Guyanese student achieves first class honours in top UK university
By John Mair in London
February 20, 2007
Queen's College old boy Charles Ramson, son of the eponymous former attorney general, has just passed his undergraduate exams with flying colours. Ramson achieved a First Class Honours degree in Law (with the highest marks in intellectual property law) at the private University of Bucking-ham in England. Ramson was awarded the Merit Prize offered for the student with 'good all-round performance academically and who has also made an important contribution to the life of the University'. He is now studying for an LLM at the same university which he is due to finish in the autumn followed by law school and admittance to the UK Bar. Then, he plans to transfer his skills to Guy-ana. The younger Ramson has brought great pride to his father, also a UK law graduate and now Senior Counsel, and his godfather the eminent SC, jurist and author Ashton Chase.
He put his success down to genetic factors and parental guidance. "My father always taught me when I was younger that there are 'no secrets or shortcuts, only hard work' and that 'everyone can party hard, but not everyone can work hard'. Those lessons have stuck with me and would account for much of my success throughout my life," Ramson said. "Simply by understanding that the possibility of attaining one of my life's dreams was within the grasp of my fingers meant that my drive was relentless."
Ramson Jnr -'Chuckie' to his friends - left Guyana for Buckingham two and a half years ago and did not return until last Christmas. He concentrated on his studies with few distractions. Buckingham is rather a special university: the only private one in Britain. Courses are catapulted into long semesters with very brief vacations. The university was set up a quarter of a century ago by allies of then education secretary Margaret Thatcher who went on to be prime minister. Fees are not cheap. Its student clientele tend to be multinational and, frankly, rather rich. But, nestling in the sub Cotswolds of the English countryside, Buckingham is an idyllic place to study. Just 1,000 students. Most happy. Last year it came top of the National Student Satisfaction Study for British universities. Ramson, who as well as studying hard spent a year as president of the Students Union was quoted in the press at the time as saying: "This university is simply great. Buckingham University embraces the individuality of each student and understands the 'trueness' of the learning experience. Choosing to come here has been one of the best decisions of my entire life. Here every student matters - period."
Buckingham University student life can be monk like. There are very few distractions in this small market town. The flesh pots of Milton Keynes and London are, usually, out of touching distance. Students learn to be self sufficient, Ramson recalls.
"Living and studying here has been anything but easy. I am responsible for all my quotidian activities such as cooking, cleaning, shopping, laundry, so having to balance this and my rather demanding school and co-curricular timetable has been a real challenge."
But the stuff of everyday life has not interfered with his ultimate aim. "Nevertheless, I understand that to acknowledge that the pursuit of my dream is difficult or even daunting is, however, not reason enough for abandonment. Many have done it [including my father and Godfather Ashton Chase] and many continue to do it."
The Young Ramson threw himself fully into Bucking-ham student life both intellectually and on the cricket field. It has brought extra-curricular rewards. "I was the president of the Students Union; secretary of the International Society; a member of the Economist (magazine) Club; captain of the university's cricket team; a member of the Law School's Basketball team and I used to play for Buckingham Town's cricket first team. Just a few days ago I was offered the position of Student Assistant Editor of the Denning Law Journal," is his check list of achievements outside the classroom.
The course did not involve just academic law but included visits to the warehouses we call prisons. One, last November, to Grendon Underwood close by to Buckingham. It is a model prison and had a profound effect on the Barrister manquÃ© as he wrote in the student newspaper at the time: "We have all been 'Grendoned' and found the day life-changing, mind-changing, emotional, challenging, humbling and unforgettable. Murderers, rapists, paedophiles and violent offenders commit heinous crimes and leave behind many victims but underneath the labels and stigma we discovered distressed, broken men. Grendon is humanity!"
What now for this student who has brought honour to his family - in addition to father Charles ('Bonnie' to his many friends) mother Leila and sister Shakti? Like so many others before, is he going to cut and run to the First World and seek fame and fortune there? His navel string (and his future) he says are firmly back in Guyana and, at least initially, in the Croal street (and Everest CC) offices of the family firm. "Guyana is home and I love Guyana desperately. So my intention is to return to make my contribution in whatever way I can. Guyana obviously suffers because of the 'brain-drain' but we have all got to make our contribution to the place that so many of us, both in Guyana and across the world, call 'sweet, sweet Guyana'," he said.
Watch this space. Ramson has risen to the very top in the UK. Only the second or third Guyanese ever to have achieved first class honours in law at a UK university, the sky's now the limit for this young man. How long before he trades in that small bureau in Croal street for a bigger and better suite of offices in New Garden or Carmichael Streets?