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Late UWI student dreamed of being a doctor and a priest

News day / Last week Saturday, the couple attended a meeting of the Rotaract Club of Mt Hope and accepted the Paul Harris Fellow award on their son’s behalf. The award acknowledges individuals who contribute, or who have contributions made in their name. The family, together with the UWI medical faculty, had raised thousands of dollars towards the eradication of polio, which was Adrian’s dream.

The couple remembered their extraordinary son during a visit last week to the family’s home at Ana Street, Woodbrook. On the wall they had his shirt from medical school with a stethoscope.

His mother recalled when he was five years-old and attending Maria Regina Grade School, Port of Spain, he told her he wanted to be a priest. She told him he was her only child and she wanted grandchildren.

She said they gave their son a good upbringing and he was spiritually grounded and rooted deeply in his faith. She recalled he expressed a profound love for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for his church, St Patrick’s RC, Newtown where he was an altar server, and for the Bible.

She said he was close to priest Fr Esau Joseph who is also an anaesthetist; her son loved medicine and Joseph was one of his mentors. At a young age he decided he would become a doctor and then a priest later on. Shanti had a receipt he had written ten years ago where he wrote Dr Adrian Pujadas.

“From small he knew what he wanted to be. And we always encouraged him.” She said he was a contented child and she would buy him a $100 shoe instead of one costing $500 to go to school. When he was about ten years-old he asked for a cellular phone. She sat him down and explained the difference between needs and wants. Adrian responded that the phone was just a want and he could do without it.

She said people would trust him because he was focused and grounded and knew what he was about. “He always looked to help people.” Shanti recalled when he was small he would ask her how to serve God and she told him service to God is also service to man.

She also instilled in him that every day he met people he should impart something to them whether a smile, a word of wisdom or encouragement.

She recalled a doctor’s visit in September last year. While in the waiting room, a name was called and a lady in a wheelchair responded but had no one to take her in.

Adrian wheeled the lady, lifted her out of the wheelchair and into a seat and came back for her when the visit was finished. The doctor then came out to tell him about the prescription assuming the woman was his grandmother because of the tender way he treated her. She said this was an example of his caring and compassion which he had for people outside of his family.

Her son, she said, made parenting easy and they were never called into school for misbehaviour or for not doing well in academics. She added they had instilled in him that he should always share knowledge, have good people around you, and never look down at people as we are all God’s children.

In Maria Regina he would help fellow students with their sums during lunch time. At St Mary’s College he voluntarily gave of his time tutoring fellow students at the Form 6 level and participated in approximately 300 hours of community service while a school prefect over the two-year Form 6 period. At the 2015 CAPE exams he gained distinctions in mathematics, chemistry, biology and Caribbean studies and was awarded a national scholarship (additional) which secured entry to medical school at UWI, Mt Hope.

His father said when Adrian got the scholarship he told him that, apart from being proud of him, “you inspire me.” “It is the father who is supposed to inspire the son,” he added.

His son responded that without prayer it would not have been possible.

Adrian took a year off school and spent that time teaching his friends mathematics and other subjects. He started the UWI in September last year and continued his unofficial peer tutoring while also topping his class in the first semester. His mother said in the four months at the UWI he had an amazing impact on fellow students.

Some students were doing so badly they faced the prospect of not being able to continue but Adrian spent time teaching them and overall his class did well.

While attending the UWI he would frequently come home late.

His parents would later learn that it was because he would stay and wait with his friends, both male and female, until they were picked up.

“He was such a loving child,” his mother said.

His friends once told them that Adrian said he did not know the meaning of the word hate as he had never heard his parents say that.

“So much love he had and so much love given,” he said.

Also on Sundays he would go to UWI to assist an elderly person who had enrolled and was worried about failing. He would also go to the Mt Hope paediatric ward and read for children and would also make himself available to his father to help his grandparents at short notice.

Wendell said his son would quietly do these things and not tell them. His mother had instilled in him a mantra to “do good things in secret and silence.” Adrian died on January 20 this year in a vehicular accident which his father said was from a “bad drive.” His uncle and godfather Dirk, in his eulogy for Adrian, said they learned of the special bonds he built with fellow medical students in the few short months he attended medical school.

“Leadership skills were becoming more pronounced, that ability very few of us have to motivate and inspire others to be the best they can be.

The void created by his sudden passing is difficult to comprehend.

The source of relief is that he lived a fulfilled, happy and content life. We really had no idea of the countless people he impacted; your presence today supports that notion. No doubt about it, he was anointed, and would always hold a special place in our hearts.” At the UWI, he and his fellow students were working on a pamphlet about diabetes and they planned to dedicate it in his honour.

They held a birthday party for him in June and they had a big celebration.

His mother said she had never celebrated his birthday with a party before but he would receive a party for his 20th. His instructions to her was that there be no “old people.” “Poor thing didn’t get to see the birthday,” she lamented.

Wendell said they have accepted his death and, through it, he and his wife have become more spiritual.

He quoted the aphorism “It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” His mother said after his death, she spent a month counselling those affected by his death.

“I did not shed a tear when he died. Three weeks after, it sink in.

Not seeing him walk through the door and give me a hug and a kiss.” Wendell said many other parents had lost children and were grieving and he asked people to spare a thought and pray for them as well.

Adrian’s mother said they wanted to share their story to show the importance of being involved in your child’s life.

“Spend time with your children.

Know them. They are all you have in this world. They’re a part of you.”

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