First Published: 30th of July, 2020 by Patrick Carpen.
Following through with a childhood dream can be a challenge. We often get distracted. For many people, these fiery dreams simmer down to nothing more than amusing, sentimental, or entertaining stories of the past. Then there are the special few, who, through unmatched resolve and determination, work hard and make it happen. These are the ones who live their dreams and inspire others to do the same. Guyanese born Dr. Celia McConnel is one such story.
Born at Good Hope, Essequibo Coast to Neil and Loyla McConnell, Celia is the 7th of 8 siblings. She left the county of Essequibo with her family for the town of Georgetown when she was just three years old. There, she attended the Sacred Heart Primary School and later the Bishops’ High School.
At school, the young Celia was always active in extra curricular activities and was involved in the school’s choir and dance troupe. She played the violin, recorder and steel pan. On this note, it should be mentioned that Dr. Celia recently joined the Pantime Steel Orchestra in St. Lucia and is an active dancer with Salsa St. Lucia.
She was an active member of the Young Brigade and National Cadet Corps and recited the prayer for the nation at the Guyana’s 25th Independence Celebration at the National Park alongside the late President Hugh Desmond Hoyte.
From very early in her primary school life (Prep B in those days), Celia dreamed of becoming a medical doctor. She excelled academically throughout her primary and secondary school years and at age 16 applied to the University of Guyana to enter the pharmacy programme. This was supposed to be her entrance into the medical arena.
However at the time, she was told that she was too young for the programme and therefore recommended to do a diploma in medical technology. Uncertain of what it entailed, she took up
the challenge as her aim was to start in the field one way or another. She enjoyed working in the lab and eventually 2 years later, she applied to do medicine.
She remembers putting in a late application and being told by some friends that she won’t be selected as it was too late and a batch of students was already chosen. As God would have it, one day while at work in the lab, she received a call from the University of Guyana to arrange an interview. Well the rest is history.
Celia graduated with a credit in Medicine in 2001 and has served at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, the Victoria Hospital, and Tapion Hospital in St. Lucia. She is one of the founding members of the Junior Doctor’s Association at the Georgetown Public Hospital.
Celia currently runs her own private practice in St. Lucia and holds a postgraduate Diploma in Diabetes from the Cardiff University in Wales and a postgraduate certificate in Occupational Medicine from the Cardiff University as well.
She’s currently an active member of the St. Lucia Arthritis and Lupus Association and has served as its president for 2 years and vice president for another two. She became a member when she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. Her illness causes her to be in excruciating pain at times but she has managed to always look for the light at the end of the
tunnel and push past the pain with a smile. She’s always ready to give encouragement to someone who needs it.
A former bodybuilder in Guyana who participated competitively during her medical school years, Celia is also a member of the women’s hockey team of the Everest Cricket Club in Georgetown. She loves reading, hiking, going to the beach, and is well versed in Salsa and bachata dancing.
Dr. Celia is now a proud single mom to an adorable 9-year-old son who gives her all the encouragement she needs to juggle their daily activities. Her favorite quote is “the obstacle is the way.” Her advice to everyone is: see each challenge as a stepping stone to something greater. Above all, always seek peace and strive to be happy.
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