Tue | Sep 29, 2020

Viviene Kerr to make CGST the school of choice

Published:Wednesday | July 15, 2020 | 12:24 AM
Dr Viviene  Kerr
Dr Viviene Kerr

Shortly after assuming responsibilities as campus registrar at the Caribbean Graduate School of Theology (CGST), Dr Viviene Kerr was identified as the best person to take the institution to the next level, as president.

She was officially appointed in June, as the first female president, taking over from Dr David Corbin, who has been at the helm of the St Andrew-based institution since 2017.

Kerr, an educator, counselling psychologist, librarian and life coach, explained that she was quite content as the school’s registrar and was set on using her skills to grow the institution in that area. She was not surprised by the appointment.

“What surprised me was the initial discussion I had with the former president, shortly after he advised members of his executive team that he would not be seeking a contract renewal. I actually laughed and told him that he must be joking. I thought myself incapable of assuming such an illustrious position,” Kerr continued.

The president indicated that she had no desire to get involved in the education sector initially. She believes it was her drive to solve problems and aid persons in achieving excellence that opened many doors for her.

“My entrance into librarianship paved the way for entry in the sector (education) and I thoroughly enjoyed it,” she shared.

Challenges

“I got more involved after I completed the master’s in counselling psychology and visited schools to make presentations. I guess the passion really began there as I was able to teach others life skills that would positively affect their lives and destinies,” Kerr continued.

The Westmoreland native shared that her journey was not devoid of challenges, as she contemplated quitting her doctoral studies at the Nova Southeastern University during her final year, due to financial constraints.

Her marriage also crumbled very early. She was separated from her husband two weeks before her son was born.

She is convinced that these and other challenges have equipped her to efficiently cater to the needs of her students, staff and other stakeholders. Most important, she believes that her faith in God will guide her, as she seeks to elevate the level of the Christian institution. Among the many objectives that she is working towards is for CGST to be the “school of choice” not just for Jamaicans, but the Caribbean and other international students. She also wants CGST to offer more short-term courses, to cater to persons who might not necessarily want to study for a long period of time.

“If you want to do graduate work in theology or psychology and you are a Christian, CGST should be your first choice. My strategy is to focus on our core programmes, due to our competitive advantage,” said the CGST graduate.