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MY KINGSTON — Jermaine Derryck Nairne, JP Senior Policy Research Officer/Lecturer,UWI

Sunday, April 22, 2018

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Jermaine Derryck Nairne, JP Senior Policy Research Officer/Lecturer,UWI

As the first recipient of The UWI Toronto Gala Scholarship what advice would you offer the recent recipient Kodee Sargeant?

Enjoy the moment, but do not get caught up in the current success because there is greater success to work toward. Remain grounded, continue growing and, importantly, the same way you were dealt a hand up, ensure that you do the same for someone else. Also, remain flexible with your expectations of life, as there are unexpected curves that will come, the outcomes of which you determine by your reaction to them. Finally, stay on your own life path and pursue your own purpose.

It's a question that refuses to go away. Is tertiary education a must? If so, why? If not, why not?

It is a must. Tertiary education is one of the surest ways to ensure that generations are sustainably lifted out of economic hardship. There are those who, by virtue of available economic resources, do not need tertiary education to enjoy a good-quality life, but they are in the minority. Tertiary education also sharpens your critical thinking skills; it offers more than knowledge acquisition, affording enhanced personal and professional development, as well as providing an edge in an increasingly competitive world.

What should today's student be focused on, and why?

Students should be focused on developing their ability to think independently and being adaptable. Gone are the days when an individual will have a single career path over his/her lifespan. Crucial, as well, is that students must learn the value of embracing failure as part of the innovation and growth process.

Is there such a thing as an educated dunce?

Absolutely! Knowledge without emotional intelligence can be dangerous. To be brilliant without the awareness of personhood will eventually lead to ruined relationships of all kinds.

What has research taught you?

Research has taught me the value of perspective. There really are many sides to the “story”, some of which you will never know unless you inquire further; otherwise you draw faulty conclusions.

You are a new dad. Will your approach to educating your child mirror your own?

Fundamentally, yes. However, I intend to expose him to a more global perspective sooner rather than later. Education for me is inside and outside the classroom. My educational journey has largely been one that has been accompanied by involvement in many extra-curricular activities, from which I learned invaluable lessons and honed a lot of my talents. Additionally, I had the value of parental support without any pressure to pursue one path or another and that did a lot for my confidence in choosing for myself. My intended approach is to guide broadly and expose him to a number of options, then support him in his decisions.

Were you able to invite five Caribbean scholars (living or dead) to address UWI students, who would they be, and why?

1. Prof Roy Augier: One of the issues we face in the Caribbean is how we anchor our identity in an increasingly globalised world. I believe that knowledge of our history/past fosters a greater sense of identity; not necessarily to hold slavishly to (no pun intended), but to situate our thinking even as we adapt to a changing world. Prof Augier does a fine job at communicating that.

2. Dr Parris Lyew-Ayee: He represents a generation of innovators. Students nowadays seem to be less willing to create and innovate because of fear or a lack of motivation. Dr Lyew-Ayee represents a young innovator for reference; it would be useful for students to hear about his journey.

3. Norman Manley: This is someone I have long admired for his sense of nationhood. I believe that a large portion of our students today are more concerned with receiving degrees rather than making contributions to the society. He seemed to have been a staunch advocate for involvement in nation-building in an unselfish way.

4. Prof Stephen Vasciannie. His intellectual prowess often seems to translate to practical contributions to the society; that, for me, is balance. It is important for students to learn how to go beyond passing academic stress tests and making meaningful contributions.

5. Prof Eudine Barriteau: Apart from her strong academic acumen, Prof Barriteau connects easily with students and she has the ability to motivate them beyond their perceived potential, while inciting zeal. She is not afraid to challenge the status quo. Students need to understand that part of nation-building and development overall is going beyond what they are used to.

Share with us the last book read.

Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn by John C Maxwell

A fountain pen and paper or a laptop?

A fountain pen and paper, for sure!

Who or what has left the most profound impact on you?

Travelling around the world. I have been privileged to visit almost 20 countries so far, and through travel I have gained new perspectives that have shaped how I view people and the differences that seemingly separate us. It has also taught me that in the midst of this global expanse, I am but a speck and should not think more highly of myself than I ought. Travelling has also taught me that there is room for all of us to do well, but what separates those who do and don't is how we leverage our experiences and the extent to which we collaborate.

What's your idea of an ideal family vacation?

This would consist of being on a tropical private island for 10 days in a fully staffed luxury villa (to include: a gourmet chef, massage therapist, housekeeper, you get the picture) without electronic devices, surrounded by lush gardens and pristine beaches. The island would have adrenaline-pumping activities for family outings and a few bestsellers for my wife to read in her down time.

Finally, what's your personal credo?

I believe in being authentically me — confidently staying in my own lane, adding value to others in as far as it is within my ability, and removing all limits placed on what I can do. I also believe in not taking myself too seriously.

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