Name: Janelle Chase-Mayers.
Education: University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM); The HazelDen Graduate School of Addiction Studies; Central Connecticut State University; Barbados Community College; CrossFit HQ; Barbados Productivity Council;
Qualifications: PhD candidate in marriage and family therapy; Master of Arts in marriage and family therapy (summa cum laude); Bachelor of Arts in psychology; Certificate in Co-Occurring Disorders and Addiction Studies; TVET Level 2 management course candidate.
Occupation: marriage and family therapist, consultant, CrossFit trainer, and tutor.
If you had to give a brief introduction of Janelle, what would you say?
I am a young woman, who is passionate about interpersonal interactions that are healthy and purpose-driven. I am a mother of an adventurous and brave eight-year-old boy, and I am a competitive athlete who loves to stay active in sports and fitness.
What drives you and keeps you motivated? What are you passionate about?
The death of my husband Terry Mayers and having to raise our son without his presence keeps me motivated to get up and keep going. I’ve always been a busybody, but now my being busy is directly related to making my son’s life as purposeful as I can.
I am passionate about helping individuals reach or see their true potential; I am passionate about fitness, health, wellness, relationships and parenting.
Do you have a philosophy by which your life is governed?
At present, my philosophy in life is changing as I am growing into my 30s. I am now governed by my mantra Learn. Grow. Teach. Coach. Consult. Mentor. If we can approach life in
any of these disciplines, we would be successful in life.
Which four words best describe you?
Outspoken, athletic, driven, competitive.
After completing secondary school, you attended the Barbados Community College where you pursued an Associate degree in physical education. What influenced you?
I was very interested in sports at that time, and I wanted to be the first student at Combermere to complete my A Levels and get an Associate degree at the same time. The late Dorien Pile always found a way to push me to do something different, and I wanted to be successful in that area.
I initially wanted to become an occupational therapist, but training for such was only being offered in Jamaica; so I opted to begin studies at BCC.
After completing only two semesters at BCC, you transferred to Central Connecticut State University for one year. What led to this, and what did you study there?
I was representing Barbados at the Junior Caribbean Volleyball Championship in Jamaica in 1999, and we lost the finals game. A coach from CCSU, who was scouting, thought I would fit his team, and I was offered an NCAA Division 1 full scholarship on August 5, 1999, and left Barbados August 15 to pursue my studies.
I continued studying physical education, because I became interested in coaching athletes from my experience with playing volleyball.
At the end of one year you transferred your credits from Central Connecticut State University to ULM where you completed a BA in psychology. What motivated this, and how do you describe the experience of living and studying outside Barbados?
I left CCSU after my coach was fired by the university. All of my teammates had signed a petition to have the coach fired without my knowledge. My coach, a Brazilian, was a very hard taskmaster, but I was accustomed to that sort of training in Barbados.
I felt hurt and disappointed by the university’s decision, so I transferred to ULM to play volleyball with one of my very best friends, Talya Layne, who was also on the 1999 Barbados Junior CVC team.
I enjoyed living overseas. My dad has resided in New York since I was six months old, so I was accustomed to spending nigh three-month summer vacations in New York. So the transition was seamless. I adjusted well to Louisiana since the weather there was more favourable than CCSU’s.
Studying was also easy. I chose courses that complemented my volleyball schedule and interest in physical education, then psychology. Louisiana also reminded me of Barbados, the culture, the people, the scenery. It was truly my home away from home.
Having received your Bachelor’s, you stayed on at ULM to complete an MA in marriage and family therapy? Why this area, and why did you decide to stay on?
I stayed on for several reasons.
(1) There was no way I was going to return to Barbados with a first degree in psychology. That was the in-thing at the time and I didn’t see myself as marketable.
(2) I originally wanted to be an occupational therapist, so my heart was set on being able to learn more about that field, but was drawn into the marriage and family therapy programme because a graduate assistantship was being offered, and school would be free once again.
(3) I loved Louisiana, and it was refreshing to stay there with the family who had adopted us. We met a Bajan lady name Angie Wilson and her husband John, who embraced both Talya and me, and were willing to support us with our ventures in school, transportation, food –– anything we needed to be successful. To this day we are considered their children.
(4) My main focus for the programme was working with families and addictions.
Many young people do not see marriage as important. As a therapist with speciality knowledge in this area, what are your views on marriage?
I do believe marriage is important in our society. There is a level of commitment that is unsurmountable when two individuals decide to get married. During my course of study, I was actually engaged to my late husband Terry Mayers, and it was an interesting way of viewing a relationship. But the thought of being married made our relationship very purpose-driven.
The concept of marriage creates an informed stability that has the potential to help individuals grow and live a purposeful life with a partner. Often when people get married, they are committing to a system they have little knowledge of. I always encourage those who are open to marriage to seek out what type of marriage they wish to have.
