Dominica-Born Scientist, Dr. Swinburne Augustine Leads Groundbreaking Research on COVID-19
(Dominica News Online) It is emblematic of our island’s inability to secure the fruits of its human resource harvest that I only knew of Dr. Swinburne Augustine this year– even though we attended high school around the same time in Dominica. I wish to thank the management and staff of Q95, and the “Global Voices on Q” program initiated and moderated by Sheridan Gregoire for presenting such an illustrious son of the soil on a March 2020 COVID-19 panel discussion aimed at educating our population about nascent COVID-19 global pandemic caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
Swinburne Augustine was born in Delices, Dominica in 1962, the son of Victor Augustine and Paulina Eloi. His father, Victor, became a Certified Management Accountant with the Canadian Government in Toronto after graduating from the Saint Mary’s Academy (SMA) and University in Toronto. Paulina was a domestic worker and later a restaurant attendant in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Swinburne attended the Delices Primary School which was next to his home. His grandfather owned the only mill in the village to make farine from cassava and toloma from the arrowroot plant. Farine and toloma were food staples in our diet in those days. In his words:
We lived so close to the school; we could not skip school by faking sickness. In those days, police or truancy officers (my grandfather was a truancy officer) would apprehend you and take you to school for a whipping if you were found hanging around, wasting time being truant during school time. I was raised by my grandparents, Aaron and Severine Augustine. My grandparents were farmers, who also ran their own mill processing cassava and arrowroot. My grandfather’s only government-paid job was as a truancy officer for the district to seek out truants and haul them to school. I am not too sure if Dominica has that strict system against truancy today.
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