Dr. Cyrilla Anselm, obtains PhD post-retirement, encourages Dominicans to never limit themselves

Dr. Cyrilla Anselm, a former senior educator, and Dominica’s most recent Ph.D. recipient

 Think Expansively

Dr. Cyrilla Anselm, a former senior educator and Dominica’s most recent Ph.D. recipient, expresses hope that her success story will encourage others to never limit themselves.

After successfully defending her thesis, “Factors influencing student attrition: A case study of freshman attrition at OMSS, Dominica,” the University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus announced on Friday, January 20, 2023, that they had received notice of completion for Dr. Anselm who pursued the Doctor of Educational Leadership in Higher Education.

During a very insightful interview with Dominica News Online (DNO), post-announcement, Dr. Anselm, who recently retired from her position as a teacher at the Roseau Primary School this past December, revealed her emotional path to
earning her greatest degree, which began back in 2017.

“I was so excited to begin my studies, when lo and behold, up came [Hurricane] Maria, which took my roof and left everything awry,” she recalled.

Unwilling to let it stand in the way of her success, she relocated to Antigua to pursue her studies before returning home three months later.

The mother of two- Hadassah and Elisheba- recounts encountering a new challenge in her final year when she found herself unexpectedly responsible for caring for her mom, who, being diabetic and hypertensive, became an amputee.

Establish Unwavering Perseverance

“There were days when I would say to myself that I just couldn’t do this anymore, but thanks to my husband, Gregoire Anselm-my greatest cheerleader- and my two daughters, I was able to push through,” Dr. Anselm stated.

The 1980 Convent High School alumni, who went on to obtain her Bachelor’s degree in Literacy Studies and Master’s in English Language at UWI in 2012 and 2016 subsequently, explained while speaking to DNO that the emotional nature of her research was initiated by the fact that it resonated with a situation similar to what she was going through.

“Freshman attrition is something that affects a lot of people,” Dr. Anselm highlighted.

“A lot of students begin their studies either through the support of their families or by way of scholarship, but eventually something stands in the way and he or she has to attrite. Sometimes it’s through no fault of these students. That is what I wanted to investigate.”

She referred to her circumstance, noting that she could have discontinued her studies at the time Hurricane Maria ravaged her home and further when she became the main caregiver for her mom.

However, Dr. Anselm contrasted this by pointing out that she chose to persevere. However, many students around the world are unable to.

Dr. Anselm received the letter of awarding of the doctorate by Dr. Kimone Joseph Head of the UWI Open Campus (L) and Dominica and Dr. Barry Casimir Programme Manager of UWI Dominica

“This is now a very emotional situation; it is distressing for the student, the parents, and even the institution. Sometimes it’s through no fault of the student. Maybe the funds cannot come in, or maybe these students did not realize that that program was just not congruent with their values, beliefs, or even work ethic,” she stated.

“So what was this research advocating? Instead of administering blame, find out why that student could not continue. What could have been done to scaffold that student to persistence? Is this the end of the road for these students or can they be prompted to resume at some other time?” Dr. Anselm added.

She emphasized that the key lesson she learned from her research was that it is important to look beyond the obvious and not simply assign blame: “Had the student attained a good student fit or institutional fit? It is imperative that the student be accorded a sense of place” Kerby (2015).

Though she was stretched exhaustingly thin between classes, her full-time job as an educator, a wife, mother, and now full-time caregiver for her mom, Dr. Anselm talked about a renewed dedication to complete a path she had begun not just for herself but her family.

“Sometimes I think I was working on auto because there was so much to do,” she revealed.

“In addition to the assignments which kept rolling in, I had to keep up with the dissertation which had five chapters. On top of that, at times when the chapter was written and sent to the Research Supervisor, it would sometimes be returned
informing it was insufficient or needed to be redone,” the Doctor of Philosophy added.

Nevertheless, she pressed on to the finish.

Know That Faith, Self-Care, and a Support System Are Necessary

Hence when Dr. Kimone C. Joseph, Head of the UWI Open Campus Dominica, notified her of her success, she was elated and filled with feelings of self-fulfillment and self-actualization.

“I saw this degree as something I needed to do. I was not just interested in educating my students and remaining blank. I always went along with them. I always thought that as much as I am empowering them, I needed to empower myself,” the Canefield resident emphasized. “I usually tell my two daughters, I rise, so you can rise. So now they say boy, Mammy set the bar high.”

The sole Dominican in the cohort attributes her success to good nutrition and rest, as well as the help of her team, which she lists as consisting of her daughters, husband, spiritual family, extended family at the UWI, and her former colleagues at the Roseau Primary School; all of whom she acknowledges are thrilled with her success.

Dr. Anselm and her husband Gregoire Anselm

Above all, she stressed, in accordance with her beliefs, that without the help of Abba Yahweh, her unforgettable journey—one that was wrought with challenges and setbacks -would not have been possible.

If it were not for Yah, I don’t think I would be able to reach that far,” Dr. Anselm declared.

