Earlier this month, a Grenadian finally realised her dream when she graduated from the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, with her Doctorate in Pharmacy.
From her childhood, Esther Leah Strachan nee Joseph, who now resides in New York, was fascinated with the medicines and how they were able to “find the exact part of the body that was sick and bring relief.”
“As a child it was mind boggling how a medication, for example ‘phensic’, knew where the pain was in my body, go there, and relieve me,” she said many years later, acknowledging the contribution of the Canada Save the Children Fund (CANSAVE) in supporting her educational development during her secondary school years. It was that lingering curiosity that ultimately led her to pursue a career in Pharmacology.
Leah, the name that stuck with her at home, had a knack for the sciences when she attended the St. Joseph’s Convent in Grenville, and was always pondering longingly about a career in medicine but did not have access to the financial resources needed to take her through university following her success at secondary school.
The only occupation I could envision was ‘Doctor’ and no one had the money to send me to medical school,” she recalls after a struggle with math. She finally had it in her grasp when she took evening classes at the Grenada Boys Secondary School.
Having conquered that obstacle, she studied computer programming in Jamaica, returning to Grenada to take up a post with the Government of Grenada in the then newly established National Computer Centre.
“It was a good career choice, but I never gave up on what I really wanted, what I dreamed about,” she declared.
She stayed with the Computer Centre for a few years and then migrated to the United States, where she got the opportunity to move the spark of her dream into a full-fledged flame, and began studies in Pharmacy.
In 1996 she graduated from the Bronx Community College with an Associate Degree in Applied Science (pre-pharmacy), then in 1999 she gained her Bachelor’s Degree in Pharmacy from Long Island University in New York. She had now put the building blocks for the realizing her dreams in place.
She then took a long break from school to follow other interests, including marriage and family.
This month, in Gainesville, Florida, Leah finally touched the finished line with her Doctorate in Pharmacy. She credits her faith in God and the patience of her husband and two sons, for this achievement as she followed her life’s motto, ‘All the way my Saviour leads me’. At last… Dr. Strachan.
“I never stopped dreaming and I never gave up on the faith I had in God that this day will be possible. It all paid off. The support, understanding and encouragement I received from my family has been tremendous. It is just the end of one journey and the beginning of another step toward destiny”, she said.
Dr. Strachan notes the importance of remembering “your roots” and pledges to find ways to support Grenadian children, whose dreams and aspirations are stifled by financial challenges.
She pays special tribute to her first grade teacher Mrs. Joan Charles–Burke of the Belair Government School (now deceased) and Mr. Orleans John, retired school inspector with the Dept of Education and family member.