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.
“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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