Beautiful Virgin Islands

Saturday, Jan 28, 2023

Jahnia T. Harrigan overcomes ‘culture shock’ to excel in US school system

Jahnia T. Harrigan overcomes ‘culture shock’ to excel in US school system

Forced to relocate to the United States (US) after the devastating Hurricane Irma in September 2017, Virgin Islands student Jahnia T. Harrigan was faced with uncertainty and culture shock; however, the resilience of the Virgin Islander has seen Harrigan overcome and excel in the US public school system.

The 17-year-old Jahnia graduated from Union County Early College on May 11, 2022 summa cum laude as a member of the National Honor Society, President of Girl Up, and Student Leader of Our Minds Matter.

Forced to relocate to the United States after the devastating Hurricane Irma in September 2017, Virgin Islands student Jahnia T. Harrigan was faced with uncertainty and culture shock; however, the resilience of the Virgin Islander has seen Harrigan overcome and excel in the US public school system.


Highest honours


Jahnia also graduated from South Piedmont Community College on May 14, 2022 with an Associate in Arts summa cum laude as the Treasurer and Community Service Chair of the National Society of Leadership and Success and a member of Phi Theta Kappa.

Jahnia T. Harrigan, who hails from Sea Cows Bay in the Third District, started her early education at Century House Montessori and Cedar International School, before relocating to the mainland United States after the hurricanes in 2017.

‘Culture shock’


“It was a big culture shock,” Jahnia told Virgin Islands News Online (VINO), adding that she often felt like she was out of her element.

“I went from a small class to a class with hundreds of people. I went from seeing people I’d known since I was little to meeting a hundred new people a day.

“Of course, looking back, I worry that I spent so much time living in the past and focusing on what I’d left behind. I think I tried my best. It was hard to lose everything I’d ever known in the blink of an eye.”

‘Humanitarian @ heart’


Jahnia said she constantly heard that the move to the US was about her future and “what’s best for the version of me five years down the line, so I pushed forward.”

The Virgin Islander and ‘humanitarian at heart’, who volunteers her time mentoring others, now plans to attend university to eventually pursue a career as a dermatologist.

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