Kenene Senior gives GIFT to community
“We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community. Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own”.
– Cesar Chavez
Kanene Senior, senior lecturer and research officer at Moneague College, St Ann, has been assisting the children and youth in her community by creating the GIFT (God’s Investment For Today) programme.
Her story began with what Senior describes as an uneventful childhood, where she was always taught that success is to be pursued; it was not an option. This came from a household of educators, as her father and aunts were teachers. Senior knew she always wanted to help people, but it was through her experiences that she was pulled into teaching.
“I was initially interested in teaching while I was in high school, but actually applied to do law at UWI (The University of the West Indies) during sixth form,” Senior said.
She changed her major to psychology the summer before matriculating to UWI after her experience with her father’s programme.
“My father started a positive behaviour programme which helps students who have been expelled from school, with the aim of reintegrating them into the school system,” she said, “This is where my interest in helping people really started, and this is why I switched my major from law,” Senior told The Gleaner.
She attained a bachelor’s of science degree, majoring in psychology with a minor in criminology, but she was pulled back into teaching when she started working at a private institution in Montego Bay, St James, shortly after completing UWI.
“I took a job in Montego Bay where I taught five subjects to grades nine, 10 and 11,” she said, “That year, the school had 100 per cent pass in English language, English literature and Spanish, and I had a grade-nine student who sat seven CSEC [Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate] subjects and was successful, four of which I taught,” she continued. Senior spent three years at the school.
She also has a postgraduate diploma in education from the University of Technology and started working at Moneague College in January 2015, where she has received awards for her work and involvement in campus life.
Love for teaching
“The best part of my job is being in the classroom,” Senior said, noting that she has found a way to incorporate her love for teaching and her need to help others.
The 29-year-old is currently pursuing her master’s degree in forensic psychology at the University of North Dakota, through online classes, while fulfilling her responsibilities as lecturer and chairperson of two committees, along with being the research officer at Moneague College.
In addition to this, time is carved out each second and fourth Saturdays for her community programme, GIFT.
“GIFT is more than a homework centre; it is an intervention programme for at-risk children and youth, with the aim of developing and honing the gifts they may have. Volunteerism is also impressed on them, and the children are assigned mentors to help them,” Senior said.
Along with doing more with the programme, Senior hopes to assist in the Jamaican justice and penal system, and the Jamaica Constabulary Force. She also wants to make changes and help those who have been initially imprisoned after committing a crime and found to be of unsound mind. In order to feed her need to help, Senior also wants to help her father with his positive-behaviour programme.
Senior is the recipient of the Council of Community College of Jamaica Award for Excellence in Instructional Leadership and will be collecting the John and Suane Roueche Excellence Award for 2018 in Manhattan, New York, next week, all resulting from her hard work and love for what she does.
However, as humans, we need to unwind, and Senior states that self-care is the basis of her work-life balance.
“I create a personal timetable that reflects both work and fun time,” she said, “I sometimes go for dinner or just stay at home watching movies, and other times I am with family.” As a Christian and an active member of the Church of God of Prophecy, she also said meditation and prayer have kept her grounded.
Senior’s ultimate goal is to attain her doctorate, continue impacting and developing lives, and also have a family one day.