PAULA MAE WEEKES
PC CREDIT: President Paula-Mae Weekes (Public domain image)
Paula-Mae Weekes is a retired Justice of Appeal of the judiciaries of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and The Turks and Caicos Islands. She was educated at the Bishop Anstey High School, a premier secondary educational institution established in 1921 by Bishop Arthur Henry Anstey for the education of Anglican girls. In 1977 she entered The University of the West Indies, Faculty of Law, Cave Hill, Barbados graduating in 1980 with a Bachelor of Laws (Hons). She obtained her Legal Education Certificate from the Hugh Wooding Law School in 1982 and was admitted to the practice of law in Trinidad and Tobago later that year. President Weekes joined the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions as State Counsel I in November 1982. After eleven years representing the State in the Magistrates’, High and Appeal Courts she resigned as Senior State Counsel in 1993 and entered private practice. She established her own Chambers after a brief period in the Chambers of a distinguished Senior Counsel. In 1996 she was invited to apply for the office of Puisne Judge in the Judiciary of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and was so appointed on September 1, 1996. She presided in the trial courts for nine years, almost exclusively in the criminal jurisdiction. President Weekes was elevated to the Court of Appeal in January 2005 and presided in that court for eleven years. She retired from the Judiciary of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago on August 31, 2016, after two decades of service. Upon her retirement President Weekes was invited to join the Appellate Bench of the Judiciary of The Turks and Caicos Islands. On her assumption in September 2016 she became the first woman to serve in that capacity. Her last sitting was in November/December 2017 and she resigned in January 2018 ahead of her nomination for the Presidency. Paula-Mae Weekes is a qualified judicial educator, having been made a Fellow of the Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute in 2000. Since that time, she has been deeply involved in training for various levels of judicial officer and has conceptualised, designed and facilitated a wide range of training programmes both locally and regionally. Immediately after retirement from the Judiciary of Trinidad and Tobago President Weekes enjoyed a new incarnation as Executive Director of PMW Criminal Justice Consultancy and Training a small outfit providing services geared towards the development of the criminal justice sector. This venture is now in abeyance. President Weekes was Course Director for Ethics Rights and Obligations of the Legal Profession at the Hugh Wooding Law School (2010-2016) and created the current course manual, supervised associate tutors, pioneered innovative pedagogical techniques and served as First Examiner during that period.
From 1997 until her election as President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, President Weekes was the Chancellor of the Anglican Church in the Diocese of Trinidad and Tobago. She was a member of the Diocesan Council and provided legal services on ecclesiastical and other matters to three successive Bishops of the Diocese. President Weekes received the Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, which is the highest national award on 14th September 2018. She is a member of the Platform for Girls’ Education, which is a global body comprised of 12 influential people aimed at securing 12 years of quality education for girls across the world. The Platform, which is co-chaired by the British Foreign Secretary and the Kenyan Minister of Education, arose out of commitments to girls’ education made at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in April 2018. The intention of the Platform is to build the capacity of developing countries to provide girls with quality education. President Weekes is an avid cultivator of orchids and enjoys exploring foreign lands.
MESSAGE ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2020: I AM GENERATION EQUALITY: REALISING WOMEN’S RIGHTS
International Women’s Day is a celebration of the social, economic and political advancements of women. The theme of this year’s observance, I am Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Rights, marks the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action of 1995, an ambitious roadmap to achieving gender equality. In the past quarter century, there has been significant progress in realising women’s rights, and it might even appear that the metaphorical glass ceiling has been shattered. At the global level, maternal mortality rates are plummeting and more and more women are being educated and rising to prominent positions in national parliaments and in the boardroom. However, a closer examination of the statistics reveals that women still suffer significant discrimination and violence in their personal and professional lives. According to the United Nations, women still earn 23% less than men and perform the lion’s share of unpaid care and domestic work. 1 in 5 women and girls have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner, yet 49 countries lack laws which protect women from domestic violence. Here in the Caribbean, although 94% of girls receive an education and, unlike the global trend, there are increasing numbers of women in the workforce, women continue to earn less than men. And although a number of territories meet the ‘critical mass’ benchmark of 30% female parliamentary representation, that figure is well below the 50% that reflects the composition of society. Change has come about at a slow pace and, in some critical regards, seems to have stalled altogether. One of the most troubling areas of gender inequality in the Caribbean is gender-based violence. Three of the top ten recorded rape rates in the world occur in this region and in a survey of nine Caribbean countries it was found that 48% of adolescent girls had a sexual initiation that can be described as forced. Unfortunately, a culture of shame and silence, victim-blaming, sensational media reporting and a lack of sympathy or action by police and other first responders ensure that many victims remain silent and that the scourge of gender-based violence continues. Our institutions and legislative and policy frameworks must become robust and able to meet the needs of women and girls. Further, gender equality cannot be achieved without the involvement and engagement of men and boys. This is especially important to the Caribbean society given our history of male marginalisation and matrifocality. Women have spearheaded the gender equality movement for years, but discrimination against them will never end until men and boys recognise their role in perpetuating gender inequality. When women are healthy, educated and working on a full and equal basis with their male counterparts, their families, communities and societies thrive. It is therefore in the interest of every man, woman and child to ensure that women have both the opportunity and the necessary tools to fulfill their highest potential.
