Kira Defreitas was one of the warmest persons I had ever come across. She was angelic in nature, had a smile that lit up a room and a charm she was oblivious to; I instantly gravitated to her easy-going, down-to-earth, girl-next-door personality.
Best of all, the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College (SALCC) student was as bright as ever, making it hard to not like her.
After writing the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination last year, the Choiseul Secondary School (C.S.S.) graduate became the island’s top student, landing her fifth position on the 2017 CSEC Regional Merit List.
Funny enough, she never knew. At least, not until she attended the National Awards of Excellence in January this year!
“When the organization contacted my mother, I assumed that the award I would be receiving was for Economics,” she admitted, reliving the moment.
“I’m not sure if my mom kept it a secret. I just sat there waiting to hear my name, but there was another girl who was second in the region and she ended up getting the Economics award,” she explained, adding that she later asked an attendee who was seated next to herto borrow her leaflet.
Whilst sifting through the leaflet, she realized that she would receive the awards for Principles of Business, Human and Social Biology, Electronic Document Preparation and Management, as well as the Overall Top Performer Award.
“I was proud and overwhelmed with emotion; I did not expect it,” she told me.
Kira, 17, has always been a ‘bookworm’ and is teased constantly by her friends because of it. At her alma mater, she performed outstandingly, topping each form throughout her years at the school, even topping the school at times.
“I tried to balance my education. I was a member of the Young Leaders club and I was president for a year,” Kira said, describing her years at C.S.S.
“I also took part in sports. I love sports but the feeling is not mutual,” she said good-naturedly.
At Delcer Combined R.C. School, she also stood out and was the school’s top Common Entrance performer in her year.
But how did it happen? How did she become the individual that she is today?
Says Kira, “Growing up,my parents always taught my sister and I the value of education, perhaps unintentionally at times: my mom is a teacher and my dad is a police officer and they both work hard and just seeing who they are made me want tobe successful like them,” she said adding that her sister, too, grew up performing well.
Discipline is crucial on the journey to success, she stressed, adding that students must set time for play and work.
Believe it or not, she is a TV junkie who follows so many showsshe “can’t keep up.” ‘The Flash’, ‘Arrow’, ‘The Blacklist’, ‘Criminal Minds’—you name it, it’s all on her list.
But make no mistake, she knows how to balance her time and uses it wisely.
“I put it all asidefor CSEC,” she said.
“I scheduled everything so I didn’t spend too much time or too little time on one thing and I started studying early. Don’t leave everything for the last minute as you don’t want to get overwhelmed later,” she advised students.
Kira, who hails from Choiseul, also had words of encouragement for students who are struggling with school work.
“Apply yourself,continue to work hard and don’t ever give up.Just because someone else is doing better than youdoesn’t mean that you’re not doing well.Keep trying, eventually you will reap the rewards of working hard,” she said, adding that a good support system is necessary.
Kira is currently studying Biology, Chemistry and Economics at SALCC and hasn’t pin-pointed what she wants to pursue just yet, but there’s no doubt that the student is well on her way to success.