FEATURE STORY

From Rustic Rural PATHways…Jamaican ‘Country Boy’ now Poised for Prosperity

October 13, 2016

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Chevano Baker and Govenor-General Sir Patrick Allen at Baker's appointment as JN Foundation Legacy Scholar.


From the village of Clones in Jamaica to the prestigious Univeristy of Birmingham, UK, Chevano Baker has high expectations for his future and the future of his country.

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.


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Chevano Baker outside the University of Birmingham Library, UK


" My vision is to see Jamaica free of burdensome debt and become a fully developed country with a prosperous economy. "

Chevano Baker

Past PATH Beneficiary

Financed by the World Bank, PATH is a conditional cash transfer initiative helping to lift more than half a million of the most vulnerable Jamaicans out of poverty. The most recent expansion in the PATH program enables similar support to nearly two-thirds of the country’s poorest children, and to enrich ‘Steps to Work,’ a companion program to groom PATH participants for better employment opportunities by honing life skills and delivering entrepreneurship training.

Having received a helping hand from PATH, and with his eyes fixed on tertiary education as a ticket out of persistent poverty, Chevano Baker was able to chalk up an impressive record of achievements in academics, co-curricular and social endeavours which catapulted him to being accepted into the undergraduate degree program in Actuarial Science at the University of the West Indies (UWI). Moving to Kingston was just the beginning of another three turbulent years of filling in the financial gaps, while doubling down to complete the course with first class honours.

Driven once again by challenging circumstances, Chevano bridged the gaps of potential frustration with community service and honing his leadership skills. It was here that he also developed a heightened social consciousness by augmenting his core studies with electives in macro and micro economics. It was the blend of achievements and interests that allowed him this past summer to land the prestigious Legacy scholarship from the JN Foundation to cover tuition, travel and accommodation in Birmingham.

From a beginning as a beneficiary of the national safety net, Chevano Baker now has his eyes and mind set on helping to render programs like PATH redundant within his lifetime.

 


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