President Weekes: Women's rights struggle not over
President Weekes’ delivered the lecture to mark International Women’s Day on the topic ‘Realising Women’s Rights in the English-Speaking Caribbean – Mirage or Actuality?’' It was hosted by CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank and the University of the West Indies Institute for Gender and Development Studies: Nita Barrow Unit. She told attendees while the region can boast better statistics for female advancement when compared to the rest of the developing world, she questioned whether it was "mere window dressing". “We have bucked the world-wide trend of declining female participation in the labour market and, along with Latin America, have the second highest rate of female entrepreneurship in the world. With the highest rates being found in Caribbean countries, among them St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada. ‘Is the conspicuous placement of women in high places mere window dressing? Does their prominence serve as any indicator whatsoever of tangible progress in the realisation of women’s rights in the twenty-five years since the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action of 1995 committed governments, ours among them, to take strategic action in twelve critical areas of concern for women?" President Weekes noted the current United Nations Women’s Generation Equality campaign has reduced the previous 12 areas of concern to five, focusing on: equal pay; equal sharing of unpaid care and domestic work; an end to sexual harassment and violence against women and girls; healthcare services that respond to women’s needs; and, equal participation in political life and decision-making in all areas of life. “As individuals, institutions, governments and societies, we must continue to identify both the obvious and subtle inequalities that militate against us fully realising women’s rights and in so doing missing out on our true national potential. Only when women become equal partners with men in every sphere of endeavour would we capture a strategic point from which we Caribbean people can launch an invincible offensive.” Despite recent UN studies that suggest it could take more than 90 years to reach gender equality, Weekes expressed optimism that she would see women’s rights reach the benchmark in her lifetime with education playing a central role in addressing the issues. Pro-Vice Chancellor and Principal of UWI-Cave Hill Campus Professor Eudine Barriteau and Acting Head of the Institute for Gender and Development Studies Dr Letnie Rock also contributed brief remarks during the event.
WOMEN, STAY THE COURSE
This was the plea from President Paula-Mae Weekes in her message on the occasion of International Women’s Day which is being observed around the world today. Weekes said the agitation and advocacy which has kept the recent murder of Andrea Bharatt front and centre in the national conscience must be sustained if further violence against women is to be lessened or even stopped. The President’s message was themed: Women in Leadership – Achieving an equal future in a Covid19 World. Weekes said Bharrat’s gruesome murder united the country in a way that offers hope for potential victims, not just by advocacy but through legislation. “You galvanised support for timely legislation, you advanced the legalisation of pepper spray, you inspired taxi drivers to improve their service, you brought a number of men’s organisations to the fore and you extracted promises of stiffer penalties for (police) officers failing to attend court. You have created your own hope,” she said. However, Weekes warned that the gains made by the various pressure groups and non-governmental organisations can be lost if the passion is not channelled in such a way as to make the effort sustainable. “Marches and vigils driven by the emotion of the moment are unlikely to continue indefinitely; that energy needs to be harnessed so that it becomes a permanent force to be reckoned with.” The President said while some of the “necessary work” can be done by average citizens in neighbourhood watch organisations or Whatsapp groups, other changes will require the input of public officials. “Here you can bring the requisite pressure to bear on your representatives, e.g. councillors and Members of Parliament.” One vital component of the process, she said, is for citizens to take responsibility to inform themselves about crime and the criminal justice system “so they understand the causes and effects and are not misinformed or misled by those contributing more heat than light.” Ironically, Weekes said, the citizens gave her hope in the wake of Bharrat’s murder. “Hope that at last we will move past our apathy, short attention spans and concern only for ourselves, to appreciate that ensuring our safety and security necessitates that we tackle together the common enemy of violence against women.” But she cautioned: “Make no mistake, that objective will not be achieved overnight, we are in this for the long haul. Success depends on our ability to stay the course.”
