By Davion Coombs
UBUNTU: An African philosophy that means “I am because you are,” including the human virtues of compassion, kindness and humanity.
As a little girl growing up, Professor Rosalea Hamilton knew she was fated to be a changemaker. While many young people dream of lucrative careers that guarantee wealth, prestige and luxury, Hamilton’s choice was different. She preferred paths that help others.
Hamilton’s passion for service and giving back tailored her future career paths. “My studies in the social sciences – psychology, international relations, economics, and law – were all focused on how to make life better for others,” Hamilton reflects. “For me, the essence of our humanity and our interconnection as human beings require us to help each other as we go through life.”
This mindset is evident throughout Hamilton’s extensive professional and academic experience and related accolades.
After her tertiary studies, she founded the Institute of Law & Economics – a non-profit in Jamaica that focuses on legal and business education and training. She became a consultant and public educator on trade, governance, gender, and other areas of economic and social development, and has taught at the graduate and undergraduate levels in Jamaica and the United States.
Hamilton spent three years as a special advisor and trade policy consultant with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade in Jamaica. She served as the chief advisor to then Prime Minister of Jamaica, Portia Simpson-Miller. In addition, she was vice president at the University of Technology in Jamaica for ten years. She also established and led The MSME Alliance, a network of small business organizations in Jamaica. She was recently appointed as the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Sierra Leone in Jamaica.
But, Hamilton admits that climbing the career ladder was met with obstacles.
“As I progressed in my career, there were times when I felt I was not being taken seriously, mainly by men, some who may have felt threatened by me and other women like me. There were also instances of sexual harassment.” Nevertheless, she continued pursuing her goals and objectives, and successfully shattered many glass ceilings along her journey.
Her most recent appointment as CEO of the LASCO Chin Foundation has given her the opportunity to impact the lives of the most vulnerable youths in Jamaica. “The youth we work with are trapped in impoverished social and economic conditions that limit their capacity to shine and achieve their full potential,” she says, noting her commitment to being an instrument of change for the eradication of this paradigm.
During her tenure, the foundation has transformed the lives of at-risk youths through numerous projects and initiatives, including the Entrepreneurship Support program. This program focuses on the particular needs of women entrepreneurs, including those who are survivors of gender-based violence. “We understand the dual responsibilities women have in trying to manage a profitable business and a home that provides for the needs of family members. It’s a difficult balancing act,” Hamilton explains.
Despite her many other accomplishments, this kind of much-needed social impact work is what Hamilton is most proud of. “My greatest achievement has been the transformation I have seen in the lives of individuals who have benefitted in some way from my efforts,” she says. “Simply offering them hope and an opportunity to achieve their fullest potential, has been impactful.”
Hamilton’s advice to young women…
“Never stop reaching for the stars. No matter when or how, be limitless in your quest for excellence. Set your goal very high even if you think you can’t achieve it, and try to be the best you can be in pursuing your goal. And, it’s important to help others along the way,” she explains.
“The path to achieving your goal is NOT straight. There will be ups and downs, failures and successes. So, connect the dots of all your experiences. In doing so, you will create a unique path to achieving your goals in ways that will surprise many, including you, and will set you apart from others and position you way ahead of many.”
With a career that can be described as illustrious, successful, mindful and giving, and is still in full swing with many more achievements and lives to change on the horizon, this is advice well worth taking.