Kellen Stepler | Staff Writer
An honorary degree, or honoris causa in Latin meaning “for the sake of the honor,” is a degree that recognizes a distinguished person for their accomplishments in society. So it was to no surprise that on Tuesday, Oct. 16, Roosevelt Skerrit, prime minister of Dominica, was the recipient of an honorary degree from Duquesne University President, Ken Gormley.
The Power Center’s Charles J. Dougherty Ballroom filled with people Tuesday morning to watch Skerrit receive his degree at 11 a.m. The audience consisted of the first lady and other notable dignitaries and representatives of Dominica. Following the ceremony, Skerrit delivered a speech entitled, “Building Climate Resilient Countries.”
The presentation was co-sponsored by Duquesne’s Center for African Studies and the Presidential Conference on the Integrity of Creation.
Skerrit became the prime minister of Dominica at the age of 31 in 2004. He is a political leader of the Dominica Labour Party and has been a member of Parliament for the Vielle Case constituency since 2000. Despite his young age, he was well-liked by his constituents and was appointed again in 2005, 2009 and 2014.
The nation of Dominica is an island country off of the West Indies. It gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1978. At the 2011 census, the population of the country was 71,293.
Due to Dominica’s location, the island has been plagued with bad weather. Notably, it suffered major damage from Hurricane Maria in 2017 and Tropical Storm Erika in 2015. Since then, Dominica has been on a mission to become the world’s first climate-resilient nation. Climate-resilient nations adapt, reorganize and evolve more desirable ways to improve the sustainability of the country. In 2017, Skerrit paved the way to create the Climate Resilient Execution Agency for Dominica (CREAD) to design ideas to hurricane-proof the island.
Skerrit became committed and invested into the task force. According to Dominica News Online, Skerrit stated that “As the Prime Minister of Dominica, I give and I reiterate my firmest solidarity and commitment to this cause because I believe it is the only and right path to pursue at this time.”
Skerrit is also known for much more than his devotion to making Dominica a stronger, more climate-aware country — he was also recognized for empowering Dominican citizens and giving them hope, even after their country was destroyed by such violent weather. He has also been known to build bridges from the predominantly speaking Caribbean region and the Spanish speaking Latin American region.
While Dominica and Pittsburgh may be completely different, it is still important for Duquesne students to follow this issue.
According to Dominica News Online, Skerrit said during a conference that “Climate change is real and we have to take all of the necessary human action to first mitigate against it but also to be more resilient in the event that we are visited by another such tragedy.”