Within every individual lies the potential to become a great success but, the sad reality is that the people who actively seek to tap into this potential are rare. Timar Jackson can be likened to a rare diamond in the ruff who, despite his circumstances, has managed to tap into his unlimited potential and become a tremendous success. At the age of twenty-four, he already has a first class honours degree in Acturial Science from the University of the West Indies under his belt and has also been named Jamaica’s 2014 Rhodes Scholar. However, his present achievements are the results of a life-long journey that he has travelled from his days in primary school. I caught up with him recently to find out his secrets for such great success.
How would you describe your childhood?
I grew up in a rough neighborhood that was filled with people who made poor choices and participated in gang violence and immoral acts. Like most of the families in my community my family had our fair share of economic challenges but my mother (who was my sole caregiver) was strong. She took the steps necessary to ensure that my siblings and I had a semblance of structure to our lives and to ensure that we did not get involved certain activities. In my early years (from primary school till about grade eight)I would listen to the negative criticism of those around me who would say “Yuh w’utless! Yuh naah guh cum to nuttn!” Consequently, in that early period in my life I struggled with low self-esteem.
Wow. That must have been really tough. What caused things to change?
I decided not to harbor these negative thoughts and I became actively involved in school activities at Vauxhall High. I became the leader of the cadet group in grade nine and I was also involved in the speech club, drama club, track and field team, and rugby team and the list goes on. Doing all of this and achieving a level of success gave me a hunger for more and boosted my self-esteem. I was surprised when, in grade nine, one of my teachers looked at me and said “He has Head Boy potential”.
A lot of people use the lack of money as an excuse to prevent them from pursuing their dreams. How were you able to finance your education since you came from a financially poor family?
When I completed fifth form, my mother believed that the time was ripe for me to start working. However, I believed otherwise. You see, I realized that the successful people I observed all had a tertiary education and I knew that this had to be my route to advancing in life. Thankfully, I was blessed with two mentors who supported me through sixth form. When it was time for me to apply for university, I applied for every scholarship I heard of and at the end of that process I had the choice (can you believe that?) of accepting either the UWI Open Scholarship or the annual Jamaica Scholarship (male). These are two of the nation’s top scholarships and both came with the benefit of full tuition, books, boarding and maintenance.
What motivates you to succeed?
I have a very large support group that encourages and reassures me that I can do well. I am also highly intrinsically motivated because I have come to realize the potential I have and I always want to push the limits a step further regardless of position.
What would you say have been the five things that have made you successful?
Wow.I would like to express these five things in a formula. With the right measure of determination, focus, discipline and external motivation raised to the power and grace of God, I have been able to achieve enormous results.
When you return to Jamaica after completing your DPhil in Mathematical and Computational Finance, what do you hope to do to give back to your country?
I have been told that my time in England is going to be an interesting and life changing experience so I am keeping my options open. However, I do hope to apply the knowledge I garner to aid in the development of Jamaica’s financial sector. I also hope to take a more deliberate approach towards helping other people discover their full potential. Presently, I am making some strides in this area since I have set up some tutoring sessions for the students from my alma mater (Vauxhall High) for eight hours every third Saturday. My friends and I have done three of these sessions thus far and we are receiving some positive feedback.
What advice would you give to the people reading this blog to help them realize their full potential?
Focus on your dream. Don’t see yourself as a victim of your circumstances. Instead, use your circumstances as motivators. Develop the drive, determination and discipline to achieve your dream no matter what. Develop confidence and belief in yourself and the discipline that you need will come automatically.