For some athletes, it is the sight of the finish line at the end of a race that gives that extra rush of adrenaline to dig deep and run faster, jump higher or swim harder.
Laron Harris is no athlete, but his determination to excel was grounded in what he thought would be his final attempt in the formal education system.
“It was always my plan to do my Masters and I wanted a post graduate degree that was in alignment with my current organization and career field. So, after scanning a number of graduate programmes, I decided that the Masters in Computer-Based Management Information Systems (CBMIS) was the best fit and that I was going to do my best, certainly much better than I had ever done before,” he said.
Laron completely immersed himself in the two-year programme and did so well that he was named Best Academic Performer of the CBMIS 2017/2018 cohort at the Mona School of Business and Management (MSBM), UWI, Mona.
“When I received the news of my achievement, I was initially shocked but later elated. I did not set out to achieve such an outstanding feat as top academic performer,” he exclaimed.
In fact, Laron was not a model high achiever; he was never the teacher’s favourite, or the consistent A-student and his academic performance during his undergraduate years at the University of the West Indies, Mona, won him no awards. However, during the Master’s programme he was determined to extract every bit of knowledge, so he worked hard through many late nights of study, while preparing for his full-time job the next morning.
“People sometimes have an idea of what you should be, or how much you can achieve, and sometimes you just have to break out of that box,” he said.
It was this drive to succeed and to prove to himself and others that he was more than ‘average’, which also earned him the award for Best Overall Academic Performance at MSBM.
“That was ‘the big one’. I had received awards prior to this, but I think of this as my greatest and most rewarding to-date,” said Laron.
His awards are proudly displayed at his parent’s house and is one of his mother’s favourite topics for discussion when she receives visitors. “My parents were overjoyed at hearing that I had done so well. They even went as far as to take out an ad in the newspaper,” Laron recalled, with a wide grin.
Laron attributes his success, in part, to his classmates and MSBM’s lecturers. “I am glad to have had a supportive cohort. We all helped each other out with study sessions and by sharing information and ideas. The lecturers made themselves accessible to us when we needed clarification. This was especially crucial with the final project, which was a group effort,” said Laron.
Alongside Sidoney Reid, Denene Salmon and Nesta Campbell, Laron’s group, Prolific Management Consulting Limited, also won the award for Best Final Project, which saw the team members gaining practical experience in developing a software solution for used car dealers with the capability to analyze motor vehicle trends, among other applications.
The CBMIS programme turned out to be the best choice for advanced studies, as Laron was able to put into practice what he had learnt in class each day on the job as a Software Quality Assurance Analyst. “My studies enabled me to perform in different roles, outside of my main position at work, which gave me the opportunity to develop new skills,” he said.
Since being named top of his class and realizing how hard work has unveiled his potential for growth, Laron is thinking of furthering his studies.
“This accomplishment confirms that I can challenge myself even more in my studies. But I want to do more of the practical work before returning to the classroom. For now, I will continue to contribute what I have learnt to my current job and assist in the development of my country; and, wherever my path may lead, I know it will involve using technology to make my country better, through greater efficiency and improved operations,” said the computer enthusiast.