The University of the West Indies (The UWI) Graduand De Avion Daniel says she began her journey at The UWI with her passion for both science and makeup with the intention to combine them in the future by opening a laboratory to create cosmetic products. She says that she loves to use her hands to produce works of art and while pursuing her degree, she started her own business by creating paintings for sale and teaching art classes to children.
While many young girls look forward to important milestones in their lives such as their engagement, wedding day or even motherhood, De Avion Daniel has always anticipated her university graduation day. “I have always envisioned crossing the stage in my gown with my family in the crowd cheering me on” she explained.
However, she never imagined when commencing her journey to this day, unforeseen circumstances such as the COVID-19 pandemic, online classes, online exams and even virtual graduations would root itself into her day-to-day reality. She also shared one of the biggest unexpected events in her life, “most interestingly of all, I never imagined completing my final semester while pregnant”.
De Avion embarked on her journey at The University of the West Indies (The UWI) St. Augustine Campus with her passion for both science and makeup with the intention to combine them in the future by opening a laboratory to create cosmetic products. She describes herself as a creator, “I love using my hands to produce works of art and I am able to do so inside and outside of the lab. Creating comes naturally to me, as art helped me to express myself when I was child, after the loss of my father. It is my true language.” As a result, while pursuing her degree she started her own business by creating paintings for sale and teaching art classes to children.
Delving into art has opened many doors to the creative world for De Avion allowing her art to be featured at the CARIFESTA XIV art exhibition and the Rotunda Exhibition at the Red House. She has also networked within the music and fashion industry, collaborating with esteemed producers, musicians, and designers to create wearable art and music videos as a means of integrating her skills as a painter. “Eventually, I plan to merge my scientific side with my visual arts side by creating eco-friendly art materials. I also plan to connect and collaborate with companies and NGOs to promote art in community safe spaces for children,” said De Avion.
Recounting her journey to academic success De Avion believes that she has been able to juggle her love and passion for art with her passion for scientific and academic pursuits at The UWI. She however admitted, “The real challenge came when I discovered I was pregnant on the cusp of my last semester at the university.” Despite this unforeseen circumstance, with a strong support system she was able to adapt and succeed. “This success I gained definitely required a strong mind, trust in God, unceasing prayer, and grit. It also required a team who offered enormous support. Without my family and friends, I do not think the results would have been the same,” explained De Avion.
Her journey to graduation especially entering her last semester at five months pregnant was not an easy one as her exhaustion was coupled with nausea which made this time almost overwhelming. She was swamped with a host of projects, lab reports, assignments, and exams to complete but once again another strong support system helped her to the finish line. “My friends would assist me with my assignments or laboratory work, and we leaned on each other and learned from each other as we maneuvered through our responsibilities at school,” she recalled.
Apart from this, De Avion’s pride kept her going as she must complete anything she sets out to accomplish. She recognised the importance of seeing this through until the end. “I was already four years into my degree, and I had to leave with my degree in hand. I kept reassuring myself of my abilities and my tenacity and picturing the face of my unborn baby gave me all the motivation I needed. I knew that this accomplishment would not only aid in the betterment of my life, but also the life of my child and the success of my family unit,” she said with determination.
De Avion wishes that her story can motivate others who may find it difficult to find inspiration in these unpredictable times, “I hope to inspire young mothers who may have the misconception that their goals have to be put on pause.” She is now a biologist, artist, and mother. “Today, at 22 years of age, I can proudly say that I have not only successfully achieved one milestone of obtaining my BSc. Biology with specialisations in Microbiology and Biotechnology (Hons). I have also achieved the milestone of motherhood. I am proud of both of my babies, and I am looking forward to the next piece of art my hands will create,” said De Avion.
The UWI 2021 Virtual Graduation Ceremonies will be held this Thursday, Friday and Saturday, October 28th to 30th 2021. Each ceremony will be broadcasted live via UWItv.