Senator Morris hopes to bridge generation gap for a better Ja
Gabriela Morris became a fixture at every prize-giving ceremony at the infant, primary and secondary level at the schools she attended.
By age eight, she was getting substantial support from corporate Jamaica for her outstanding achievements.
Jamaica’s youngest senator, who made history when she was sworn in to the Senate last Wednesday, was a Scotia scholar and an indomitable debater, while Jamaica National honoured her with a Grade Six Achievement Test scholarship for bettering students across the island.
Morris came first in her class at Corinaldi Avenue Primary in Montego Bay, St James, up to grade three when the teachers felt another child also deserved the encouragement, she shared with The Sunday Gleaner, “so sometimes the teachers gave my friend, who was as brilliant, first place and we both learnt how to share the shine, and have always used that to motive ourselves going forward”.
The two young women remain best of friends today, taking the same political path in university as members of the People’s National Party Youth Organisation (PNPYO).
There are no ifs or buts that Morris was a born leader, and her Emerging Global Leaders legacy project gifted to the students at her alma mater, Montego Bay High School, is proof.
Actively involved in speech, drama, music, playing in the school band, and being a member of the Interact, Key and Maths clubs, Morris’ track record saw her copping 10 distinctions and one credit in Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) exams administered by the Caribbean Examinations Council.
When Morris walked out of the room on completing her CSEC exams in 2014, little did she know that her grades would propel her to 10th place in the Caribbean and seventh in Jamaica.
“Spanish messed me up,” she quipped. “The only thing I didn’t do was play sports or dance – well, not until university.”
As a teenager, Morris was a community builder who won awards for community development as well as the Miss MoBay High pageant. As if that was not enough, the young lady was named a member of the school’s Gold Club, a place reserved for students with high averages.
“She is driven. You don’t have to do a lot with Gabbi, she has always been a high achiever,” stated her mom, Dahlia Morris, a teacher at Cornwall College. Both of Gabriela’s parents are educators.
Extremely humbled by the path God had directed for her daughter, Mrs Morris, who is an ardent member of the Montego Bay Seventh-day Adventist Church, spoke of her family as being very conservative.
“We don’t get overly excited about a lot of things, but we know her (Gabbi) potential, and we remind her of the importance of integrity and focus,” the mother of two revealed.
Her daughter, she explained, is intrinsically motivated.
“She is naturally brilliant, which is something we don’t think about. She sets the standards and works towards it,” shared Mrs Morris, adding that Gabriela, who became deputy head girl at MoBay High, has been a leader since infant school. “She is not a showy child, but nobody leads her.”
Gabriela’s impressive track record continued at the Montego Bay Community College, where she received the ‘Outstanding Leadership of Co-curricular Activities’ award on graduation.
It wasn’t until entering university that her interest in politics was honed. She then felt the need to develop a political identity.
“I think it is important for young people to join the process. I found it very interesting to see young people who were reluctant to engage in political discussions. For me, I thought it was healthy, it was good for young people to argue about ideology and come to a consensus,” the 23-year-old stated.
Gabriela embraced the People’s National Party (PNP) and had friends who chose the other political party, but one thing they all agreed on was, “We have to have good people on both sides; at the end of the day it’s all about Jamaica”.
That was when she said she began to meet many young people involved in the political process, and after being on the university guild, she was exposed to even more to politics.
“I later joined the YO, and I have loved it since,” she declared.
GRASPED OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE
Gabriela said she never anticipated being a senator at such a young age, but when the opportunity came, “it was not worth giving away. It was too great of an opportunity to give service and open doors for young people”.
Willing to learn while serving, young Morris shared that what she brings to the Senate is not just youth voice, however important, because there is a need for consultation with every facet of Parliament and the Senate.
“We need young people in agriculture, in tourism, in security. We need the voice of a generation that is ready to add their opinion and ideas and voices to the conversation. As a young woman, I understand some of the issues women are facing, and hope to bring some sort of balance, some sort of gender parity,” she noted.
As a young Jamaican, Gabriela is looking towards sustainability, and wants to create a future that is promising. In the next 20 years, she wants to see a Jamaica that is effectively managing climate change, achieves gender balance in all areas and eliminates poverty.
“For me, achieving the sustainable goals of the United Nations is critical, and I want to see national policies that help to achieve these goals,” she said.
For Gabriela, the PNP represents a standard for the people. “It has always put forward in its ideology policies that are making a way for all people, regardless of colour, creed, ethnicity, age, or gender. It is an inclusive ideology that I have bought into. If it sticks to its core, Jamaica will benefit,” she stressed.
The PNP, the young senator said, is a Big Tent Party – its members are encouraged to exercise their democratic rights.