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An unexpected win for former Pres Chag pupil – Xavier Joseph

It may sound surprising to hear a scholarship recipient say he was “a real mess” at primary school and not good at studying or paying attention.

This was how Xavier Joseph, 19 years described himself as a boy. It was his mother Kaffie Caden-Joseph who worked with him to develop the mindset needed to apply himself to his schoolwork.

“She used to stay up late nights helping me to develop a routine to study,” he said. He did not pay sufficient attention while in school so his mother helped him develop the right mindset. “Then after I started building on it,” Xavier said.

Xavier and his family

This would have been vital to withstand the demands of getting ready for the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) in Chemistry, Biology, Geography, Environmental Science, Pure Mathematics, Caribbean Studies, and Communication Studies, the latter two subjects required study.

He told the Catholic News that he received grade 1s for all subjects for Unit 1 and 2. Xavier placed second in Environmental Science and fourth in Geography Unit 1 on CXC’s regional merit list which lists the top ten regional performers in each subject area. In a telephone interview on April 26, the former Presentation College, Chaguanas, student was surprised to hear he got an open scholarship given “the conditions” with the number of scholarships reduced. Xavier said It was unexpected but also “a real joy to hear”.

He has been working hard since primary school and also did lessons to add to his knowledge. Lessons in Form Six were at times challenging with finding a tutor who could accommodate with time and also effectively transmit the knowledge he needed to get. “You could not get all the information done in school hours alone; you had to put in a lot of extra work outside.”

Questioned about the combination of subjects, Xavier said he did not know what he wanted to do at university so he chose subjects to have “options” in case he changed his mind about courses. He is currently studying Agriculture. “I always enjoyed the Geography and Environmental Science but I did the Mathematics and the other stuff for extra marketability”.

Xavier explained that his academic success was not the result of what was done in Form Six but from “working hard since primary school”.

Asked if he was naturally gifted or a hard worker, he said to get good grades he had to train himself to “study hard all the time”. Xavier disclosed that it was difficult studying initially, but he conditioned himself and got into a routine. He elaborated, “I adapted to difficulty and knew how to move around it so even all now I would still have a good time and know I will study adequately as well; I still enjoy my life with all the intense studying too. It is just a matter of a lifestyle change”.

When he took a break from study, he played video games. “I just like video games for the diversity, I play a lot of different games, racing, shooting anything. I play a lot of board games with my family, cards.” He took piano lessons from primary school and got to grade 8. Xavier said he has played tennis competitively but at secondary school, it was more for recreation.

Apart from his mother, he said his father Paul was also a major part of his success, giving moral support. Xavier said many teachers contributed. Also mentioned was steadfast support and confidence from his grandmother Antonia Lucky, and family friends Merlyn Mural and Anthony Fredrick. Prayer was a regular part of Xavier’s routine while at Presentation College and home and he attributes prayer for helping with his success. He is a parishioner of Santa Rosa RC, Arima.

Explaining his decision to study Agriculture, Xavier said agriculture was a major part of the country’s development in the past but has declined. He wants to assist with T&T’s food security and referred to the high food import bill. He said, “If my studies could help with growing food locally and assist farmers in cultivation so we could import less.” When this happened, he said the money could be allocated for other areas such as youth development.

Ag Principal Presentation College, Chaguanas, Brian Seemugal said, “Xavier has always been a diligent and hardworking student…since he entered in the year 2013. He spent seven years at the college and graduated in the year 2020 … Xavier has always performed excellently in his academic studies along with his extracurricular activities”.

What three tips would Xavier give to persons pursuing their academic goals:

1. Mindset. You must be disciplined in studying. It can’t be done half-heartedly.

2. Balance. Studying all the time can have negative impacts. “You can’t just be studying and missing the rest of your school life. School life is meant to be enjoyed as well. Partake in as much extra-curricular activity you can accommodate. It can also make you more diverse in your skills set”.

3. Pray regularly. “God is in control of everything. Give thanks for anything that He gives you and take advantage of any situation He gives you because every situation has a silver lining.”