(SNO) – Saint Lucian Dr. June Soomer is among seven distinguished alumni of the University of the West Indies (UWI) who have been recognised for contributions to their communities and areas of endeavour at the 70th anniversary “Pelican Awards”.
The special awards ceremony, which was part of Chancellor’s Week, a wider week-long celebration of the University’s anniversary, was held at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge and Conference Centre, at the Mona Campus on Wednesday, July 25, 2018.
Awardees were presented with the prestigious Pelican Award and a commemorative rum created by UWI alumna and honorary graduate, Dr. Joy Spence, the world’s first female master blender. They also received gifts from the UWI Press, Sagicor, Wisynco and the UWI Bookshop.
The seven awardees—one for each decade of the UWI’s 70-year history—are all of Caribbean origin and were selected by their peers in recognition of the impact they have made in their professional spheres within their particular communities, the Caribbean and the wider Caribbean Diaspora.
Recipients of the Pelican Awards were nominated by Chapters of the UWI Alumni Association globally.
The seven Awardees are:
1948-1958: Dr Lloyd Stanford (Jamaican), retired senior public servant of the Province of Ontario, Canada, and president of Le Groupe Stanford Inc., a consulting firm specializing in multiculturalism, employment equity, bilingualism, human resource development and international development, based in Ottawa.
1959-1968: Dr Karl Massiah (Barbadian), Orthopaedic Surgeon, founder and head of Orthopaedics at Etobioke Hospital – Canada, and pioneering founding member of the UWI Medical Alumni Association (UWIMAA).
1969-1978: Professor Merle Collins (Grenadian), internationally-acclaimed poet, oral archivist, documentary film maker and educator. She initiated the “Saraka & Nation” project, which traces the connection between African cultures in the Americas and sites of memory in Africa and produced a documentary film on the importance of “small islands”.
1978-1988: The Hon. Justice Irving Andre (Dominican), a distinguished jurist currently serving on the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario. He has won several awards for his published work encompassing a wide range of subjects, from labour and immigration law to football.
1989-1998: Dr. June Soomer (St Lucian), the first female to graduate with a doctorate in history from the Cave Hill Campus of the UWI. A former ambassador of St. Lucia to the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, she currently serves as Secretary-General of the Association of Caribbean States and as Chair of the UWI Open Campus Council.
1999-2008: Dr. Andre Haughton (Jamaican), lecturer in the Department of Economics, UWI Mona, founded the Valley Foundation which mentors young people in the Rose Heights area of Montego Bay.
2009-2018: Dr. Nicole Nation (Jamaican) has received several awards of excellence for her work in the medical field, particularly in autism and disabilities, medical research and community service. She is the conceptualizer of the “Women of Tomorrow” mentorship programme.
Chancellor’s Week, which ran from July 23-29, 2018, was a highlight in the UWI’s yearlong celebration of its legacy of “70 years of service, 70 years of leadership”.
Proceeds from Chancellor’s Week will go to the UWI Regional Endowment Fund (UWIREF) to support undergraduate and graduate students, based on merit and financial need as well as to research and other developmental projects.
Officially launched in July 2008 as part of the University’s 60th anniversary celebrations, the UWIREF has since awarded over 180 scholarships, worth over US$1.1M.