a centenary
of Learning

  • 34
  • by Dame Pearlette Louisy
  • graduated 1994
  • studied PhD
  • from Saint Lucia

My stay at Bristol was a memorable one in many respects

I entered the University of Bristol Graduate School of Education in October 1991 to read for a doctoral degree in Higher Education. Two years and three months later, under the committed and dedicated supervision, guidance and mentorship of Professor Michael Crossley, my thesis entitled “Tertiary Education in St. Lucia: Implications for Small Island States” was accepted by the University. I had therefore fulfilled all the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Faculty of Social Sciences, School of Education. (What a relief that was!) My stay at Bristol was a memorable one in many respects:

• the support of the Faculty and Staff of the School of Education, particularly those on the Third Floor and the Library;

• the camaraderie of my colleague graduate students on the top floor of No. 8 Berkeley Square;

• the warmth, generosity and caring attitude of the Management and residents of Methodist International House (MIH) – the Wardens, Dorothy and Donald Blackmore and fellow students from the Caribbean and Africa. The location of MIH suited me just fine. In the shadow of the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge, a brisk five-minute walk to church on Sundays, and a tolerable commute to the University – a Single to Dingles on the No.8 bus!;

• the efforts of the Bristol International Student Centre in helping students feel at home by introducing us to Bristol and the West Country - visits to Wales, Devon, Portsmouth, Stratford-on-Avon stand out;

• the young lady (I call her one of God’s angels) who gave me her room during my first weekend in Bristol while she sorted out accommodation for me in a strange city. I refer to her as one of God’s angels, because after this act of generosity to the complete stranger that I was to her, I never set eyes on her again;

• but above all, the mentorship of my doctoral supervisor Professor Michael Crossley who today remains one of my closest colleagues and motivators.

I return to Bristol periodically, every time I am in the United Kingdom. The place has changed a little, the faces I knew are no longer around, but fond memories remain. My ongoing work with the Small States Research Group however, keeps me in touch with developments at the GSoE in particular and the University of Bristol in general.

A little about myself before I came to Bristol and since I left seems to be in order. I received my early education at the Laborie Girls’ Primary School and the St. Joseph’s Convent Secondary School. Later I read for a Bachelor of Arts degree in Latin, English and French at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies and a Master of Arts Degree in Linguistics (Didactics) at Université Laval in Quebec City, Canada. I am primarily a career educator having taught at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels before taking up the post of Principal of the St. Lucia ‘A’ Level College in 1981. When that College merged with other institutions in 1986 to form the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College, I became Dean of the Division of Arts, Science and General Studies. That was when I decided to pursue studies in the management of higher education in small states. I got offers of admission from the Universities of London, Wales and Bristol. I chose Bristol because they made a point of referring to my “maturity and experience”. I am glad I did. Upon my return from Bristol, I served as Vice Principal and Principal of the Sir Arthur Lewis Community until my appointment by Her Majesty the Queen as Governor General of Saint Lucia on September 1, 1997. I took my oath of office on September 17, 1997.

I have combined my career in the field of education with a passion for culture and the performing arts. I am still very actively involved in the development and promotion of the French Creole language both at home and at the regional and international levels. I am still involved in my academic work in the field of Higher Education, especially that of higher education in small states. A lot of this work has been done in collaboration with Professor Michael Crossley of the GSoE, for the Commonwealth Secretariat, and UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning. My articles appear in international journals and publications, and I have delivered keynote addresses and presented papers at educational conferences and forums at the national, regional and international levels.

I have received many honours and awards. I was the Student of the Year during my second year at the University of the West Indies as a Canadian International Development Agency Scholar. I was a Commonwealth Scholar when I studied in Canada. I currently hold Honorary Doctor of Laws Degrees (LL.D) from the Universities of Bristol (1999) Sheffield (2002) and the University of the West Indies (2011). I am a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International, a Dame of the Order of St. John (2001) and a Dame of the Order of St. Gregory the Great.

I was adjudged an International Woman of the Year by the International Biographical Centre in 1998 and 2001, and named an Honorary Distinguished Fellow by the University of the West Indies (2003) and a Woman of Great Esteem by QKingdom Ministries of the United States of America. I received from the American Foundation of the University of the West Indies a Caribbean Luminary Award for achieving beyond expectations.

As Governor General I was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Lucia (GCSL) in 1997 and the Grand Cross of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (GCMG) in 1999.

I currently serve as Patron to many national organizations in the areas of education, sports, culture and to many charitable and service organisations.