A young woman’s passion for law

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Top of Shayla Reid’s agenda for 2019 is to enroll as a student at the University of Law in England and to start her journey as an advocate for justice.

Entering the legal profession is a goal the 18-year-old Manchester High School upper sixth former, who exhibits a wisdom and focus beyond her years, has been nurturing for some time.

So intentional about her desired career path, Reid told the Jamaica Observer that her study routine is not only knowing what is on the syllabus for the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE), which she started in lower sixth form, but making the decision to read more extensively.

“(For CAPE law) we are only required to know the name of the (legal) Acts, but I read them. I want to practise criminal law, hopefully in Jamaica or England. I keep abreast of the British legal system for comparison purposes and to assess where we (Jamaica) can develop,” she said.

Reid said she dedicatedly checks the Supreme Court roster to see when criminal attorneys she admires are in court and to get more hands-on knowledge of the legal system, she has taken the initiative to volunteer at a law firm after school.

Though having a full schedule of her own, she said that she also assist her peers with law and other subjects as necessary.

Reid’s efforts have been bearing fruit, as she proudly holds the recognition of being placed second in the Caribbean for law in CAPE Unit 1.

“I was elated when I heard the law result. I was always aiming to be the best of the best in law. I want to become a lawyer because I have a passion for developing society and to change some of the social constructs that we have. I want to be a Queen’s Counsel,” she said.

Reid said that while Jamaica’s criminal justice system is burdened, it is not as corrupt as members of the public perceive it, and she wants to be a professional who is known for being transparent and accountable.

The high achiever entered sixth form with 12 passes at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) level and in addition to excelling at CAPE Law Unit 1 in lower sixth form, she also performed creditably in Management of Business, Sociology, Integrated Mathematics and Economics, for which she is also a top student at Manchester High.

Come August, she is looking forward to continuing her excellent record with passes in CAPE Law Unit 2, Economics, Management of Business, Sociology, Caribbean Studies and Communication Studies when the results are out.

Funding for her studies, Reid said, is always on her mind, particularly to attend school in England.

She is, however, comforted by the wise words of her parents to just continue working hard and achieving, as that is what will make her a competitive candidate for any possible source of funding that might be available for her to pursue tertiary studies.

“She is excited about her life (and her education),” Reid’s mother, Merna Reynolds-Reid, told the Sunday Observer, adding that based on her daughter’s mannerisms, manifested from age three, an uncle felt that she had what it took to enter the legal profession.

Now that she is heading in that direction, she said that she would love for her to get the chance to achieve her goal.

Reid is currently in communication with the University of Law for a scholarship, has provisional acceptance to the University of the West Indies, Mona and is exploring other possibilities for her education as she solidifies her plans for the future.

Her mother said though academics is important, ensuring that her daughter is well-adjusted and self-sufficient is also essential and she feels positive that she will remain focused while attending school abroad.

To create the balance, Reid has chores at home, has summer and Christmas jobs and undertakes extra-curricular activities.

The capabilities she demonstrated from early earned her the leadership role of head girl at Emmanuel Preparatory School in Mandeville, where she was valedictorian and was awarded as top Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) student at her graduation.

At Manchester High, Reid is a member of the team and vice-president of the Debating Society, former secretary of Girl Guides, a member of the Key Club, a member of the Modern Language Club and was a member of Television Jamaica’s All Together Sing competition when the school choir won for the first time.

Driven by the need for constant self-improvement and being a step ahead, she said that she tries to find social groups with persons older than her who are seeking to create change and find solutions.

Though keen on becoming a lawyer, Reid said that she does not see herself ever just having a single career and also expressed an interest in politics and as a personal trainer.

Her easy laughter during the Sunday Observer interview, and generally pleasant persona, were indications of her dynamic personality and one who is willing to take life’s curved balls in strides.

Not surprisingly, she advised that an important element of any young person deciding on a career path is to choose an area in which they know they can be happy giving of their time and effort.







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