A reflection by Dr Amorella Lamount
Acting Senior Lecturer, Department of Humanities & Aesthetics, Faculty of Education, College of Agriculture, Science & Education (Portland, Jamaica)
After completing my PhD at the University of Reading, I began navigating the difficult transition from student life to employment. I had been away from Portland, Jamaica for three and a half years, as The Ministry of Education had granted me study leave to take up a Commonwealth Scholarship and pursue a PhD in English Literature at Reading. As a returning resident to Jamaica, the prospect of re-shaping a new identity further heightened the tremendous anxiety I felt for a future that seemed precarious, trapped in-between the diversity of British and Jamaican society. Fortunately, the presence of home had lingered in the lush greenery of Reading’s beautiful WhiteKnights campus, and I felt comforted by the thought that I would be returning to a familiar locale.
The turquoise blue Caribbean waters silhouetted the recognisable green spaces in a pristine coastline visible on the CASE campus, where I resumed my substantive post as a lecturer. I then realised the value of overseas experience in the development of a well-needed and versatile skill set that made me more willing to take on new and challenging projects. My assigned duties transcended the anticipated core functions of teaching and research, as I presented at the departmental weekly seminar and workshop, sharing my experience of academic writing with the students. I also participated in the annual assessment of the Bachelor of Education Practicum Exercise in collaboration with the Teacher’s Colleges of Jamaica and the Ministry of Education, serving as travelling officer, observing and assessing various teaching episodes as well as lending my expertise where necessary to monitor the planning and delivery of lessons in language arts/literary studies. I was delighted that my PhD at Reading had created further opportunities for growth, bridging over ten years of experience as an educator with new found knowledge as an early career researcher in the literary field. My scholarship had not only facilitated personal academic fulfilment but in a tangible way had enabled me to be of service to community, fostering national development through maintaining quality standards in education.
I was equally honoured to lead a team of lecturers from the Department of Humanities & Aesthetics in writing citations of appreciation for the outstanding service of administrative, academic and ancillary staff members, who were highly commended for their significant contributions to the college in a major campus-wide award ceremony to mark their retirement. As I contemplated my own career trajectory, it was encouraging not only to serve on the planning committee, but also to represent the Department as orator, in reading the citations at the official ceremony and playing an integral role in celebrating those who had served the institution well, and who, were now coming to the end of their careers. I still had some distance to go up the proverbial career ladder, and faced my most daunting task with a promotion that required me to function as acting senior lecturer with effect from 1st May 2013. I could not help but feel a sense of trepidation, as I contemplated the challenges that would come with seniority and whether I could meet the high expectations that the administration had of me.
Yet, it was a euphoric moment, as I also felt greatly rewarded for the decision I had made mid-way my teaching career to migrate and pursue doctoral studies, thus venturing into a more research-centred field. I am grateful to the British Council and Commonwealth Scholarship Commission alongside the Jamaican Government for the funding opportunity, and must thank my supervisor, Professor Alison Donnell and the Department of English Literature at the University of Reading for hosting me throughout the course of my research. I must also commend the CASE fraternity for the support throughout my studies, and consequent recognition on my return to work.
I anticipate that in years to come, I will be able to experience further growth in my career, serving as an educator extraordinaire, teaching in the classroom setting and preparing students for examinations while undertaking extracurricular activities as advisor to various clubs and societies, particularly, the Debating Club, as well as the Speech and Drama Society. I am excited at the prospect of introducing modules in literary studies, exposing students to Literary Criticism, Postcolonial and Caribbean literature courses beyond the fundamental units of Children’s Literature.
Though located in a teaching-intensive faculty, I aim to work on my research interests in literature, further developing my PhD thesis, ‘A Culturally Located Poetics in Contemporary Jamaican Novels’ into a book project. As such, I anticipate further attendance at literature conferences, where I hope to present more papers and exchange ideas with a wider cross-section of academics in my field. I am also optimistic at the multi-disciplinary perspectives that can be derived from research and intend to work along with the Coordinator for the Research Programme in the Department of Humanities & Aesthetics and to explore the opportunities for collaborative projects from conferences. I look forward to the next decade of my career and the challenges of balancing my development as an academic with my core duties of imparting knowledge, skills, values and positive attitudes to my students.