Ronald Ross: Making History
By Ruel Johnson
Guyana Chronicle
November 16, 2003

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This week, Pepperpot begins a series of articles on the best graduating students in each faculty of the University of Guyana's 2003 Graduation.

IF a name is anything to go by in the charting of a destiny, we can bet that Ronald Ross, Best Graduating Student in the Faculty of Health Sciences, has leagues to go in establishing himself in the science of medicine.

Just like his namesake, 1902 Nobel Laureate, Sir Ronald Ross (1857-1932), Ronald Edmundo Ross possesses an innate fascination with the intricacies of the human body and the diseases that affect it; like the prize-winning British doctor (credited for his seminal work on the transmission cycle of malaria), this young Guyanese med school graduate possesses the sort of unrelenting drive, balanced by a seemingly contradictory humility, that usually proves the formula for most who make it to the top.

Ronald was born on July 10, 1979 at the Port Mourant Hospital, the third child of Emanuel and Hyacinth Ross. He spent his first few years growing up in Whim, before his family moved to Nigg. At Nigg, Ronald attended Belvedere Primary School in the nearby village.

Ronald's father - now a retired Postmaster living in Madeleine Street, New Amsterdam - remembers his young son doing well all through his Primary school days.

"[Ronald] was bright since his Primary school days... He always brought first, except for perhaps one time when he brought second," Mr. Ross said in a telephone interview with Sunday Chronicle.

In 1990, his consistently high performance earned him a place at what was then the premier Secondary school in the country, President's College. Ross has this to say about his stay at the residential school: "President's College helped you to be independent from early on in life. It equipped you differently."

At President's College, Ronald Ross was a model student, according to the school's Principal Mr. Stanley Lewis. Lewis was promoted from Deputy Principal to Principal the year Ross graduated from his A-Level class.

He remembers Ronald as a dedicated and conscientious student, someone who enjoyed very good relations with both the student and staff at P.C.

"He wasn't just a bookworm," said Lewis, referring to Ross' participation in many of the extracurricular activities offered.

Offering his personal congratulations to the graduate, Principal Lewis saw Ross' achievements as part of trend of outstanding achievements by President's College alumni in recent years.

At President's College, Ross was constantly on the Honours Roll. He was in the top group at his CXC graduation in 1995, where he copped nine Subjects (eight Grade Ones, one Grade Two). In 1997, Ronald was not only the top student at President's College, but also shared the top spot in the country with Queen's College student, Faye Allicock, for which he received a President's Award.

With his four Grade A's in Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics, Ronald says that he knew then he wanted to go into the field of medicine.

He decided not to enter the University of Guyana immediately after graduation, opting for a job as a Customer Service Clerk and Teller at the New Amsterdam Branch of the Bank of Nova Scotia. He spent a year at the bank, leaving in August of 1998 to enter UG's School of Medicine.

Unlike most students entering the School, Ross was spared having to spend his first year in the faculty of Natural Sciences due to his exemplary A-Level grades.

Ronald says that the five years he spent at UGSM were both challenging and exciting.

"I always liked learning about the human body and diseases and treatment."

Now that he looks back at it, he sees the time as just flying by; two years on campus and three years at the Georgetown Public Hospital. He says that the first two years of intense theory didn't afford him too much time to get into the social life of the University, and the third was a sort of abrupt plunge into a completely different environment. He says that the last three years gave him the time to interact with a great many people.

During this time, Ronald also worked as a private tutor for the children of businesspeople and diplomats.

Fadia Khan, whose son Abdullah is currently being tutored by Ronald, has high praises for the young man who she refers to as `Ronnie'. Ronald has been Abdullah's CXC Math and Physics tutor since July of last year.

"Ronnie," says Mrs. Khan, "is quite a nice guy and very respectful. And has a lot of patience... He knows how to get stuff over."

She says that Abdullah's grades have improved greatly since Ronald has been teaching him.

Despite what must have been a busy schedule, both learning and teaching, Ronald Ross' own grades needed no improvement, not by much anyway. Out of the 35 courses required by the med school (an average of seven courses a year), Ronald received only thee B's.

This was enough to give him the Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.8 out of a possible 4.0, a figure unheard of in the history of UGSM says Ede Langevine, a former lecturer of Ross. It was no surprise therefore that Ronald Ross was up onstage at the University of Guyana's 37th Graduation Ceremony on Saturday, November 8, to collect the award for Best Graduating Student in the faculty of Health Sciences.

What are his immediate plans? Ronald Ross plans to spend the next year completing his internship, during which he will also be shopping around for an institution where he could go to undertake an undergraduate course. He says that he will most likely be going to UWI. He also plans to study for as many medical licensing exams as possible, so as to qualify himself to practise in practically any country he may wish to. His dream is to eventually become a specialist in cardiothoracic surgery.

As for his achievement, Ronald says emphatically that he could not have done it without the "abundant grace of God", tremendous support from his family and the encouragement of his lecturers at UG.