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Hear My Story: Melanie-Marie Haywood

Category: black history month

Teaching, Learning, and Assessment Consultant

School of Business at London Southbank University

Be tactful, understand the system before you seek to change it. Once you understand it, and once you are in a position where your voice cannot be taken from you, use your voice and platform to make change.” Melanie-Marie

As part of our Black History Month celebrations we are talking to role models from the UK BAME community in order to offer an insight into their lives as well as help advise candidates and employers on how best to represent and encourage equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Melanie-Marie Haywood is an international educator with a passion for research and teacher training. She has attained professional qualifications in philosophical, and education studies, with an MA in Curriculum and Instruction, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Education. She has worked in the field of education for over 8 years having worked in primary, secondary, and Higher education in both the Caribbean and the United Kingdom. She has worked with 3 of the major Universities in Trinidad and Tobago, and has facilitated the growth and quality enhancement of Higher Education provision in Trinidad for a number of years working as a consultant, and lead administrator in academia, with particular strengths in research and quality enhancement in HE.  She started an Educational Research consultancy in 2015 that has been able to facilitate the bridging of some gaps that have been identified in Higher Education in Trinidad and Tobago - both at the individual student level, and the institutional level. She currently serves as a Lecturer for the London South Bank University. She is a musician/vocalist who loves to sing and has recorded a song that she wrote. She bucks the trend for the soft approach and is a self-confessed disciplinarian/authoritative parent helping to forge a strong clear path for her child.

What does Black History month mean to you?

Growing up I struggled with my identity. My heritage is Trinidadian, and I was surrounded by Jamaicans and caucasians. I was not taught my own culture, and only found it when I returned to Trinidad to further my HE studies. It was then I understood what it meant to be Trini, but also what it meant to be black. It was here that I learned my black history, and the history of my country. It taught me that there is pride in my heritage despite the labels of "small island" and "small mind" that often comes along with being in a "minority" group in the first world. It taught me that I am not a minority. Black history month reminds me of this, reminds me of my heritage but also what I want for people who are black in my society - an understanding and appreciation of who they truly are in their own eyes, and not in the often myopic perspectives of others.

What historic figures inspire you?

The Hon. Dr. Eric Williams  TC, CH, the 1st Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago and the author poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou.

Which contemporary figures inspire you?

Professor Dr. Norrel London - A pioneer in the decolonisation of caribbean Curriculum. Dr. Pastor Jude Jeanville - my dad, and a Pastor who has shown that caring and giving back to your community is more valuable than anything you can gain from the community. Mary Phillip - my aunty (RIP) she was a force In the teaching of Primary Education in Trinidad and Tobago.

Have you experienced prejudice or bias throughout your career?

Yes, throughout my experiences in the UK I have experienced racism - at times I may have inferred it, but clearly it exists. In higher education (HE), the evidence is clear, and I work in HE. It was also an issue for me in my secondary school education in the West Midlands.

Have you positive experiences to counter these?

On the back of every negative, there is a positive. I have recently been able to connect with some amazing women of colour who have devised some strong initiatives to improve on academia for black people, and have welcomed me in as a part of these initiatives.

Can you offer any advice to our readers?

Be tactful, understand the system before you seek to change it. Once you understand it, and once you are in a position where your voice cannot be taken from you, use your voice and platform to make change by vocalising, but also operationalising change in the workplace in our favour.

Can you tell us one of your goals? 

I hope to continue to conduct comparative research between developing nations and the UK to help better understand how we can improve on what happens in the UK to the advantage of the BAME population in Education.


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