Beacon of the day | Jamaican accountant, now in Canada, puts his struggles in a book

Andre Smith, an entrepreneur and chartered accountant, has attained dazzling heights.

That’s a far cry from St. John’s Road in Spanish Town, St. Catherine, where his maternal grandmother, Edna Thomas, struggled to raise him amid poverty and political violence.

Smith, understandably, decided to chronicle his life’s gripping details in a must-read publication titled: Living Purposefully Beyond The Walls Of The Ghetto.

The book, launched on December 6, can be purchased by clicking HERE.

Elaborating on his maiden publication, Smith told The Beacon: “The book highlights a lot of the struggles I went through in Spanish Town – and in Jamaica in general. It also highlights struggles I went through in Canada, and how I constantly overcame them to the point where I was able to find my purpose.”

His purpose, he said, is to be an inspiration to other people, and to help them become financially literate in order to attain wealth.

Smith stated that his challenges initially included a disinclination to tell his life story publicly.

He began shedding the diffidence after he, while visiting the United States, heard television star Kenya Barris recount overcoming embarrassment to start sharing his story openly.

“I recognized that all I had to do was just write and correct things [in the script] later on,” Smith said, adding that his first intimate contact with literature was during childhood when he started writing poems.

The rest is now history.

Smith said the response to his book has been positive. “The feedback that I’ve got to date is that the book is very powerful, so hopefully other people will also find it powerful.”

Without giving away too much of what lies between the pages, Smith, in an interview with The Beacon, recalled that poverty crashed his initial dream, which was to become a pilot.

He also recalled attending Friendship Primary School and Eltham High – both in Spanish Town.

“When I first got accepted at Eltham High, I literally cried, because I wanted to go to one of the top schools…” Smith said.

He grew to love the school, and eventually left there with seven CSEC subjects.

“When I look back on my journey at Eltham High, I think it has prepared me for the person I am today…,” Smith reasoned. “It doesn’t matter which school you go to. At the end of the day, if you work hard and you are consistent, you can achieve greatness.”

Smith later enrolled at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona.

He told The Beacon that, while at UWI, he responded to an ad regarding a student exchange programme. With the help of a scholarship, he successfully accessed the programme and left Jamaica to study for a year at the University of Toronto.

The experience in Canada was an eye-opener.

“Being in Canada opened my eyes to greater things and all the possibilities that existed,” Smith posited.

He, at the end of the one-year programme, returned to Jamaica, but eventually went back to Canada.

He told The Beacon that, upon returning to Canada, he was out of school for about two years until he applied to York University, where he pursued a degree in Accounting over a two-year period.

Despite what he described as the friendliness of the people in Canada, Smith struggled initially with culture shock and the ‘brutal coldness’ in relation to the climate. He also ended up accumulating a lot of debt, he said.

Having worked his way to stability, Smith, through philanthropy, has proven to be selfless.

He, for example, gives monetary awards annually to students of his alma Mater – Eltham High, through the Andre Smith Achiever Award.

Smith said: “Even though I am physically away from the ghetto, I still have that passion and inspiration to continue to help other youth who come from the ghetto. I am also very passionate about community development… I see myself running for political office here in Canada. I don’t know as yet which one, but I am eyeing all the options.”

Smith, in the meantime, encouraged Jamaicans abroad to share with others back home – if they are in a position to do so.

He reasoned: “Being in Canada, one of the things I recognized is that a lot of issues that we experience in Jamaica are not because of who we are as a people; it is because of what we don’t have as a people – the resources and opportunities that exist here in Canada.”

Smith is now married to Canadian-born Shannel McKenzie, who is of Jamaican parentage. The two wedded three years ago, but have been together for seven years. They have a two-year-old son, Nathan.

Smith noted: “I didn’t grow up with a father, and so I have to create the best version of myself possible that my son can have a role model to look up to.”

To read the gripping details of Smith’s life story, purchase a copy his book by clicking HERE.


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