Born Alexa Orphia Redway in a squatter settlement in St. James, Jamaica, I felt destined for the greatness. My early years were spent at the Granville Basic School where I represented my institution in Performing arts competitions. My co-curricular activities expanded to include two uniformed groups namely, the Girl’s Guide and Brownies when I enrolled at the Granville All Age School. Despite not winning any major prizes, I remained a committed member of the Speech and Recorder Choirs throughout my tenure there. Those early years disciplined me for my Ph.D. pursuit later in life. During my high school years at the prestigious Mt. Alvernia High School, I was ranked first place at the end of each academic year while serving as Form Vice Captain, Form Captain, Vice President of the Tourism in Action Club, President of the Environmental Watch Club, member of the School’s Debating team and a Prefect. At the end of my high school tenure, I attained eight subjects in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations.
After one year at the Montego Bay Community College where I did the Preliminary Sciences (Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry), I matriculated to the University of the West Indies to pursue a B.Sc. in Chemistry and Biochemistry. I was the first of my mother’s four children to attend University. While working as a Student Assistant at the Library, I participated in sporting, cultural and outreach activities on the Mary Seacole Hall where I resided. Based on my involvement in my first year at University, I was selected to be a delegate to the Eastern Caribbean for a cultural exchange. I also served as a member of the Careers Club and as a University and Colleges Christian Fellowship Cell Group Leader. I was the recipient of the Wilfred Chan Award for excellence in Organic Chemistry, the UWI Alumni (Jamaica Chapter) Scholarship and the WIGUT Bursary while an undergraduate.
Determined to make a more impactful contribution to student life on my campus, I applied for the Resident Advisor post at the newly built Elsa Leo-Rhynie Hall in 2013. I served in that post for 2.5 years while pursuing my Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of the West Indies, Mona. As one of the first five Resident Advisors employed by that Hall of Residence, I was responsible for establishing a Hall culture, a First Year Experience programme, a Debating society and a Speech and Drama club. Today all the programmes are doing extremely well, however, I am especially proud of the Debating society which I established in 2013 which has remained unbeaten in the Annual Fresher’s Debating competition until now. This accomplishment puts a smile on my face ever-so often.
As I near the defense of my Ph.D. thesis, I am reminded of the little skinny girl from St. James, who saw greatness in herself. I am indebted to her because her drive and innate passion for teaching keeps me motivated to fulfil my current post as a Chemistry Lecturer at the University of Technology in Jamaica. This girl from the squatter settlement has synthesized the core of the natural product, violatinctamine as well as investigated the thionation of pyridine carboxamides and synthesized a novel azacoumarin via an unusual ring opening cyclization mechanism. Currently, I have two publications that are being fine-tuned for publication before the end of the year.