Editorial

Dr Floyd Morris – in praise of extraordinary achievements

Sunday, November 05, 2017

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The number of Jamaicans who have pursued a university first degree are relatively few, and the number seeking a second degree even fewer. Imagine, therefore, how small the number of those who have received their third degree — the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).

That fact alone would make any PhD recipient a standout among the Jamaican populace. For Senator Floyd Emerson Morris, that achievement has moved from extraordinary to unbelievable and historic.

Dr Morris, who had already made history as the first blind senator and then as president of the Jamaican Senate, became only the second blind Jamaican to read successfully for the PhD and was appropriately singled out by The University of the West Indies (UWI) Chancellor Robert Bermudez for his feat on Friday.

According to Chancellor Bermudez, Dr Morris was one of 3,356 graduates who received their degrees during The UWI ceremonies for the presentation of graduates, 2017. He was also one of eight visually impaired persons getting their degrees but the only one awarded the PhD — for his thesis titled 'Mediated Political Communication in Modern Jamaica: Cases of Michael Manley, Edward Seaga and P J Patterson'.

Along his extremely eventful journey, Dr Morris had to overcome what for many would have been insurmountable odds. He left St Mary High School in 1986 without a single subject, because at points he could not even see the blackboard in front of him as his sight deteriorated.

Completely blind at age 20, a victim of glaucoma — the disease most responsible for blindness in Jamaica — Dr Morris, in his own words, recalled: “Without sight, I was already facing what could be a cruel, uncaring world. Now without any academic certification, my immediate future seemed entirely hopeless. As Jamaicans would say, 'mi corner dark', literally.”

After overcoming the inevitable depression and doubts about the future, he collected himself and with the help of many kind-hearted Jamaicans and, the support of family, notably his mother Ms Jemita Pryce, he embarked on a mission to succeed.

He completed Mico Teachers' College (The Mico University College) before going on to write a compelling success story at UWI as student leader and later lecturer during his studies for first, second and third degrees. As a politician he became a leader of sighted men and made his mark as a junior minister for labour and social security.

His time as a senator, and particularly as president of the Senate, is worth studying for the lessons that can be learnt by disabled persons seeking examples on how to rise above their challenges in order to exist at the seat of power.

His story is a true Jamaican epic about a poor blind boy who would let nothing stop him from attaining his dream of taking his rightful place in the sun.

We join with all those who congratulate Dr Floyd Emerson Morris, PhD, whose exploits make us even prouder to call ourselves Jamaicans.

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