Balancing her studies with her spiritual growth has worked out well for Cassandra Khan who won the President's Medal, Gold for outstanding performance in the 2018 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate examinations.
The 18-year-old Naparima Girls High School pupil, who lives with her parents Nancy and Haroun Khan at Ragoo Village, Wellington Road, expressed jubilation at her award.
In an interview, Cassandra said she was able to accomplish everything through the blessing of Jehovah God and his son Jesus Christ.
"My father always said I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. It is a verse from the Bible which is my personal motto. I know that I was able to accomplish this because God has blessed me," Cassandra said.
Having written 11 subjects including Spanish, French, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Maths and Additional Maths, Geography, English Literature and English Language as well as Dance, Cassandra was able to score 11 distinctions in all subject areas.
She never studied Spanish and French in school but pursued the subjects on her own, doing private lessons with Spanish teacher Sherry Ragobar-Toolsie and her daughter Candi.
Cassandra said she was always involved in extracurricular activities but instead of detracting her from her studies, these activities strengthened her.
At the Diamond Evangelistic Centre, Cassandra taught Modern Dance, sang in the choir and participated in drama.
Her father Haroun Khan who headed a Sunday School for decades in Ragoo Village honed her skills as a drama student.
"I was stunned when I found out that I won the President Medal, gold. It was something I prayed for and I worked hard for it. I am just thankful that I was able to make my family and my village proud,"
Cassandra said. Asked what she wanted as a reward for her accomplishment, Cassandra responded, "I already have everything. I have a mother who is very encouraging and who prayed with me and for me always. I have a father who taught me how to persevere even when times get tough. I don't need a reward. I already got what I wanted and that was to make them proud."
Cassandra is currently in Lower Six and plans to pursue a career in geochemistry.
"I want to do laboratory work in the oil industry as well as a study of the earth. I love geography," she exclaimed. Cassandra thanked her teachers at Naparima Girls High School for motivating and assisting her.
Her mother Nancy said she heard of her daughter's success from the principal of Naparima Girls High School Carolyn Bally-Gosine. "I started screaming. My husband was dumbfounded and speechless. We were so excited and happy," Nancy said.
Bally-Gosine said Cassandra was always a diligent and humble student.
She said the school has performed well in all subject areas at CSEC as well as the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) Unit One and Two levels.
"We had 100 percent passes. At the CSEC level, we had 24 places in the merit listing for the region. Our students are doing well across the board in almost every subject area. Cassandra was an all-rounder. She was great in her balance of subjects and she was able to accomplish a lot. She deserves the Presidents Medal. She said Cassandra was part of the school's musical, the Sound of Music as well as a participant at Sanfest and the National Dance Festival."
- by Radhica De Silva. Photo by Ivan Toolsie.