What are the goals of the marriage? What are the rules of their marriage? How do both partners benefit from being married? What examples do they have of good marriages? What are you trying to “fix” by marrying someone?
In terms of benefiting the society, being committed to a wholesome union could only make our society stronger. I do wish we spent more time talking about the value of marriage than the value of the wedding.
Over the past ten years, you have been a part-time tutor at the Barbados Community College. What areas do you lecture in and what was the transition like from student to teacher?
I have taught Introduction To Psychology, Behaviour Modification, Introduction To Counselling Individuals And Families, History And Foundation Of Psychology, Dynamics Of Family Life and Motivational Interviewing.
The transition was a comfortable one. At the beginning of tutoring I was able to co-teach with my colleague and very good friend Jomo Philips, who at the time was a senior tutor at BCC. I absolutely love teaching. I am one of those tutors who believe every student should get an A.
I come into the classroom with the perception students lack the knowledge of the subject in the format I am planning to teach, but are knowledgeable with their life experience; so our ability to merge the two worlds can create positive outcomes for learning.
If you were offered a ticket to anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
The honest answer would be to Heaven to see my husband again, and tell him how beautiful his son is and the progress we have all made. Apart from my Heaven trip, I would visit Australia. I just would like to check out its CrossFit facilities; get a grasp of its fitness world; and to explore its culture, immersing myself in the Aborigines’ lives.
Name three people you would love to meet and chat with.
I’m really into Gary Vaynerchuk right now, the serial entrepreneur based in the United States, with a no-nonsense passion for getting things done.
Steve Harvey is on my bucket list to meet and talk with, I just enjoy watching his evolution and the passion he has now carried into having conversations about relationships in mainstream media. I see my meeting with him as instrumental to my having more conversations about relationships in the wider Caribbean.
If you had the ability to solve one global issue, what would it be?
Emotional instability. This is on my agenda for the next couple of years. We focus so much on mental sickness, and never do a good job of teaching mental health and emotional regulation in our own family of origin. I’m of the opinion that if we focused on teaching good mental health practice, along with physical and spiritual health, many global issues would dissipate.
You currently work at Marina House in St John? What are your role and responsibilities?
I am the lead coordinator of Marina House and am responsible for development and delivery of residential and continuing treatment services for women. I lead a team of ten and work in conjunction with Verdun House and Substance Abuse Foundation Inc.
Our main focus is providing 12-step facilitation, group therapy, individual therapy, family therapy, art therapy, wellness, psychological and psychiatric services and medical care as an integrated approach to treating addiction in Barbados and the Caribbean.
You are currently studying for a PhD in marriage and family therapy. What area are you focusing your study on and why?
My PhD is concentrated on creative systemic studies –– creating out-of-the-box ways of solving problems, and introducing the masses to new systemic ideas of viewing partnerships, relationships, work experiences, family experiences and life in general.
My main focus is to effectively collide all my worlds: mental health, fitness, wellness and tutoring. So I am considering looking at how movement, play, exercise, fitness can improve interpersonal interactions and relationships in couples and families.
Earlier this year, at the opening of your TEDx Talks (Bridgetown) presentation Crafting Emotional Intelligence, you shared that you lost your husband shortly after your son had been born. Has this traumatic experience helped fuel your work in family therapy, especially in the area of loss and grief?
Trauma is something that happens to you that you didn’t want to, or wished didn’t. So, losing Terry was not just traumatic, but life-altering. It has created for me a new-found perspective on grief and an understanding of the need for us to talk more openly about our experiences of loss. To also look at the ways in which we support others when they lose something or someone.
How long do we stay with them after their loss? Do we know how to pass on the legacy of fathers and mothers who are no longer with us? Terry’s death has unlocked a passion to serve those who have experienced loss.
What do you love most about yourself?
That I am an open book, for the most part; am able to share my emotions without being judged. And knowing that keeps me sane and willing to continue moving.
Who has contributed to your success?
My belief in a Higher Power whom I choose to call God, my mother Deborah Chase and her support in any venture I have put my mind to. She is my rock and continues to help me raise my son. My family; Terry’s family; my mother-in-law Julia Mayers, who is still involved in my life as if Terry is still here.
My mentor Jacqui Lewis for helping me to achieve some of my professional goals. My bestfriend Corey Goodman who has been a rock for the past three years in building a successful business. My sisters in spirit Sharee Blaise McConnell, Shennel Pooler, Talya Layne and Shakira Jones, and my CrossFit 246 Team.
My son T.J. Mayers who is as eager as I am in being purposeful. And last, but by no means least, the late Terry Mayers, who perhaps believed in me and my potential more than I even knew.
To this day his spirit is with me in the forms of his family and friends. They continue to be a pillar of strength and mentorship for TJ. Julius Gittens, Jason Harper, Jasper Blades and Mark Seale are part of Terry’s succession team and by extension have become part of mine.
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