‘CITIZEN WEEKES’ WAS WITH YOU
In her address, Weekes also responded to the criticisms she endured during Bharatt’s abduction and in the aftermath of her murder through social media channels, letters to the Office of the President and other avenues. “Impassioned citizens enquired, some more civilly than others, where was the President while all of this was happening and why, particularly as a woman, she had said nothing. The enquiry was fair and perfectly understandable in a society which has become accustomed to instant reaction and social media fodder.” Weekes said: “The straightforward explanation is I was right here among you, aching as I closely followed the unfolding events but as President, was not ready to speak.” She said having worked for 34 years as prosecutor, defence counsel, trial judge and appellate judge, ‘Citizen Weekes’ could have given an immediate earful. “I know all too well that women falling victim to serial rapists and murderers or disappearing without a trace is not a new phenomenon in our criminal landscape.” But she said society must take some responsibility for not properly nurturing the men who commit such heinous acts. “Andrea and Ashanti (Riley) were but the two most recent victims of men we call monsters, but if (they are) monsters, (then) monsters of our own making. We gave birth to them and then failed to effectively nurture and socialise them in our homes and schools and provide them with a social safety net to address their issues.” Weekes noted that since the start of her law career in the DPP’s office in 1982, 11 governments have occupied the corridors of power and been called upon to address this scourge. She lamented that despite citizen activism and a suite of legislation, including at least eight Bail Amendment Bills, perennial complaints about an unreliable public transport service, recommendations from experts and police initiatives, women are still exposed to physical violence.
NOWHERE NEAR BEING SAFE
“I do not get the sense that our womenfolk, whether in their homes or on our roads, are safer now than men.” Weekes also noted that in the 36 months she has been in office approximately 155 women have lost their lives to violence. In addressing the issue decisively on all fronts, Weekes said the nation must unite in a way in which every citizen and group feels heard, understood and valued. “We need to move past tolerance to arrive at trust, only then can we come to a shared understanding of who and what we are as Trinbagonians. This is the foundation for a common goal. It is transformative work that is not going to be achieved by any speech from on high.” Weekes added: “We boast that we come together for Carnival, sporting exploits and public holidays, but these are all temporary and brief periods. Without the intervention of any leader, the nation came together united by the tragedy of Andrea’s death. But that, too, will be short-lived unless we examine and understand what made her death the tipping point.” The President recalled calling for the Government and Opposition to unite on several occasions, most recently the opening of the 12th Parliament. “I advised the Government and Opposition to come together for the good of the country. This is an integral part of the duty of the President but I am not being modest when I say that I have a sneaking suspicion that my call is often trumped by political expediency.” She believes politicians are persuaded most powerfully by the electorate. “This was the main factor at work when your voices compelled a unanimous vote on the Evidence Amendment Bill and swift consideration of legalising pepper spray.” She observed citizens working together accomplished in a few short weeks what Presidents have been unable to achieve.
