Fri | Jun 5, 2020

'He gave me a realistic view of the working world'

Published:Sunday | November 7, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Petrina Francis, Assistant Editor - News

AS A student of sociology at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Professor Barry Chevannes was assigned as my mentor in 2001 after I joined the UWI mentorship programme. He was then dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences.

I was a confused second-year student in need of career and academic guidance, so I was elated when I was told that Professor Chevannes was to be my mentor. I must admit, however, that I was a little intimidated to have someone of Prof's intellect as my mentor, but after our first meeting, I realised that there was nothing to be afraid of as he was a down-to-earth decent human being who had a genuine love for people.

As mentor, he gave me a realistic view of the working world and a developed sense of social responsibility. I walked away from the programme, which spanned one year, as a confident young woman who was much clearer about my career path, and ready to take on the world of work. I also left the programme with a confidant, a father figure, and a new family, as his wife, Pauletta, and their children welcomed me into their home.

Powerful and inspiring

Prof took me to a function where he was guest speaker during the first year of the mentorship programme. That, I must admit, was my first formal function - other than a wedding. I was grateful for the exposure and was enthralled by his powerful and inspiring delivery.

Prof was always positive and willing to help in any way he could. He was very encouraging and always seemed to find the silver lining behind the dark cloud. He always took an active interest in my life and kept me on the straight and narrow path. We spoke on Father's Day this year and I shared with him a significant development in my life. His response was: "We have to come and visit you." This was not to be, however.

I am a much better person today having crossed paths with Professor Chevannes. He has left an indelible mark on my academic, professional, and personal life. He was the perfect combination of the consummate gentleman, cultural giant, and academic.

Jamaica has lost an icon - a true son of the soil.

Walk good, Prof.