Outstanding scholar makes Vincentians proud
October 22, 2004
Outstanding scholar makes Vincentians proud

by Dave Roberts

Another outstanding Vincentian scholar Dr Coleen P. Phillips, has recently returned home after successfully completing the programme for Master in Science (MSc. Degree) in Preventative Veterinary Medicine (Specialist in Public Health) at the Agrarian University of Havana in Cuba.

Perhaps the first Vincentian to specialize in this area of veterinary medicine, the youthful Phillips considers her achievement as another plus for St Vincent and the Grenadines and looks forward to serving her people in this capacity. {{more}}As she explained in this exclusive interview – “Preventative Veterinary Medicine deals with livestock diseases, the designing and implementing of appropriate control and preventative health programmes, and the developing and monitoring of veterinary public health programmes.”

Phillips who attained the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 2002 graduated (Summa Cum Laude) with honours. Before moving to Cuba, the veterinarian had begun her Spanish-oriented academic pursuits in Venezuela. Phillips was one of two students at the time, employed at the St Vincent Banana Growers Association (SVBGA), who embarked on a scholarship at FUNDACEA in Venezuela. She earned herself an Associate Degree in Agribusiness Administration, having finished among the top five students at the end of the course. According to Phillips, “This was a challenging experience for me, having to learn Spanish as you attend classes, and the long hours…” She agrees, however, that it was worth the sacrifice.

After her 3 year stint in Venezuela, Phillips served as an extension officer for a further two years at the SVBGA. In 1997, she proceeded on a scholarship to Cuba to fulfill her childhood dreams, since she is a lover of animals and recalls getting her first pet, “a cute little pup” at age 5. As an A-level student, the ever-mindful Phillips observed the strong bias of her class towards the medical profession. She intimated: “This imbalance in preference for only the human side of life further motivated my interest in Veterinary Medicine.” Apart from that, Phillips, whose involvement in the agricultural sector made her aware of an ailing banana industry, readily admits “there was a crucial need for other options to support the economy.”

Bubbling with energy and resourcefulness, the veterinary epidemiologist concluded – “I believe we can optimize our agricultural diversification through the practices of proper animal husbandry, with an effectively trained technical staff.”

Dr. Phillips won an award in 2000 for her academic paper on “Relevant Investigative Work in small ruminant’s reproduction” from the Agrarian University of Havana. The Veterinary Epidemiologist, who is attached to the Ministry of Agriculture at the moment, is expected to be in control of surveillance of Transmissible & Non-transmissible Diseases transmitted by vectors (Zoonoses) and take corrective measures; to co-ordinate and supervise sanitary activities at Ports and Airports; create and actualize an Epidemiologic Surveillance Manual to SVG and relevant international organizations and formulate strategic plans regarding Public Health Surveillance and Immunization where necessary.

On this our 25th Anniversary of Independence, let us congratulate Dr Coleen P. Phillips, another of our outstanding scholars.