Once upon a time, a bright-eyed, ambitious girl from the hills of St. James dared to dream a bigger dream than her circumstances dictated. Her name is Sashalee Beasley, and she became a doctor in June 2022.
Those Early Years
Describing her formative years as being beset with hardship, she recalled how her mom, a single parent, had to do numerous jobs to help the family survive. From “domestic work” to selling in the market and even farming, Sashalee accompanied her mom and helped with the task at hand. Nevertheless, although they were poor, her small family unit was always happy.
As her mother Virginette Dawkins observed in an early newspaper article, her daughter has always been a hard worker:
“ She was always selling sweets and Kisko in high school to help herself with lunch money and transportation… for Summer jobs, she would pack bags.”
The School Years
On leaving Bickersteph Primary and Infant School, Sashalee attended the Montego Bay High School for Girls, where she completed CSEC subjects. She then went on to Cornwall College for Sixth Form CAPE studies. The love of the sciences propelled this high school footballer as she contemplated careers in environmental studies or Natural Science. In her later high school years, however, her interest in Medicine was firmly set, and she has never looked back.
The Next Step
As graduation grew closer, planning for the next step in her academic career became urgent. Not having the resources meant seeking help from individuals and businesses in Montego Bay and beyond. Having gained the requisite subjects with excellent grades was no guarantee of a more accessible entry to her dream career. Hopes of gaining a scholarship based on her football exploits also fell through.
Although accepted by the University of the West Indies Faculty of Science and Technology, the inability to qualify for a Student Loan meant that that opportunity could not be pursued. Many would have given up at this point, but her determination to achieve her goal remained steadfast.
The Turning Point
Her mother, who was instrumental in raising public awareness of Sashalee’s story, went to the press, which in turn led to Sashalee appearing on national television, where her story was further highlighted. With the same determination she had when she left an unhappy home with a 6-year-old Sashalee and her youngest son, her mother was instrumental in raising public awareness of Sashalee’s story. She went to the media outlets, leading to Sashalee appearing on national television, where her story was highlighted.
A Light at Last
In 2016, as the deadline to take up her offer in China approached, one interview changed everything as what looked like a rejection at first turned out to be the game changer. The main sponsor she hoped for committed to investing in her by providing her first year of tuition.
Her journey to Anhui Medical University in Eastern China had begun.
The China Experience
Living and studying in China for the last five years has been instructive.” I see what can be achieved over time. Being in Jamaica, you are not exposed to what is possible”. And although it has not been easy, Sashalee has used this experience to think of all the possibilities now open to her. She is exceptionally grateful for the chance to attain her academic and career goal. She describes one of her journey’s highlights as the encounter with her mentor Morlette Cowan, CEO of Adopt A Destiny. What she describes as the “unseen costs” of education can be problematic, and it can be awkward to keep going back to your main sponsor, who has already covered tuition, to ask for things like school materials or meal support. The assistance from this encounter has been critical to her progress.
There is also recognition that the ongoing support of her main sponsor for her six years of study has been invaluable. As she enters her final year of Medical school, she is mindful of students who are where she was five years ago.
Preparing for the Future
While medicine is her main focus, Sashalee has as one of her dreams to establish a Chinese/Jamaican Language School, with Real Estate development also on the horizon. In the future, this doctor-in-waiting sees herself as a real example of what is possible.
“… All this, my progress, would not have been possible without the sponsorship I got to fund my studies. Also, sponsorship did not only solely fund my studies but also put me in an environment or a state of mind where I could see the bigger picture and open other doors. Most importantly, it gave me the motivation and the stability to stay focused and steady-headed so that I, Sashalee Natasha Beasley, a trying, determined, motivated Jamaican girl from humble beginnings, can soon lend a hand to other students needing help. And this keeps me going, the eagerness, the desperate need for success, simply so that I can help another.”