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Saturday 20 January 2018
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Tobago’s schol winner

A scientist-artist or an artist-scientist? Not sure if such a career exists but Tobago, Trinidad and the rest of the world may soon hear of such in the person of Tricia Diaz, a former student of Signal Hill Secondary who this year won the only additional scholarship in Tobago for visual arts.

She wants to become a botanist but now says that “it will be hard to run away from art, having received the award.” Diaz did not know that she was actual winner of the schol as she was initially only told on Tuesday that the school had won an award.

That, she added, led to much speculation and head-scratching on her part in trying to figure out who exactly won the award.

A thought occurred to her that she might have won it for biology.

The following day when the names were released by the Ministry of Education, she got a telephone call from her former biology teacher a couple minutes before a confirmation call from the principal of Signal Hill, Allyson Potts, who told her that she had won in visual arts. Almost spontaneously, the jubilant and somewhat excessive celebrations started at her workplace.

That entailed some running up and down in the dentist’s office (she is being trained as a dental assistant) and surely there must have been some screaming, maybe even causing her co-worker to wonder a little if she had “chipped-off”.

When normalcy returned to her state of being, Diaz quite calmly relayed the delightful news to her co-worker, who congratulated her.

At the end of that work day, she dutifully went to church and gave praise to the Almighty for her blessings.

Apart from being happy with the good news, she was also shocked. And “shocked” doesn’t even fully convey how she felt because preparing for visual arts gave her many stressful days and nights. After having done her individual assessment (IA) late, it meant many late and long nights plus last-minute rushing to get things completed, followed by two weeks of exams.

Potts said the school was very ecstatic but that it was long overdue. However, they were not expecting it. It was only the seventh national schol in the school’s 35-year history, she said.

The last time the school got national awards was in 2000 when Avernelle Henry and Lorraine Phillips were both awarded scholarships in business studies.

Potts added that great demands are put on the students and so in return big things are expected of them and such awards serve as validation for their efforts.

The principal said Diaz is very deserving of the “honour”, adding that she comes from “trying circumstances”, so that the award is even more appreciated. The entire school population and teaching staff are extremely proud of her, she said.

“The scholarship will help to take her forward.”

She said Diaz is very intelligent but needed support financially.

The principal said Diaz is a reserved, humble and shy 19-year-old who works very hard and stays focused, a view shared by other teachers at the school.

She has given, by winning the national award, a huge motivational boost for all the other students at Signal Hill, despite the adverse comments on the school, according to Potts.

She stated that teachers remain focused on empowering students and making them productive and responsible citizens.

She said even though Diaz excelled in biology and chemistry, she is a brilliant artist who produced magnificent pieces for her A-Level arts, as evidenced by the winning of national award.

At the Ordinary Level, Diaz obtained passes in biology (I), chemistry (II), arts (II), agriculture science (I), principle of business (I), English (II) and maths (II). At the Advance Level she got Grade I in both biology and chemistry, Grades II and I in arts, and Grade II in communication and Caribbean studies.

While at school, she participated in science competitions, including attending the Caribbean Youth Science Forum last year in Trinidad and was a member of the Inter-Christian Youth Fellowship. She also sang in the Signalite Choir at the school.

Diaz lives with her mother, Nover Homeward, in the small village of John Dial, which sits between Bacolet, just past the Dwight Yorke Stadium going westward on the Claude Noel Highway, but before entering the villages of Hope and Mt St George.

Her house is a modest board structure but in contrast the home has brilliant minds.

Both her form teachers, Mr Telfer and Ms Duke, who had remained her form teachers from Form One all the way to Form Five, remarked that her mother was always one of the first parents to come to collect her daughter’s school report.

Both teachers said they saw the unwavering support given to her by her mother.

Telfer said he felt very proud of his former student as she had worked hard throughout her years at school and he had expected her to do well.

He added that Diaz was determined from the very beginning and was an excellent student — she did her work, did what she was supposed to do and tried very hard at doing it.

Duke said Diaz always had her eyes on the prize, was very focused and knew exactly what she wanted to do.

She said she was very excited to know that she played such a pivotal role in Diaz’s success.

Diaz also praised her father, Lousito Diaz, who lives in Whim, for his financial and other support.

She said art supplies are very expensive and many times it was her father who would give her the funds, not only to purchase them, but for travelling and other needs.

She said all along her mother was expecting her to win a scholarship and knew she had won even before it was confirmed.

Last Tuesday was her mother’s birthday so the scholarship turned out to be one of the best birthday gifts a child could give a mother.

Diaz said she wanted to win a national scholarship because her mother could not afford to send her to become what she has a love and passion for — a botanist.

Her soft-spoken mother said she felt extremely proud upon hearing that her daughter had won the scholarship. She said Tricia always wanted to win a scholarship since she started secondary school.

She knew Tricia would succeed but was expecting it in either biology or chemistry.

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