GraceKennedy Education Run educating youth
Budding film director and entrepreneur Mark Smith was among the many supporters at the eighth annual GraceKennedy Education 5K Walk/Run on July 10.
The event is an initiative of GraceKennedy Limited, created to support education.
Smith became a beneficiary of the Grace and Staff summer employment programme while a student at Kingston College. Smith was referred to the Foundation by friends, employees of GraceKennedy.
"Grace and Staff has always been one of those prime agents in helping persons within the community, they are always willing to help," said Smith.
Upon leaving high school, Smith pursued a Bachelor of Science degree in international relations with a minor in economics at the University of the West Indies. Faced with financial constraints, he was able, with help from Grace and Staff, to earn money towards his tuition and later secured extended employment at GraceKennedy Money Services. There he also gained invaluable work experience.
"I received training in customer service, documentation, efficiency in service delivery and, of course, people skills," said Smith.
While at university, he pursued his love for film and theatre arts, through poetry and playwriting, as well as entering and performing in poetry competitions. He has won several awards in speech and poetry contests put on by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission and directed the winning film Trapped in The Mirror, which tied for Best Film at the 2015 Greater August Town Film Festival.
The 30-year-old is currently preparing for the Graduate Management Admission Test, noting that his main goal is to be accepted into one of the top business schools in the United States, where wants to pursue a dual-degree programme in film and business administration.
Smith was a recent recipient of the Governor General Achievement Award for community service, innovation and leadership.
"My relationship with the Lord has helped to keep me on track," he says about the source of his determination.
His main supporters are his parents, especially his father, who, though now deceased, remains a strong influence in his life. He also credits GraceKennedy Group CEO Don Wehby, whom he says is a positive role model in his work ethic and drive.
Smith gives back by teaching English language and literature at the learning Institute of Central Kingston, one of six youth development centres operated by Grace and Staff.