Keisha Hill, Gleaner Writer
What the mind perceives, one can achieve. This phrase aptly describes young André Haughton, PhD, lecturer in the Department of Economics at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona. Haughton's journey began in Mt Salem, Montego Bay, and at just 29 years old, he has already earned a doctorate in economics from the University of Essex, Colchester, in the United Kingdom.
Haughton, whose main areas of specialisation are theoretical and applied economics, rose from humble beginnings, and wants persons who are growing up in situations similar to his to make their dreams come true. Despite his demanding schedule, Haughton finds the time to make motivational presentations and speeches locally and overseas.
"Things and times have changed. People are getting wiser and just need the boost to do positive things," Haughton said.
The Cornwall College graduate said he did not grow up in luxury but lived a good life. His mother, he said, made sure he and his siblings were comfortable.
"We never went to bed hungry," Haughton said.
Short-lived football dreams
While growing up, he said, he wanted to chart his career path as a professional footballer. However, guided by his mother's wisdom, Haughton said he turned to economics instead. "I was concerned about Jamaica's economic situation and decided on a career in this area. I wanted to do economics in sixth form, but I did not get the opportu-nity. I was told I needed to have done additional mathematics," Haughton said.
However, he was not deterred and enrolled at the UWI, Mona, where he completed a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting and economics with first-class honours. "I knew that I was going to the UWI. Everyone in my class was going. I didn't know where the tuition was coming from and I didn't apply for a student loan," Haughton said.
Haughton said his mother and grandmother sourced his first-year tuition and then he applied for a scholarship to complete his studies. "My mother is always supportive of what I am doing. I couldn't put a burden on them for three years and, therefore, drafted my own plans," he said.
Haughton received the KPMG Peat Marwick Scholarship to complete the final two years of his first degree and, while doing this, he also became involved in several co-curricular activities that he said led to other scholarships to complete his education.
He completed a Master of Science degree in economics, with a scholarship from Thomas De La Rue, from the UWI in 2005, taught for two years, then went on to defend his PhD thesis, titled 'Essays on Monetary Policy in the Caribbean Region'.
"I was the youngest PhD graduate. It took me three and a half years, while some persons take up to 10. It is very rigorous and has to be done properly. I did a useful comparison between the Caribbean in relation to the United States, the United Kingdom, Asia, and other emerging markets," Haughton said.
However, Haughton's passion lies in research and mentorship. Jamaica's economy, he said, is positioned for growth, and research that is tailor-made to suit the economies can be done so they can grow. He stated that this has not been done because of ignorance, not coming down to the level of the people and investing in the wrong things.
"Leaders over time are not in tune with the culture of the masses. The leaders are alienated from the people and do not know their culture, hence they make wrong policy decisions. The policies are complicated and miss the basics," Haughton said.
Haughton said the Government needs to put things in place so that persons can express their personalities and maximise their potential. "They are not trying to invest in communities, so there are so many idle people around. We are limited in terms of numbers as, with just 2.7 million people, each Jamaican is valuable to the world," Haughton said.
Haughton has gone ahead and launched the Valley Foundation, which mentors young people in the Rose Heights area of Montego Bay. Most of them, he said, are from single-parent homes. "We are trying to help the communities to put in the necessary infrastructure, starting with a community centre and fixing the football field in the area," Haughton said.
Also, in his attempt to motivate especially young persons, Haughton is in the process of writing a book titled Illusion of Money, to be completed by spring of 2013. The book is a motivational guide to achieving success without placing too much emphasis on money.
Persons wishing to assist with the Valley Foundation can contact Dr Haughton at: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on twitter at @DrAndreHaughton.