President Paula-Mae Weekes: Interview
How will further regional integration be achieved, and what role will Trinidad and Tobago play in this? PAULA-MAE WEEKES: For historical reasons, T&T has traditionally positioned itself as a leader in the region due to a higher degree of economic development. When you are in that type of position, you have a responsibility to move things forward. It is my firm belief that the region would do better working together, rather than as individual island states, especially in the business and economic spheres. Thus, T&T should be constantly looking for opportunities to cement regional associations to ensure that things move smoothly. In addition, T&T needs to keep an eye on regional development, and make sure that strategies are developed and adjusted as needed. The most obvious example is CARICOM, but I think that we must consider the other countries in the region that are not already part of the organisation, and consider how to bring non-CARICOM states into the fold so that we can leverage our strengths when dealing with our larger neighbours. What role should women play in the structural transformation of the region? WEEKES: Running a country is not that different from running a household; there is a budget, urgent needs that need prioritising, and one must do one’s best to satisfy all the members of the household. The kind of multitasking that your average wife or mother has to achieve gives women a particular skill set that men sometimes lack. Men have had the luxury of coming through the system in a very unfocused way, while not being called upon to pay attention to all the peripheral things that are happening and figure out how they are going to work that successfully into the whole picture. I think that is a woman’s strength. I think women must now take the opportunity to achieve gender balance in all aspects of life. When all else is equal, women in positions of authority should look to put other women in posts of high responsibility in order to accomplish some sort of equivalence. On this front, I have no doubt that the region will undergo substantial change after Mia Mottley’s election as prime minister of Barbados. We now are coming into our own, and the doors to power are open a little wider. Women will be taking their rightful places in organisations – and it will no longer be a surprise to persons in positions of power – which will help in moulding our societies. How can the ethnic and religious heterogeneity of T&T be fostered and leveraged for the country’s development and advancement? WEEKES: We see all the fruits cross-culture has brought to this nation: the food, the music, the art and the festivals. I have always said that what is best about T&T can also be the worst about us. Our great diversity allows a richness of culture and experience that is unique. It is true that some decades ago there was much less awareness about ethnic and religious differences. However, we seem to have started catering to differences in the country, so that people who would have lived together harmoniously before no longer do so. We suddenly find ourselves starkly divided into factions. Ethnic terminology has become bitter and acrimonious – unnecessarily so. I do not think that we can get away from the role that politics has played in that division. It has been convenient for some politicians to call upon what we now speak about as “tribes”, which we had never spoken about before, and unfortunately we have a hyper-awareness and hyper-vigilance of what makes us different. Therefore, politicians have a role to play in fixing this problem. This issue starts to arise when Trinbagonians get the right to vote in their late teenage years. Whether politicians or not, we all celebrate every holiday and festival together. Despite this continued level of interaction at the micro-level, the issue as it stands now plays against the interests and the general development of the country. This must be addressed.
Her Excellency Paula-Mae Weekes President Of The Republic Of Trinidad And Tobago Inaugural Address – March 19, 2018 The Queen’s Park Savannah, Port Of Spain
Fellow citizens from the least among you to the greatest and other distinguished guests. Well before the date of assumption of any new position the candidate had better be clear about the job description. With that in mind I first looked at the Constitution and while it outlined certain duties and functions of president, the office holder’s role was not defined. Then aided by memory, anecdote and available material I analysed the leadership and decision-making styles of my predecessors in office. This unscientific research led me to the conclusion that it falls to each President to define within prescribed limits his or in this case her own role. After much deliberation I identified my role as “humble first servant” with the mandate to render service with enthusiasm.
As I continued thinking about how I – as President and we – as a nation would navigate the course ahead, I remembered that many years ago after completing several marathons I was looking through a Runner’s World magazine and saw an article by one of the USA’s foremost authorities on long distance running. He opined that the ideal weight for a female marathoner was 95 to 100 lbs. I haven’t stopped laughing yet, since at my lightest I was at least twice that and then on more serious reflection I thought, what if I had had this information before undertaking that challenge? Would I have allowed it to stop me? If I had, I would not have stretched myself beyond my then known limits, nor made wonderful friends. I would not have undertaken wild adventures such as attempting to climb a mountain with a name that begins Kill-a-man and perhaps most importantly I would not today be able to look back on that period, which was not without its hurdles – literal and figurative, with a sense of satisfaction, pride and accomplishment. Could this apply to us today? I say “us” because I consider that for the period of my tenure, our destinies mine and that of our nation are inextricably linked. Many experts real and armchair, in positions high and low, “beset us round with dismal stories” they tell us that T&T