SHAYAL Devi breezed through high school and with each year she felt she was inching closer to her life-long dream of becoming a journalist.
But last week, after receiving her Seventh Form results, the former Natabua High School student went through a reality check common to those from similar backgrounds.
"I consider myself a good student. I scored more than 300 but like most of my friends from poor backgrounds, our only chances of tertiary education will be through scholarships," she said.
"I want to be a journalist and would like to further my education but without a scholarship this would be impossible."
"My ideal world would be that every student over 300 get a scholarship. It would be a shame for such academically gifted children to be left to waste after all those years of parents investing in their education.
"Scholarships is a worthwhile investment that we would be put to good use in the future," she explained.
The 18-year-old former Natabua High School student, says her technician father's eyesight has failed him and he has struggled over the years to support her and her younger brother's education.
An optimist, Shayal said she would continue to pursue her dreams, no matter how long it took.
"If I don't get a scholarship then I would like to work, and if I am lucky enough to find a job then I will save, save and save for my studies."
"I found out that PSC (Public Service Commission) and Multi -Ethnic scholarships don't offer scholarships for Journalism or Media studies so that's tough for me," she said.
Aware of the barriers, Shayal revealed that she still went ahead and applied for a place in all three prominent tertiary institutes in the country.
"I applied anyway to study journalism because that's the field that I love and I want a career out of it," she added.
Some people said she was wasting her time when she filled out the form but she sees their lack of faith as just another obstacle.
"The only obstacle that I see now is what people say. Some people hear about what I want to become, and they say that it's not realistic and sometimes word goes back to my parents and they tell me things like "Why can't you be a teacher or an accountant or something like that?"
"But I just tell them that this is what I want and I'm going to get there no matter how long it takes."
A baby step it may be, but she thinks her high school experience of dabbling in the 2012 Kaila! Design Your Own School Newspaper Competition has paved the way for her to persist with her ambitions.
The winning editor said putting the Natabua High School newspaper together while studying for an all important national exam was "very challenging".
"A lot of students did not show much interest in putting the paper together. I was approached by our head boy who asked me if I was interested in being the editor of the school newspaper and I said "yes". I've always loved reading and writing. At the start of high school, my career goal was always changing from wanting to be a doctor, to wanting to become a marine biologist and then I found out that I wasn't all that interested in science even though I chose those subjects.
"I hated physics and I would skip physics class to put the paper together," she adds with a laugh.
Her sacrifice paid off when she was awarded the title late last year, giving her an opportunity to work with the award-winning Kaila staff.
"I was really happy when we won this title and I guess it all came down to the sacrifices that we put in for our paper."
As a Best Young Writer, Shayal's prize was a weeklong stint at the The Fiji Times Lautoka bureau.
"After this week, now I am just fixed on becoming a journalist. I will do all I can and pray as hard as I can that this will be made possible".