Imagine at 14-years-old you are the holder of multiple medals in martial arts, essay competitions a steelpan player with the Mosaic Steel Orchestra, a member of Girl Guides, and a semi-finalist in the Richard Stoute Teen Talent Competition.
This is the life of Lauryn Small, a student of Lester Vaughan Memorial School in St Thomas. Barbados TODAY interviewed Lauryn to get a glimpse into her life and how she manages to juggle all these activities and still come out on top.
BT: How do you manage your many activities and commitments?
Lauryn: I manage most of my activities with [the help of] my mother. We sit at the beginning of the week and we plan everything starting with the very first activity.
BT: Can you tell us a bit of your schedule?
Lauryn: The week starts with my karate which is on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Steelpan is on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and Girl Guides which is mostly on Saturdays.
BT: In your list of accomplishments, it says that you have represented Barbados in martial arts competitions from ages seven to 12. Can you describe what those experiences were like?
Lauryn: The first time I went to fight it was [a bit] frightening because I didn’t know who I was coming up against, where they were from or what kind of skills they had. But my mother was there to encourage me as well as my aunt and other family members who said, ‘Lauryn just do you best no matter if you come first, second, third or last. You go out there and do your best’.
BT: How have you performed when representing the country?
Lauryn: With all the encouragement, it pushed me to do my best. When I came off the mat, my mother hugged me and said well done. The hard work, everything came into place, and everything paid off. I won a title belt in grappling and the Caribbean title in Trinidad. I also won bronze in stand-up fighting in Trinidad.
BT: Not only are you an athlete but you are also involved in music. How do you manage the two activities?
Lauryn: Everybody says that sports is good for you and exercise to keep you healthy so what I did when I started the steel pan, I told my mother, ‘Mummy I like steelpan, but I am still going to exercise’.
I still do my exercising here and there but [it has fallen behind somewhat]. I have told my mother when we have steelpan we will bring extra clothes and exercise afterwards.
BT: As If her calendar of activities was not enough, Lauren entered this year’s Richard Stoute Teen Talent Competition. Though she did not advance to the finals, the teenager recounted what she learned from the experience.
Lauryn: The hard work paid off. I didn’t make it through to the finals, but I was still happy that I made it somewhere. Richard Stoute also helped me with my confidence so I can go in front persons and feel happy and confident about what I am doing.
BT: With medals in various sporting disciplines, your membership in Mosaic Steel Orchestra and your awards for her creative writing and drawings, what advice would you give to students of Lester Vaughan school who may be inspired by you?
Lauryn: Everybody thinks that Lester Vaughn is a school where you come out and become someone who works in a hotel or something boring. My advice to fellow students who are attending Lester Vaughan School – you can be the next Prime Minister if you want to be.