Seven years ago Sharlayne Waller was the top student in Jamaica in the GSAT exams with an average of over 97% in the five subjects. As a friend of her parents I have known Sharlayne all her life and have followed her outstanding scholastic achievements since her days in prep school. The other day having heard that on the basis of her SAT results she was accepted to Yale University, I called her by phone to offer my congratulations and I told her and her parents that I was planning to write about her in the KCOBA Newsletter.
When her mother (Dr. Judith Dallas) asked me what the KC connection was, I reminded her that Sharlayne's three uncles (Patrick, George and Garth Dallas) all went to KC. Judith went to St Hughs' and her husband, Locksley Waller, went to St Mary High. My main reason for writing about Sharlayne's extraordinary achievements was to motivate a few KC boys as well as other Jamaican students to strive, as Sharlayne did, for academic excellence while seeking to reach their full potential. In addition, I do not feel that our academic high achievers get the exposure, adulation and praise that they deserve. So here is a snippet of my interview with Sharlayne.
CL: Sharlayne, which schools did you attend?
SW: Sts Peter and Paul and then Campion College.
CL: Who is your role model?
SW: My mom.
CL: At Campion what were your extra-curricular activities, did you play any sports?
SW: Of course, I was on the swimming team for many years, I played volleyball, was a member of the ICSF, Interact Club, the Magazine Committee and in my final year I was Head Girl. I also play the piano. I also play a little table tennis with my father and brother but I am not very good at it and they beat me all the time.
CL: In piano, what level are you?
SW: Grade 4
CL: Remind me again of your CXC passes.
SW: I did 2 CXC subjects in 4th form and 10 in 5th form.
CL: So you have 12 CXCs, that's amazing! And what were your grades in these 12 subjects?
SW: I got grade 1 in all the subjects I took, so I have twelve ones (with a straight A profile).
CL: And in your A' Levels or CAPE exams this year?
SW: I did 6 subjects, namely, Mathematics, French, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Communication Studies.
CL: What exactly is this subject called Communication Studies?
SW: That is what in your time and my parents' time was called General Paper or GP!
CL: And what were your grades in these six subjects?
SW: I got grade 1 in all my subjects with a straight A profile. (Both in Cape 1 last year and Cape 2 this year)
CL: Amazing! Do you consider yourself a genius?
SW: No, not really. I worked real hard.
CL: Do you have a photographic memory?
SW: No, not at all. In fact on the morning of exams you will still find me reading my notes for one last time.
CL: I heard that you are going to the prestigious Yale in a few weeks time, why Yale?
SW: They offered me a full scholarship or almost a full scholarship.
CL: But I also heard that you got many offers from some of the other top universities in the USA.
SW: Yes, I had offers from Harvard, Stanford and Princeton as well. In fact 8 of the top Ivy League Universities made me offers.
CL: What will you study at Yale in your undergrad years?
SW: Biomedical sciences.
CL: What's that exactly?
SW: In that field they design and make prosthesis, medical instruments and devices and so on.
CL: Your mom is a doctor and your father is an engineer so I can see that you were drawn to both medicine and engineering.
SW: That's right.
CL: After your first degree what will you do next?
SW: Probably medicine, I want to do medical research later on.
CL: Will you return to Jamaica?
SW: I am planning to!
CL: What about politics, do you have ambitions of entering politics?
SW: I often think about the solutions to Jamaica's many problems but I don't think that I would fit in to the political scene here.
CL: One last question Sharlayne. Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
SW: I will probably be researching the solutions to one of our big medical problems.
CL: Thank you Sharlayne:
SW: It's a pleasure Uncle Cedric