A story of endless abilities
Education is a fundamental means of social transformation and empowerment. It has the potential of making an individual into what or who he or she wants to become. This has been the experience of Senator Dr Floyd Morris, director of the University of the West Indies Centre for Disability Studies (UWICDS).
Born in a humble household in Bailey’s Vale, St Mary, Morris always wanted to become a chartered accountant. During his high school years, he focused on the business subjects as part of the strategic move to accomplish his life-long ambition. But life had other plans for Senator Morris. It seems as if nature never had it for him to become a chartered accountant. In 1983, he developed glaucoma and this affected his sight significantly. By 1989, the illness landed him a fatal blow as he became totally blind at age 20.
Blindness placed him in a precarious position as he was now unable to see and had no academic subjects to pursue his life-long aspirations. But Senator Morris has a resilient spirit. He never allows anything to hold him back, and certainly, blindness was just going to be a temporary halt to his forward march.
Through sage advice from the late Dorraine Samuels, Morris decided to change his focus to radio broadcasting. This meant that Morris had to pursue a path in the humanities in order to accomplish this new-found love.
Morris, you will recall, never graduated from high school with any subjects because he had developed glaucoma, and this had a negative impact on his academic performance. He now had to attend the Jamaica Society for the Blind (JSB) for rehabilitation and to restart his academic pursuits at the Mico Evening College in 1991. At the Mico Evening College, he pursued a mix of the business and arts subjects that would allow him to matriculate at the University of the West Indies (UWI), the top university in the Caribbean and Latin America. By 1993, Senator Morris attained all the academic subjects needed to pursue a career in radio broadcasting.
Graduated with honours
He was accepted to read for a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Media and Communication at the then Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication, now Caribbean School of Media and Communication (CARIMAC), situated in the then Faculty of Arts and General Studies, now, Faculty of Humanities and Education. After a spectacular experience at CARIMAC, Senator Morris graduated with honours in media and communication. Studying in the humanities positively affected his ability to think critically, to write expressively, to speak clearly and confidently, to interact with information independently and effectively, and to understand human behaviour and communication.
It was an extremely, rewarding experience as this set the stage for his sojourn in national politics. He was appointed as the first visually impaired person to sit in the Parliament of Jamaica in 1998, promoted to minister of state in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security in 2001, and became the president of the Senate in 2013, the fourth most senior position in the governance framework of Jamaica.
Morris has demonstrated that it is not where you are from that matters. It is where you are heading. With a persistent spirit and a clear vision, coupled with God in your life, you can accomplish anything that you set your mind to.
In 2017, thirty-one years after graduating from high school without a single academic subject, Senator Morris successfully completed a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Government, with special focus on political communication. His seminal degree is a conflation of his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Philosophy degrees, recalling that it all started with his pursuit of a BA in Media and Communication in the Faculty of Arts and General Studies and then his Master of Philosophy in Government in the Faculty of Social Sciences.
Senator Morris prides himself as being a graduate of the UWI and most importantly, an alumnus of the Faculty of Humanities and Education. A tree is determined by its roots. If the tree has deep, buttressing roots, then it will grow mighty and strong and will be able to withstand any shocks that nature has to offer. The academic and career trajectory of Senator Dr Floyd Morris has been anchored by deep, buttressing roots, and this best explains the successes he has enjoyed to date.
- Senator Dr Floyd Morris is the director for the UWI Centre for Disability Studies in the Faculty of Social Sciences. He is also an alumnus of the Faculty of Humanities and Education, UWI Mona, where he studied Media and Communication. Additionally, he completed a PhD in Government with special focus on political communication. This article is one in a series that seeks to promote and highlight the impact of the arts and humanities on the individual’s personal development and career path. Please send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.