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Three Female Pioneers to be Honored

For Release Upon Receipt - Thursday, October 16, 2014

More than 2000 students are set to graduate from the University of the West Indies Cave Hill campus when that institution holds its annual graduation ceremonies at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex on Saturday. The 2,019 graduands comprising 1,632 undergraduates and 387 postgraduates eclipse last year’s total of just over 1,800, making the Class of 2014 the largest ever in the campus’s history.

Among the graduands are 154 recipients with First Class honours degrees, down marginally from 159 last year but notably higher that the 114 of 2012 and 79 in 2011.

This year three women, each of whom has blazed a trail in her field of endeavour, will be awarded the University’s highest accolade. They are first female Governor General of Grenada, Dame Cécile La Grenade; former Barbados Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Dame Billie Miller; and Women’s Right Activists and former Barbados parliamentarian Dame Maizie Barker-Welch. Dame Cécile will be awarded the honorary Doctor of Science while the latter two will receive the honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

Dame Cécile, a Grenadian food scientist was sworn in as the Governor-General of Grenada, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique in 2013. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from The UWI, as well as a Master’s degree and doctorate in Food Science from the University of Maryland, Washington.

Dame Cécile who was appointed a Dame Grand Cross of the order of St. Michael and St. George by Queen Elizabeth II in 2013 is slated to deliver the feature address at the 10 a.m. ceremony. Graduands from the Faculties of Humanities and Education, Engineering, Science and Technology, Food and Agriculture and Medical Sciences will be greeted by UWI Chancellor Sir George Alleyne and will receive their scrolls from Campus Registrar Kenneth Walters.

Graduands from the Faculties of Social Sciences and Law will be presented at the 5 p.m. ceremony which will be addressed by Dame Billie.

From 1969-1976, and 1987-1994, Dame Billie worked as a practising Barrister and attorney-at-law specialising in family law. She was the only woman practising at the private Bar in Barbados at the time. She has had an active and prolonged political career, and was the first woman to sit in the Cabinet of Barbados.

The accolade, Dame of St. Andrew, Barbados’ highest honour, was conferred on her by the Governor General in 2003 in recognition of her distinguished career and her outstanding contribution to Barbados, to international organisations and to politics. In 2008, she was Laureate for the United Nations Population Award in recognition of her stellar contribution to the awareness of population and gender issues.

Dame Maizie Barker-Welch has a distinguished record of service at the national, regional and international levels in the fields of community and women in development, ageing, and politics. Her developmental work in Barbados and the region spans seven decades.

She is the founder of the St. Joseph Action Group, an NGO which helped to address the concerns of women in rural areas in Barbados. She has served in senior positions in various national and regional organisations devoted to those causes, and represented Barbados repeatedly on the global stage. She has also had a political career, and has received a number of outstanding awards. 


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