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Dr Jason Haynes reaps success after hardship, ridicule

Dr Jason Haynes reaps success after hardship,  ridicule

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by Lyf Compton

Dr Jason Kenroy Haynes knows what is it to feel ridiculed, mocked and laughed at as a child, but that did not stop him from reaching for the stars.

Haynes, who used education to pull himself and his family out of poverty, was last Friday called to the Bar of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) as a barrister and solicitor during a ceremony at the High Court office in Kingstown.

His journey is one of blood, sweat and tears.

As a youngster, the scholarly 29-year-old who is originally from Largo Heights, but now lives at Calder, attended four primary schools – the Kingstown Government School at Stoney Grounds, the Lodge Village Primary School, and the primary schools at Biabou and Stubbs. After leaving primary school, Haynes attended the St Martin’s Secondary School, after which he moved on to the St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College (SVGCC).

Haynes won a national scholarship after completing his studies at the SVGCC (the 2008 Prime Minister’s Award for Academic Excellence, a trophy and EC $10,000 cash) and moved on to the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill campus in Barbados, where he read for his Bachelor of Laws degree and graduated with first class honours. He then moved to the University of Nottingham, where he did a Masters in Law degree with a British Chevening Scholarship. Haynes then moved to the Durham University, where he obtained a PhD in Law. On September 30, he graduated from the Norman Manley Law School in Jamaica.

But the son of Camille Wilson (formerly Haynes) said he never met his father, but has an idea who he is.

“He left when I was a few months old, never touched base,” explained Haynes, who added, “basically, I’d say, [I’m] fatherless.”

The newly sworn in lawyer, who has one sibling, Dea Haynes, and who considers himself a product of the Education Revolution, said that his childhood was very hard.

“… In fact, most days were spent with only one meal. Mother worked several menial jobs to send me to school,” Haynes told SEARCHLIGHT on Tuesday.

He recalls that on the day he sat the Common Entrance Exam, his mother had to beg a vendor in the market for food, so that he could have something to eat.

He said as a secondary school student, he benefited tremendously from the kindness of teachers. He made mention of Lucy Theobalds, who helped by providing school uniforms; lawyer René Baptiste, who is his godmother, providing him with food and books. Last Friday, Baptiste presented his call to the Bar, a call which was seconded by Crown Counsel in the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) office Karim Nelson in front of Justice Nicola Byers of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.

Haynes explained that initially, his interest was in Computer Science, but he switched to Law after being encouraged to do so by Cheryl-Ann Smith, a law lecturer at the SVGCC and Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves.

“I think that Law really chose me. I’d never intended to study Law. I’m a product of the Education Revolution to the extent that I received the PM’s award after A levels, and got the National Scholarship,” said Haynes, who is employed as a senior legal officer with the British High Commission in Barbados.

But while employed with the High Commission, Haynes said that he has interests in many areas.

“…primarily criminal litigation, money laundering, terrorist financing, human trafficking, child protection. But I also like other areas, like human rights law, especially of the disabled,” explained the young man, who formerly lectured human rights at UWI and has also lectured at other universities.

Haynes offers advice to persons who may be living in conditions similar to what he grew up in.

“The degree to which you succeed is not so much dependent on your social status or family pedigree as it is upon the magnitude of your dreams, your drive to succeed, your willingness to work hard, your readiness to make sacrifices and your faith in God.

“If I, who grew up in the squatter settlement in Diamond, who has never met his father, who was transferred between four primary schools, who has experienced excruciating hunger, a perennial lack of resources, embarrassment, humiliation, anxiety and even occasional bouts of depression, can do it, you can do it too,” said Haynes.

However, he said that on Friday, he was a bit disappointed by the fact that his call to the Bar was held in chambers, and not at the High Court.

“…So, only six persons were allowed to come, though there were so many whom I’d intended to invite, who have supported me. But at the same time, it really was a joyous and emotional experience. It really was a culmination of nine, long, hard years of toil. I felt really blessed and thankful. God really has been faithful through it all,” said Haynes.

During her summation, Baptiste said she knew Haynes through his mother and grandmother who worked with her part-

time.

“… It fills my heart with a sense of pride to do this,” said Baptiste, who described Haynes as an extraordinary student and devout Christian who chose an interesting set of courses to pursue and has written two books and several articles.

“It is wonderful to see young people write and research and I hope that he would prove to be a role model,” said Baptiste, who praised Haynes’ grandmother and mother.

In response, Justice Byers said that several lawyers have impressed her during Call to the Bar ceremonies, but Haynes took the cake.

She said it is not very often that one comes across a young lawyer as accomplished as Haynes.

“Several lawyers have impressed me, but you take that to a different level. I can see only the sky is the limit for you,” said Justice Byers, who described Haynes as the next generation and encouraged him to “take that mantle and run with it.”

Haynes has several publications, including “The Legislative Approaches to Combating Revenge Porn” (Statute Law Review May 2017) and “The Right to Free Movement of Persons in Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Law: Towards Juridification 2” ( Journal of Human Rights in the Commonwealth 57 – 66, 2016).

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