Simply elated

Scholarship winner happy to make family proud

She was recently named valedictorian at Harrison College.

Now you can add 2014 scholarship winner to 18-year-old Ninon Forter-Chee-a-Tow’s list of accomplishments.

When the full list of 14 national scholarships and 22 exhibitions was released today by the Ministry of Education Science and Technology, Ninon and her two sisters were off island on a diplomatic mission with their mother, Catherine, who is Portugal’s Honorary Consul to Barbados.

However, Barbados TODAY managed to reach her by telephone and she said she was simply elated.

“I think for me the most important, is that I have made my family proud, I have made myself proud. I think it really symbolizes an achievement at the end of this chapter of my life which is secondary school and I think it has really given me a fresh new look at my education and where I want to go and I am really excited to start the university chapter of my life,” she said in a brief interview.

Her father, who is also a diplomat, reported that they were all “extremely happy” to hear the news.

While describing his daughter as a very hard-working and exceptional student, Don Chee-a-Tow pointed out that she was involved in a motor vehicle accident in the midst of her Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE), which he was worried could have seriously hurt her academic chances.

“As a matter of fact, she wrote the last part of Unit 2 of the CAPE after having a woman run through a red light in Bridgetown, hit my car, the big SUV, and the airbags blew in her [Ninon’s] face.

“She didn’t even know what an airbag was before the accident,” her father said.

“I was worried that she would have thrown her scholarship chances because of the accident. It was right in the middle of the [exams], but really and truthfully, when you look back at her CXCs, she got everything at Grade one and distinction too, with all As in the sub-sections, so she was really poised to do it. But I was really worried that she would be thrown because she has really done it against all odds,” he added.

The former airline pilot turned diplomat, who has two other daughters at Harrison College, said credit must be given to his wife, who he described as the real “task master” in the family.

However, he noted that, “I am more science and the wife is languages,” adding that Ninon, who he said was very gifted and extremely bright, had developed her own academic style through the years.

“The child just understands concepts in a way that I have never seen anyone do in Maths [and] when she sits down and speaks Biology at the table at night, it is incredible,” he said.

Unlike her father, Ninon is not a big talker, but she has wanted since age 12 to be either a cardiothoracic or neonatal surgeon and has steadily been working towards that goal.

Chee-A-Tow Family
Chee-A-Tow Family

“She goes and helps at the hospital all the time. She goes and observes surgeries,” he said, noting that the first time she said she wanted to go, he had warned her that she would either fall down or faint during the operation but he said the only report that Ninon had to make when she returned home was on the number of surgeries she had seen in the day.

“. . . so she knows what she wants,” her dad concluded.

He also reported that while she has received high SAT scores that could easily guarantee her a place in many a reputable learning institution in the United States, Ninon is expected to accept the offer she has already received of a place in the UWI medical programme at Cave Hill come September.


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