Barbara Ellington, Public Affairs Editor
When their names were announced as the only married couple receiving their Doctor of Philosophy degrees in in Education, loud cheers erupted. And rightly so. It's not every day that a couple achieves this feat at the same time. Even louder cheers filled the sweltering gymnatorium at the Northern Caribbean University (NCU), when upon receiving their diplomas, the happy graduates sealed the achievement with a kiss.
But, just how did they arrive at this feat? The Gleaner spoke to Drs Phillip and Donna Powell-Wilson about the journey.
The Wilsons have been married for four of the 10 years since they met. They opted to tackle their doctorates in 2002 after completing their master's degrees together. "My husband wanted a study partner so he asked me to do it, she revealed. They selected different topics, and she also completed a second master's degree during the period after getting a scholarship.
"He continued in the field of leadership, and I focused on curriculum instruction," Powell-Wilson, a Kingstonian said; her husband is from Wait-A-Bit, Trelawny.
Currently head of the Mathematics department at the Shortwood Teachers College, Mrs Wilson said she is characterised as someone who cannot remain quiet for long. "It is a milestone achievement," she said of the PhD, but with both of them coming from large families, and being the only ones to attain that level of education, they had ample motivation.
"It is my philosophy that education is the only path out of a humble situation. Through education, I will be able to achieve anything," she stressed. The journey for Powell-Wilson has been fraught with adversity as she lost her mother during her second year of teachers' college and three of her nine siblings later. But, she said there were some very supportive persons around, chief among them her church family at Elim Open Bible in Portmore, St Catherine.
Long journey many challenges
There were sacrifices too as, with her husband being principal of St Thomas Technical High School, both had to give up all school vacation, public holidays and weekends to travel to Mandeville for studies. But it was all worth it. For Powell-Wilson, her future projects could include starting a family. Her husband told The Gleaner that he would be continuing to work in the area of clinical supervision of his teachers to make them more positively impact students and special courses with sixth formers.
"I will also be doing some writing and analysis to assist other PhD candidates," he said. Dr Wilson met his wife when both were at Denham Town High School. As their relationship blossomed, they decided to become life partners in the pursuit of academic excellence. The years of study were challenging, and he even felt guilty about watching TV occasionally.
"I can now enjoy myself and devote my time to St Thomas," he said.