He got his first degree through athletics, graduating from Troy University in 2011, and capturing the Nolan C. Hatcher Outstanding International Student Award. At the time, he also held the national record for the men’s 400m hurdles.
But after four years back home, most of that time spent working with the Solid Waste Management Authority (since November 2012) Burke Chadfield Leonce – whose first degree is in environmental science – is headed back to school.
The St Mary’s College alumnus will be pursuing a master’s programme in that same discipline at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, via a teaching assistantship. He will be receiving full tuition and a stipend, and will be required to teach labs.
Burke spent some of his time time back home teaching kids in his old club, Morne Stars Athletics. Now he is returning to school, he says he will touch base with their track and field programme, but his focus will be singular.
“I’ve always been an academic,” he says. “I want to do some meaningful research. A master’s degree is a step towards those research goals with the next phase being a PhD. So I’m excited to make that step.
“My field of interest is mainly environmental hazard remediation, which is basically cleaning up our own messes. All those things we thought were so great which are so bad now and costly to get rid of, like asbestos. I always wanted to save the world.”
Burke left for TCU and the next leg of his life journey on Tuesday, 11 August.