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Women of UWI urged to start 'tapping into their greatness'

Dr. Opal Donaldson-Cross, Assistant Vice President for Data and Analytics at Sagicor Group Jamaica, captivated an audience at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona campus, during the launch of the UNESCO-UWI Walking in Her Footsteps (WIHFS) 2024 mentorship program, coinciding with the International Women’s Day celebrations. Amidst the festivities, Donaldson-Cross shared a deeply personal narrative, unveiling five profound lessons gleaned from her life's journey:

1. Embrace Humble Beginnings: Originating from the Hanover district of Woodchurch to teenage parents, Donaldson-Cross recounted her transition to downtown Kingston at the age of 14, where her grandaunt, a tireless worker, raised her. Despite initial discomfort, she learned the value of hard work and resilience from her grandaunt's unwavering dedication.

 2. Start Despite Uncertainty: Facing adversity after her grandaunt's passing, Donaldson-Cross demonstrated resilience by pursuing her education against all odds. Despite financial constraints, she persisted and secured scholarships, paving her way to academic success.

3. Have Faith and Seek Mentors: Donaldson-Cross emphasized the pivotal role of faith and mentorship in her academic journey. Mentors like Professor Paul Golding and Professor Evan Duggan played instrumental roles in shaping her academic trajectory and fostering her growth.

4. Defy Negativity and Dream Big: Despite encountering skepticism and stereotypes, particularly as a woman in technology, Donaldson-Cross encouraged aspiring women to ignore detractors and pursue their dreams boldly. She urged them to believe in themselves and to claim their rightful space in their chosen fields.

5. Embrace Failure as Feedback: Reflecting on her struggles balancing motherhood and work life, Donaldson-Cross emphasized the importance of self-forgiveness and resilience in the face of failure. She underscored the value of learning from setbacks and using them as stepping stones toward growth and improvement.

Donaldson-Cross's narrative underscored the significance of the WIHFS mentorship program, designed to inspire young women in STEM fields by providing them with role models and support. Dr. André Coy, Associate Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology, echoed the commitment of the faculty to empower women in STEM, noting the impressive 60% female enrollment rate in science and technology programs at UWI, which surpasses the global average.

Photo caption: Dr. Opal Donaldson-Cross, Assistant Vice President for Data and Analytics at Sagicor Group Jamaica.

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Published on 03 Apr, 2024

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