After losing her mother to pancreatic cancer on March 16, Sydney Walker has a reason to smile again.
Today she was announced as one of 17 students from Queen’s College to win a Government exhibition.
It was difficult for her to hold back the tears as she told Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw during a presentation ceremony at Erdiston Teacher’s Training College, wearing the graduation dress her mother suggested but did not live to see her daughter wear.
While still taking in the news of the academic award, Walker told Barbados TODAY that though the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE), started just weeks after she buried her mom, she was determined to come out on top.
She said: “Right now I am very ecstatic and happy about what I have achieved. It was actually a very hard journey. I am just glad that I was actually able to succeed and do what I actually had intended to do.
“But it was a mental strain. The thing is that because she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer from five years ago, she was on and off.
“So I was kind of prepared mentally. The night before she died I actually had like a mental break down.
“So I guess after crying, I was able to be ready the next day.”
She recalled that in addition to handling a heavy workload at school, she was at her mother’s bedside, until her last moments alive, helping with her physical and emotional needs.
Walker said: “She told me she wanted to be here for my graduation, but that didn’t work out. It is okay though.
“She actually suggested what colours to wear for my graduation, which is where I got the colours for my dress. It was a yellow gown.”
Sydney received grade 1 in Unit 1 in Caribbean Studies. She achieved grade 1 in Economics and Environmental Science Units 1 and 2. In Law, she accomplished a grade 1 in Unit 1 and a grade 2 in Unit 2, and a grade 2 in Communication Studies Unit 1.
Her father Ian Walker said that while the diagnoses of Sydney’s mother took a toll on her, she kept focused.
He told Barbados TODAY: “There was a support base that played a pivotal role.
“The teachers at QC went above and beyond and I thank them.
“Two that readily come to mind would be Sandria Butcher who taught economics and Fatima Patel who taught environmental science.
“They were instrumental in her success. They motivated her.”
Sydney said she intends to study law at the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill. She said she was looking forward to a fruitful career in law, representing those who are unable to stand up for themselves.