From a tender age of six years old, Valerie Facey has endured abuse of all forms. Despite the challenges, Facey was determined to make a change, and yesterday she was conferred with an honorary Doctor of Letters at the University of the West Indies (UWI) graduation ceremony.
In her address, Dr Facey encouraged graduates not to be daunted by the challenges but to use their past as a tool to contribute to nation building.
"It has taken a long time for me to reach the pinnacle of my career. I never had a father, and between the ages of six and 17, I endured abuse in the great USA (United States)," she said.
"For this reason, several of my special endeavours have been in early childhood (education), child abuse, parenting and social education," she continued.
Having dedicated herself to the preservation of historic landmarks and other aspects of Jamaica's cultural heritage, she encouraged persons to take pride in their country.
"Jamaica is a wonderful country and has the potential to be the model society of the world. However, as a people we have to emerge from our situations and be determined to make a change," she charged.
"Truth be told, most of the powerful persons in this world have emerged from situations of abject poverty and slavery. Many of them have endured acts of cruelty in the name of religion, power and supremacy, but they all had a goal," she declared.
Facey added: "I urge you, therefore, to be steadfast. As a society, we must take pride in our country, teach our children to have respect for themselves and elders, and give back."
That echoed a charge given to our UWI graduates last Friday night.
At that ceremony, Chancellor of the University, George Alleyne, noted that 25.6 per cent of the graduates were male, the highest it has been in several years.
"I wish you the best, and I trust you will be good ambassadors for the university and good ambassadors for this campus.
"The sustainability of the university, the premier tertiary institution in the Caribbean, depends in large measure on how you carry yourselves," charged Alleyne.