From Civilian Struggles to Student Professor

Life has a way of testing the “metal” you are made of, and it has revealed that I am made of cast iron and steel combined. “Persons travelling on Caribbean Airline flight BW 414, destined to Nassau, Bahamas, please come forward now for boarding”, echoed in my head at the Piarco International Airport. August 20th, 2015 was a life changing moment for me. I flew in first class status in a luxurious atmosphere, but my mobility was decidedly fourth class. You may ask, why? The answer is a broken fibula just eight (8) days prior to travel. Crutches and a wheelchair became my mode of transportation from departure to arrival.

In addition to this misfortune, the only way I was able to complete this degree, was to accept a leave of absence, with no pay, for two years. Financial perils were inevitable and budgeting was steaming on the front burner. Tuna was done in all styles, even curried, as this was the most economical food that could be consumed and which contained high quality protein.

Where are you going with that broken leg?” asked the student’s service manager. It was at this juncture that reality shot me like a bullet from a high powered rifle, and also when I knew that the struggles were inevitable. Settling in to a University of total strangers was by no means an easy task. This however taught me a valuable lesson, you never know where life will take you and who will be there to help in times of need.

Mr. Brukki himself at Director’s Cocktail Party

Assistance came from all angles. Hopping up a flight of 25 stairs to get to the Lecture Theatre was my daily physical training. I was seen sweating profusely on completion of this task. Having to beg a ride to school every day became the norm, but through all of this my regularity and punctuality were not impaired, faith was the order of the day. In fact, my tourism lecturer was often amazed at how I managed to arrive earlier than she did. I burnt the “midnight oil”, enduring excruciating pains in the process. Every day my bones grew stronger and I grew mentally and physically. This caused a spin off to my academics and my grades skyrocketed in the process.

After the storm, the calm was slowly but surely approaching. Things started moving in a positive direction and surprisingly I was nominated for the position of vice president of the student executive. I accepted this nomination instantly. Campaigning for this position taught me the importance of social interaction and sharpened critical people skills.

With Student Executive President Neil McIntyre

As vice president, I acted as a father, brother, uncle and even in some cases as a surrogate significant other. My management skills enabled me to deal with complex situations and execute effective solutions.  Personality clashes were diffused quickly before they escalated. I was able to achieve this by listening carefully, embracing conflicting views and dealing with each case objectively. The post has taught me how important it is that we embrace different cultures.

My journey at the Centre for Hotel and Tourism Management made me aware of personal attributes that had yet remained dormant. Being an ‘A’ student was not only confined to my grades but also in the way that I interacted with my peers. My Student/professor drive was launched in the spring semester of 2016, after realising that some students were not successful in specific courses. The ‘Best Centre for Learning’ conducted sessions in large groups as well as on a one on one basis. This service was not confined to my location but was also mobile at a place convenient to any student. The ‘centre’ was open 24 hours a day, no fees charged and extensive knowledge gained. No one was ever turned away.

Financial Management tutorial in full swing

My success story was manifested in a particular student who was unsuccessful in three (3) courses in the spring semester of 2015, he subsequently  passed all courses thereafter. My phone received messages constantly requesting solutions to problems that seemed unsolvable. Teaching was not only confined to academics. Safety, first-aid and safe sexual practices were also instilled in everyone. My proudest moment to date was the financial management class that I lectured to for the final examination of summer 2016. We all passed the course, in fact I have received 100% passes. This is the ultimate reward for hard work and dedication. This level of success has motivated me beyond anything I have ever accomplished. After all, success is not measured by what you accomplish but by the manifestation of success in others that you assist.

Professor Best at work

Hurdles were made to jump over not pass around or beneath. In the race of life it doesn’t matter what lane you are  in, you just need to time your run to perfection, get over each hurdle and you are destined to glory. There may be someone faster but if they don’t time their run to perfection they may fall down and you will be home safely ahead of them. So it’s not only speed but also your momentum and consistency that will make you persevere through life.

~ Keron Best, 2016

by Keron Best, Vice President – Student Executive Committee; BSc. Tourism Management, 2017

Note: Shortly following the writing of this post Keron’s only brother passed away suddenly and Keron flew home to be with his family. Keron – your CHTM family extends condolences and prayers for grace and strength to you and your extended family during this difficult time.