under the wings of the team from Children of Jamaica Outreach (COJO) Inc., which has been led since 1994 by founder Gary Williams. Through COJO, Dawson was awarded an annual scholarship throughout his tenure at Wolmer’s Boys’ School and The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona.
He was present at the recent COJO scholarship awards ceremony on May 22 at the AC Marriott Hotel, Kingston, where he offered words of inspiration to 13 outgoing wards of the State, who were each awarded a US$3,500 scholarship to pursue studies at the tertiary level. The top performing student, Aliea Pinnock from José Marti High School, was, however, awarded US$5,000.
NO EASY BATTLE
Dawson told the scholars that becoming a medical doctor was no easy battle for him. He said he had to study relentlessly and overcome the odds typical university students face, especially those pursuing a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS).
“Moving from primary school to high school, there’s always that level of ‘Bwai, this nuff! This seems like a lot!’ and university was no different at all. The first day I went to university, my bredrin said, ‘Yo, you think CAPE did hard? Wait til you reach the first semester,” Dawson told The Gleaner.
He said the words of that friend proved to be true when his pursuits of his MBBS were more challenging than his pursuits in subject units at the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE).
“University felt like doing all of CAPE [subjects] at once. It took a lot of balance in year one and year two and doing things the smart way, opposed to the hard way,” he said.
A big part of Dawson overcoming his academic and life challenges was due to him receiving mentorship and the support of his single father, Jason Dawson, after whom he is named.
Were it not for mentors, Dawson, a 27-year-old medical doctor at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI), does not believe he would have graduated with his MBBS and have been saved from the negative realms of society.
It is youth like Jason who motivate Williams to keep pushing members of the diaspora to continuously donate to the scholarship fund 29 years after it started.
“With a specific focus on wards of the State, which is a passion of mine, the COJO has provided computers, supported infrastructure updates and, of course, the scholarships to tertiary institutions across the island. We’re extremely proud of what we have been able to accomplish with COJO scholars having already graduated from universities [and] now contributing in a meaningful way in various disciplines, including medicine, healthcare service, law, education and [the] public and private sectors,” Williams said.
“We consider ourselves blessed to be able to contribute to the well-being of so many children and thank the sponsors at our various fundraising events, all of whom who have assisted us both locally and in the United States of America,” he said.
What’s next for Dawson?
He is on a path of becoming a neurosurgeon and has been selected and enrolled in a programme for this career choice at the UHWI.