is perilously close to the point of no return – crime, corruption, racism, abysmal public services and an ineffective judicial system, among other problems are so thick on the ground that all hope is lost; that we will soon be, if we are not already there, a failed state, however defined. So how do we respond to these commentators and to our reality? What are we to do? As I see it we have but two (2) choices….Option 1 – We can lament, blame, criticise and allow a miasma of despair to overwhelm us or Option 2 we can consciously and intentionally choose the alternative. Not wish for – or dream about – or only hope and pray for the alternative, but make up a hard mind and mobilise forces and resources to step out boldly and make TT a better place for us and our children all the while understanding that though faith is a necessity, without action it is useless. Let me confess up front to sharing certain characteristics with Pollyanna – that storybook character filled with irrepressible optimism and a tendency to find good in everything – but I do not now nor have I ever lived in an ivory tower nor worn blinkers. I may have had some advantages that others have not, but having lived in Trinidad & Tobago all my life, I have endured the maddening inefficiencies of the public sector, I too drive with my windows up and doors locked even in broad daylight, I have lost two cars to thieves, and waited hours for medical attention for a relative at Port of Spain General Hospital (POSGH). I know what the murder count is and how many of the victims have been women and children slaughtered in acts of domestic violence, I am cognizant of the volatile tensions in east Port of Spain. I see people affected by mental illness, addiction and homelessness sleeping on the streets and if I needed to get to Tobago in a hurry I could not be certain if or when I would arrive. I comprehend fully the state of the state and so understand why we might have every reason to despair. None of us is blind or foolish enough to deny that Trinidad and Tobago is going through dark times, but I echo the words of C.S. Lewis when I say -”this a good world gone wrong but it still retains the memory of what ought to have been.” So, here comes the Pollyanna in me now – it is my mission, mission entirely possible, to infect each and every one of you with a bright and positive spirit as we strive to turn our beloved nation into what it ought to have been and still can be. So let us today choose Option 2 confront the darkness and declare that it will not take over. It is a tenet of most major religions that light triumphs over darkness. Our Hindu community expresses the most visible manifestation with rows of deyas shining on the darkest night to symbolize the triumph of good over evil, of light over darkness. Even the humanists among us, who are of the school of philosophy that believes in human effort and ingenuity rather than religion, will agree that light is best seen in the dark and that it is always darkest just before the dawn. Light always serves a purpose, it directs ships to safe harbour, it illuminates our path, it can lead the way, it purifies, it exposes hidden dangers, promotes clear vision and if legend is to be believed it even repels, vampires, goblins and foul fiends that try to daunt the spirit. What I am saying is not novel at all but as a wise man once said “people need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.” Our challenge then is to be light and see light. I use the word challenge deliberately because this mission is not for the fainthearted. If I might loosely borrow some words from the Bard of Avon in Henry V we will need to
“Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height.”
This will not be accomplished easily or overnight. It is a marathon folks! Whether we set off with a burst of speed or at a crawl there will come periods in which we fade and have to employ the “just to the next lamppost” strategy as we soldier on. But there will also be unexpected surges of energy when we are able to propel ourselves forward with extraordinary vigour. We must not become weary. We must trust that in time we will reap the benefits of our efforts. Being a light does not necessitate grand schemes or accomplishments. A flickering candle can be as effective as a blazing bushfire in the right environment. Be a light in your home, instil discipline, model good behaviour, practise punctuality, honesty and politeness, or in your school, pay more attention to the lesson than to your phone, protect the vulnerable, respect those in authority, be a light in your community, care for your environment, be tolerant of views, beliefs and practices of others, re-imagine and re-engineer the village that it takes to raise today’s’ children. You can be a light in your workplace, get to work on time, actually do work while you are there and go the extra mile if need be. On a larger scale you can be a light in your nation. For that we will have to put country first – Before self, family, party, tribe. Let’s not fool ourselves, at times this will take serious sacrifice. This is the work of patriots. Love for our twin islands has to be planted, nurtured and buttressed day after day after day and the seed must be sown in early childhood. I am always amazed at the way many of us behave as if the national anthem is for our entertainment rather than an opportunity to express afresh our national identity. We don’t sing and then at the end we applaud. We do not rehearse often enough the nation-building lyrics of God Bless Our Nation and Our Nation’s Dawning. Don’t underestimate the value of knowing and regularly repeating those inspirational and aspirational words. Let us not miss the relevance and timeliness of one of our nationals, Len Peters, being awarded in February this year the first Commonwealth Points of Light Award for exceptional voluntary service in protecting endangered turtle species. Recognise too, Gabrielle Branche who won an award from the United World Colleges for an innovative project targeting secondary schools in Trinidad and Tobago. She is reported to have said that if she could do her part to change the mind-sets of everyone towards the environment and