Okeina Matthan, born and raised in Denham Town in West Kingston, graduated from Immaculate Conception High School.
When she was five years old, her uncle was shot several times and died.
Six years later, his cousin suffers the same fate. Those losses were a force that pushed Okeina Tia Matthan, who was born and raised in Denham Town in Kingston’s west, to push harder.
Currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in economics at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Immaculate Conception High School alumnus Mona is focused on blazing an honorable path.
“The environment would affect anyone. Trying to make ends meet while constantly wondering if gunshots might happen is exhausting. The fear of losing your life or that of a loved one losing theirs does not is all too common. I have lost so many loved ones and friends over the years to violence and I can honestly say it is not getting any easier. Unfortunately things have gotten progressively worse over the years, but I keep praying and hoping for the best,” 20-year-old Matthan told the Jamaica Observer last Wednesday.
Okeina Matthan is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in economics at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona.
In 2010, before the Tivoli Gardens foray, Matthan was sent to live with a relative in rural Jamaica. She said that when she returned from the security operation, she never saw some of her classmates and male neighbors again.
Her mother, Kediesha Brown-Matthan, was 16 and attending the Convent of Mercy “Alpha” Academy when she was born.
“She was the one who basically taught me soft skills like kindness, empathy and politeness. My dad, on the other hand, instilled in me what is called street savvy. My parents were pretty harsh, nothing unbearable.” It’s not necessarily always like that, but looking back now, it kind of shaped me. Although they tried to teach me a lot, they couldn’t teach me everything or protect me from the heartlessness of the world. I learned a lot of things from my journey to and from school,” Matthan said.
She got her start at the Halibethian Early Childhood Center in Tivoli Gardens at the age of three. After which she moved on to Denham Town Primary School, now Edward Seaga Primary.
“A few of my friends and I used to compete every year to see who would get the highest grades, the most stickers and trophies at the end of the year. I won a few contests, participated in a lot of activities mainly because at the time it was fun to learn and expand my vocabulary.In our senior year, I received titles such as best performer and being on the chart of honor that I had maintained over the years, as well as funds to go to secondary school,” said Matthan the Sunday Observer.
After the Sixth Grade Achievement Test (GSAT), now the Primary Exit Profile (PEP), Matthan was placed at Wolmer Girls High School. But that’s not where she graduated from high school.
The day they were preparing to buy the uniform, her mother had received a call from the Department of Education, inviting her to a meeting and asking if she would prefer her daughter to attend Immaculate Conception High School instead, at which she immediately answered yes. .
“I’m so glad she accepted. I attended Immaculate Conception High School from September 2014 to July last year. It was, honestly, a life-changing experience that allowed me to make some wonderful friendships and teacher-student relationships. I reshaped my morals, got rid of old unhealthy habits, and formulated a new way of looking at life as a whole. I had so much fun and I would live it again if I could,” Matthan said.
“I’ve always been told that nothing worth doing is ever easy and that’s the reality. There have been many days where I felt and still feel overwhelmed and want to give up, but I remember why I do what I do. I not only want to create a better life for myself and my family, but also work to improve my community and my country in the long term. Most of my experiences have something to do with school because I didn’t really go out as much as I spent most of my nights working on something school related or just surfing the net.”
Matthan lost his grandfather and great-uncle within weeks of each other at the end of 2016. That year, she said, really shook her up and put a lot in perspective for her at the same time. time.
“Mostly because I was close to them and had to watch my mother suffer. I couldn’t have come this far without the moral support I received from my family, friends and a few neighbours. Downtown can break you if you “You’re not willing. Not only do you have to keep your eyes peeled for any unexpected occurrences, but you fight doubt, hatred, and all other negative connotations from local people. I’m glad my family and friends are supporting me, but motivating me was the last step.”
Matthan has her sights set on a career as an economist, which she said she will then use to help improve the economy and start a nonprofit to give back to her community and country.
“Actually, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life until about 10th grade. I had fallen in love with economics and all that it entails because of my teacher, Mr. . Jerome Pitterson,” she told the Sunday Observer.
“It’s absolutely fundamental that you break the stereotypes as a young woman, especially in these modern times. Life isn’t getting any easier and people aren’t getting warmer. As sad as that sounds, it’s the truth A lot of women in my community who thought they were moving towards the concept of independence, are not quite there yet, but I’m happy to see the changes. We really should support each other more and let each other know how proud we are. each other,” she added.
Matthan, in a quest to inspire other inner-city youth to be their best, pointed out that “there is so much to do, so many new people to meet and places to see”.
“You just have to be open-minded to experiment and learn new things. Never doubt yourself. The mind is our most powerful tool. If you tell yourself things won’t go your way , chances are they’ll ‘If you want to be a better version of yourself, work on yourself, motivate yourself, and above all congratulate yourself on any success you may have; let it be great or small, a win is a win,” she advised.
“Accept and learn from your failures and mistakes. If you’ve tried and failed, that’s okay. Learn from it and do better each time. It’s good to fail, it’s good to do a mistake, but don’t let them put you off. Lastly, I would say, be patient. Nothing of good quality and value is finished in a hurry. Don’t feel agitated or anxious because someone your age is better off. Everyone’s story is different, so be patient with yourself and don’t worry. Don’t feel depressed because you don’t have everything you want yet. Your time has come.