Fri | Aug 18, 2017

'Doctor' in waiting ... Blind senator Floyd Morris nears PhD after leaving high school without a subject

Published:Thursday | March 9, 2017 | 3:01 AM
Senator Floyd Morris prepares for an oral examination to defend his thesis for a doctor of philosophy (PhD) degree at the University of the West Indies, Mona, yesterday — Arnaldo Brown photos via Facebook

In a story of triumph over adversity, blind senator, Floyd Morris, who left St Mary High School 31 years ago without having a single subject in an external exam, is celebrating the successful defence of his thesis for a doctor of philosophy (PhD) degree.

With the passing of the oral examination yesterday, the former senate president is now closer to being awarded the degree from the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies.

Sharing pictures wife his wife, Shelley-Ann, the advocate for the disabled community, took to Facebook last night to share his journey from his struggles in St Mary to one of the highest academic honours.

See edited excerpts of his Facebook post below:

When Jesus says yes, no one can say no! 31 years ago, I left one of the best high schools in the island, St Mary High School. When I left that institution, I did so without a single subject because my sight had deteriorated significantly and I was unable to complete my CXC exams.

Despair, hopelessness and stress were the order of the day. Most of my friends had moved on and I was all alone at home in Bailey's Vale, wondering what would be my future. I realised that if I stayed at home for the remainder of my life, poverty and sickness would set in.

I cried and prayed and my God answered. I listened to Dorraine Samuels on RJR 94FM and heard her talking about the Jamaica Society for the Blind and the services they offered to blind persons and I realised that there was some hope. I called Dorraine and she advised me as to what to do and I set my plan in motion.

I had to leave St Mary to come to Kingston to access the services of the Society for the Blind and to restart my schooling. There was no money, no knowledge of Kingston, but I had Jesus. I came to Kingston in 1991 and got my training at the organisation for the blind and restarted my schooling.

It was time to redo my CXC exams and there was no money to pay for the subjects. But while I was at high school, I knew one of the most decent and friendly head boys of the institution, Gary Allen, and he was now working at RJR.

I contacted Gary and told him of my situation and both him and Patrick Harley who is also from St Mary and a close family friend, came to my rescue and paid for those GCE exams. I was able to pay for the three subjects that year: Accounts, Maths and English language that I passed with flying colours.


IN PHOTO: In this 2011 photo, RJR Group Managing Director Gary Allen (second left) congratulates the bride Shelley-Ann, as his wife, Eulalie Greenaway, and the groom, Floyd Morris, share the moment.

The next year, I did four more subjects, two at O’ Levels and two at A' Levels and again passed all of them. I now had seven subjects and my eyes were now fixed on the University of the West Indies (UWI) where I was accepted in 1993 to read for a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication.

Fast forward to 2017, some 31 years after I graduated from St Mary High, without a single subject and where our motto is 'Faith and courage', I today defended my PhD thesis, titled, 'Mediated Political Communication in Modern Jamaica: Cases of Michael Manley, Edward Seaga and P.J. Patterson' at the most progressive tertiary institution in the Caribbean, the University of the West Indies.

I am indeed thankful to God for His guiding hands in my life. When you have Him on your side and you demonstrate discipline and commitment, you will make it. I thank all my Jamaican brothers and sisters for their tremendous support and I want you all to know that I love and respect you all. As for the UWI, I will forever cherish that institution because it has allowed me to maximise my true potential as a person with a disability.

UWI Mona is the most progressive institution in the Caribbean when it comes to relating with persons with disabilities and I am very pleased of my association with this institution.

When Jesus says yes, no one can say no!