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Finding the cure

Zahra Lashley

Eighteen year-old Zahra Lashley is excited about her future.

The Barbados Scholar will be leaving in a couple of weeks for England and the University of the Leicester where she will read for a Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Genetics.

She told Barbados TODAY that she worked hard to attain the grades (grade 1s in all of them except Maths where she got a three) for the national award studying Chemistry, Maths, Biology, Environmental Science, in addition to Caribbean Studies and Communication Studies.

“I choose Environmental Science because after the first year of Sixth Form I had fallen short of being on track for a scholarship so in order to qualify for it you had a choice to pick up another subject to get eight 1s to get the scholarship. So I did those two units so I could get the scholarship,” said the Queen’s College alumnus. In studying this subject, she said her eyes were opened to a lot of things she did not know but it was during Fifth Form when she was introduced to genetics in the Biology class.

“It was the one part of Biology that I seemed to understand right off and it was really interesting and diverse and I thought it was cool and I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in it. I just connected with the subject and any test I did I always got full marks and I enjoyed it.

“Genetics is like the base is connected to many diseases and many reasons for our health even though most people don’t know that, it is interlinked and I thought that was interesting and I wanted to study it,” Lashley said.

“I just want to do a career in genetics. I looked at clinical genetics, there’s also genetic counselling and those jobs basically entail you working with a medical team to research and trying to find new cures for diseases. It ranges because you have a lot of genetically inherited diseases from diabetes to cancer to Huntington’s Disease, Down’s Syndrome so it depends on where you want to take genetics, there is a really wide field.

She said that she has options after completing her first degree which include pursuing higher degrees or doing an internships.

It was not all work for the teenager who said she danced with Dance Strides Barbados, played with the school band, was a member of the volleyball team and the Key Club, but stopped at the beginning of Sixth Form to concentrate on her studies. Now she is heading to England she intends to take up some of them again.

She will not be alone when she heads to the university and stated that two of her friends, Ade Waterman and Giselle Franklyn who also won Barbados Scholarships, would be attending, study medicine.

Even though she worked towards getting a scholarship she was “shocked”, “speechless” and “did not even know what to do with myself” when she checked her grades.

“I was freaking out inside but I was speechless because my sister was next to me and asked me what does that mean and I said, I got a scholarship and Nakiah said ‘You got a scholarship? and I said ‘Yes!’. I was really shocked to the point where I could not say anything,” she recalled.

Her parents, Christ Church West Central MP Stephen Lashley and Deborah Lashley, were very excited and “shouting and keeping noise” she said.

The scholar said she was up to the challenge that her new educational journey would take and although she would miss the warmth and sunshine of home as well as the food, she knows that God would keep her.

“There were tears but I made it because I kept my faith in God and I knew that He wouldn’t take me somewhere that you couldn’t handle so I just believed and was determined to get through,” Lashley said. (DS)

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