Woman who struggled through school returns to motivate others

Christina Smith returned to school on Sunday – not as a student this time round, but as an experienced practical nurse with an inspiring message for a batch of female graduates.

Smith, who is now a practical nurse at the University Hospital of the West Indies, recalled commencing her studies in 2013 with no clear idea of how her tuition would have been covered.

“I started school with $500 and my school fee was over $100,000,” she noted, adding that she possessed only one uniform when she started Success Academy of Vocational Studies in Linstead, St. Catherine.

“When I started school, I only had one uniform. Every evening mi goh home, mi wash it. In the morning, I got up early and press it out. If mi nuh tell yuh seh is one uniform mi have, you wouldn’t know.”

The resident of Mount Rosser district in Ewarton, St. Catherine, further recalled missing a number of classes due to financial constraints.

Whenever she was absent, she ensured that she got notes from students and teachers.

Smith also spent a lot of time at Linstead Branch Library, trying to catch up.

“If yuh goh Linstead Library right now and call my name, everybody knows Cristina Smith,” she told the highly receptive graduation audience.

Smith further stated that, while she was still in nursing school, she got a weekend job as a caregiver for an elderly lady. That stint helped to cover some of her expenses.

“At the end [of nursing school] in 2015, I managed to clear off all my school fees and I was awarded my certified practical nursing diploma with honours. That, along with my working experience and other qualifications, landed me my current job at one of the island’s top hospitals,” Smith declared.

She noted that her childhood dream of being certified in the field of medicine did not happen overnight.

Prior to nursing school, Smith actually studied Business Administration at Lluidas Vale HEART Academy in St. Catherine. She also worked at Courts furniture store in Linstead.

Smith is a past student of Ewarton Primary and Charlemont High School.

She stated that, over the years, she has been heavily involved in community service, and is a member of the Jamaica Red Cross Society.

She, at one point, even mulled entering representational politics.

Smith, in giving the charge to 20 graduates at Success Academy, urged them to do what she has been doing.

“Trust in yourselves that you are ready for the roadblocks that may come in your way,” she said. 

“Know that, without a doubt, there will be roadblocks. When you hit one, do what I do – just take a deep breath, reassess your situation and your priorities, and determine what needs to be acted upon,” she further advised.


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