….Linden musician graduates with BSc after 11 years of trying
Chuck Yeager said, ‘You do what you can for as long as you can and when you finally can’t, you do the next big thing, you back up but you don’t give up.’ Linden musician Ronnel Gonsalves, has been backing up for 11 years. Last week, he graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations and this is a testimony that as long as you set your eyes on the prize, no matter how hard it is, no matter how long it takes, you can achieve anything you put your mind to.
His 11-year journey is not one of a smooth afternoon drive, scenic views and beer stops, but it was filled with huge potholes, dangerous turns, bad weather and lots and lots of tire punctures but finally, that long and tiring journey, has ended.
“I watched people I know come and finish their program before me and if that wasn’t enough I came so close to graduating with my batch and couldn’t because a course was outstanding,” he related. It all started in 2011, when Gonsalves started reading for his degree in Economics, but after sometime, he decided to switch courses since he felt he was not pursuing his true academic calling.
“So I started UG in 2011, I called quit on Economics because I was failing miserably and started International Relations after my brother died. It started off so nice and I started drifting again. I wanted to quit that as well,” he testified. His thought that IR would have been an easy shot was ‘gone with the wind’ when he started battling with low grades. “Work was getting heavy, I lost two jobs and my balance was going way off, a whole big bag of mess. Crying bitter tears instead of studying for my finals because I was over it,” he shared. Being the Christian he was, he tried praying and fasting but that did not work initially either. With the encouragement from friends and family, he decided not to give up completely, something that he has not regretted today. “My close friends would tell you how many times they had to call or prep me to not scrap UG and help pray because year after year, I graduating and it would never reach….every year was me year….man it was from doing one course three times because I kept failing it no matter how hard I studied…to having to pay for an exam one hour before it started and going and do it and still fail,” he jokingly summed up his journey.
He said he is not ashamed of the few Fs he scored on his profile but as the rejected stone became the chief corner stone, those Fs were building blocks to his eventual success. He described them as scars that motivated him to do better. It got so bad at one point for Gonsalves, that he questioned his intellectual ability, which resulted in him plunging into depression thinking about how no matter how hard he tried, he was not achieving academic success. “I even remember a good side of it, is that I got some real nice grades in between, the first time I got an A, I felt like I was the smartest person ever,” he joked.
At the end of it all, he credited persistence, determination and a positive mindset for his success, not forgetting prayers and encouragement from friends. His encouragement to those who are experiencing setbacks and may want to quit, is to trust the process.
“Finding God and finding strength in seasons like these, can be difficult but He always promises to never leave nor forsake us and I proved it! Be encouraged…it doesn’t have to be academics but whatever you start, pray about it, fast about it and even if you fail, come again and come harder, stronger and change your angle of attacking the situation and know that God is with you and you will finish it.”