BVI News

Defying the odds | Differently abled local earns diploma

Joshua Lawrence

By Esther Durand, BVI News Journalist

A 19-year-old differently abled local has defied the odds and has successfully earned his high school diploma with an extraordinary 3.29 Grade Point Average.

Joshua Lawrence, who now has his eyes set on becoming a pilot, said his journey has not been easy.

At the age of two, he was diagnosed with traits of autism and had to undergo speech therapy. His education has been a challenge since.

Lawrence had to ferry from Tortola to Virgin Gorda daily to attend a school where he could get the special attention he desperately needed to learn.

His formative years were spent at the First Impressions Pre-School on Tortola and The Valley Day School in Virgin Gorda.

At five years old, Lawrence would make weekly trips to Puerto Rico to attend a supplemental learning centre called Sylvan Learning.

And after being rejected from local secondary schools on Tortola, Lawrence became enrolled in an online private school in the United States called Forest Trail Academy.

For years, he worked from a virtual classroom set up in his mother’s office.

And with a determined spirit and unending support from family, Lawrence completed his high school courses.


To mark the remarkable success, his mother Einstein Samuels recently put on a personal graduation ceremony for the star pupil inside UP’s Cineplex in Road Town.

Education Minister Myron Walwyn was invited to present his certificate.

Education Minister Myron Walwyn hands Joshua Lawrence his high school diploma.

“As I receive my high school diploma today, I am very grateful to God. School wasn’t always easy,” said Lawrence.

“Whenever I received below 70 percent, I was always given a second chance to redo. I had excellent teachers who always explained the work to me.”

He further described online education as an incredible experience.

“My teachers and my classmates — even though I haven’t met them — were caring and extraordinary,” Lawrence said.


According to the differently abled teen, one of his challenges was having slow internet service. He also recalled memorable moments at high school.

“One of the coolest events for me was the time former First Lady Michelle Obama presented the ‘let’s move on lesson’ to my class.”

“She told us we could each start kitchen gardens and eat healthily. It was unbelievable!”

Lawrence enjoys playing tennis and musical instruments such as the guitar and violin.

He is also on his third belt in Kung Fu and has started on his quest to become a pilot. He has done several flying programmes since 2015.

The teen is now doing online certification courses in comics and animation.

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  1. WOW says:

    AWESOME! Congrats Joshua. Keep pressing on.

  2. Bills says:

    Congratulation to my cousin.

  3. Tom says:

    Admirable! I wish you greater success Lawrence. God’s blessings!

  4. :) says:

    CONGRATULATIONS – What an amazing story!

  5. Congrats says:

    This is so sweet! Congrats Joshua! God bless you!!

  6. Laura says:

    Awesome, awesome story!There is nothing stopping you reaching the stars now Joshua…keep pushing on.

    This should be an inspiration for many who think they couldn’t/shouldn’t push for their high school diploma, it is never too late no matter the age or difficulty.

  7. Vi says:

    This is GREAT news!! Congrats Josh and Einstein!

  8. OUTSTANDING says:

    CONGRATULATIONS young man!!!

  9. BLESSED says:

    God Bless You ALWAYS You Man

  10. Concern says:

    Congrats to this young man, I was truly moved by this story …

  11. Congrats says:

    Congrats Joshua!!! Really proud of you!!! Keep up the good work!!!

  12. Kangaroo Jackie Chan says:

    Brilliant and amazing! Congrats young man and to his mom as well! He made a very interesting point – that it was difficult even more due to the lag in internet speed – another failure by MCW and a big let down to all our students still struggling with the poor service available.

    TRC where are you? ….the youth of the BVI are being short changed by these neck-tie gangsters in government!

  13. WONDERFUL says:

    Now this is news worth posting! Awesome Joshua, you have done an excellent job and I know you will continue to strive even higher. This is a beautiful story!

  14. Love says:

    I love reports like this. A applaud him for his persistence and wish him only the best in his pursuit of becoming a pilot

  15. Paco says:

    That’s a graduation I would have love to attend. All the best young sir.

  16. Awesome says:

    Congratulations, I love hearing sucess stories. Good luck.

  17. Dedication says:

    Wow!!!Dedicated parents and committed and self driven child equal accomplishments and goals

  18. 2HMBPRZ says:

    Congrats to the Lawrence Family! Well done Joshua; the best is yet to come! Thank you Einstein for being the real deal; a MOTHER WHO DOES NOT GIVE UP! 2HMBPRZ!

  19. brings tears to my eyes says:

    Your success has just begun.

  20. Sky says:

    This is awesome, good work young man, and thanks to his family and friends who never gave up!

  21. Inspirational says:

    WOW!! this story is such a heart warming and inspirational one. No matter what disability one is born with they can always push forward and excel with the right support team. Kudos to his mom

  22. Well Done says:

    Well Done young man and whilst you probably achieved more by doing a home school program, shame on the BVI for not having adaptive programs for children like this. How can a child be turned away from school? Mind boggling that the BVI education system allows such discrimination.

  23. thanks says:

    WOW!! I love this. Thanks VINO for not posting any negative comments and taking our the like/dislike button. Keep it so for all stories

  24. SCB Gurl says:

    It’s actually BVI News and NOT VINO, who published this heartwarming story. Congrats to Lawrence

  25. Jeanne Justice says:

    Joshua, congratulations to you and to your family for this remarkable effort. 1st, in refusing to accept the denial of your needs. And 2nd, in the relentless pursuit of the means to fully develop your capabilities.

  26. Peter says:

    Awww this is inspiring. Congrats young man and kudos to his mom. This story is incredible we all need a chance in life.

  27. Local says:

    Congrats keep working on,your dreams

  28. Guy hill says:

    Always continue to do your very best son. Be bless. Be brave. Be safe.

  29. Me says:

    Love this congrats Joshua god bless you in your future quest

  30. gwen says:

    DETERMINATION. Well done! the sky is the limit.

  31. Please! says:

    BVI school system is failure students who learn differently. If he did have a tenacious mother he would have fallen by the way side like all the others who now hang on the corner because the educators failed to realize now all students learn the same way.

    • Please! says:

      Correcting Grammar to make my point clear:

      BVI school system is failing students who learn differently. If he did NOT have a tenacious mother, he would have fallen by the way side like all the others who now hang on the corner because the educators failed to realize now all students learn the same way.

      Congrats Mommy!

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