Tribute to our Alma Mater
by Shanda Sandy-Boyea and Wendy Bynoe
We had no idea what was in store for us when we left our families and familiar environment and journeyed to mainland St Vincent for our secondary education at the St. Joseph’s Convent, Kingstown.
Many of us left at the tender age of 10 and 11 to pursue a dream held by our parents that education is the foundation that would take us out of poverty and catapult us into our purpose and divine destiny.
We owe all of this to the communities in the Grenadines. Not only did our parents sacrifice all they had, but neighbours, family, and even familiar passersby ensured our well-being, be it corned fish, conch, lobster and even sand sweet potatoes or a pocket change to tide us over. The goodies were always more than enough to share with our adopted families.
The journey to the mainland was by boat, often traveling for hours across the treacherous Grenadine waters to room with families, distant relatives, friends and sometimes strangers. Our initial entry into the doors of St. Joseph’s Convent, Kingstown was a mixture of fear and excitement. We faced the pressure to fit in, perform with excellence, and make our parents and community proud, not to mention the enormous sacrifice and expenses that were on our shoulders.
Yet, amidst the teasing about our accents or the jeerings of “cays crab,” SJC’s faculty and staff rose to the occasion demonstrating incredible care to integrate us into our new school environment. They committed themselves to helping us combat our homesickness and received us with open arms. The successes enjoyed from their efforts propelled us in the right direction as girls who at times were tempted to surrender and return home to familiar territory. However, because of the encouragement of the faculty and our determination to make our families proud, we persevered to the end. They helped us work through our challenges and prepared us spiritually, intellectually, morally and socially with sound Christian values that direct our lives to this day.
It is this winning combination of values and principles that distinguish us as true “Convent Girls.” The bonds we created over the years continue to serve us today both personally and professionally. SJC crafted boldness within us, built our self-esteem and confidence and prepared us to face the world.
Happy Anniversary our dear Alma Mater and cheers to another 75 years!