Tavernier credits hard work for her success

Tavernier credits hard work for her success

On October 18, 2014, Royette Tavernier, from Grand Bay, graduated with a PhD in Psychology (Life Span Development) from Brock University in Canada.

Her journey from the Grand Bay Primary school to Vanier Scholar exemplifies “success through determination and hard work”.

Despite growing up on the edge of poverty, Tavernier was always described as an intelligent young lady. At the Grand Bay Primary School and the Pierre Charles Secondary School it was clear that her focus on academics never deterred her participation in extracurricular activities. She was a member of the school’s Drama Club, represented the school in Miss Jupe competition, took part in Dominica Carnival Princess Show, danced Bèlè, did creative dancing among others things. Royette was always a leader.

However, it was when she started debating at the Pierre Charles Secondary School that her journey towards scholarship in tertiary education truly took off. With the support of her High School Teacher and mentor, Jo-Anne Xavier-Cuffy, she was encouraged to lead the Grand Bay Secondary School Debating team at the Kiwanis National Debating competition. Her team emerged victorious and she moved on to the Caribbean Public Speaking Competition.

Tavernier won that competition held in Antigua earning a scholarship to pursue an Associate Degree at the University of St. Martin (USM). It was at that competition that she met Charles and Susanne Armitage (at that time Dr. Armitage was the Dean at USM).

The Armitages’ later became her adopted parents and encouraged her to strive for her dreams of having a career in academia. She graduated as Student of the Year at USM and moved on to Trent University in Canada on a full tuition scholarship, where she obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology.

From Trent University Royette earned yet another scholarship to pursue her Masters Degree in Child and Youth Studies at Brock University in Canada. She was then encouraged by her faculty mentor, Dr. Teena Willoughby to apply for the prestigious Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship (which was designed to attract and retain world-class doctoral students). No one was surprised when Tavernier was awarded this very prestigious scholarship, which would fund her PhD studies at Brock.

During her PhD studies under the supervision of Dr. Willoughby, Tavernnier’s research has been published in reputable academic journals, including Developmental Psychology and Chronobiology International. Her research focuses on sleep and psychosocial adjustment among university students.

In October 2013, she had the opportunity to meet one of her academic role models – a professor at Northwestern University, whose research also examines sleep and adjustment. At that meeting, Tavernier knew that one day she would like to work closely with that professor. A few months later she saw the advertisement for a research position to work with that very same professor. The only way to get that position was for Tavernier to fast-track her PhD degree. Through sheer determination and the desire to succeed she worked tirelessly and did just that. A Phd, months before her scheduled completion date!

In August 2014 Tavernier successfully defended her PhD thesis and was awarded the Post-Doctoral Fellowship position at the luminous Northwestern University. As a post-doctoral fellow, Royette will have the opportunity to work closely with a well-respected faculty member as she continues to publish research before applying for university faculty positions. This is an amazing accomplishment for a young lady from Grand Bay who along the way had to deal with poverty, the death of her mom among other things.

When asked what does her PhD graduation mean to her, Tavernier replied “It means so much to have been able to achieve this goal that I had set for myself as a little girl – even when I had no idea how it could be done. But having graduated made me realize that this was not just a personal accomplishment. I have been so blessed with the love, support, and encouragement of so many people along the way. Ever since my sister, Karllen Lawrence, told me about Psychology when I was in high school, I have had this burning passion to pursue higher education but I was never alone on this quest.”

She said she has received lots of support from family and friends. “My adopted parents, my advisor and close friends, as well as my family in Dominica, have all been so supportive,” she stated. “This accomplishment represents a celebration of the spirit of the people of Grand Bay, my home village, in which we persevere despite adversity – and we do so with a good spirit. It also represents proof that any little boy or girl can dream big, despite their current situation. Hard work and a humble, fighting spirit definitely go a long way!”

Tavernier with well wishers

Tavernier with well wishers