Christopher Knowles’ excellent Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) results and diverse background allowed him to be placed into the University of Miami’s (UM) Foote Fellows Honors Program which recognizes the most academically accomplished incoming first-year students.
Foote Fellows have distinguished themselves both inside and outside of the classroom at their previous schools, are self-motivated, and think independently. Admission is by invitation only.
Within the curricular framework, Foote Fellows, like Christopher, 17, enjoy unmatched freedom and flexibility to explore a multitude of educational resources. Many Foote Fellows leverage the opportunity to take additional majors and/or minors as well as to study abroad.
“I have access to smaller classes and the ability to shadow professionals in the field I choose,” said Christopher.
At each of the nine undergraduate schools and colleges at UM, a dedicated advisor helps Foote Fellows, like Christopher, chart their academic path and attain access to distinctive learning opportunities, such as special school-based seminars, faculty-mentored research, networking opportunities, and off-campus internships. Fellows also receive focused advising on post-baccalaureate distinguished fellowships and awards.
The son of Drs. Richelle and Ronald Knowles previously told The Nassau Guardian that he plans to focus in dermatology, with a sub-specialty in Mohs micrographic surgery (a specialized form of skin cancer surgery), in addition to allergy testing and desensitization. He has assisted his mom in her dermatology practice, and said he recognized the need to have the services available to the general public.
In the time he has been on campus, the Queen’s College graduate said he is finding university life “exciting” as he gets to meet people from diverse backgrounds and cultures.
“Since arriving at the University of Miami, I have been to the events the school had during orientation week. I especially enjoyed the international night where I met students from all over the world. I now have friends from Peru, Colombia, Nigeria, Jamaica and Trinidad, besides my American friends from different states.” He rooms with a New Yorker.
“It differs from high school because now I have no parents to wake me up or remind me of assignments due or to do errands for me. I have to be independent and submit my homework on time and get to class on time. I have to budget my own money and spending. However, my business Calm Breeze trained me well for this. Queen’s College was also good training and discipline for me with respect to submitting assignments, so the transition was much easier for me.”
Christopher, who has been referred to as a competitive overachiever, said his goal is set on continuing in that vein at university.
“My desire is to get the best GPA I can while I continue my passions of cooking and environmental awareness,” he said.
The teen also plans to donate his book on authentic Bahamian cuisine to the university’s library and show his new friends Bahamian cooking and culture. He also wants to donate his books on the environment to the marine biology department. Christopher also plans to do tutorials for his fellow students on how to self-publish a book and do their own editing and formatting.
“I believe I should share my skills and talents with others, so they can benefit from them. I believe many students have hidden passions and have books that they would like to write, and I plan to help and encourage others to become authors.”
It is also his intent to write more books on environmental awareness in addition to the six he has already published.
“I know how difficult it was for me to figure out how to produce a book and so, if I can help others bring their ideas to reality, I would love to assist. I would also encourage and assist others with any business ideas that they have, as I have experience in setting up my own successful business.”
Christopher plans to attend seminars UM offers in money management and marketing to help him as he expands his business.
“I also learn best by teaching others, so I will be applying for a tutoring position to earn pocket money while helping others, and reinforcing my existing knowledge.”
He also believes education is key to the success of any nation, and encourages his peers to take advantage of opportunities given by the Ministry of Education.
“I encourage my fellow peers to go on their [Ministry of Education] website and see the multitude of scholarships available to assist them in their future goals. Have a vision for your life and with the aid of God and belief in yourself, you can succeed in your endeavors and become the leader you were destined to be, and an agent of change to our future generation.”
Christopher said he is enjoying university life but has had his moments of hankering Bahamian food. He said there is nothing like his favorite greasy bag chicken or ribs dinner.
As he settles into post-secondary life, Christopher continues to celebrate his high school accomplishments after writing one BGCSE literature examination in 12th grade and achieving a B grade to bring his subjects passed total to 14.
He had previously written 13 BGCSEs in 11th grade and passed all with A grades obtained.
Passing 14 BGCSEs was something he had pushed himself to do to inspire other students, especially males.
Then, there’s the fact that he wanted to top the results of his former schoolmate Kamori Sawyer who also in 11th grade sat and attained 13 A grades for the senior external national examinations. Kamori, who went on to be named an All Bahamas Merit Scholar (ABMS) runner-up, also previously spoke to having been inspired by a friend whose sister took the same number of exams and got perfect grades.
“I wanted to set an example to show the youths in this nation – particularly the males – that you can achieve anything you set your mind to,” said Christopher. “Since I was inspired to be my best through her [Kamori’s] example, I am hoping that through my results, I can inspire others to excel and be their best. In this way, each successive year we can have a ripple effect of students inspiring other students. I hope to see other males excelling in the near future.”
Christopher accomplished his 13 A grades at the age of 16. He was awarded the Paul L. Adderley Award for the Best BGCSE Overall Performance in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas 2021, the Carol Hanna Award for the Best Overall Performance in the 2021 BGCSE Examinations – Independent Schools, Best Overall Performance in 2021 BGCSE Examinations from the island of New Providence and Top Score in The Bahamas in BGCSE Keyboarding Skills 2021.
While Christopher has an exceptional result, one student wrote 15 BGCSE exams in one sitting in 2020, and passed all with grades ranging from A to C, according to a Ministry of Education examination division official.
Christopher, who is in the pre-med program, said with dedication and hard work, a person can achieve their goals.
His advice to other students is to think outside the box, to not limit themselves, and surround themselves with like-minded people who can push them to achieve their true potential.
“I worked extremely hard for many years to achieve the 13 A’s and 1 B, obtaining the Carol Hanna Award, along with the required Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) 1,270 score. I also ensured I was diverse and well-rounded in what I have accomplished outside of school through my many passions and interests. It’s OK to challenge yourself. Explore your passions and excel in them.”
Christopher said he hopes to see someone achieve 14 A grades or 15 grades in the future.
“Nothing is impossible if you believe in yourself. I would like to thank God for giving me the aptitude and the inherent potential he placed inside me to [do what I did]. I feel overwhelmed and I understand the meaning now of the phrase ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. I could not have achieved this goal without the love and support of my parents, family, dedicated teachers and tutors, and the Queen’s College community.”
The teen, who graduated high school with a 3.9 cumulative grade point average (GPA) and scored 1,270 on his SAT has passions that are vast and varied, from photography to conservation, cooking and recipe creation, to writing books and playing golf.
In his senior year, Christopher took four AP courses – biology, calculus AB, human geography, and psychology; and two honors courses – chemistry and physics.
Christopher, who knows he is a competitive overachiever, said it’s in his DNA.
“It’s how God made me and that’s how I am wired to think. I always strive for excellence in everything that I do.”