Career & Education

Mico Gold medal awardee — Dr Arthur Geddes

Sunday, October 29, 2017

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Over the next five weeks the Jamaica Observer will feature one of the Mico University College Alumni Association's Gold Medal awardees for 2017.

Teacher, singer, geologist. These are three of the titles that Dr Arthur Geddes, JP, CD holds, and the level of commitment demonstrated for each has won recognition from no less than the institution which helped shape the man and his talents — his alma mater Mico University College.

The institution, through Mico University College Alumni Association, recently presented Geddes with its Gold Medal Award for his contribution to the country and the university college.

“Today, Arthur, on account of your service to your country and your alma mater and for the example you have been to other Miconians, the Mico family awards you with the MOSA Gold Medal,” the dedication in the programme booklet read.

High Commissioner of Nigeria to Namibia Ambassabor Lilian Onoh, as per a congratulatory note in the booklet, hailed Dr Geddes as an “incomparable friend and brother”.

Geddes graduated from the then Mico Teachers' College in 1957 and landed his first job at Denham Town Primary. His class had 109 students, whom he described as being initially unruly. But he was not deterred.

“It was very challenging because the discipline wasn't good at first. But they eventually settled down and some of them came out well. They went on be accountants; and some even joined the army, ” he said proudly.

While at Denham Town, Geddes also trained the school choir. It did well under his tutelage, and won media attention. He was later offered a job as a 4-H Club organiser in the west. But Geddes missed the east and returned to Kingston where he taught at Papine Senior School (now Papine High School). Shortly after, his passion to earn a science degree pushed him to apply to the University of the West Indies (UWI).

“I've always had a drive to get a science degree and so I applied to the UWI and got a scholarship to do chemistry and geology,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

But his love for music and his ambition to further his studies were in conflict. While singing professionally in New York, he realised that it would interfere with his master's studies. He decided that singing at the downtown Glee Club and on Broadway would be no more, so he closed that chapter of his life to pursue geology, his new number one love.

The scholar qualified for sponsorship and gained his Master's and PhD in geochemistry at City University in New York and North Western University in Illinois, respectively. Not willing to withstand another winter in the US, he returned to Jamaica and went straight into his new job with the Geological Survey and Mining Department of the Ministry of Mining and Energy.

“I started out as a geologist, doing field mapping among other things. Then I began to specialise. They appointed me the head of the Industrial Minerals Division, so I began to specialse in industrial minerals. I eventually worked my way to become the leading industrial geologist in Jamaica,” Dr Geddes said.

His promotions did not stop there. Sometime after, he worked as the island's chief geologist — the Director of Geological Surveys — and was Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Mining and Energy. The latter allowed Dr Geddes to travel the world, visiting many countries on almost every continent. One of these travels took him to Australia where he did a post-graduate certificate course in industrial minerals at Western Australia School of Mines.

Dr Geddes has been honoured by various organisations for his work in the industrial minerals sector. The Jamaican Government conferred him with the Order of Distinction, Commander Class, while the Organization of Energy Development in Latin America and the Caribbean awarded him Energy Expert.

Over the years, Dr Geddes did not neglect his alma mater, serving in a range of positions including president. It was during his tenure that Evening of Musical Excellence, a fundraising event, and an associated scholarship programme were initiated. Dr Geddes continues to support MOSA as it aims to improve the educational resources at the Mico University College.

And he still sings, being a member of the National Chorale of Jamaica.

The MOSA Gold Medal Awards is a biennial celebration. This year it awarded five alumni. In addition to Dr Arthur Geddes, there was Mervis Johnson, Dr Clinton Hutton, Dr Yvonne Shorter-Brown, and Jeremy Palmer.

The ceremony was held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston on Saturday, September 16.

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