Allydia Mills pays it forward

Sunday, May 06, 2018

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ASPIRING chartered accountant Allydia Mills, 25, wasn't always confident that she would fulfil her life and career goals. As a youngster from humble beginnings and the third of four daughters to her trying parents, Mills grew up between the areas of Waterhouse and Waltham Gardens in Kingston. The bright spark attended George Headley Primary School, where after sitting the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT), she gained entry to the illustrious Wolmer's Trust High School for Girls in 2004.

She was elated and so was her family. After all, her aunt and her cousin had previously attended the great Wolmer's and had nothing but praises for the noble institution.

However, Mills admits that like many youngsters from financially challenging circumstances, though a brilliant child, she was distracted and overwhelmed by her family's difficulties to consistently find tuition, uniforms, lunch money, bus fare and other necessities for her to attend school. She was stressed during her first year while attending Wolmer's.

“I wasn't able to afford the tuition at the time, so I even went into second form without any textbooks. If I had the textbooks I probably would have topped my class, because I came in second,” she shared.

The school, recognising Mills's strengths and challenges, recommended her to a programme within the Wolmer's Girls' alumnae called The Enid Smedmore Fund. The fund, an initiative which has provided assistance to cohorts of seven students from second through to fifth form since 1999, is guided by recommendations from the school's principal and guidance counsellor. Girls are eligible for assistance based on their scholastic performance, behaviour, involvement in extracurricular and community-based activities, as well as their needs.

Mills fit the bill. In fact, during her tenure at Wolmer's, she participated in the debating, interact and drama clubs while remaining an active member in her community as well as her church, Jamaica Council Church Of God Seventh Day.

“Getting help with my tuition made it easier for my parents and allowed me to be able to focus on my academics. It was one less concern and one less thing I had to worry about,” she shared.

And she excelled. She retained seven distinctions in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations for principles of accounts, principles of business, social studies, mathematics, English language, literature, information technology; a grade two in physics; and several certificates of excellence before going on to complete sixth form at Wolmer's in 2009.

She secured placement at The University of the West Indies in 2011 where she achieved a bachelor of science degree in management studies with first class honours. While there, she also became a member of the accounting club — through which she secured an internship with the popular local auditing firm Ernst & Young Services Limited.

Currently employed as a tax accountant at Ernst & Young, Mills has already attained level two certification through the globally renowned Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), and has plans to complete all four levels in short order.

She continues to volunteer at places of safety as well as mentor and assist young people with their studies through her work with the church.

“I contribute to the society as much as I can. I do that by participating in programmes and looking out for people as well as sharing my own life experiences,” shared the overachiever.

Mills has come full circle to prove that ventures such as the Enid Smedmore Fund are necessary in helping bright and capable youngsters to focus on their academics, participate in social welfare programmes, and most of all, realise their dreams.

As mandated by its founder Enid Smedmore, a former president of the Wolmer's Girls' Alumnae, the fund continues to provide qualified students with 50 per cent of their annual tuition, mentorship support, as well as make annual contributions to the Teachers' Enhancement Fund, the Students' Welfare Fund and present an annual English prize — an incentive to an outstanding student of English (of any form).

Mills's heart-filled moment came when she was able to share during her interview that she will pay it forward by making a contribution to the upcoming Enid Smedmore Fund fund-raising Mother's Day Grub Fest on May 12 at the Wolmer's Cavalier Track Field.

“One day I hope to own my own business and be able to offer jobs to people; and reach a point where I participate in a large-scale organisation that gives back to people. I want to see more help for students so they can focus on their academics and not focus on how they're going to get to school,” she said.

To date, approximately 30 students have benefited from the Enid Smedmore Fund, most of whom have gone on to further their studies at tertiary institutions and have maintained outstanding scholastic records, strong ties within their communities, and act as ambassadors of the programme.

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