From Poverty To PhD

Harcourt Fuller, the eighth of nine children born to Ashley Fuller (a painter) and Jennifer Johnson (a homemaker), of Crescent Road, in lower St Andrew, did not attend any of the much-venerated preparatory and traditional high schools here in Jamaica. Greenwich Primary, off Spanish Town Road, and Trench Town Comprehensive High schools are the institutions that laid the foundation for him. Now, he has recently earned a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in international history from the London School of Economics (LSE), England.

“My parents instilled in their children, from an early age, the importance of a sound education as a necessary tool to overcome the hardship and adversity of growing up in the vibrant, but volatile Kingston 13 community. This wisdom has guided me over the years,” said Fuller, who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. He also credits Trench Town Comprehensive for reinforcing the importance of strong academic values as well as practical life skills.

Fuller obviously had listened to his parents and teachers, for his academic achievements are far superior than many who had attended ‘brand-name’ schools and should serve as an inspiration to Grade Six Achievement Test students who are placed at non-traditional high schools. The lesson here is: It is not where you attend school, but what you have made of your opportunities. And, it seems he had milked every ounce out of what was presented to him, despite periods of great hardship.

For, in addition to his PhD, Fuller has a certificate in Latin American studies from The City College of New York (CCNY)/City University of New York (CUNY); an associate degree in liberal arts and sciences from LaGuardia Community College/CUNY; a Bachelor of Arts in international studies, CCNY; a Master of Arts in history, with a concentration on Latin America, CCNY, in Harlem; and a Master of Science in the history of international relations from LSE.

His preoccupation with international history, however, is a far departure from what he wanted to pursue as a career. At Trench Town, the youngster who dreamed of becoming a chemical engineer, studied the sciences, eventually getting good grades in chemistry, agricultural science and geography, which, along with Spanish, were his favourite subjects. It was when he was participating in a study-abroad programme in the Dominican Republic during his final year at LaGuardia, and visiting the capital Santo Domingo, that he rekindled his love for travelling and the study of different cultures and histories. Read complete story at The Gleaner

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