For Chevano Baker, a 21 year old Jamaican, being enrolled at the prestigious University of Birmingham, UK, to pursue a Master’s degree in Financial Economics is ‘surreal'. It is a long way from home, and far beyond his expectations as a young boy in the remote, rustic, hill village of Clones in the mid-island parish of Manchester.
Reminiscing about his childhood, Baker credits the challenging socio-economic circumstances for his impeccable work ethic, the same dedication which has now landed him this new opportunity to shine. He reveals that despite the encumbrances of deprivation, his family lives by the credo that good health and education coupled with a spirit of enterprise was the best way to fuel a dream and keep hope alive.
Exposed to money matters, and the realities of work, from as early as three years old, he had a stint as a street child vendor on the weekend, while selling candies to his school mates during the week. He believes this experience has now made him a relentless achiever, and ultimately wants to share the gains afforded by this opportunity.
“An MSc from an international university will position me to become a trusted financial professional and nation builder,” Baker argues. “My vision is to see Jamaica free of burdensome debt and become a fully developed country with a prosperous economy,” he adds.
He speaks about the challenges of poverty first-hand since completing high school was largely attributed to his family’s enrollment in Jamaica’s Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH). It is designed to promote regular school attendance and utilization of the country’s free health care system as prerequisites for the payment of a monthly cash benefit. “Some of the PATH support was also in kind, like access to free lunches at the canteen,” he explained.