Photo provided by Shonoyalee Griffin

EDITOR’S NOTE: As Front Runner New Jersey expands into southern Ocean County, we will be introducing you to the outstanding people and organizations that make the area special and newsworthy. This story is part of our continuing coverage.

By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media

MANCHESTER TOWNSHIPShonoyalee Griffin has big dreams: pursuing an elementary school education degree with plans to earn a master’s in biochemistry and continue her love of science.

When officials at Ocean County College were asked about outstanding students on campus to profile, Griffin’s name surfaced quickly as a person we should be talking with. A native of Jamaica, she had to adjust to a new country, culture and schooling.

Griffin said, though, she believes that something big is on the horizon for her. And when she does get to face students as a teacher, she said her first advice for them will be to shine.

“To impact the future, I am hoping I can teach my future students that it’s okay to express your feelings,” Griffin told Front Runner New Jersey. “It’s okay to be bright and resilient. Sometimes things don’t work out the way you want them because something greater is in the works for you.

“Never ever let anyone dim your light because you’re shining brighter than them and always kill hatred with kindness. We are out of many, one people.” 

Photo provided by Shonoyalee Griffin.

Griffin counts her mother, Leticia Forbes, as her motivating force. She said there isn’t a day that goes by where Forbes isn’t encouraging her and setting an example of what it takes to reach her goals.

“She’s a hard-working mother who works two jobs every day to make sure her kids lack nothing,” Griffin said. “With that drive and dedication I see in my mom, I replicate that with my studies to make sure I am the best I can be and make my mom proud.

“As a Jamaican, it is my dream to succeed and impact other young people that anything is possible with hard work and determination.”

Griffin and her family — mother and little sister — moved to Ocean County from Jamaica in 2018. She has said that while the move was an adjustment, she is grateful for the opportunities it has presented.

“Moving here was a drastic change from what I am used to,” Griffin said. “From the school wearing regular clothing to the time we get out. In Jamaica we wear uniforms and school starts 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. In Jersey it’s 7:30 a.m. to 1 pm. I’ve met some amazing people since I’ve moved here and I couldn’t be more thankful for them.”

The Rest of the Story

Griffin discussed numerous topics with Front Runner New Jersey.

FRNJ: Can you talk about why you decided to attend Ocean Community College and your future plans?

Shonoyalee Griffin: I chose Ocean County Community College because it was the smartest way to go to achieve my academic goals to success in the teaching profession. Ocean County College has given me the trial-and-error opportunity to find a career that best fits me and not just the degree. The future plans I have for myself are to pursue elementary education through science biology and someday go back and get my master’s in biochemistry. I have always had a passion for science and teaching. Impacting young lived has always been my dream. 

FRNJ: Do you see yourself as a role model? Why? How important are role models to you?

Photo provided by Shonoyalee Griffin.

Shonoyalee Griffin: As someone who was never the brightest in class, I would shy away from answering questions in a huge classroom setting because I was scared of being incorrect all the time. Yes, I do see myself as a role model because I am living proof that whatever you put your mind to you will be successful. Your success will not come when you want it to it’s when you least expect it. It has always been my dream to make an impact on younger kids. I want to share my authentic voice so others can share theirs. Role models are very important to me because they influence our actions, often in the form of imitation, and motivate us to try for the standards they have set and, sometimes, we might surpass the standards they set we just needed the impact of someone else. 

FRNJ: Anything else you’d like to add?

Shonoyalee Griffin: I’d like to add that patience is the key to success. It puts us in direct control of ourselves. Thank you so much for this amazing opportunity.

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