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Jamaica Observer: Pearnel Charles Sr hailed as nation builder
Published: Tuesday, August 14, 2018 3:32:49 PM

Northern Caribbean University President Dr Lincoln Edwards (left) conferring Speaker of the House of Representatives with the Honorary Doctor of Public Service. (Photo: Gregory Bennett)


MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Veteran Jamaica Labour Party politican Pearnel Charles Sr was yesterday conferred with a Honoray Doctor of Public Service at the Northern Caribbean University (NCU) graduation here in Mandeville.

In a citation, Charles was described as “nation builder, political icon, freedom fighter, revolutionary, champion of the people, trade unionist par excellence, and Jamaican legend”.

Charles, whose political journey began as a parish councillor, was praised for his work as Member of Parliament, Cabinet minister and speaker of the House of Representatives, as well as his expertise as a trade union negotiator.

“Whether serving as vice-president of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union or as Cabinet minister in the areas of local government, public utilities and transport, or labour and social security, or as a multi-term member both Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament, his loyalty and dedication to the well-being of the people of Jamaica over the past 50 years have been unquestionable,” said the citation.

It continued: “In his earnest effort to accomplish what he considered to be vital to those he served, he has encountered close shaves with death and endured gut-wrenching anguish and pain, and Jamaica is a better place today because of his service.”

President of the Seventh-day Adventist-operated educational institution, Dr Lincoln Edwards, did the conferral prior to the robing in academic regalia.

“As an institution deeply committed to selfless service in humanity, NCU is pleased to recognise leaders like the Honourable Pearnel Charles Sr, whose personal contribution to the development of Jamaica is exemplary,” he told the audience gathered at the gymnatorium.

Charles, in his response after the conferral, said that he is from an “NCU family”, as he received part of his education from the institution and many family members have taken a similar path.

“My wife happens to be an NCU graduate, three of my four daughters are NCU graduates, my brother is an NCU graduate, and three of his children are NCU graduates. My sister's first son is also an NCU graduate…” he said.

Charles said that he started attending the institution in 1955 at 19 years old when it was then called the West Indian Training College.

“My mother took me here because she heard that you can earn while you learn,” he said, noting that some persons his age had already completed the level of education that he was embarking on and were working.

For him, he said, he felt that it was a late start trying to get to that stage but his mother had words of encouragement for him.

“My mom said 'don't worry, you will meet mothers and daughters and sons in the same class. Go slowly, don't stop, don't go back and you will reach one da'. She said 'you can be whatever you want if you want to do it badly enough'. Coming to NCU is the greatest thing that has happened to me in my life; it has defined my whole future,” he said.

Charles said that though his mother had high hopes for him the present honour may still have come as a surprise to her.

He urged the graduates to live to the standard given to them and said that though their studies may have come with challenges, they have had a privilege that many others would want.

Development Bank of Jamaica Managing Director Milverton Reynolds was also conferred with an honorary degree at this year's graduation.

A total of 453 students graduated from NCU yesterday.

— Alicia Sutrherland

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