By Ronald J. Daniels
Elisabeth Knights invites you humbly to join her as she navigates her journey as a wife, mother and successful business executive from her humble beginnings in East Ruimveldt Squatting Area, Georgetown Guyana to her business platform across the United States of America, where she currently resides and operates. Liz, as Mrs. Knights, is affectionately called, fancies it rather important to begin this journey by thanking God and her mother for cultivating in her the core characteristics of the woman she has matured into.
Liz drew her first breath, like innumerable Guyanese, at the Georgetown Public Hospital on October 25, a collection of years ago. Yes, you have guessed correctly, Liz still holds dear that familiar notion that women ought to be guarded about their age. If it suffices as consolation, she offers that her rather mature mind in encased in a delightfully youthful body. Liz’s father was unprepared for the demands of fatherhood and departed her tender life. Her mother, though emotionally moved by this decision, remained undeterred and subscribed her name on Liz’s birth registration form, naming her Elisabeth Jackman. Her mother has always placed a high premium on building a close relationship with God, and has always impressed upon young Liz the virtues of a good education. She articulated to Liz that these are the keys which would guarantee her entry through the doorways of a positive and productive life. Young Liz internalised these lessons.
Though her mother invoked ceaseless smiles throughout her childhood and adolescent years to mask the material hardship they experienced, young Liz was able to discern her mother’s concealed pain for not being able to provide the material stability she preferred for Liz. Liz observed her mother’s commitment to hard work. This triggered in her a tug of war of emotions as she celebrated her mother’s unwavering maternal commitment on the one hand, while being agonised on the other hand by the hardship her mother confronted.
Liz’s mother encouraged her to pursue the talents she possessed beyond the confines of academia. Her conditions were that the expressions of Liz’s talents must be appropriate, and the environments in which her talents were expressed must be safe. Liz loved pageantry and participated in a series of pageants from age nine to nineteen years old. For her, pageants were more than an occasion to change outfits and look pretty; they facilitated opportunities to converge the confidence she was developing being in her skin and a demonstration of her rapid intellectual maturity. Liz prevailed in virtually every pageant she entered. One of her most memorable pageantry experiences was being crowned Queen in the Ms. Republic Pageant. She had her sights trained on entering the Ms. Guyana Pageant but abandoned this pursuit just before the onset of the pageant after her sights were re-directed to the man who knighted her and quickly ferried her away from Guyana. More on this as the journey progresses.
Abiding by her mother’s support and encouragement, Liz also pursued acting. She has appeared in a collection of plays at the National Culture Centre and has had the good fortune of acting alongside renowned actor and comedian, the late Henry Rodney. Liz was fully immersed in the arts. She represented the National School of Dance in several competitions and also trained other dancers for school competitions.
Liz distinguished herself at Richard Ishmael’s Secondary School, and graduated with honours from the Excel Masters Academy. Thereafter she attended the Critchlow Labour College where she was a straight ‘A’ student pursuing Business Administration. However, she migrated prior to the completion of her course of study.
Liz migrated to the Bahamas in 2005 where she married her husband Colin Knights. There is hardly anything that animates Liz the same as talking about her husband. The earth stood still for Liz when Colin approached her at a Bar-B-Que. He appeared as the manifestation of the man she had been praying to God to have as a husband. She emphasises that she had been rather deliberate in her prayers about the composition of the man she wanted to be her husband. She references the devout religious commitment she inherited from her mother. This inspired in her the confidence that once her prayers aligned with God’s will for her life he would persist in his record of answering her prayers. She articulates her meeting with her husband as love at first sight. They had their first date at Selina’s Restaurant which is perched on the Seawalls. Shortly after their first date Colin returned to the United States of America where he lived. He returned to Guyana four months after and at Selina’s where they had their first date, Colin proposed to Liz.
Four months after saying her first ‘I do’ to Colin, Liz migrated to the Bahamas. Colin operated a small construction company in Miami, Florida. He visited Liz in the Bahamas weekly. In March 2006 in a private romantic ceremony on one of the sprawling beaches of the Bahamas, Colin Knighted Liz. They began living together in the United States in December, 2006 when Liz moved permanently to the US. Liz naturally missed her mother, her brother and her home back in Guyana. She found comfort in the fact that she was united in a permanent way with her husband and her amazing daughter whom Colin had before meeting her. She also interpreted the opportunities at her disposal in the US as an opportunity to furnish her mother and her brother with the quality of life they deserve.
Liz was pursuing Business Administration at Critchlow Labour College because she had envisioned herself being the owner of her own business. Colin, having regard to this ambition, encouraged Liz to avail herself of the array of educational opportunities to which she now had access. He cautioned against their introduction, at that juncture, of a biological child of their own and championed the wisdom of family planning. Colin reminded Liz of her mother’s insistence of the pursuit and acquisition of quality education. Liz enrolled in the South University and four years later graduated Suma Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. Her impeccable academic record and permanent placement on the President’s List procured for Liz an invitation to become a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. She has served as the Vice President of her university’s chapter of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. She is also a lifetime member of the Society and a mentor and occasional tutor to high school and current college students.
Like her mother, Liz is no stranger to working hard. While at University, she juggled two part time jobs, at a bank and at a department store respectively. Liz also simultaneously attended a separate institution through which she acquired a real estate licence qualifying her as a real estate agent. Liz and Colin had a revelation that they should start their own real estate company. This, they perceived, would allow then the twin benefit of business ownership and the liberty to travel. They engaged in a second marriage; they unified Colin’s business wits, construction background and experience with Liz’s newly acquired real estate and business knowledge. Together these tools and other unique skills they each brought to the table, gave birth to Aklipse Asset Management Inc. Colin and Liz started their company with little by way of material resources. Today Aklipse has grown in assets totalling in excess of five million US dollars. Through Aklipse, they purchase and renovate properties which they then resell or rent at very competitive prices. They also manage their own properties once rented. This is very much a direct to consumer approach. It’s a unique niche in the real estate industry that they are pioneering, which is to only market properties own by them/the company. They are committed to offering their customers properties of the highest quality. They pride themselves in providing their customers with exceptional services. Customer satisfaction is the hallmark of their business. Aklipse services the residential markets of Georgia, Florida, Kentucky and Alabama currently. Colin and Liz’s objective is to tap into the commercial property market and offer services to the residential and commercial real estate sectors across all the states of the US. Since they enjoy the freedom of meandering across the US and enjoy living a life of having a constant change in scenery, they have been inspired to secure for themselves six personal houses that they interchangeably call their home. Liz contends that instead of building themselves a mansion with a multiplicity of rooms, she prefers to spread out her rooms across the country, hence their collection of personal houses, located in the states of Georgia, Florida, and Kentucy.
Both Liz and Colin have an abiding commitment to and passion for Guyana. They aspire to build a foundation to collaborate with the government of Guyana to construct, furnish and staff facilities which provide opportunities for children whose dreams are to become entrepreneurs and business innovators, but who lack the wherewithal for such pursuits. Liz recalls her own upbringing- the strong religious and other values her mother instilled in her from a tender age. She impresses upon us generally, and the youths especially, that achieving your dreams and living a life characterised by emotional and social stability, and notable financial success is not restricted to people who have the good fortune to be born into affluence. Such quality of life is achievable by anyone who is prepared to work hard, work smart, subscribe to faith and believe in himself/herself. Elisabeth commends her own life to you as an example. She closes by thanking you for the coveted opportunity to share her story with you and hope that you end this reading by feeling inspired to pursue your dreams to the fullest extent and to dream beyond the barriers of your current circumstances.