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Leaving a lasting

legacy for future


By Peter Campbell generations
– Her Excellency Paula-Mae Weekes

ssuming duties on during her distinguished Appellate Bench of the the Office of the President
A March 19th 2018, as
Trinidad and Tobago’s first
career in the judiciaries of
the Republic of Trinidad
Judiciary of the Turks
and Caicos Islands in
to act as a facilitator in
identifying or recognising
female and sixth Head of and Tobago and the Turks September 2016, serving the work of individuals and
State and Commander-In- and Caicos Islands, and that jurisdiction until her organisations that aim to
Chief of the Armed Forces, will be using this same resignation in January make us a better society,
never had she imagined strategy during her current 2018 ahead of her and where necessary to
that one day she would term in Office. Presidential nomination. bring together those with
be sitting in the seat of the similar aims,” says Her
nation’s highest office. A former Bishop’s Anstey She is still very much Excellency.
High School student buoyed by the public’s
And though she is still and alumnae of both the “positive, hopeful and That passion in making
adjusting to the new role University of the West encouraging” reception society a better place runs
and trappings that come Indies, Faculty of Law, to her Presidential very deep.
with such high position, Cave Hill, Barbados, and appointment, but admits
Her Excellency, Paula-Mae the Hugh Wooding Law the “complete loss Her Excellency explains:
Weekes, is very much School, Her Excellency of privacy, freedom “I am deeply troubled by
clear on how she is forging holds a Bachelor of of expression and the virulent racism, the
her way ahead. Laws (Hons) and Legal spontaneous movement” increasing intolerance of
Education Certificate. are aspects of the position otherness, the difficulty in
“Not much rattles me,” she still juggles with. finding employment even
says Her Excellency, Following her admittance to for the qualified, rampant
sitting comfortably in the the Bar in 1982, she served But even as she grapples lawlessness and disregard
upstairs foyer of The Office in the Office of the Director with these adjustments, for authority, job loss,
of the President, Port-of- of Public Prosecutions for Her Excellency is keeping and violence generally
Spain. “The adjustment eleven (11) years, before her sight firmly set on the and towards women and
has been incremental entering private practice in big picture and is already children in particular.”
and I still have a long way 1993. In 1996, she became making changes of her
to go. I have a naturally the fifth female judge in own to the Office of the She views the education
analytical mind and a this country’s High Court, President. system as a major player in
result-oriented approach working almost exclusively tackling these societal ills
to tasks. This enables me in the criminal jurisdiction “Firstly, I hope to make as well as preparing young
to look at the big picture before being elevated the Office of the President people for leadership roles
and decide priorities in to the Court of Appeal in the model for the Public and the world of work.
the short, medium and 2005. She subsequently Service so that it would
long-term and formulate presided at the Court of be characterised by “The school’s curriculae,
action plans. I am fairly Appeal for eleven (11) efficient and effective however, remain largely
determined, but adaptable years until her retirement in dealing with all matters academic with insufficient
in pursuing my goals.” 2016. with which it must treat. regard for the skills needed
says Her Excellency. We have started that to feed the present job
Following her retirement, process. Secondly, and market. More focus is
She used this approach Her Excellency joined the not as far along, I want needed on personal and

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professional development all correspondence (TTARP). She has since awesome and spectacular
and coping skills to and staff issues. most graciously accepted they would be to witness,”
prepare students for the Meetings would follow, TTARP’s invitation to adds Her Excellency.
inevitable vagaries of life,” including Presentation serve as the organisation’s
says Her Excellency. of Credentials, courtesy Patron, as well as its offer As she reminisces on such
calls and swearing-ins. for Life Time Membership. amazing journeys, she
It is within this context she On any given day, in a encourages other TTARP
admonishes young people response to an invitation, “Apart from my ‘old people’ members to never give up
in their quest for success, Her Excellency would discounts,” quips Her on dreams, but to always
to set realistic goals and visit a facility or attend an Excellency,” TTARP’s remember that “your time
then strategise toward event, sometimes giving a main attraction for me is is always now!”
their realisation. feature address. the opportunity for regular
travel to interesting places “It is all you have to
“If help is needed, identify She leaves office between among a group of stranger- work with,” says Her
the best source and ask 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. friends who provide Excellency emphatically.
for it. Next would be to and would, on occasions, pleasant company. I also “While physical or other
surround yourself with have documents sent to had a trip to Cuba with constraints might make
positive influences and her residence for review TTARP which was a grand it difficult for you to do all
support, be patient and and signature. There are experience.” that you desire, there is
flexible and make sure to also the social aspects always an adjusted version
pencil-in time for rest and of the Office which, she That Cuban trip, however, that can yield satisfying
relaxation. Life really is says, often times involves was but one of her many experiences. Join a
a marathon, you need to her attendance at evening travels abroad. An avid group, take up a new
pace yourself and make events. traveller, Her Excellency and challenging hobby,
sure that you are fuelled has made quite her round actively seek out persons
physically, intellectually These social outings, of visits exploring foreign and places that add
and emotionally for the she says, are the ones lands, and while she value to your life. As my
long haul.” which often give her many could not point to one that Godmother would always
memorable experiences captivated her most, she say ‘Be Prepared to Meet
And what does a day in and can quickly recall, listed Morocco, Kenya, Your Future.’ ”
the life of Her Excellency prior to her Presidential India, Alaska and Thailand
looks like? Well, she appointment, the times as her top five. Hers is surely a future
is on the job between shared with others as a without borders and
7:30 a.m. and 8.30 a.m. member of the Trinidad “The reason is the for which she hopes,
and treats firstly with and Tobago Association same for all. Having even after her tenure as
of Retired Persons read or heard about President, would yield “a
them and seen them in more thoughtful, hopeful
documentaries, I was and caring society,” with
unprepared for how a lasting legacy for future
generations.

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