encourage others to continue in this vein she would have made a difference. Be inspired by Len, Gabrielle and others to be and to look for points of light. Sometimes that light will be straight ahead, glaring and obvious; at other times we might need to employ peripheral vision and a pair of binoculars, but fear not, it is always present. Even in the midst of the relentless assault on our sensibilities as individuals and as a nation, every day we can find shining examples of all that is good about us. Search them out, encourage and support them in order to spread the glow. Friends, Trinbagonians, Countrymen, I have listened carefully to all that you have said following my election. Your high expectations indicate to me that there is a mustard seed of faith that things can get better in our twin-island republic – and if I read that right – all things, good things are possible for Trinidad and Tobago. As your servant, my promise is that I will work tirelessly, (I’ll labour night and day) to do my best by word and deed both to be a light and spread the light of others at every opportunity. But if you feel that you are going to leave me alone to do all the heavy lifting, you’re sadly mistaken. I have something to ask of you…No, I’m not asking for a honeymoon period: I well understand that your reservoir of patience with holders of high office has all but run dry. But I am going to rub my imaginary lamp and appeal to the collective genie that you are. Here are my three wishes… First of all I ask you to find ways to make a positive difference in whatever your sphere of influence, not necessarily ambitious designs but rather specific, practical, doable projects – the results of which can be seen and measured in the short term, and then let us celebrate each success. Many individuals and organisations have asked to meet with me. Let’s not meet just for meeting sake … we do not have that luxury. Come armed with your ideas, your feasible projects to improve our quality of life. Nothing will catch my attention faster than a man or woman with a plan. Next, I ask those of you with a platform from which to disseminate your views to find new and creative ways to inspire your audience while reporting responsibly and commenting civilly on the facts and in particular on social media which is here to stay and has great value in giving a voice to those who might otherwise be voiceless but reckless use of this or any communication channel will defeat its very purpose. Is it at all possible to dial down the rhetoric while still adding your 2 cents’ worth to the discussion on any issue? And last, and before I run out of goodwill, we speak all the time about how violent a society we’ve become…true, but the climate of violence is not created or even birthed in overt acts, it’s embedded in everyday talk, in commonplace interaction… in schools, in the market, in business places, in the rum shop, and worst of all in the home. I ask you to be mindful in your use of language remembering that a soft answer often turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger and that pleasant speech increases one’s persuasiveness. When we have the inevitable differences of opinion we can do so without the savagery, the ad hominem attacks, the gratuitous insults. In closing, I thank God for his mercies … for me the boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places, I have a goodly heritage. I thank the Electoral College for its vote of confidence in me. I hope that the unanimity achieved on that occasion will be experienced again and again for the good of country. I thank former President Carmona for his service to the nation and for his consideration and kindness to me in the lead up to his hosting today’s inauguration. I have known him since the late 70s when as fellow campus calypsonians he was the Prophet of Sissyphus and I Brickhouse, so I expected no less. I thank my mother, family and friends for their unstinting support and regular reality checks. If I ever get too big for my britches I am sure they’ll cut me down to size. They keep me humble and grounded. And most of all I thank you the people of T&T for your good wishes and prayers as I undertake this awesome responsibility do not let me walk alone. By faith let us stand and then go forward side by side as we carry our nation to greatness.
UWI alumna Paula-Mae Weekes becomes the President of Trinidad and Tobago
he UWI family is filled with Pelican Pride as another member of its graduate community ascends to one of the highest offices in the region. Ms Paula-Mae Weekes has been appointed as the sixth President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Her inauguration took place on March 19, 2018 and she is the first female Head of State of Trinidad and Tobago. President Weekes entered The UWI Cave Hill Campus, Barbados in 1977 and graduated in 1980 with a Bachelor of Laws degree with honours. She was called to the bar in Trinidad and Tobago in 1982 and maintained a distinguished legal career up to the rank of a Justice of Appeal of the Judiciary, until her retirement in 2016. In 2017, she was sworn in as a Judge of the Turks and Caicos Islands Court of Appeal to serve a three-year term, but resigned from the post upon confirmation of a unanimous nod from Trinidad and Tobago’s Electoral College on January 19, 2018. She was also the sole nominee for a new President. The UWI Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles noted that “This is another momentous occasion for our University. It is also a timely reminder as we celebrate our 70th anniversary, that our alumni are found in all areas of public life and have brought the University tremendous honour through their regional and global achievements and contributions.” Pro Vice-Chancellor and Campus Principal, Professor Eudine Barriteau also extended congratulations to President Weekes on behalf of The UWI, Cave Hill and stated” “The Cave Hill Campus is very proud that yet another of its graduates has been called to serve their country at the highest level. The Campus offers its heartiest congratulations to the first female President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and wishes her a long and successful tenure.”