At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic two years ago, 18-year-old Justeena Rhone seized the opportunity to earn money selling newspapers, fulfilling her dream of saving up to become a cardiothoracic surgeon.
Every Sunday for the past two years, the high-achieving sixth form student from Manchester High in Mandeville has toured the town as Gleaner saleswoman, earning enough, she says, to buy personal and school items and invest in her future.
The former Bishop Gibson High student said she initially took the plunge to earn spending money, but pushed harder when she realized she could offset the financial obligations of his parents, especially his mother.
That “little” Sunday job not only brought in some welcome cash, but taught her about financial responsibility, she said.
“I was nervous at first wondering what people would say, but I gained confidence knowing it was my honest bread and I was making money legally, unlike many others” , said the teenager in a Gleaner interview.
Serious about long-term investing and independent, Rhone said she’s in the preliminary stages of investing her earnings in the stock market. She also explores forex trading.
“…I could have more for college so the load would be lighter on my parents. I am also still working hard in school to get a scholarship to make my dreams come true…” Rhone said.
“Sometimes it gets tough with school and stuff, and I feel like I can’t do it, but I remember there are those who are motivated by me, so I persevere.”
Although she began to excel academically at an early age, Rhone truly thrived during her years at Grove Town Elementary School.
This streak of excellence continued at Bishop Gibson High, where she earned numerous class, subject, and grade level honors for several years.
But the road to the top was bumpy and the journey fraught with personal trials.
“Once I was bullied because of my lips and was told there was nothing more to me than my intelligence, and I started to believe that first and second year,” she said.
“But then I realized there was so much more for me. I’m versatile, I have great networking skills, that’s why I became an ambassador for my school and represented them at several events.
Having already scored ones and twos in eight Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate subjects, with A profiles in science, Rhone is awaiting the results of the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination tests she took in grade 12.
Rhone’s big ambitions are not just for herself. It is in honor of his mother, as well as an older brother who died of sickle cell disease.
The death of her brother prompted her to do research to help other sickles.
“My mum couldn’t finish Manchester High so I want her to live that dream through me,” she said.
A physics lover who likes to solve problems, Rhone said applying critical thinking skills will help her achieve her life goals.
A peer counselor, executive member of Bridge Builder, United Nations Club and Red Cross Society mentoring groups, Rhone wears many hats, including church roles as assistant director of Adventist youth, assistant secretary of communications and assistant director of children.
She also aspires to study law.
Rhone urges young people to never give up on their academic goals.
“If you put God first, everything will fall into place,” the 18-year-old said.
“People may ask why I want to do so much or if I can, but anything that doesn’t help you achieve your dreams is just noise. Don’t listen to it.