The trinidad Guardian / Faith in God, dedication to studies and a supportive family have resulted in Veshala Goon scoring a hat-trick for her alma mater, Lakshmi Girls’ Hindu College, after she was announced as one of the two President’s Medal winners yesterday.

In an interview with the T&T Guardian yesterday, Goon said when she received the news around 1 pm she immediately burst into tears.

“I was in a store at the time and I start to cry. People were looking at me. I am so overjoyed. I did not expect to win. I didn’t think I could have won a President’s Medal…I still can’t believe it actually. I need a while for it to sink in,” Goon said.

She said she wrote the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) exams in Accounting, Management of Business, Economics, Caribbean Studies and Communication Studies. Saying her goal is to become a chartered accountant, Goon said she wants to further her studies at the University of Toronto.

“That’s my passion. I enjoy studying this. I don’t get bored and I find it really exciting. My dream school is the University of Toronto and I want to do finance there,” Goon said.

She said she also signed up for the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) programme and was expected to begin in January next year.

On her formula for success, she said prayer and continuous studies, adding that everyday she would commit an additional four consecutive hours to her school work.

The Tunapuna resident also hailed her mother Parbatee and father Naarad as her pillars of strength, saying their support was unwavering.

“They supported me everyday. My mom would cook for me to fuel my brain. My parents are very hard working. They never made me feel that I was lacking in any way,” Goon said.

On advice to students who found it difficult to cope with studies, she reiterated the key was prayer and having a strong support group such as parents.

“I would tell the parents to talk to their children and encourage them,” Goon said.

St Augustine Girls’ High School Saanjali Maharaj, who was also awarded a President’s Medal, echoed similar sentiments, saying her main focus was putting God first. Already a first-year engineering student at the University of Toronto, Maharaj said she was pleasantly surprised during her school’s graduation yesterday when Education Minister Anthony Garcia announced her achievement.

“I was really stunned and excited,” Maharaj said.

She said she has not yet chosen a particular field to specialise in as currently she is enjoying all aspects of engineering. But Maharaj said her focus was not only on academics, as she urged other students have a balance.

“The key is time management. I play the piano and guitar and also do classical Indian dance. That was really a great balance for me,” Maharaj said.

Her mother Sandra said she was humbled by her daughter’s achievement, as apart from the teachers at SAGHS she also thanked her pre-school and lessons teachers who laid a solid foundation for her daughter.

Lakshmi Girls’ Hindu College principal Sonia Mahase-Persad says the school’s success includes a high degree of pastoral care.

“We are not just driven by scholarships. We are driven to getting to know our children. Our teachers go out of their way to provide additional support…be it academic, social…any type of support our children need in order to help them reach their fullest potential. We genuinely care about our children. We do have a very close knit family-type atmosphere in this college and we are investing in the success of the children,” Mahase-Persad said.

She added there was also a strong link with the parents of the school.

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