Visually-impaired teenager Samuel Williams has been chosen as the Express Youth of the Year 2017.
His story melted hearts of readers who celebrated his courage, determination and strength of character, proving that there are no limitations to what one can achieve.
Samuel, of San Juan, successfully wrote the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) examination last year and passed for his school of choice, St Anthony's College, an institution known for its academic excellence.
Samuel attended the School for Blind Children in Santa Cruz, which had to be accommodated at the National Library and Information System Authority (Nalis) in Port of Spain because of issues with the school.
Though there were constant disruptions, Samuel's teacher Ms Ramnarine and his mother Alicia Modeste helped him with his studies. According to his mother, Samuel's school teacher bought him a tablet and sent school work and voice notes for him to keep updated.
Putting aside her own health issues, Modeste, a domestic worker, found herself researching educational work whenever the school was closed to further help her son.
Samuel's motto was: “Don't ever give up on your dreams even if it may be far away, it can be closer than you think.”
Ultimately it was this attitude and his will to pursue his secondary school education that led him to ace the dreaded examination.
Samuel gained 91 marks in English language, 15 in creative writing and 54 in mathematics.
He scored equal or higher than 69 per cent of the boys who wrote the examination.
Individuals rally to help
After the Express broke the story about the blind boy who nailed his SEA examination, many groups and individuals, including visually-impaired university student Anil Waite, the St Vincent de Paul Society, and Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh, reached out to assist Samuel in furthering his studies.
Deyalsingh purchased all his school materials and was able to gift Samuel with a specially modified laptop and other special technical equipment aimed at making schooling easier for him.
The Health Minister even gave the assurance that he would continue to help Samuel during his school years whether or not he was a parliamentarian.
Deyalsingh has since assigned a teaching aide to him, and St Anthony's College officials rallied around him in helping to make his school experience easier.
Samuel is the school's first visually-impaired pupil and, as such, the school has made structural adjustments to accommodate him.
Principal Maurice Inniss had previously said that many of Samuel's classmates had volunteered to help the young man, thereby introducing a “buddy system” to the school, showing the school's spirit and unity.
Not only is Samuel a brilliant child with a bright future, but he is also a gifted musician as he has won the Lenore Scholarship Award. He is a self-taught musician, and plays the piano and pan.
Samuel's dream is to become a meteorologist one day and intends on furthering his studies to fulfil his goals.