As the maxims go, “nothing good comes easy,” “no pain no gain” and “there’s light at the end of the tunnel,” life has not been a “bed of roses” for tenacious Vincentian student athlete Sheldeen Joseph.
Through it all, though — financial and other hardships — Joseph has persevered, graduating on May 23 – not just with an ordinary bachelor’s degree but with a Bachelor of Science degree, with honors (magna cum laude), in Criminal Justice, with a concentration in Community-based Corrections, from Bowie State University in Maryland.
Her grade point average (GPA) was 3.71 out of a possible 4.0.
Unable to sustain herself financially, much less pay for tuition, books and boarding, Joseph, who will turn 24 on July 4, relied primarily on the benevolence of Vincentians in the United States, including the humanitarian James Cordice, the pioneer of St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ participation in the illustrious Penn Relays in Philadelphia, Pa.
“Ever since going to Bowie (State University) — after all the troubles financially and otherwise — I made a goal to graduate from Bowie State with honors,” the national basketball star told Caribbean Life Sunday evening in an exclusive interview. “I made that challenge for myself, and I went ahead and achieved it.
“Over the four years in the United States, I have grown into a smart, intelligent and strong young woman,” added Joseph, a former student at St. Joseph’s Convent Marriaqua and Emmanuel High School Mesopotamia in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. “Year after year, I found myself in a situation that determines my strength and faith with God. Either, I had to choose whether to give up or keep fighting. I always choose to fight.
“I left home with the mind set to make something out of the opportunity that’s in front of me, and I did just that,” Joseph continued. “I formed relationships with my professors and many other staff and faculty members. I flocked with them just to eat up all the knowledge that they had to share.”
The Philadelphia-based Cordice said Joseph’s fighting spirit should be an inspiration for many of the nation’s youth facing adversity.
“Despite all the things I’ve learned Sheldeen has gone through — financially, emotionally, just every day struggle of even wanting to get out of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, breaking through the zone when you know you can do more — it’s amazing for the energy she brings,” he told Caribbean Life. “She’s strong and competitive,” he added. “You just want to help a person like that. I feel good about her accomplishments.”
Cordice said he and his friend and associate Kylla Herbert had driven for three hours from Philadelphia to witness Joseph’s graduation ceremony.
“Sheldeen told me that when she looked up at the stadium and saw the Vincy flag, and saw me, she came alive,” he said, stating that he had promised Joseph that he was committed to seeing her achieve her dream.
“Sheldeen wants to help people,” Cordice added. “She wants to give back to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. That’s what she really wants.”