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Chris-Ann Thomas: Making it through her obstacle course

Published:Monday | September 22, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Chris-Ann Thomas. Norman Grindley/Chief Photographer

Jody-Anne Lawrence, Lifestyle Reporter

Chris-Ann Thomas had a rough childhood. But with an army of supporters, she became the first recipient of the University of Birmingham and Jamaica National Foundation Legacy Scholarship to study her masters in international accounting and finance.

Thomas had always loved figures, and in high school, math was one of her favourite subjects. It is this passion that drove her into the field of business. "I always had a love for numbers and figures. Business gives me the opportunity to explore that," Thomas told Flair.

Unlike the preconceived notion that many have about the business field being boring and monotonous, Thomas made it clear that there was nothing boring about accounting. "I like the fact that it is so dynamic. I like the way it challenges you," said Thomas. Being in the field of business was Thomas' dream.

This scholarship is a dream come true, but this ray of sunshine in her life was not something that was easy. She lived with her grandmother until she was eight years old, then she went to live with her mother, and ended up staying with multiple friends and teachers.

Her mother was unable to afford taking care of her and Thomas ended up in a girls' home and then foster care. There were times when one of her teachers would take her in. All through this, Thomas maintained good grades and tried to put on a brave face for those around her. "I think that I went through a stage of depression. I had just shut down socially. It did not reflect in my grades, but my friends noticed," Thomas recalled. But she managed to make it through with some help. "The counselling department at school and the support of those around me helped. My belief in God also motivated me even though I was not a Christian, but the belief helped me."

Thomas also had support from teachers and members of the Ardenne High School staff. "If I was to start naming people, that would mean I would have to name all of Ardenne. Aunty Paulette - a teacher took me in. I 'kotched' with a few. A number of them helped me in different ways. They all helped to take care of me," she reminisced.

At the age of 15, she returned home for a short period, but her mother became ill and she had to leave once more. Again her support system was there.

excited and nervous

With their help and her determination, Thomas managed to get a full scholarship to the University of Technology. There, she completed her bachelor of business administration degree with a double major in accounting and finance and banking, all this by the age of 20. With her recent scholarship to the University of Birmingham, she will complete her masters before her 22nd birthday.

Just a few weeks before school begins, Thomas still has a lot on her mind. "I am excited and nervous. This is the first time I will be living outside of Jamaica and without my support system. It is like a new chapter for me," she told Flair.

While she is looking forward to the opportunities that this will bring, she has no intentions of running away from her homeland. "I have every intention of come back. I want to be a part of making my country better," she said, mentioning that for her future she has her eyes set on being the governor of the Bank of Jamaica.

But also on her to-do list is being an entrepreneur as well as participating in establishing a mentorship programme that will assist youths in the way her extended family at school assisted her.

Because of her life experiences, she notes, "Determination and belief in self is absolutely crucial. Focus is instrumental to growth, and never be confined by one's circumstances, past and present, what you do or don't have. Focus on your goal and work towards achieving it."