(TRINIDAD EXPRESS) – Two weeks before writing the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) examination, 12-year-old Keyona Alexander learned her father had been shot and killed.
The child was devastated.
Her parents were separated, but Keyona was well-loved, grandmother Sharon Gumbs-Roberts said.
“Just months before he died, Keyona had developed a strong bond with her dad. He would visit her more and they became close. After he died we surrounded her, encouraging her to go on and make her father proud. She is a brave girl.
“She cried for days and then she found some strength to go to the exam,” she said.
But what Keyona did not know was that while she was writing the exam that would change her life, her father was being laid to rest.
“We did not tell her about the funeral. We knew she would be heartbroken and may not be able to write the exam.
“So, we kept it a secret from her and allowed her to go brave and write the exam. And she did,” Gumbs-Roberts told the Express.
Keyona’s mother, Ayoka Roberts, told her about the funeral that evening. “She is a child who keeps things inside. We knew she was sad, but we had to protect her,” the grandmother said.
On Monday, Keyona was surrounded by her loved ones when she accessed the Ministry of Education’s online portal at her home in San Juan.
She had attended Febeau Government Primary and was described as an exemplary pupil.
Keyona passed for her first-choice school, ASJA Girls’ College in Charlieville.
“She got her results on the day of her mother’s birthday. It was exhilarating. Everyone began screaming and laughing and crying. She wished her dad was alive to keep the excitement,” Gumbs-Roberts said.
She said Keyona called her father’s relatives and shared the good news. They cried.
Keyona celebrated the achievement with a family dinner.
Gumbs-Roberts said her granddaughter was committed and worked hard to accomplish her goals.
“She started baking at age five. She likes to make cupcakes and would always turn to me to help her. Keyona’s success was a village effort. She was surrounded by love and prayers, and we will always be here for her,” she said.
Keyona’s father, Keon Alexander, was shot outside his home in Tunapuna on March 15. A police report stated the 34-year-old was found bleeding in the front yard by relatives. He died at the scene.