The University of the West Indies at Mona, Jamaica

Mona E-Connection

Keeping the Campus Connection Alive

Jason Smith: A ‘Prowler’ on the Auditing Trail

Jason Smith easily pinpoints the stage at which he knew he would become an accountant. “Tenth grade is where I picked up the love for accounting,” Smith told Mona e-Connection. Also, his former Cornwall College accounts teacher, Mr. Anderson brought the subject alive to him back then.

It’s a little over a decade since Cornwall College days and Jason is realising his ambition as he tackles the job of auditor at the international accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. He is mere steps away from completing the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) qualification.

When Smith got to the Mona Campus in 2003, he was nicknamed ‘Prowler’ as he did not suffer the anxieties of indecision or flounder for direction. Soon he was elected treasurer of Fresher’s block. “It was not as fancy as hall or guild, but it was a starting point,” he said.

Block treasurer was the springboard for Smith to show his mettle and become absorbed in Hall life. His progress through a First Class double major in Economics and Accounting and an Accounting Masters coincided with a steady climb up Irvine Hall’s leadership ladder. His service as “accountant” continued even after he made an unsuccessful bid to become Hall treasurer. He lost at the polls, but he succeeded in getting the executive to create a new post...deputy treasurer!

Smith and the other candidate had made a pre-election pact that the loser would assist the elected treasurer. “That’s exactly what happened. I assisted until I was officially appointed deputy treasurer.” Smith said.

In his fourth year on Irvine, Smith ran unopposed for treasurer. Then in his final year, the tenacious Smith was crowned Hall chairman without challenge.

Mona e-Connection asked Smith if his books ever ran into the red and he admitted that in his second year a fund-raising fete was great as a party, but “it was not financially viable”. He chuckles as he remembers trying to manage creditors and added, “I guess the skill for that also came out of that year”.

Smith grew up in Deeside, Trelawny where he learnt from an early age to juggle multiple roles and shoulder various responsibilities. “I lived with my mom and you can call her my grandmother, not related by blood but my grandmother as far as I am concerned. She is the person who is responsible for teaching me a lot of things,” he said.

So Ulit Binns, who died at 103, four years ago, was the one who would “tell me about life, tell me some of the things that happened long ago.” Smith lived a simple life playing with his peers and emulating the role models around him.

He started school at two and a half years old, moving on to Wakefield Primary at five years old, and taking the Common Entrance examination when he was nine. It was a big deal in his community because Smith was the first person from Wakefield Primary to gain entry to Cornwall College in a long time. “I can still feel the anticipation now, reliving the moment.”

While Smith is focused on the books he does not rule out family. “I have to have a balanced life. I like to have some fun sometimes. It can’t be all work and no play,” Smith said.

He urges current UWI students to work towards achieving that balance. “I always say that your tenure at university is not complete until you have lived on hall for at least a year,” Smith said.

He encourages students to get involved in hall life, even if they do not live on campus and says “the books are a lot, but not everything. The experience is important.”

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