Defying the Odds: a student’s journey from struggle to success


Courtesy of Jemima Brittlebank

Despite many challenges, Jemima Brittlebank managed to complete high school before attending San Jac.

“In general, with all of my situations, just knowing that there was always something good that came out of every situation helped me defy the odds. I may not have realized it initially, but there was always something good.”

San Jacinto College student Jemima Brittlebank’s inspiring words illustrate how she found hope and encouragement in her times of struggle.

She grew up in Guyana, South America with her family. After her mother’s death, Brittlebank moved from place to place and even country to country to live with family.

The person she is today illuminates the fact that a positive outlook on life can lift a person up to greater potential. She faced struggle after struggle and persevered.

“At the age of 5, I lost my mom in a car accident,” she said. “Still, to this day, it affects me. I know I’m supposed to have a mom.”

After her mother’s death and her father’s continued scarce presence, Brittlebank moved to the Caribbean to live with aunts and uncles who could support her at the time. The lack of stability was unsettling for her.

“It’s difficult not having someone there,” Brittlebank says, “who has known you from birth to talk to; especially going through my teenage years. My dad was there but wasn’t fatherly.”

With no one there to support her, she did a lot of learning solo, from cooking her meals to packing her lunches for school. Growing up, she raised herself sometimes – on top of constantly moving around.

“It hurt having to pick up and move and start all over again,” Brittlebank says, “especially because it was due to family situations dealing with my dad.”

Overcoming these obstacles one by one has been a difficult task for her.

“Just realizing that I do have a lot of female influences, who are there for me and who love and care for me, has helped me overcome,” she says. “The situations and the people who have entered my life have shaped the young lady I am today.”

Brittlebank says her positive outlook has been the cornerstone of helping her succeed. However, her struggle is not over yet. She is still a student and new challenges continue to present themselves.

“School, now that I’m in college is difficult. I’ve had to mature and take on responsibilities that I never really saw happening,” she says.

However, Brittlebank continues to rise. She is up in arms. She has experience under her belt, and she knows how to deal with these issues when they surface.

She is now working at Chase bank and is planning on graduating from University of Houston in the next few years. Putting herself through college and providing for herself has not been easy, but she is doing it.

“I wouldn’t change any situation I am in for anything,” Brittlebank says. “It’s made me more caring, aware, and responsible. It has made me more willing to help others in the same situations because I realize how much it can affect their life as well.”