Thu | Dec 12, 2019

Former ward praises State for success

Published:Friday | November 29, 2019 | 12:29 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Rosalee Gage-Grey (second left), CEO of the Child Protection and Family Services Agency, gives a word of encouragement to wards of the State who did well in their CSEC and CAPE examinations for 2019. They were attending the CPFSA 2019 Educational Achievement Awards Ceremony at the Terra Nova Hotel on Thursday.
Rosalee Gage-Grey (second left), CEO of the Child Protection and Family Services Agency, gives a word of encouragement to wards of the State who did well in their CSEC and CAPE examinations for 2019. They were attending the CPFSA 2019 Educational Achievement Awards Ceremony at the Terra Nova Hotel on Thursday.

Citing herself as proof that a child in state care overcomes odds, former ward, Tanisha Esman Ledgister, believes that her life story will inspire 87 bright young boys and girls who are in the position she was two decades ago.

Ledgister, who holds a bachelor’s degree in tourism management and hospitality, as well as an MBA in general management, professed that if she had a chance to grow up in state care again, she would not resist the opportunity.

The 35-year-old, who is an administrative assistant at the Child Protection and Family Services Agency, told The Gleaner that she owes it all to the State and believes that had her mother not abandoned her, she would not have seen much success.

“I am a proud ward of the State. My mother gave my brother and I up to an elderly couple when I was around two. She promised to return, but she didn’t. Unfortunately, the wife died, so a decision was made to place me in state care.”

Cherished friendships

She expressed joy as she reflected on the cherished friendships she had formed while growing up at the Jamaica National Children’s Home.

“I met a lot of children back in the day who dropped out of school. I put myself in the position and said to myself that that could be me,” she said.

Ledgister was speaking with The Gleaner during the 2019 Educational Achievement Awards ceremony held at the Terra Nova Hotel in St Andrew yesterday, honouring the academic excellence of wards in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations across the island.

These students either live in state care or foster homes.

The success of the wards resurrected fond memories for Ledgister, who recalls how, at age 15, she buckled down academically when she realised she would have no one to turn to when she became an adult.

She passed six subjects, which was the launching pad for future scholarly achievement.

“You still had persons who would say, ‘She nah pass nothing,’ but when my house mother came with me to school and got my results, she started screaming. After that, I became the princess of the home. Before, to them, I wasn’t all that.

“I say to you awardees, especially those in the facilities, I know sometimes it may seem difficult and everyone is against you, but someone once told me that an adult will do anything for a child who is respectful. It was when I passed, I realised that. Be bold, strong, and beautiful,” Ledgister added.

Having left state care at age 21, Ledgister credits the Government and the people of Jamaica for sending her to college and is now enjoying her independence.

“If I was living [with my mom], would I be educated at a master’s level today? I don’t think so,” she said.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com