April - Ariana Duggan
Not even the constant threat of being homeless, the diagnosis of her mother with a mental illness, the death of her father and spells of illness, could dampen the spirit of now twenty-one year old, Ariana Duggan and a JMMB Joan Duncan Foundation scholar. This effervescent and mild-mannered young lady describes remains positive in the face of a mountain of challenges, and instead sees the experience as “character-building” stating, “challenges either make you into dust or refine you like a diamond; I chose to be refined.”
In spite of the tumultuous time faced by Ariana -which came to a crescendo during her preparation for Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE) - she achieved a commendable academic performance in CAPE; as evidenced by her being named the top performer in Caribbean Studies for her year group at St. Andrew High School for Girls and second place in Jamaica for History; coupled with school prizes for excellent performance in CAPE. Duggan was no stranger to the top of the podium, having copped the Good Performance Award for CSEC and prior to that, she was consistently listed on the Honour Roll.
The Answer to Her Prayers
In sharing how she has overcome some of the trials faced, she gives all credit to her strong faith in God. She believes He answered her prayers and gave her the strength to overcome. She goes further to describe her working at JMMB, and the subsequent change in fate as her ‘miracle.’
It was while working at JMMB Group’s head office in the financial analysis and control team (FACT), during her second stint as part of the Summer Employment programme, that Ariana’s prayers would be answered. Although accepted to read for a degree at the UWI, Mona, Ariana decided to defer her studies in 2015, due to the financial strain then being placed on her older brother, who had taken a minimum wage income job in order to shoulder the responsibility for providing for his family. Armed with faith in God to see her through her storm, Ariana decided to explore permanent employment opportunities at JMMB, which she secured a few months later as a relief cambio relief officer. The timing of the job was opportune, as her family received further threats of legal action, if they did not vacate their then home, just a month later.
Ariana admits that the change in her family situation, allowed her to become more responsible, noting, “I became the parent at home, I was now responsible for managing my household and helping to take care of my mother, while working.” The juggling act only intensified when she decided to resume studies in the 2016/17 academic year. Not daunted by the challenges faced, she maintained a positive outlook and decided to transform each challenge into an opportunity. Her secret to balancing the varying roles lie in her mastery of her time, incorporating exercise to boost her energy level, good nutrition and the strong support from friends and her church family from New Haven Seventh Day Adventist Church. She adds, the flexibility offered by JMMB has also made attending classes during the course of the work day easier.
Ariana’s seeming chance encounter at JMMB, in FACT, also helped to ignite a newfound desire to pursue a career in forensic accounting, although she initially had her sight set on becoming a human rights lawyer and advocate. She shares, “I never had a passion for accounting and in fact struggled with it during high school, as a result of
constant absence caused by unexplained illness. At the end of CXC, I was happy to turn my back on accounting, or at least so I thought.” While working as an intern with JMMB, she discovered the practical side of accounting was much more exciting than her introduction. It was through this exposure and change in fate that she decided to pursue a new career path. With the high levels of perceived corruption in the Jamaican society, Ariana is enthusiastic about her role in fighting crime from behind the scenes by tracking the source of criminal financing.
Ariana’s change of fate with the support of JMMB and her scholarship has allowed her to pursue her studies worry-free; while her brother has also been able to resume his studies on a part-time basis at UWI, Mona, with a major in accounting.
Contributing to the Good of Others
The resilient Ariana has remained undaunted by her financial and family situation and, instead, has channeled her energies into helping others. Confessing that, “I have always been one who found my identity and happiness in service to others…having myself been a product of others selflessly giving of their time and effort, (especially) when I was at my lowest.” She has assisted through her church as part of the hospital ministry, visiting the sick and praying with them, as well as facilitating at Sabbath School. In addition to the joy that giving brings for Ariana, she confesses that her involvement in voluntary service has provided personal growth and helped her to hone her time management skills.
Ariana’s journey over the last few years has been perplexing, however, she has not allowed her setbacks to define her; displaying the true spirit of the late Joan Duncan, whose mission was to contribute to the good of all those with whom she came into contact.