Naparima College top students – No substitute for hard work

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Principal of Naparima College Roger Ali, left, presents a trophy to Malique Auguste for his academic success at the school’s prize giving ceremony on October 19. – Photo courtesy Malique Auguste

If you work hard, you will reap the rewards, as proved by Naparima College students Malique Auguste and Mathieu Beharry, who both made it onto the CXC merit lists.

Auguste, 19, from Couva, placed third in the Caribbean in building and mechanical engineering drawing (BMED) (mechanical) Unit II and fourth in Unit I in the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE), and is very happy about his achievement.

In addition to BMED, he also did physics, chemistry, pure maths and Caribbean studies.

He told Sunday Newsday he unexpectedly got on the merit list last year for BMED Unit I but repeated the subject in order to be more competitive for a scholarship. As a result, he was not surprised when he saw his name again.

For Unit II, getting on the list was one of his goals. And since he worked hard, not accomplishing that would have been disappointing.

“Everybody is very happy and proud, very supportive. My mom told me she was jumping up when she read it,” he said.

Auguste admitted he had some challenges with time management, since BMED was an extra subject and he had several extra-curricular activities.

He said his BMED classes were usually on evenings and Saturdays. Plus, the class entailed a design project which turned out to be more complicated than anticipated. He was also a head prefect, so he had to manage the prefect body. He participated in school oratory competitions, in projects as a child rights ambassador with the Ministry of Gender and Child Affairs, was the vice president of the NGO Youth in Action, and continued to update his website, CXC Prep,, where he analysed Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and CAPE past papers to assist students with their studies.

“The main method I used to get through it all was timetabling and scheduling what I had to do. I planned out how I was going to learn depending on the syllabus so I knew what I had to cover on a certain day.

“It can be a challenge to stick to it, especially when there are things out of your control that pop up and you have to miss a day. Then you need to pick back up that work you missed.”

At the moment he is on a gap year, working while he prepares to attend university to study either engineering or computer science. He plans to apply to several universities in the US and Canada, and ones which accept him will determine his course.

“If I get through to do computer science, I would most likely have more flexibility to do a double major. I’d like to double major in some sort of social science like policy, so when I come back to Trinidad, I could help work on issues and use technology to help further solutions to those issues.”

If he got into a university with a good engineering programme, he said he would not be able to do a double major, as those programmes were usually very rigorous. He would still like to work on issues that affect people, but would have to take another route to do so.

“When I was a child rights ambassador I was exposed to public policy and humanitarian efforts. It’s something I think I enjoy doing and I want to continue with that in TT.”

Mathieu Beharry, 17, placed fourth in the CSEC Principles of Accounts in the June exam. – Photo courtesy Mathieu Beharry

Beharry, on the other hand, had a clear career goal in mind as he wants to be a doctor.

But he put a lot of effort into studying for his CSEC Principles of Accounts (POA) exam and placed fourth in the Caribbean.

The 17-year-old Gasparillo resident said his accomplishment was not really a shock, because he put a lot of hard work and dedication into the subject and was, in fact, aiming to be one of the top ten students.

“I’m a science student, so for me to rank in POA required me to put in more effort because my focus is on the sciences. In life I want to open my own medical practice, so I thought POA would be a good financial backing for that plan.

“Now, at the CAPE level, I’m studying chemistry, biology and pure math and I’m hoping to get an open scholarship to study medicine in the (United) States.”

With nine CSEC subjects to study for, he said it was a challenge to stay motivated and focused and apply himself in POA, even though he was always strong in the subject. Thankfully, he had the support of his family and friends, who talked him through any negative feelings.

Also, he said his teachers provided him with a lot of resources, such as notes and practice questions, to help him improve.

In addition, he was one of the 13 students identified by the Ministry of Education for their outstanding performance in CXC examinations.

Speaking of the mention, Beharry said, “It was a surreal feeling to know my hard work and consistency paid off and was recognised.”