THE GLEANER, MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2018
Senior Gleaner Writer
JUST OVER 11 years ago, 25-year-
old Ralisa Dawkins completely
lost her sight.
It was the culmination of a
most dreaded process that
began at the age of 14 when
Dawkins was diagnosed with
optic neuritis, an inflammation
of the optic nerve that caused
her sight to progressively
But Dawkins never lost
optimism for a university degree,
racking up award after award at
the secondary and tertiary levels
en route to her first class honours
Bachelor of Science in Political
Science at the University of the
West Indies (UWI), Mona, last year.
Dawkins also pursued a
double minor in international
relations and African Diaspora
“The sky is the limit,” said
Dawkins, the recipient of the
Ambassador Sue Cobb scholarship
during her final year of
Now pursuing her master’s
degree in government, Dawkins
said that she is determined to
pursue a PhD upon completion
of her second degree.
According to her, making the
transition from being sighted to
becoming blind was difficult, but
she always held on to her mantra
of believing in herself.
“I had to stop going to school
during the initial phase. It was
very difficult for me, but,
thankfully, my family and friends
were very supportive,” Dawkins
Now, she is only able to see
“I cannot see people, but I can
see the shadow. If I don’t see
someone’s shadow, I can smell to
know that you are there,”she said.
Dawkins was attending
Lennon High School in
Clarendon when she became
visually impaired and completed
her high school studies at the
Salvation Army School for the
Blind and then The Queen’s
School for Girls.
“It was an amazing experience!
The teachers were very
accommodating and really
helped to motivate me in my
academic pursuits,” she said.
While in lower sixth form at The
Queen’s School, she was awarded
certificates of excellence for her
academic achievements, and
while in upper sixth form, she was
first in her class.
At the end of sixth form, she
achieved four distinctions and
two passes in the Caribbean
Advanced Proficiency Examination.
“I relied mostly on listening
and using audio books as much
as possible. My friends would
also listen to them and help me
to memorise what was taught. It
worked, and I am very happy for
my achievements,” Dawkins
“I want to encourage
persons with disabilities to
motivate themselves and seek
encouragement from others and
be committed to what they set
their minds to,”Dawkins firstname.lastname@example.org
Blind and brilliant
HE UNIVERSITY of the West Indies
(UWI) is the top tertiary institution
in the Caribbean on the 2018
Times Higher Education
According to the index, of the 129
best universities in the Caribbean and
Latin America, The UWI is ranked 37th.
“This phenomenal recognition by
is even more significant when it is
recognised that there are dozens of
colleges and universities in the region and
Latin America that are older and havemore
financial resources than The UWI,”said Vice-
Chancellor Professor Sir Hilary Beckles.
had ranked the best 129
universities out of the more than 1,500
in Latin America and the Caribbean.
In 2015, The UWI began an aggressive
strategy to enhance its global brand
Beckles said that information relevant
to hundreds of departments, dozens of
faculties, institutes, and centres had to
be identified, collated, and analysed.
“The concept of four campuses one
university had to be made real for
assessors,” he said.
The UWI operates campuses in Mona,
Jamaica; Cave Hill, Barbados; St Augustine,
Trinidad; and an Open Campus.
“No university in the Caribbean has
produced as much first-class academic
research across as many disciplines,
generating as much regional and global
impact, and produced as many
regionally and globally distinguished
graduates and scholars who have won as
many global academic awards, including
Nobel prizes, as The UWI,”Beckles said.
He said that at 70, The UWI should
celebrate the legacy of its academics,
chancellors, vice-chancellors, principals,
management, and the membership of
4th – global outreach and impact
26th – impact of academic research
37th – overall quality