“It takes a lot from you. You have to be able to draw on your self-efficacy. This is something that is deep inside; you have to be able to pull it out. Sometimes when you get to certain points in this journey, it is so challenging, that if you are not grounded or able to stand, then you’ll just say, that’s it, I’m done with this thing. But, through his mercy and his favour Yahweh was able to place people in my way, who could provide the encouragement I needed.”

Visualize a Future Beyond Limitations

The English educator advises anyone who wants to follow in her footsteps to never set boundaries or limit oneself and to consistently write your own story.

“Only you can do it. And even if people do not believe in you, go ahead. Go after your dream. Chase that dream because when you get there, it’s a beautiful feeling…very beautiful,” she affirmed.

To further quote Dr. Anselm, age or any other factor should never prohibit one from reaching his greatest potential.

“Do not let anybody tell you ‘Why do you want to do that now?’ No, you want to do it because maybe at the time when you were supposed to do it, you were so wrapped up with your family life… so wrapped up with your children, you didn’t have space for that. But right now is the right time. So go ahead. Pursue that program, pursue that degree, and make the possibility a resounding yes!”

So what’s next for Dr. Anselm?

The educator at heart who also enjoys ministering the Word, says she plans to explore online options such as being an editor for academic research journals as well as providing consultancy where she will be able to share the expertise she has attained in this program on leadership.

Additional self-empowerment will be high on the agenda of this educator, who continues to serve as a Literacy Trainer for the Peace Corps, Dominica.

“I am currently reading lots of books on leadership and self-development which I use to assist others. I’m a very spiritual person as well so I work as a leader within my assembly.”

Dr. Anselm affirms doing so in several ways, including through a bi-monthly online virtual platform, EndTime Enlightenment which she co-hosts with her husband and educates participants on a variety of contemporary topics.

“I don’t think being a retiree suits me that well because there’s so much more that I have to do,” she jokingly stated.

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  1. Theresa Canoville
    January 28, 2023

    Congratulations to you my dear friend. The Lord God has been your strength to your success. Praise to our God.

  2. Jemah
    January 27, 2023

    A PhD after retirement? That’s the time to stay in bed and rest your bones! Why burst your brain for a plaque?

    • MeAlone
      January 31, 2023

      Foolish comment! “Burst your head for a plaque”?? Your ignorance is just too much.
      Going to school is not bursting your head. Foolish Dominicans always tend to think that way. Developing and improving yourself is not something you do in young age only… You should follow her example and go learn something yourself because apparently, you don’t know much. And no…your head won’t burst.

  3. Undocked
    January 27, 2023

    Dr Anselm, besides hanging it on the wall, what’s do you intend to do? What’s your next move? Maybe a run in the next general election as a doctor? Go with UWP this time.

  4. Petro
    January 26, 2023

    Congratulations Dr Anselm. Wishing you continued success in all your endeavours. Congratulations too your family too like you rightly said their support and encouragement meant a lot. Well done Dr!!

  5. Lin clown
    January 26, 2023

    Thousands of people all over the world have received honorary doctorates including Hillary Clinton and Kamala Harris.All these honorary degrees come from universities and colleges.Stop exposing yourself as an uneducated Jacka,Mr King KARKAR.Typical UWP instead of reading they loiter all day gosiping,lying and spreading false news.

  6. Decima Royer
    January 26, 2023

    Congratulations 👏🏿👏🏿 to a very humble Sister . Only a no e selfish individual uses her/his studies to fight for others students who for some reasons weren’t able to complete their studies. “You are one in a million!” May Might Yahweh bless you with countless blessings & favours,as, you allow His light to shine through you.

  7. Lin clown
    January 26, 2023

    Congratulations to Dr.Anselm.UWP will never win and election in Dominica as long as we continue to produce this level of education.

  8. Martha Fontaine
    January 26, 2023

    Congratulations to my classmate! Job well done!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0
  9. Jayemmie
    January 26, 2023

    The main thing as you advocated was, do it for yourself. Some people look at you as nothing, unworthy of promotion, you’re not one of us. But you showed them that with Yaweh all things are possible. Hearty congratulations 🎊 👏 💐

  10. Dr. Kaka
    January 25, 2023

    Dno didn’t interview Skeritt about his Punjab doctorate? I wonder Y.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 10
    • Old News
      January 29, 2023

      It was honorary, that’s why. Get it? They use it to make you mudd.

  11. Love I
    January 25, 2023

    Amazing achievement Dr. Anselm. You are a true example for learning. Congratulations!!!!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1
  12. January 25, 2023

    Congratulations, Dr. Anselm! That’s a great achievement!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2
  13. Zandoli
    January 25, 2023

    Congrats to the max Dr. Anselm. Nothing makes me happier than to see people push through adversity and obstacles to pursue their goals. That points to the strength of your character.
    You were not satisfied with just going through the motion of reporting to school day in day out. You sought knowledge to the highest level in your field.
    Job well done!!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0
    January 25, 2023

    Very inspiring. life is a learning process. Congrats to you mam.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

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