Twenty-seven-year-old Uriah Smith is a young man with vast potential who is on the Vice President’s Committee of The Guild of Student’s Committee, Cultural Chairperson of Barbados Student Association, and Tournament Director for the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus Debating Society.
The student with a 3.2 GPA faces a hard and rough road ahead wherein three days’ time he may be once again homeless as he is set to be evicted from his dormitory at the University of The West Indies over an outstanding payment.
Uriah is the son of two immigrants and life has not been easy for him as he has had to cope with a life of abuse that led to him running away from home at the tender age of fourteen years old. While his father lives in Barbados, his mother does not.
Despite this, he has excelled as he has continuously placed first in his class and obtained seven CXC passes, graduated from the Barbados Community College Hospitality Institute, before being admitted to the University of The West Indies, Cave Hill Campus.
When he was admitted to the University of The West Indies, he was homeless and slept in available classrooms at the institution before he asked to be housed on the Frank Worrell Hall, a decision he made just to have a comfortable place to sleep. But he knew he could not afford to pay to stay there.
Therefore, this year, he is seeking to raise $10,000.00 to pay his outstanding debt to the University for his dorm, tuition fees, freighting cost, and a security deposit on an apartment he can find.
If not, once again he would once more be faced with no fixed place of abode. To make ends meet, Uriah worked at two part-times and sold cakes. Both jobs came to an end with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I was born to two immigrants in Barbados, and I have experienced xenophobia most of my life despite being a Bajan because of the way I looked. Being raised by people from different Caribbean regions has also contributed to my mannerisms and beliefs.
I am seen as being very different and most people will see me as an eccentric or “too much” to understand at times. I spent my first semester sleeping in classrooms on the campus as I had nowhere else to rest and although I sought assistance from the necessary outlets, little to no support or useful advice was granted during my trials.
It was to my surprise how easy it was to get the opportunity to move into a dorm without a down payment and I was able to have a comfortable place to rest my head so I could sit my exams in peace.
“I have however been asked to leave recently despite my situation being on file and have been unable to access my grades due to my inability to pay fees for school and accommodation. Where am I to find a security deposit and still be able to pay my outstanding and upcoming balance for school in these covid times where finances are scarce even for the affluent? How will I eat? How long before they kick me out on the streets when most jobs are either underpaid or they claim I’m overqualified? It is nonsense. School is set to begin on the 29th August 2021 and I fear I may not be allowed to continue my studies if I am unable to pay my outstanding fees,” he said.
Smith has been pressing on and decided to switch his majors in order to study a degree that would allow him to be able to complete a programme that would lead to him being able to sustain himself once he completes. Thus, he is now enrolled to study Economics and Law and has been performing top of his class. So much so, that he recently won a debating competition that was held by the University of The West Indies, Cave Hill Campus a few months ago.
“I have a friend who is experienced in debating, and I expressed my interest in the Law Society’s Inaugural Debating Competition. I was super nervous, but I usually believe in myself enough to push through. My friend gave me a crash course in debating and since I’m a quick learner I was able to almost master some of the techniques he taught me.
I cannot express how many sleepless nights I would have had writing my debate, practicing my speech and its formalities. Despite having just about two weeks to prepare, I managed to win Best Debater and Best Table Topic Master in my section,” he said.
Smith who has a disability where he is deaf in his left ear as a result of an accident that occurred when he was thirteen years old, said that he is motivated to be the best that he can be because his father was someone who would tell him that he could not do something, so he had to fight to prove that he could.
“One of the main things that motivate me to succeed is that most people have always underestimated me and expected me to fail, and I always wanted to prove them wrong. Lack of support from friends, family, and random strangers has always pushed me to find a way back to exceed expectations while having to do things on my own. I have always loved and cared for people more than I seem to care about me,” he said.
Smith said that his story is not for pity but more so to inspire persons that they can pursue their dreams no matter the challenges that they would have had in their life.
“Keep going. You can do it if you really want to. Be a yes man, you never know what is behind a door unless you walk through it, and never be afraid to stand for something. And this might sound a bit corny but never let anyone tell you that you are not beautiful. It is usually just a bad moment and not a bad day,” he said.
The former Combermere student said that persons can assist by making payments in his name to the University of The West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, and or assist him with a job so that he can afford to make payments towards his studies. “If not UWI payments then an offer for a good-paying job with benefits. Business development and or investment.
I would love to be mentored by someone who has achieved success not only monetarily but morally and intellectually.
I am eager to learn more about politics and policy development and reform in the Caribbean,” he said.
(Write Right PR Services)