Having her say
by Kimberley Cummins
She has the desire, the intelligence and the ambition to become Barbados’ first female Prime Minister.
But for now there are many more mountains Shakeda Williams wants to ascend first. Her main focus currently is to understand people and society and how the policies and laws enacted affect the people in society.
To say that she has conquered a few heights already, however, would be an understatement. At just 20 years old she has been the leader of the St. James Secondary School (now Frederick G Smith Secondary) debating team for three years, debated with the Productivity Council, was a member of the Barbados Youth Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly Team Action Barbados, and the United Youth Leaders of Barbados, of which she has been the public relation officer for the past three years.
She studied Politics and Sociology at the Barbados Community College as well and is currently pursuing a degree in Sociology with Psychology at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus, some could say all in preparation for her ultimate goal.
Whatever the reasons, the Bakers, St. Peter resident has been a busy woman who is expected to become even busier when she travels to Washington D.C.
This afternoon she left Barbados, destination the United States capital, to attend US President, Barack Obama’s second presidential inauguration ceremony which will be held on Monday, January 21.
The opportunity came about two years ago while still a pupil at St. James Secondary. In an interview with Barbados TODAY, Williams explained that she, along with five other Barbadian students won scholarships to attend the Global Youth Leaders conference which also took place in Washington D.C and in New York.
Because of the aptitude displayed she and a fellow St. James student, Rasheed Drakes, were invited to this year’s ceremony.
In spite of her all accomplishments in such a short time and although this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, not only for her but Barbados in general, the road to Washington was not paved with chocolate and sweets.
In fact, when she received the invitation in June 2012 and started soliciting sponsorship immediately thereafter, it proved another peak to overcome. She said raising the $10,000 to finance the week-long activities was very difficult because everyone she approached complained about the economic crisis.
Shakeda revealed that she found herself writing hundreds of letters to potential sponsors with no response. Luckily, however, owner of the Bleak House Cottage, Richard Goddard, and Christ is the Answer Family Church came on board to support her endeavour.
Since Drakes is now unable to travel because of work commitment, Williams will be the lone representative of Barbados.
“I feel honoured, a bit scared, very nervous…,” she said. “I am on my own right now… I have to take all the burden of representing Barbados all by myself and at a young age. It is scary being away from home, from my parents and friends but at least I still have their support – even though they’re not with me physically, they’re with me at heart.
Giving her best
“I will debate to the best of my ability and interact with the persons from different countries and get to embrace their cultures. This way people will also get to know that we [Barbados] really exist. A lot of persons think it is a part of Jamaica, and people will get to know what a real Caribbean island is, that we are not people just sitting on the beach with grass skirts and coconuts.
“Hearing the different discussions and being a part of them will be able to help me to come back home and discuss with my colleagues and my Government members and give them ideas of how to deal with issues before they come to us. So that is the main advantage that we would have, to seek out the issues that are going on in other countries and helping to deal with them,” she said assertively.
At the presidential inauguration young people from countries across the world will come together to not only witness the president and vice-president take the oath of office but they will also debate and discuss various issues that may have affected some countries to give each country represented ideas on how to deal with them effectively if ever they impacted on their respective country.
As well as the inauguration ceremony they will be an inauguration conference where people such as former president of the United States, George W Bush, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Jed Bush and John Ellis will be among a long list of speakers. This conference will be held for five days, and Shakeda will return to the island on January 24.