“Education to me is my way out of poverty.”
By Hadassah Deleveaux (née Hall)
Whenever she returns to The Bahamas from college, she heads to Dumping Ground Corner in the heart of Bain Town. That’s home. She is the perfect example that there are so many good, positive, focused young people living over the hill, despite the way the area continues to be portrayed.
Carmetta Barry is one of the brightest young minds of our country. And because of her brilliance, she is currently on scholarships, studying towards a dual degree in Economics and Engineering at Spring Hill College in Alabama.
Despite the vicissitudes of life, Carmetta has adjusted her sails when the winds have become tempestuous. Her father died when she was in ninth grade and her mother is battling health challenges. For many years, she has had to fend for herself, essentially being forced to grow up quickly.
Nevertheless, her focus has always been her education, and the same drive Carmetta had at H. O. Nash Jr. High School is the same drive she had at C. R. Walker Senior High. And that drive has taken her through her first year of college.
Today, Carmetta is a Bahamas Ministry of Education Public School Scholars Awardee (PSSA), in addition to securing a $33,000 scholarship from Spring Hill College, coupled with the assistance of other individuals. She is well on her way to a successful future, flanked by those who care about her.
Questioned as to whether it felt surreal when she realized she was heading to college, Carmetta replied, “It didn’t seem surreal to be attending college abroad; in fact, it felt all too real. All of the effort I had put into my collegiate journey finally paid off. I was very grateful and excited to pursue the new endeavor set before me,” said the young woman of excellence.
“Education to me is my way out of poverty. It is my opportunity to make a better life for my grandmother, Una Marshall, my mother, Grace Barry and myself,” she added.
Currently a sophomore at Spring Hill College, Carmetta said the first year was a learning experience.
“There were so many distractions; however, my focus on my education did not waver. Socially, I was able to join many campus-based organizations and volunteer regularly as a tutor at a local church. I felt a wide array of emotions during my first year of college. Most days I was jovial; others I spent worried about meeting the standards and expectations set for myself by myself and others,” revealed Carmetta, who is a residential advisor for this academic year.
Indeed, Carmetta has exceptionally high standards for herself. She has a trail of achievements behind her name, having snagged major awards, including the highest Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) exam results out of all students in the country back in 2016. It was a feat she wanted to repeat in 2019. And although she didn’t get the overall best results in last year’s Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) exams, she did pass 12 of them (8 As, 2 Bs, 2 Cs), earning the Marjorie Davis Award for the Best Overall Performance in Government Schools.
“I wanted the brass ring. I was disappointed in myself. I dreamt about achieving this my entire high school career. I wanted to do it for Bain Town. People always ask, ‘Can any good thing come from Bain Town?’ I wanted to remind them that we have a rich legacy of nation builders and academically accomplished individuals coming from over the hill,” she said.
Speaking about Bain Town, Carmetta has never felt ashamed of where she grew up and still lives whenever she returns home on breaks.
“I have never seen growing up in Bain Town as a downfall; however, others do. The only struggle of growing up in the Bain Town area is the prejudice you face because of it. Many times, I was neglected opportunities I believed I had deserve, because of the location of my childhood home. I view over the hill, just as I would any other neighborhood. Bain Town is just another neighborhood, a childhood home…it has its downfalls and its greater moments which is common everywhere,” she stated.
Meantime, Carmetta is busy, having just completed mid-term exams. This semester, she has a few in-person classes with other classes online. Most classes at Spring Hill College this semester are hybrid: a mixture of in-person and online.
Having described herself as a “curious mind” with an “insatiable thirst” for knowledge, Carmetta admitted to being willing to go without food and sleep for the best grades. She pushes hard. Real hard. She is a perfectionist and trains herself to be top at whatever she is involved in. Settling for less is not who she is. Mediocrity is not synonymous with her name.
Furthermore, this high achiever was also the 2018-2019 Head Girl of C. R. Walker Senior High School, served as the Jr. Minister of the Environment (and interned at that ministry), President of Zeta Archonettes – all while working to successfully complete the Lyford Cay Foundation’s FOCUS (Forward, Onward to College, Upward to Success) program.
FOCUS is an out-of-school, tuition-free program specifically for public school students, beginning the summer after 4th grade. The expectation is that participants become the first generation of their families to gain post-secondary education.
“I was a part of the FOCUS program for a total of eight years: fourth through 12th grade. Those eight years were perfectly splendid. FOCUS was a centre of friendship and family for me; it often gave me an escape from the grueling days of regular school and days spent caring for my family,” she stated.
“FOCUS and Zeta Archonettes have groomed me into the ambitious young woman I am today. They saved me. Fed me. Showed me what my life could be like if I applied myself. I can never thank them enough or tell enough people about the beauty and effectiveness of these programs. They deserve all the accolades, sponsorships, etc.” added Carmetta.
And to all the little Carmetta Barrys of Dumping Ground Corner, throughout Bain Town and the wider over the hill community, Carmetta underscored that education is the bridge to a brighter future.
“The possibilities of life are endless for you. Seize the moment and hold onto your strength, as it’s your strength which will be the driving force of your success,” she concluded.