When I entered the Dominica Grammar School in 1972 one of my closest friends was one Lynton Scotland of St. Joseph. Our bonds may have been tight since my mother Alberta Christian, nee John Baptiste was a proud daughter of St. Joseph. Or it may have been that we grew close as we usually accompanied the “DGS Flight Club”made up of first form students such as Mark Frampton, Michael Garraway, David Armour, John “Poppy” Fingal, Freddie Mondesire, and Peter Garraway to the Dominica Botanic Gardens where they would allow me to fly the gas operated model planes they owned. Later, Lynton bought a yellow and blue model plane from one of the club members who were primarily from the upper echelons of Roseau society. I had no plane myself.. Lynton, like many in the DGS Flight Club, went on to an illustrious career in engineering, business andleadership in community service. One day while visiting with Lynton, I saw about a dozen small rocket projectiles lined up on a shelf in his library. When I queried him on that amazing collection, he smiled and told me that the solid rocket fuel for those projectiles was manufactured by Hercules Corporation, where he previously worked as a senior process engineer. I was awed that my classmate had moved up from being a member of the DGS Flight Club to becoming a prominent engineer at an eminent US science based corporation involved in rocket fuel production. Indeed, Lynton had rocketed to success at the top rungs of professional accomplishment. At a time when our Caribbeanand overseas communities need role models, Lynton Scotland’s exemplary life is worthy of recalling for future generations. Therefore, on the weekend before Thanksgiving 2016, I called Lynton to get his story. A shy and unassuming man, Lynton initially demurred; however, I insisted. So, on a balmy fall morning, before he took his customary bike ride along the gently rolling wooded pathways of Delaware where the foliage is turning from green to splendid hues of red, orange and yellow, he opened and spoke to me. This is his reflection:
I was born in St. Joseph to Crecy Scotland and Charmain Jno-Charles Scotland. I was a student at the St. Joseph Government School wherethe famous cricketer/teacher Mr. Kaleb Laurent andMrs. Isaiah Thomas prepared me for the Common Entrance Exam. St. Joe in those days was a dynamic village of fisher folk and peasant farmers. We had greats in our community such as farmers Vanoulst John Charles (my uncle), Clem Ferreira and Alvin Armantrading. We gave the world the famous Grammacks band led by the late Jefferson Joseph, Curvin Serrant, Alixson John Baptiste, Anthony George, Henson Rodney, Mackie Prosper, George Thomas and Clement, with “Kaytoe” Ferreira as manager.My other siblings, Ashby, Glen, Bert, Daisy Gary and Myrtle provided the warm comfort of a God-fearing home where we were taught to worship regularly in the tradition of our Christian faith and love our neighbors like ourselves.
We had a great sense of community then. There were frequent village fairs and cricket matches on the savanna at St. Joseph where people came from all over. In the St. Joe of my day incidents of crime were so low, as to be practically non-existent, and neighbors shared the little they had with each other in the spirit of Koudmen or community self-help.
I entered the Dominica Grammar School (DGS) in 1972 and my favorite teacher was Wellsworth Christian who later studied veterinary medicine in India and became Dominica’s first veterinary doctor. He spoke softly, calmly and with great wisdom; he walked in the most elegant fashion and inspired us. I still have some notes from those school days. This was a time when we had dynamic teachers such as the artist and playwright Alwin Bully who designed Dominica’s independence flag and Cecilia Green who later earned her doctorate in sociology and now teaches at Syracuse University.
In fourthform, I left the DGS, and migrated to St. Croix US Virgin Islands with my family as my father had gone there for greater economic opportunity. I enrolled at the Central High School in St. Croix and became the leader of Future Farmers of America (FFA- www.ffa.org). I did so well that I was elected State President for the Virgin Island FFA Association and was selected to attend the National Convention and meet with members of Congress while touring the Capitol building in Washington, DC; I was only seventeen. After graduation from high school, I attended the
University of Dayton in Ohio, graduating in 1984 with a BS in chemical engineering. Thereafter I became an engineer at Hercules Corporation where I engaged in the manufacture of improved gunpowder and solid rocket fuel used in both civilian and military applications. To enhance my professional career, I obtained a Masters’ of Science in statistics from Rutgers University and an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh. Shortly thereafter I married my beautiful wife Colette Bruney of LaPlaine – an accountant. Her steadfast presence, grace and wisdom continues to shape my life for the better.
