Tresha Jacob
Tresha Jacob

Despite having to leave everything behind and relocate and readjust to the neighbouring island of Antigua and Barbuda after Hurricane Maria, Tresha Jacob was determined to not let anything get in her way to her success.

Fast forward four years later, the Anse De Mai native has been named the 2021 valedictorian of the Antigua and Barbuda International Institute of Technology(ABIIT).

In her graduation speech, Jacob who studied accounting recollected the unforgettable moments of September 2017, the morning which she says changed her life.

"Almost four years ago, I sat on the floor of my cousin's bedroom in Dominica, praying to God for a miracle as the winds howled outside and the room flooded with water. Almost four years ago, I woke up to an unrecognizable Dominica – A Dominica that I was doubtful would ever recover. In that period of disaster, God was there. Now, years later, He continues to work in mysterious ways, and my presence today is proof of His divine intervention," she said.

Living in an era of what she has labelled as "uncertainty" the 2021 valedictorian pressed on her fellow graduates to never lack enthusiasm and ambition when external forces continue to overshadow every inch of progress that they make.

As the world continues to grapple with the impact of Covid-19, she called on her peers to be inspired and know that they are not alone.

"Hence, I urge everyone listening, to please check up on your friends and family. Provide a listening ear, educate other persons about mental health, and most importantly, do not discriminate," Jacob said. "Treat people with respect, compassion, and empathy, no matter how they might present themselves to you and everyone else looking. A house might be beautifully painted on the outside, with pristine landscaping, and the latest upgrades in architecture. However, the interior of that house might be in shambles upon closer inspection."

In closing, the valedictorian quoted Isaiah Chapter 54, verse 17: No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgement, you shall condemn.

In the words of the Dominican scholar: "My fellow graduates, ensure that you are not the weapon formed against yourself that is keeping you from prospering. Our minds and tongues are very powerful weapons; therefore, we should be cautious of what we think and what we say." Jacob further advised her graduating class to set high expectations for themselves and to be confident in their abilities and goals, and to remember to step out of their comfort zone while making time for themselves.

Earlier this month, eleven-year-old Aliane Challenger who also relocated to Antigua following Hurricane Maria topped the island's Grade Six National Assessment (G6NA).