The Current

How a teacher who impeded Joyce Graham Fogwill as a child changed her life for the better

She would not have made it as a college instructor if not for this turning point in her education.
Joyce Graham Fogwill would not have made it as a college instructor if not for a turning point in her education. She shares her story in our series, Moments of Disruption. (Courtesy of Joyce Graham Fogwill )

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Joyce Graham Fogwill says a teacher who tried to obstruct her chance at getting an education inadvertently set her on a path to attain graduate degrees in science, education and public affairs. The event happened when she was just 11-years-old.

Fogwill grew up in Jamaica under the care of a guardian. Though she excelled academically, she was poor and did not have the means to pay for secondary education.

There was a single scholarship that represented what she thought was her only hope of further education after elementary school, but her teacher at the school refused to allow her to write the exam. 

"I have no idea, and nobody knew why," says Joyce. 

But a principal at the school encouraged her to apply for a more competitive scholarship — which she won.   

"She blocked me from doing what I thought was going to be my only pathway to an education...she put me on an alternate pathway and this alternate pathway allowed me to have my education, my career and the life I have now." 

Follow The Current's ongoing series, The Disruptors for more stories on how a moment of disruption changed everything.

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Ines Colabrese and Josh Bloch.