Political ambition

Senator Kerryann Ifill, along with current UWI student Felicia Balgobin (seated) demonstrate some of the software in the new unit, while Principal Sir Hilary Beckles looks on.
Senator Kerryann Ifill, along with current UWI student Felicia Balgobin (seated) demonstrate some of the software in the new unit, while Principal Sir Hilary Beckles looks on.

Principal of the University of the West Indies’ Cave Hill Campus, Sir Hilary Beckles, gave praise to President of the Senate Kerryann Ifill this morning, telling her he would like to “walk in her footsteps”.

Sir Hilary made the comment in passing this morning, hinting at a desire for a political career as he congratulated Senator Ifill on her political achievements as the campus’ library earmarked and named a special unit in her honour.

Telling the audience that the university had always known Ifill, who has a visual impairment, would do well when she was admitted to the St. Michael-based institution, because she was “a bright girl”, the Principal and Pro-Vice Chancellor said it was her political success of which he was particularly proud.

“We are particularly proud of her political achievement because it is a complicated environment. If you think the university is a difficult environment, try party politics, and she is the president and we are very proud of that.

“I said to her on the way in just now to put in a word for me because one day I would love to walk in her footsteps and go and serve my country in the Senate. I would want to go and participate independently and speak freely about all the things that impact on us. We are very fortunate to have her there. We know that the country is in good hands with her presence…,” said Sir Hilary.

He was speaking moments before they toured the newly opened Kerryann Ifill Unit of main library of the campus, which has equipment to enable students with visual impairment to complete their studies there.

In the short ceremony attended by administrators of the university and specially invited guests, among them members of the various disabilities bodies on the island, along with the parent organisation the Barbados Council for the Disabled, where Ifill is also head, Sir Hilary congratulated the senator on the honour, noting that this was another step towards fulfilling the mandate of at least one UWI graduate in every household.

Describing Ifill as “a rose on this campus”, he recognised the role the university had to play in encompassing and accommodating persons with disabilities in its programmes.

Ifill told the audience she was humbled by the honour, noting that the university library was an integral part of any student’s life on campus. The unit, she said, was another opportunity for inclusion in the economic, political, social, environmental and all other aspects of society’s development for the future.

Despite the fact that the unit was essentially a single room outfitted with specialised equipment, including computers, the senator said it was a room filled with “limitless” possibilities.

“It can provide opportunities for students here, students outside, students pursuing tertiary education. It has long been my belief that the Cave Hill Campus holds many, many exciting opportunities and an environment which could bring students from all across the Caribbean with disabilities if you were only able to increase the level of accessibility.

“This is another step to increase that level of accessibility. This is another step to making the Cave Hill Campus the true institution for study, research, and teaching. Therefore this morning I am deeply honoured, deeply humbled by this opening and this naming after me,” she said. (LB)

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