Monday, October 25, 2021


Shantar Bruce

Tourism Manager

University of the West Indies; Centre for Hotel and Tourism Management

When I was a child, I was obsessed with becoming a Midwife. I was captivated by TV series such as One Born Every Minute, The Midwife or any medical TV show I could find. I would often mix chemicals that I found in the house; and one time I’d almost caused myself to become unconscious when I concocted dangerous chemicals. Thereafter, chemist was a house name. I believed that I was destined to be a midwife but destiny had another path for me.

I left Goodwood High School in 2010, anxious to start my career after receiving an acceptance letter from the Ministry of Health in 2010. My mother and I had set sail to Trinidad to complete my official documents. To my dismay, they could not have enrolled me into the nursing programme because they realized that I was only seventeen (17) years old, months shy from the legal required age. My heart sunk to the floor. I was disappointed but I was still hopeful. I enrolled in the sixth form programme at Goodwood High School from 2010-2012, and at the end of my tenure there, I received a scholarship to pursue an Associate’s Degree in Tourism Studies at the Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute (THTI). I accepted the call, regardless it wasn’t my dream. After completing my studies in November 2014. It was evident that my island would benefit from me pursuing a degree in Tourism Management as a career. I had fallen in love with the field and was determined to pursue it relentlessly.

In 2015, I signed up to pursue a B.Sc with the University of the West Indies, Center for Hotel and Tourism Management (UWI; CHTM); with the intent to start that semester. However, I had to postpone my studies due to a lack of funds and was worried about studying in the Bahamas without a clear source of income. Even though my mother encouraged me and tried her best to sway me that she would take care of things, I simply wasn’t persuaded. I was not poised enough to leave my beloved country to go out into the unknown, not having an inkling of an idea where my next meal would come from. I took a year off and started a small business in order to raise capital to be able to afford school comfortably. By the next year on Wednesday August 24th, 2016 to be exact, I walked down the aisle and heard those magical words…. “This is your captain speaking”.  Right there and then, a new chapter in my life budded.

Travelling to uncharted waters to pursue my dream didn’t come without a hefty price.

Just a little over a month studying in the Bahamas the islands were hit by Hurricane Matthew; a category four (4) hurricane, which ravaged the islands. I was left without water, electricity and a stable place to shelter for one (1) month. My apartment was damaged by the strong hurricane winds, thus making it unsuitable to live in. With no service, little food and no pipe borne water, I felt like I was starring on the TV show Survival. With no contact to family, friends or the Government for assistance, I was left to rely on my fellow classmates. After a few weeks, I finally got in contact with my family who assisted me as much as they could. I was not yet in partnership with the Tobago House of Assembly Financial Assistance Programme. I then tried to contact the Government for assistance but to no avail. In total, there were twelve (12) nationals from Trinidad and Tobago.

When I thought that my challenges were over, it seemed like they had just begun. I faced so many health scares at school. It felt like just before every end of term exam, I would fall terribly ill. I remembered in my third semester, it was a regular Sunday, the day before my exams commenced. I got an acute ear ache that came out from nowhere, which made it impossible for me to concentrate. I stumbled upon a plethora of difficulties while pursuing my passion; whether it be financial, personal or encountering snags while attaining a goal. One academic goal was to pass my Financial Management class, which at the time seemed like a Goliath in my life that placed a spoke in my wheel. I was determined to not just barely pass but to slay that giant. With hard work, dedication to the cause, resilience, persistence, time and a lot of extra classes. I wasn’t only able to pass the class, I also emerged as one of the top students. Every brick that was thrown at me, was used to build a firm foundation.

I didn’t have to fight any battles, God fought them all for me. God was my fortress and guiding light. My mother, immediate family and small circle of friends remained my standard bearers in and out of time and seasons. They supported me, lifted me up and were my biggest cheerleaders and confidants. Thanks to my mother, dear friends and the Department of Advanced Training and Advisory Services (DATAS) and myself of course. I was able to complete my studies debt free.

To persons interested in pursuing their dream, I urge you to cultivate a mind that encourages free thought, inspires ideas and fertilizes innovation and be empowered to imagine creative solutions to problems. Just remember that your track record for surviving bad days is 100%. 

Be bold enough to face it. Be courageous enough to overcome your fears and be strong enough to know that trials won’t last

When passion drives you, let reason hold the reins. Two roads diverged into the wood, but I could not travel both. One road looked very promising, fair and familiar, and perhaps the better claim. The other unknown and mysterious. I took the one less travelled and it has made all the difference. I may not be where I want to be, but thank God I am not where I used to be. I am still working on becoming a Tourism Guru. In time the chips will fall into place. Who knows, I may even pursue my first love! The only limit you have is the one you place on yourself.