I have served as the VP for Operational Excellence at NRG Corporation, the largest US independent power producer which runs several nuclear power plants across the United States, and as a Co-Chair of the Executive Leadership Council (www.elcinfo.com/)
Community Impact Initiative. Traveling the world for my different corporate employers or on community development missions, I have come to appreciate the value of social responsibility in leadership and success. One cannot become successful without giving a help hand to the community within which one lives, or which nourished you. Today one of the biggest ethical issues in corporate operations and economic development revolve around the corporation which focuses only on their bottom line profit margin and export jobs from the communities that birthed them – living a wasteland behind. Successful corporations work to improve the communities within which they operate and give much to the humanities, sciences, education and overall philanthropy. We see that ethic of social responsibility as key to aspects of life in the US worthy of emulation. We see it in the donation to Dominica by Scottish-American iron magnate Andrew Carnegie who in 1905 funded building of the Roseau Public Library; and up to this day we see Warren Buffet and Bill Gates donate millions to find cures for malaria or aid poverty reduction projects. Today I work as an executive at Dupont with responsibility for Global Sourcing for the DuPont Protection Solution business. Dupont supports education projects such as the Chemistry Museum of Philadelphia – see https://www.chemheritage.org. I understand that successful business people in Dominica such as RB Douglas, JB Charles, Elias and Phillip Nasieff, Curtis Tonge, among others in our business community, have shared their success with the wider community. They are to be honored and emulated for their giving and social responsibility ethic. We will become a more attractive society where more of us exalt the ethic of “giving back.”
Corporate social responsibility was a big issue in the 2016 US election. Therefore, giving back is key to the consolidation of personal success. I am happy to serve on the Board of Trustees of the University of Dayton and introduced the ETHOS Program (ETHOS: Engineers in Technical Humanitarian Opportunities of Service Learning) to Dominica. University of Dayton engineering students have been instrumental in improving the yield of coconut oil and working with the Dominica Manufacturing Association to assist small businesses in Dominica.. See –www.udayton.edu/engineering/ethos/student-experiences/past-experiences/dominica.php. I also served as co-host of the 2001 Dominica Diaspora in the Development Process Symposium of December 7, 2001 – at that time we launched projects such as the Dominica Academy of Arts & Sciences (www.da-academy.org) and the revival of the Dominica Cadet Corps (http://www.dominicacadets.org ). In 2009 in partnership with www.pontcassepress.com and the Dominica Academy I was the host of Operation Caribbean Glory – A Tribute to the British West Indians who served in the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and British Army in World War II –See here – http://www.thedominican.net/2009/06/they-fought-for-freedom-which-we-now.html Today I continue to serve as a trustee of the University of Dayton, while mentoring inner city students in Wilmington, Delaware. Recently, I assisted my brother Ashby in promoting the “Keep St Joseph Clean” project. We must come together to maintain our environment in Dominica, and elsewhere, to enhance the quality of our lives. We can do similar projects all over Dominica and so render a beneficial gloss on the Nature Island brand we seek to promote. We cannot promote nature at its best and have garbage blight our surroundings. Everyone can play a part, includingour students who I encourage to join service our youth voluntary organizations such as the Red Cross, Cubs, Brownies, Boy Scouts, Rangers, Pathfinders, Girls Guides and the Cadet Corps. Membership in such civic organizations will direct you well in life, as I learnt during my days as an FFA leader.
I was born in Dominica and want to ensure we remain proud of our country. We must do our best and strive to be worthy citizens wherever God has planted us. Today, I believe that we have enough brain power, inside and outside Dominica, to become an exemplary nation on the world stage. Can you imagine what we could do where we used clean energy such as wind, solar, geothermal, wave and hydro to build clean industries based agriculture product processing, cybernetics, artificial intelligence, marine industry and the like? The challenge is to grow wealth, build an equality of opportunity society where all can eat, not some eat all, while preserving nature’s bounty. I have seen rivers run black in certain countries due to pollution; today wise environmental stewardshipallows for us to drink fresh water from Dominica’s many pristine rivers – though we have seen some degradation over the years. I believe we possess the ability to make it. To progress as a country we need to collaborate in national planning and have a central unity of purpose.. My message for our future prosperity is grounded in my years in corporate leadership. What is that message? Unite your best minds into an effective instrument for growth, engage diligent study in the arts and sciences, team with others who can aid the cause, encourage critical thinking, intellectual curiosity and innovation; never become too angry that you cannot talk with and work with your own people; be disciplined in pursuit of the strategic objective and have steadfast faith. I am driven every day to live my faith by sharing with others and rebuilding the wasted cities. Truly, I have been blessed; but to those whom much have been given, much is required. I call on all Dominicans to join hands and build a better country. And we ask for the same ethic of social responsibility and unity in my adopted homeland, the United States, where it is to overcome its challenges.