Pull Quote “You gotta eat, ain’t no shame in the game because I come from a place where you can do what you wanna do and be what you wanna be. Nobody can’t stop you. You’re in control of that. Nothing is impossible. You are in control of your own destiny, the only person who can break you is you and first of all, you must believe in the Most High, the Father, and you can’t do nothing without Him. Just do you, follow your heart and be what you want to be. Nobody but you can’t say you can’t.”
No matter what struggles come our way or whatever life throws at us, we must always push and push so hard that we break through all the barriers so that we get on the other side and can be proud of what we have overcome. No one knows pushing their limits and breaking barriers while crushing a couple of stereotypes like Amanda Mc Nichol does.
She is fearless, she is without boundaries and she is a trailblazer. She is proud and has every reason to be proud, because she has persevered in not only one but every aspect of her life. She is the epitome of a fearless woman, one without any ego and one with every bit of kindness.
You see, Amanda is not your average woman nor is she ever going to be your average woman because she feels as if she should not be placed in a box of what a woman should be, rather she feels as though it is time the mould of the stereotypical woman be broken and is doing everything in her power to shatter the proverbial glass ceiling.
The 33-year-old mother of one has been doing what are considered traditional men’s jobs for almost all of her adult life. With a passion for engineering, Amanda has done everything from construction to now driving a taxi. She has been driving a taxi for over five years and is attached to the N2N Taxi Service in Georgetown.
The only way to truly understand Amanda’s story is to thread back to where it all began. Growing up, according to her, was a joy in itself, since for her it was everything and a little more. She grew up in the heart of the city among family she adored. Everyone who grew up with their grandparents around knows that there is a certain level of discipline one receives, but there is also the certain level of joy one feels just to be loved by granny. Amanda had that since she lived on Norton Street with her mother, but granny was just next door on Princes Street which served as a good escape.
Education has always been on the fore of her life growing up and after she finished her secondary education at the St Mary’s High School, Amanda started the Computer Science Programme at the Government Technical Institute (GTI) and upon completion, she went on to the Critchlow Labour College for advanced studies in mathematics. However, despite all of that, Amanda felt some thing was lacking. Thirsty for an adventure, at 18, she packed up her belongings and hopped on a straight flight to Barbados to begin a new chapter in her adult life.
“I am a bit adventurous and that is how me becoming a taxi driver happened. I like to see different things and meet different people. I was still a teenager and that is how I ended up in Barbados. I like construction and engineering and Barbados is not a sexist place and they allow women to be themselves,” she said.
In Barbados, with no cap placed on her abilities, Amanda began pushing her boundaries. She explains that being in Barbados allowed her to explore, push and shatter boundaries.
“In Barbados, if you wanna turn spade, you can turn spade. You wanna hammer nail, you can hammer nail. That is what Barbados provides. Women can be what they wanna be, not like they will watch at you. Here (Guyana) is a bit more sexist than there. I did construction. I was a paint foreman for five years and controlled a workshop and made sure everything was perfect.”
Amanda worked in the construction industry with very few objections from the men there. She said that level of comfort allowed her to dominate her field and hone in on all the skills she had. She was allowed to perfect every skill she had and when the tide changed on the island, she knew her time was becoming limited there.
After the Government changed on the island and the arrest of Allen Stanford for fraud, the tourism industry in Barbados took a dip resulting in the loss of contracts and stalled work.
“It didn’t make sense that I were there and had to pay rent and the work is coming yes, but not as fast enough…so it didn’t make sense for me to stay there and do all of that, is best that I came home because home is home,” Amanda, who got pregnant and gave birth to a beautiful girl during her time in Barbados, said.
When she returned home, there was some amount of confusion before she actually settled in. However, it was not all smooth sailing even then, since Amanda thought she would be afforded the same respect working in a male-dominated field, but little did she know she was in for an unwelcome surprise. Amanda got a hard time getting work in construction since many men frowned upon her wanting to join them, because it was not the stereotypical woman’s job.
“Some would give me chances and trust me when I perform, I perform well and so. Still they see it challenging, because I was better than some and they wanted to pay me less. I value my talent and it is worth every dollar. I don’t do shabby work and it wasn’t working out,” Amanda explained.
It was then that a friend told her to put her licence and vehicle to work for her. She began scouting taxi bases and found the N2N Taxi Service where she has been working for over five years now and is now a manager.
You gotta eat, ain’t no shame in the game because I come from a place where you can do what you wanna do and be what you wanna be. Nobody can’t stop you. You’re in control of that. Nothing is impossible. You are in control of your own destiny, the only person who can break you is you and first of all, you must believe in the Most High, the Father, and you can’t do nothing without Him. Just do you, follow your heart and be what you want to be. Nobody but you can’t say you can’t,” she notes.
The passion to be a civil engineer is still burning inside of Amanda and she is ready to follow it. For now, she is focusing on shattering all the ceilings to make Guyana a better place for women with very few boundaries.