By Kimberley Cummins
Dr. Dawn-Marie Armstrong once looked poised to be one of the future flag bearers and faces of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP).
However, in what came as a huge surprise to many, the former St. George South candidate has stepped away from elective politics, making that announcement on Tuesday. In an interview with Barbados TODAY via telephone yesterday afternoon, Armstrong said the decision was made in order for her to focus on her professional commitments. For her, the choice didn’t come lightly as she was wrestling with the move for some time but, according to her, the recent death of former Minister of Environment and DLP colleague Dr. Denis Lowe was what tipped the scale.
“Psychologists around politics are like unicorns, the last would have been my comrade Denis Lowe. Thinking about the contribution he would have made, how as a clinical psychologist he committed most of his life to serving the people of Barbados and he recently passed and it seems like his contribution has been forgotten. I think that really was a wake-up call for me as well to know that it is time to capitalise on any opportunities you are afforded and maximise your marketability as a psychologist so that professionally my profile would speak for itself,” she explained.
“I think that when I focus on my professional development I am in control of the narrative of my progression in life. I think essentially Denis would have set the standard for what a psychologist could accomplish in Barbados politics and I think in stepping back and allowing myself to truly flourish I really do just hope to inspire people in knowing that their capabilities are limitless. It is not really about young or old, it is really knowing that if you have the heart to do something and accomplish something when you reach the point in your life when critical decisions have to be made, you recognise that if you are supposed to be somewhere, you always find your way back. And I decided to allow myself to transition in whichever way is most beneficial to me professionally now at this stage. And that came after a good few months of deliberating where I wanted to go and I am at peace with my decision,” Armstrong stated.
Armstrong made it clear that there was no discord between her and the DLP. As a matter of fact, she revealed she was still a member of the General Council and would support the party’s next candidate in the St. George South riding and all candidates in the other 29 constituencies.
On top of that, she debunked claims that her failed attempt to secure the post of General Secretary during the Party’s annual general conference in August played a part in her decision. To the contrary, the 2017 National Development scholar explained that in reality, having been nominated by several branches she did not want to withdraw from the race mid-way even though she knew a decision regarding her continued plans for professional development in psychology had to be made.
“I did not want to look as though I was not committed to the party at that point because I am always committed to uplifting the Democratic Labour Party in whichever capacity I am able to serve. . . These decisions had to be made a long time ago and in reality, I just wanted them to occur naturally.”
Having recently been awarded a Doctorate in Sport and Exercise Psychology from the Liverpool John Moores University in the United Kingdom, the 34-year-old is set to create history as the first black graduate and the only female Sports Psychologist of Afro-Caribbean heritage at this level. Additionally, even though she is stepping away from politics, Armstrong expressed her strong desire to continue her work in serving the people of Barbados. While she did not go into specifics, she alluded to some charitable initiatives that would be rolled out in the coming year.
“We know sports is struggling at home right now and we do need persons who are very well qualified and very well versed in every aspect of sports and I have chosen to take a step back to focus on developing to my full capacity in sports psychology in the hope of further developing things in the near future. . . At this stage we are underrepresented in my field, so again I chose to come away from [politics] and make that connection to provide future opportunities for other sports psychologists from the Caribbean who would want to follow in the same career path. There are a lot of things that could be done out here to create future opportunities for persons in other sports as well.
“I love serving and giving. Definitely still assisting at the community level, definitely still making a contribution to try to enrich the lives of Barbadians, but professionally, I can’t be involved in elective politics.”