Andre Smith, a past student of Eltham High School in the Spanish Town area of St Catherine, does not only talk about giving back.
He has been awarding outstanding students of his alma mater although he graduated from there in 2007, and no longer lives in Jamaica.
The young philanthropist took a quantum leap in 2017 when he founded the Andre Smith Achiever Award at Eltham High School, initially using personal funds.
“This award came about because of my own experience dealing with hardship and the strong support I received from my high school teacher Mrs. Newman who believed in me,” Andre told The Beacon.
He stated that the first beneficiary of his award programme – a female student, received J$8,000 for outstanding performance in business.
The following year, he awarded not just one, but two students – a male and a female. Each received J$10,000 and a plaque for outstanding performances.
Andre, this year, further increased the cash award, giving approximately J$40,000 each to a male and a female student.
He said the award was increased significantly this year partly because his friends, a few past students of Eltham High, and his co-workers in Canada bought into the initiative.
Andre, this year, also launched a mentorship programme for the award recipients.
“I provide one-on-one career guidance and support in accessing information about migrating and post-secondary studies. This initiative is having a real impact,” he said.
Andre declared that he has no intention to stop giving back to the school that helped to mould him.
He added: “As part of my commitment to make the award better, I have established a formal application process and an Achiever Award Committee to ensure that the application process is transparent, unbiased and providing each student with an equal chance of being awarded. I also established formal criteria and guidelines to evaluate applicants.”
It is no surprise that Andre is a stickler for success. He, after all, has had his fair share of it.
He graduated from Eltham High School with seven CSEC subjects, and later pursued CAPE at Pre-University.
Andre eventually left Jamaica and attended York University where he obtained a degree in Accounting.
He is now in process of becoming a Chartered Professional Accountant.
Andre, who was the first member of his immediate family to graduate from university, grew up with his maternal grandmother and two siblings on St. John’s Road in Spanish Town.
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