—as she celebrates recent promotion to Captain
By Abiola Archer
“It is a great honour to serve in the military. It culminates shared values, goals and unmatched experiences. Service in the military has instilled in me, a dedication to my nation before anything else; selfless service and loyalty. It gives me great pride to serve in the GDF. I stand with great pleasure in service to Guyana and I will always be eager to give back to my nation.”
Those are the words of 29-years-old Linden woman, Winette Smartt, who has been serving the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), for over seven years. She said, “I had always imagined myself being a teacher but teaching comes naturally with this profession.”
Smartt, a former student of Mackenzie High School, was raised in the Wismar community of Silvertown. Life growing up was not all glittering gold but she used those adversities to attain an education which enabled her to be an asset to her society. For her, this was the best solution to battle economic and social challenges. She worked hard throughout her high school life and graduated as the second best performing Carribbean Secondary Examination Council (CSEC) student in 2010. Her drive and determination for academic success, coupled with hard work, enabled her to break barriers.
“Regardless of where you come from and what you have, nothing is impossible. Let nothing and no one stand in the way of your dreams. Your goals are more than attainable but you have to be willing to get up and work towards achieving them. In essence, the only limit that exists are within our minds.”
After completing high school however, Smartt said she suffered regression in her attitude and became delinquent, but that short hiatus from her journey to success, did not determine her destiny today. She quickly went back on her path to achieving her goals.
She was inspired to join the GDF by the professional look of officers in uniform and was driven by her mother’s determination. She said, “ I have always had great admiration for persons in uniform. The stature and outlook, even as a young adult was remarkable and marveled me. However, my mother was the driving force behind my enlistment. She recognised the potential in me to lead and took it upon herself to fill out the application form on my behalf and today here I stand, a proud officer of the Guyana Defence Force.”
The compulsory training was rigorous and testing. It was mentally and physically demanding and tested one’s ability to function under extreme pressure. She saw many late nights and early morning and toiled through the rain and the sun without ceasing. The training proved extremely difficult but it was the shaping force of her present being.
“I had not been used to being away from home for long periods of time. Nevertheless, they provided me with a great support system and continuously motivated me to press on.” Many days she wanted to give up; many days she didn’t seem tough enough to endure, but deep down, she said, her determining spirit reminded her that giving up is not an option.
Upon completion of the cadet course she was promoted to the rank of Second Lieutenant on March 21st 2015 and further promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in 2017. Among the recent list of 69 officers promoted on the 23rd February, 2022 she was promoted to the rank of Captain.
She expressed, “During my tenure I would have helped many appointments within the GDF. Additionally, I would have completed several military courses that attributed to my advancement”. Presently she is studying for a Degree in Social Work at the University of Guyana.