by Latoya Burnham
It is often said that the true mettle of a man (or woman) reveals itself in the midst of adversity. In other words, on that long, hard road to what he (or she) hopes will be success.
Such is the story of Jalissa Marshall and Darren Gibson — Parish Ambassadors for St. Andrew. The difficult terrain that marks the parish, is perhaps apt for the two tough individuals who have embarked on this journey and intend to leave their stamp.
The youngest couple yet in the Parish Ambassadors Programme, Jalissa and Darren at 18 and 19 years respectively, glance at each other and smile wryly when asked how their journey has been.
Jalissa’s entrance began when on a walk through of her district, one of the Parish Independence Committee members remarked on the beauty of her smile and invited her to come to an interview. Darren on the other hand was suggested when a friend who was asked to apply could not make the commitment and put forward his name.
For both, since then, it has been a long road and certainly rather demanding. They revealed that because the St. Andrew PIC is perhaps smaller than that of most of the other parishes, it means their full participation in almost every aspect is necessary. It has meant working on their costumes, doing most of their research for their project, Knights and Dames of St. Andrew: Touching Lives, Bridging Landscapes, for themselves and then having Darren take charge of the printing of the subsequent booklet. In short, the challenge has been vast.
But despite their youth, the two say they have bonded together to pull through. As Darren put it: “What’s life without a little challenge?”
He is a student of Mathematics and Physics at the University of the West Indies, with plans to pursue a career as a Mechanical Design Engineer. And here is perhaps where the influence of St. Andrew is strongly evident in this President of Project Discovery, a science based youth group.
Having spent much time on the farm of a family friend, Darren said it has encouraged him to create systems for dairy farming, to make the process more efficient and profitable, something the people of the parish could certainly use.
His partner Jalissa has plans to further studies in the near future, to become an English teacher.
“I only made a decision recently, but I think I am going to go into teaching English. I just have a love for it and with my involvement in the programme, having to write and deliver speeches and things like that, it gave me the extra boost I needed,” she confessed.
Having Darren for a partner through all of the challenges, she said has been one of the highlights of the entire experience; that, and getting to know the different heroes in her parish and what they have done to help it’s development.
“I would do it again, if I had Jalissa as my partner. It has been a very interesting experience. It has shown me that I can do more than I ever thought I could, when I put my mind to it. I have also had the opportunity to use skills I never thought of,” Darren laughed. [email protected]