The road to success was tough and treacherous for 24-year-old Ardo Spaulding, who recently graduated from the University of the West Indies with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Management Studies, majoring in Accounting.
The young scholar told The Beacon that, when he was 13 years old, his mother Marcia Newby was ‘innocently’ gunned down during a clash between warring factions in the inner-city community of Parade Gardens, commonly called Tel-a-viv and South Side.
He, there and then, promised his mother that he would not be consumed by the demons that snatched her from his life.
“The promise I made to my mom was to never fall or become a part of the garrison statistics, but I would make something of my life so that I can change the generational cycle,” he said.
Spaulding stated that, to avoid derailing the promise, he opted to forgive whoever murdered his mother. He doesn’t even know if such persons have been convicted.
“I forgave my mother’s killers years ago, within my heart,” he told The Beacon.
Forgiving a mother’s killers is not an easy task; neither is childhood success after losing one’s sole breadwinner.
Spaulding, bent on keeping the promise, borrowed investment funds and took to the streets of Kingston to eke out a living.
“I borrowed money from one of my older brothers, and I did the vending from age 13 to roughly 19,” he explained. “The items I sold were toothbrush, wipes, combs, shoe polish, shoe brush and toothpick.”
With funds generated in the streets, Spaulding, a past-student of Holy Family Primary School, attended high school and pre-university.
He eventually graduated from Donald Quarrie High School with seven CSEC subjects administered by the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC).
Spaulding later attended Pre-University on the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies, leaving with three CAPE subjects (both Units of each).
“I sent myself through CXC and CAPE from vending in the streets of downtown Kingston,” he said.
Spaulding however noted that, during his struggles, he received help, for which he is eternally grateful. Some of the helping hands came from the Jamaica Social Investment Fund, Grace and Staff Community Development Foundation, and Verona Braham.
“She (Braham) was actually my primary school teacher and she had an impact from then, but she automatically became my mother-figure after the passing of my mom. She was there in every way possible that a mother should be,” Spaulding further told The Beacon.
With help, he attended the University of the West Indies where he attained his first degree.
Still keeping the promise, Spaulding, who intends to pursue other qualifications to become a chartered accountant, wants to be an inspiration especially for people who are poor, people who are victims of crime, and people who are tempted to become perpetrators of crime.
“Believe in yourselves and try your best to secure an education, because that is way better than criminality,” Spaulding told them. “We should develop a paramount level of determination and a conqueror’s spirit to conquer the obstacles we face,” he further advised.
By Horace Mills, Journalist