When De’Andre Forbes, 18, received the Ernst and Young Bahamas Jamaine McFall Memorial Scholarship earlier this year, he dedicated the award to his family, who he says made personal sacrifices so that he could pursue his educational goals.
Now a freshman at Saint John’s University in Minnesota, United States, De’Andre, who also scored a summer internship at EY, counts himself lucky.
De’Andre said his journey started at Charles W. Saunders Primary School.
Always a high achiever throughout his primary school years, the college freshman said he knew he could not afford to drop the ball as the chances of someone like him going off to college were not high.
“You might not know, but a lot of Charles W. Saunders students don’t go to SAC and even [fewer] students end up getting a college education,” he said yesterday.
“So, the opportunity for me to work at a company like Ernst and Young (EY) and attend university, I’m grateful for it, each and every day. I realize how far I’ve come and how far I have yet to go.
“Students from my background, accomplishing and doing the things that I have done are very low. I see myself as somebody who will continue to do great things.”
De’Andre said when left Charles W. Saunders Primary School all those years ago, he had no idea what was in store for him.
“Now I’m at St. John’s at the grace of EY and I’m looking forward to what’s to come,” he said.
De’Andre said he was selected for the Ernst and Young scholarship after an interview process where he expressed his future goals.
According to an EY press release, the scholarship is valued at $30,000 annually and provides students, who have shown academic excellence the opportunity to gain higher education, and build successful careers in the professional services industry.
“The scholarship also includes an eight-week summer internship to gain practical experience and an offer for full-time employment at EY upon successful completion of the university program,” the press statement said.
De’Andre said despite growing up in single parent home, he always felt supported by his family.
In fact, he credits them for his educational success to date.
“It was a family effort to get me through SAC,” he said. “That’s why I dedicated my award from EY to my family.
“… Though it’s an imperfect construct, each member of my family played a role in my success,” he continued. “So, I wanted to share that family is very important to me and I believe that our country and world at large would be a much better place if the family unit was as important as it was many years ago.”
Since De’Andre was a little boy, he said his mother, Samantha, taught him the value of hard work.
“I had a mother that held my feet to the fire from my early days,” he said. “When it came to homework and assignments, she really forced the best out of time. That work ethic that she helped me build in my primary years and my early junior high years really carried over.
“I was able to do fairly well consistently. I really thank her and I credit her for that.”
De’Andre is pursuing a double degree in accounting and economics.
He said another person that influenced him heavily is the late Omar Davis Jr., who received a scholarship through the Ministry of Education Public Schools Scholars Programme to attend Central State University in Ohio in 2018.
“I remember as a young person seeing Omar, another person who came from schools where you don’t normally see people go off and achieve these great things, and I saw a lot of myself in Omar.
“I said maybe if he could do this, so can I. You realize when you put in the hard work and keep yourself focused and stay away from the bad influences, you really can make it out of any situation and transcend into another playing field.
“I saw my myself as a reflection of who he was – coming from unfortunate backgrounds and overcoming to accomplish what you never thought would be possible.”
A few weeks into his college experience, De’Andre said he is learning just as much outside of the classroom as he is learning in his classes.
“Most of my education has been beyond the classroom, just interacting with people from different cultures who you don’t see every day in The Bahamas, who you don’t know much about,” he said.
“Being able to sit down and have lunch with a Muslim or an Asian or an American who has different values and perspectives on so many issues, it’s something that isn’t readily available at home. It’s been a great experience thus far.”
Once he graduates, De’Andre said he intends to return home.
“My short term goal is to work at EY, hopefully in their strategy and transaction division,” he said.
“Long term, I’ve always wanted to give back in public service, particularly in either the Ministry of Education or Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance.
“I understand and believe that in so many instances, so many people poured into me and I really want to see my country transcend to the point where you don’t really necessarily have to go abroad to get an education.
“My long term goal is to be in public service and to uplift other young Bahamians, as I was uplifted by so many others.”