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Top Cambridge International student aspires to follow his father's footsteps

Updated: Mar 22, 2022

- Into the Hospitality sector

John McGrath

Born and raised on the East Coast of Demerara, 17 year old, School of the Nations student, John McGrath made history when he attained 99 out of 100 marks at the Cambridge International June 2021 English Language examinations.

This is the first time a Guyanese has topped the world.

McGrath explained that while growing up in his neighbourhood he didn’t have much company as he was surrounded by a lot of adults who were ambassadors and diplomats.

“However, the people who resided there opposite us, the building itself is owned by the US Embassy so how the diplomat is there they change whoever lives there so in my earlier life there I did have a six-year-old friend, her name is Theresa.”

He first attended the New Guyana School, then Queen’s College and then moved on to the School of the Nations.

John in his early days, attending the Queen's College

He explained that while attending school he was in the higher end of the grades but said he was not a top performer instead he was able to retain information easily.

This is why the news that he topped the world at the exam came as a surprise to him.

“I was at home working out and I had ear pods in my ears so I couldn’t hear anything so her face (John’s mom) was a bit worried for some reason but it was dark so I rushed inside to see what was happening and dad told me that the director called him and told him that Cambridge called him and I got the grade and at first I was really stunned.”

Preparing for the examination, the self-assured McGrath said, was a lot of work.

“My English professor would always give an essay or two to write and I always had English every day so five days a week every day and every night I was writing essays.”

2021 was the first year that this English exam was introduced, therefore McGrath said it was challenging having to sit this exam without many resources and noted also that there were days when he wanted to give up on his studies but his mom kept pushing him.

“Mom was always saying go for it, it’ll help you with future needs so she was always a big inspiration.”

The teenager said that even though he loves English he will follow his father’s footsteps in the Hospitality sector. John’s father owns and operates the Cara Lodge Hotel.

John, his mother and father

“I actually worked at the hotel for a couple of months earlier last year and I really enjoyed it and I said well it’s what I’m going to do.”

In his free time, the young man practices karate and has represented Guyana locally and internationally numerous times.

When asked for any words of wisdom he would like to impart on upcoming and future English students John said: “keep to the books but have fun it doesn’t make sense that you push and have no fun you have to make memories and let not all the memories be studying.”


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