Bermudian siblings attend Welsh university
School has become a family affair for three Bermudians abroad.
Destiny and T.J. Smith and their sister Krystal Lowe all have a spot on the campus at the University of South Wales.
Their mother, Lena Smith, led the charge. She took the four youngest of her eight children with her to the UK in 2010 after she was accepted at the University of Southampton.
“Everything she does inspires you to work harder,” said Destiny. “Even the fact that she went back to university to get a mathematics degree. She was already a talented writer and she pushed us to do whatever we think is right, to go for it, to do more.”
Added T.J.: “We were always told we can do anything we want. Mom would make sure to put us in as many activities as possible — football, basketball, baseball, dance, drama, music — anything we showed even the slightest inkling of interest in we did.”
Twenty-two-year-old Destiny was the first in the Smith family to join the university.
“When I first got here, I got off at the wrong train station,” she laughed. “In the store, the announcements will be in Welsh and then English. Train station signs are the same.”
T.J., 20, enrolled in animation classes in September. He chose the Cardiff university because its graduates had a high rate of employment in his field. The campus was also only a two-hour drive from his mother in Southampton.
“We used to be really close when we were younger and when I moved over to Cardiff I never got to see him,” Destiny said. “Now I get to see him passing in the halls. He comes to the Christian Union and I bring him dinner sometimes. It's really nice having him close again. It's [also] helpful to have a family base.”
Krystal teaches dance at the university. She got her start at In Motion in 1997.
“Our mother was a freelance writer and wrote a story about a new dance school opening up. All eight of us took part in dance lessons at the school at one time,” said the 26-year-old who is also a guest artist with Welsh dance company Ballet Cymru.
“What's been great for me is to be able to get to know both Destiny and T.J. more,” she said. “I left home at 17 to dance in Los Angeles and since then I've hardly lived at home. And then they left Bermuda so again we were separate. It's been great to actually get to know them as adults.
“We spend more quality time together now because we make time to meet and speak. Also, we have been able to use each others' artistic skills to collaborate on a few projects.
“When I choreographed a show at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Destiny did all of the advertising photos for it.
“It is good to have family close by. It's surprising how lonely it can be before you meet good friends.”
Their father Theron Smith, is a retired firefighter. He still lives in Bermuda alongside their sister Cheseré, a 30-year-old schoolteacher.
Jasmine, 28, and Alexis, 24, live in Aberdeen, Scotland with their own families. The youngest of the siblings, Kaitlyn, 15, and Chloe-Christina, 14, live in Southampton with Mrs Smith, who now works as a maths tutor.
Destiny has already lined up a job in Cardiff, at S3 Advertising, for after she graduates next year.
“You know how people talk about New York and London being really vibrant cities? They're cool, but a bit overwhelming. Cardiff is a good middle ground. It's busy. It's the centre for big advertising companies. It's very diverse because of all the universities, so they have lots of different cultures coming together.
“I love it here.”