Nov 14, 2017
In life, most people face setbacks. It is up to people whether they will continue to fall
back or to be strong and make a great comeback.
It took Leroy Phillips great strength to turn what was a setback when he first learned of his condition, into a powerful message. He can now inspire others in the future.
Leroy first learned that he was visually impaired when he was six years old. He learned this in a painful way, when his teacher sent him home because he could not perform like the other students in the class. Little did she know that little Leroy, at the time, could not see properly.
“I only discovered the reality of what really was happening to me at the age of 10 or 11 because when I got blind, I kept doing the things children would do; running wild in the streets, playing with friends and so on,” he said.
His family tried to find a way to correct his sight but could not. He was enrolled at the Blind Unit in the compound of the St. Rose’s High School afterwards. He was among the first set of blind students who wrote the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC). He wrote English, Principles of Business, Human and Social Biology, Office Administration and Social Studies at the CSEC level.
Leroy decided to further his studies at the University of Guyana (UG) by pursuing Communications Studies following his CSEC passes.
Leroy graduated at the 51st Convocation of the University of Guyana with a Diploma in Communications Studies under the Faculty of Social Sciences. Throughout his studies at the University of Guyana, the Ministry of Education has been sponsoring him.
Leroy currently works at National Communications Network (NCN) as a producer and broadcaster. Leroy also holds a prestigious position as the Public Relations Officer of the Guyana Blind Cricket Team. Leroy won the Queen’s Young Leader Award from England’s Queen Elizabeth in 2015 for being an outstanding young leader in the Commonwealth Community.
“When it comes to role models, I have several of them but one that stands out in my mind is Julie Lewis, who is also blind and is a senior announcer producer at the Nation Communications Network (NCN). She gives me the motivation to keep doing what I do within the same profession.
“From time to time, I get a lot of advice and encouragement from her while I am being a radio producer and studying at the University of Guyana as well. So I think she significantly contributed to what I have accomplished in 2017, graduating with a Diploma.”
As Leroy gracefully walked the stage as a university graduate, there was a thunderous cheering from the audience. Some persons even cried at that moment to see him accomplish his goal. Nyvin John, one of the students from Leroy’s Diploma in Communication Studies Program remarked “It was impressive.”
He noted that he is extremely happy for Leroy’s achievement and he continued to say “I think that every blind student that goes to UG deserves a scholarship for their desire to improve their lives.” Leroy hopes to further his studies in the future and will not let being visually impaired stop him. He is also striving to remain a youth advocate for the disability community.
“I still believe the University of Guyana holistically could do more and should do more to properly accommodate and provide for the accessibility needs of persons with disability needs attending the campus, because we are seeing progress in small strides within the disability community.
“And university staff cannot sit back and not even think or believe that persons with disabilities would necessarily be going on campus to do nothing at all because we have good news or bad news for them, persons with disabilities will make their way on campus to advance themselves and we want the University of Guyana to prepare for those people, to prepare for us, through consultations with the disability community.”