Tue | Aug 21, 2018

A new doctor in the House - Senator Angela Brown Burke earns her PhD

Published:Sunday | April 19, 2015 | 12:00 AMDaraine Luton
Mayor of Kingston Senator Dr Angela Brown Burke with Deputy Mayor Andrew Swaby
Senator Floyd Morris

She is now Senator Dr Angela Brown Burke - emphasis on doctor.

Just last week, the veteran politician completed her doctoral work, and her accomplishment did not escape colleague senators when they assembled for last Friday's sitting of Parliament's Upper Chamber.

"It is always good when we achieve major milestones in our lives and especially within the context of education because education is a lifelong engagement," Senate President Floyd Morris said as he extended commendations to his deputy.

Brown Burke did her PhD in adult educational literacy at the National-Louis University in Chicago.

"Amidst all Senator Brown Burke's responsibilities, she has ensured that she prepares herself well and ensures that she is on the cutting edge in terms of the execution of her national responsibilities," added Morris.

Opposition Senator Tom Tavares-Finson, in commending Brown Burke on her achievement, quipped that it is time for her to leave politics.

"We note that the chosen area of study is one which is critical to the nation and one which we hope, in due course, she will find full-time occupation in," said Tavares-Finson.

A.J. Nicholson, the leader of government business in the Senate, noted that Brown Burke "has been toiling in the vineyard to achieve her PhD" and that resulted in her being absent from some sittings of the Senate over the past few years.

"We are persuaded that the knowledge that you have gained through that journey will be used for the upliftment of our brothers and sisters here," said Nicholson.

In addition to being deputy Senate president, Brown Burke is the mayor of Kingston and chairman of the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation. She is also a long-serving councillor for the Norman Gardens division in East Kingston and Port Royal, and is a vice-president of the governing People's National Party.




Brown Burke told senators that she, like former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere, does not see the attainment of the academic distinction as an end in itself.

"I, too, do not believe that a certificate - a degree in education - is about a paper on the wall. It is that sword that you use to slay the demons and dragons that face those who are opposed and marginalised and that is the purpose of a degree like this one," said Brown Burke.

According to Brown Burke, getting her PhD does not define who she is. Rather, it has made her a bit more aware of where she stands "and the obligations that I have to my fellowman".

The doctoral committee which assessed the work said: "Dr Angela Brown Burke's extraordinary work, Learning to Work Together: A Phenomenological Approach to Understanding Participation, was admitted into the adult-education canon of soon-to-be-famous literature.

"Her work is remarkable both for the action it produced and for its insights into collaborative decision-making. Grounding her research is deliberative democracy - a notion in sharp contrast to the American view of democracy, which is conflated with capitalism - she reflects a uniquely Jamaican experience of working together democratically.

"She has demonstrated her leadership beyond the political sphere and proven herself a leader of both minds and hearts as they move toward a democratic society."