Michelle St. Clair, a Land Surveyor at the Lands and Surveys Department, is the Rausing Fellow for the academic year 2021-2022. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Michelle St. Clair, a public officer of 15 years, is the Rausing Fellow for the academic year 2021-2022. Ms. St. Clair, a Land Surveyor at the Lands and Surveys Department of the Ministry of Housing, Lands and Maintenance, will be pursuing a mid-career Master’s in Public Administration at the Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University, for one year, beginning July this year.

She was chosen by the Rausing Advisory Committee (RAC), which has responsibility for selecting the recipient of the Rausing Fellowship. The Learning and Development Directorate, of the Ministry of the Public Service, through the RAC, is responsible for promoting the fellowship and programme.

The 37-year-old is excited to have received the scholarship, but recognises that the coronavirus pandemic presents new challenges to the learning environment. However, she is confident that the experience and knowledge to be gained will be rewarding.

“I am looking forward to engaging with my classmates from around the world, sharing our local and regional perspectives, as well as learning new concepts. In particular, there is a course called ‘Persuasion: The Science and Art of Effective Influence’ that I am keen to take,” she stated.

“I am looking forward to engaging with my classmates from around the world, sharing our local and regional perspectives, as well as learning new concepts…”

Michelle St. Clair – Rausing Fellow for the academic year 2021-2022

Ms. St. Clair graduated from the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Surveying and Land Information. She went on to complete a Master of Science degree in Environment and Development from the University of Edinburgh, in the United Kingdom.

Her career started with the Lands and Surveys Department in 2005, as a Graduate Surveyor working to attain her Land Surveyor’s Licence.

She is passionate about the role of maps and location-based data to support and provide evidence for Government’s decision-making and policy formulation. However, she stressed that implementing spatial and land policy and producing lasting and meaningful change requires more than technical capability.

And it is for that reason, as well as the encouragement from colleagues, family and friends, that Ms. St. Clair applied to the Harvard Kennedy School to learn about governance, leadership and policymaking, which, she said, would help her support Barbados’ national development.

On the job: Land Surveyor Michelle St. Clair using a GPS Unit. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

“I have been fortunate to be mentored and supported by senior public officers in my department and ministry, who have encouraged me immensely along my professional journey.

“I applied to Harvard last year and while I was successful in gaining admission, I did not receive the fellowship.  The national lockdown and overall global uncertainty made it difficult to secure funding, so I resolved to try again this year and reapplied,” she stated.

The Land Surveyor is encouraging those public officers who are thinking about applying to the school and for the fellowship to do so. 

“The process of applying to Harvard Kennedy School and the Rausing Fellowship presents an opportunity for introspection, understanding your strengths and the areas that require greater improvement, as you chart the next steps of your career path.

“Accept the challenge and don’t be afraid of the revelations that the process will expose, as these are important to your transformation into the type of leader required in our public service,” she proffered.

“We [public officers] create projects and policy to ensure the vulnerable in our society are protected and taken care of. I enjoy and I’m proud of my contribution to the growth and development of Barbados.”

Michelle St. Clair – Rausing Fellow for the academic year 2021-2022

Ms. St. Clair said the public service has given her tremendous opportunities for professional development and growth through access to emerging technologies and state-of-the-art equipment.

“It is fulfilling to work on a project and see a parcel of land transformed from a vacant lot to a community centre or housing subdivision, providing homes and uplifting our people.

“We create projects and policy to ensure the vulnerable in our society are protected and taken care of. I enjoy and I’m proud of my contribution to the growth and development of Barbados,” she asserted

Based on her study choice and career path, it is clear Ms. St. Clair loves working in the public service, and she strongly believes public officers have a responsibility to help all citizens, thus making sure that no one is left behind.

On completion of her studies, she will return to the Barbados Public Service to translate theory into practice.  She said she will then have a better understanding of how public policy works and how to effectively implement it.

Michelle St. Clair using the Total Station while in the field. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

“For example, I believe Barbados needs a policy on National Spatial Data Infrastructure.  I see a National Spatial Data Infrastructure as a critical framework to ensuring that Government, citizens and academia can access, share and create data without duplication of efforts or barriers,” she explained.

Volunteerism and giving back are second nature to Ms. St. Clair, who gives of her time to her professional association, as well as mentoring and supporting young Land Surveyors.  Within the region, she volunteers on the steering committee for the Caribbean Geospatial Development Initiative.

The Rausing Fellowship was endowed through a gift from Hans K and Eva Rausing because of their commitment to supporting Barbados and its citizens. 

It is open to Barbadian citizens working in the public service or in a non-governmental organisation (NGO), who have been admitted to the Edward S. Mason’s one-year Master’s in Public Administration, at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. 

Successful candidates are required to return to serve Barbados in a non-profit, NGO or government position. So far, the programme has produced 15 Mason Fellows from Barbados.

sharon.austingill-moore@barbados.gov.bb

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