Mentors

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The feels are back. I’m smiling right now, but my eyes are wet. I’ve wanted to write something about people who helped me through, who advised me, mentored me, encouraged me, believed in me, coached me, didn’t laugh at me, pushed me and helped me to attain the confidence to believe that I can… This list is by no means exhaustive. I hesitated in writing this, for various reasons, but I feel that it’s important to acknowledge that we don’t achieve on our own and I hope that in the future I will also be given the awesome opportunity to help someone achieve their goals. Some of the people on this list have, at some point in time, rubbed me the wrong way, lol, but over time I’ve come to appreciate all that they’ve done for me and/or pushed me to become and I’m so grateful that they’ve been there.

So, here goes….ordered by number (and this is not ranked).
This is very long, and may be slightly (that’s likely an underestimation) boring…

1. The person in the picture with me is Chris; Dr. Christopher Meir. He has consistently been writing reference letters for me for the many things that I’ve applied for. I’ve failed, tried again, asked for letters again, and he’s always willing to help. He’s been a huge encouragement and support to me and I imagine that getting to do my MPhil would have been a much more difficult process without his support, advice and encouragement. Thank God he came to UWI and that I chose to study Film! I remember when I decided that I was going to apply to do my MPhil at Cambridge because it was the only University that offered exactly what I wanted to do. I was so nervous, and I felt kinda stupid when asking him if he would write me a reference letter because I thought that he’d think ‘…why does she think that she’s good enough for Cambridge? Why doesn’t she apply to another university where acceptance might be more likely?’. But, when I asked him if he’d write the letter he told me that I shouldn’t only try for Cambridge, but that I should apply to Harvard as well because any top university would be happy to have me. (The tears are officially here as I type this). In that moment, I smiled and I was confused. I didn’t understand why he believed that I could, but I’m so glad that he did…because I really didn’t believe enough in myself. 

2. Dr. Derek Chadee. He and Chris were my favourite lecturers because they’ve just constantly supported me and believed in me. I don’t know where I’d be or how I’d feel about myself right now if Dr. Chadee hadn’t been there to encourage me. He supervised my undergraduate Psychology research and has also been writing reference letters, without fail, even when I failed at getting scholarships and had to try again. He’s consistently helped me when I needed advice, and when he couldn’t give enough he would talk to someone else and ask them to help me (Chris would do this also). Dr. Chadee is very formal though. He will shake your hand, invite you to talk in his meeting room and is very proper about things. The week before I left though, I saw him walking in UWI and said ‘Hi’. His face lit up, and he told me that he thought that I had already left. I told him that I was leaving the following week and he again wished me all the best and then the weirdest thing happened. We shook hands, as is customary….but this time he didn’t let my hand go one time, or moved on briskly as he usually does when conversations end. He instead drew me close and gave me a kinda hug. His cheek felt scratchy. I think that I was in shock during that moment because it was so uncharacteristic of him… but I felt special and like he truly cared about my well-being. He said that I’ll do well, smiled broadly, wished me all the best and then said bye. I think that that incident had me smiling for about a week.

3. This lecturer is Mr. Pulwarty…he’s always smiling and unlike Dr. Chadee, it wouldn’t be so weird if he hugged you. He has also written reference letters for me, checked up on how I was doing and supported me. I don’t know where this man gets his joy from, but it’s contagious. You can’t talk to Mr. Pulwarty and not leave with your day being brightened.

4. Mrs. Smith-Alleyne is one of UWI’s counsellors. I’ve often enough used UWIs counselling service when I felt down, out, insignificant, etc…and she has gone out of her way to be an encouragement to me and help me. She helped train me on how to function well at interviews, wrote reference letters, helped me cope with the hurt of people I trusted turning against me, and people wanting to take advantage of me. She saw qualities in me that I never fully acknowledged in myself and for some reason believes that I could achieve great things. Her assistance was invaluable.

5. Mrs. Anderson has also believed in me and supported me as a referee and with general words of kindness, concern, wisdom and encouragement. She was my Secondary School principal, and I don’t know how she manages to keep such good track of people’s lives post secondary school, but she does, and she still continues to act like a distant mummy. 

6. Mark. Mark Lyndersay taught my mummy a course (no, he’s not that old) in UWI whilst she was doing her Master’s degree. When I wanted to get into photography; she put me in contact with him. He advised me on what DSLR I should buy as a first camera, as well as the lens. Since then he’s just been there, available, supportive and nice (yes, I know that the word is over-used). He’s also been a referee for me and is just willing to help out and offer advice, encouragement and share his wealth of knowledge.

7. Dr. Jannel Phillip (please excuse the poor drawing) was one of my tutors and lecturers at UWI and has also served as a referee for me. She’s just a really nice person who always checks up on me when she sees me, finds out how I’m progressing toward my goals and just makes me feel like I can make it.

8. I didn’t know this, but the ACP (Acting 
Commissioner of Police) Williams went to Cambridge. When I got a grant from the ACCP, daddy and I had a very long chat with him at his office. He told me what I should expect at Cambridge and just gave great advice. I left his office feeling like I was capable of achieving whatever I set my mind to.

9. Kristy-Dr. Kristy Lascelles. I’ve worked as a research assistant for her for some of this year and I learnt so much. It was a wonderful opportunity to grow as a researcher. Apart from that, being English herself, and also having roots in the city of Cambridge, she has shared some wonderful perspective on what I was to expect when I came here.

10. Dr. Randy Seepersad. This is the man who told me that swans bite and that it’s against English law to cook or curry them (I’m laughing just at the thought that he found that piece of advice worth sharing). He’s also a lecturer at UWI and he did his MPhil at Cambridge. Dr. Chadee put me in contact with him and told me that I should talk to him. So, one day, very nervously I called his personal number and I think that a lady answered (I’m assuming his wife) and then put me on to him. I had one of the most informative and interesting conversations ever with him and just thinking about it makes me want to buss out laughing.

11. Melvina…sigh…this lady is amazing. She has, alongside Chris and Dr. Chadee, been writing reference letters for me since forever. She looked out for me, has been there, encouraged me, and believed in me. I met her as my boss when I worked at the Trinidad Guardian Newspapers, and even after I left the job she continued to look out for my interest and encourage me.

12. …and finally we have John/Professor Rust; Professor John Rust. I don’t know what to refer to him as. He signs his e-mails as John and when I sent him a message asking what I should refer to him as (amongst other questions), he conveniently didn’t answer that one. So, I think that I will call him John since that’s what he signs as. This is the guy who is now my supervisor at Cambridge and so I really haven’t formed a complete idea of him as yet since we only met this week. But, on the two occasions that I met him and spoke to him he has been absolutely wonderful, concerned and helpful. He gave me a tour of the Department building, told me to give him a brief bio for the website (still have no idea what to write in that), helped me activate my card for access to the building, showed me my desk and helped me to figure out the confusing maze that this University seems to be. He said that I’m suffering with ‘culture-shock, no, being-confused-in-Cambridge-and-having-no-one to help me shock’, so he offered to help me figure things out. When I first met him he said that he noticed that I’m a photographer and that my work is really good…and that maybe I could do some extra work for the lab because they need some good pictures for the website since some of the ones they have were crappy. (Some of them really are lacklustre…but I rell don’t know how serious he was with that offer) Either way, he seems to be really nice and hopefully he’ll see something special and worthy in me as time goes on…

 

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