Stewart accepting her award from the Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of The UWI, Mona, Professor Archibald McDonald, at the recent Principal's Award Ceremony.
Dr Stewart is CIES AD SIG's Emerging ScholarSENIOR LECTURER AT The UWI Mona, Dr Saran Stewart, is the 2018 Emerging Scholar for the Comparative and International Education Society's (CIES) African Diaspora Special Interest Group. The award is made annually to exceptional scholars.
Stewart is also the recipient of the African Diaspora International Research Network’s (AD-IRN) Early Career Fellow, an award given through the World Educational Research Association (WERA).
She attended Charles University, one of the Stewart has a Bachelor of Arts in English (Creative Writing, with Honours) and International Studies, with a minor in Dance (with honours) from the University of Miami. “I started working right away at a Fortune 500 company and after a year I started an MBA,” she said. She completed her Master of Business Administration (MBA) at Barry University in Florida. “My real passion has always been International Development, so while I was finishing the MBA, I started another Master’s Degree in International Administration. That degree took me over to Europe to live in the Czech Republic,” she continued.
She attended Charles University, one of the country’s top tertiary-level institutions. While she said that she enjoyed her school experience, she admitted to encountering constant and open displays of racism. “The racism was beyond anything I’ve ever experienced in my life”, she recalled, citing several instances, one of which was as radical as physically removing her from a space. Unable to cope and fearing for her safety, Stewart left Czech Republic and returned to Florida. “I finished my master’s degree there, and started working at Florida International University.”
Stewart immediately began her quest to obtain a PhD, seeking programmes in International and/or Comparative Education. Having been in the Czech Republic at a time when they were preparing to enter the European Union, Stewart said that one of the things she observed was that the country believed in using education to drive development. “All formidable countries that have done that have always done it through education. So I started to look into education disciplines. I ended up at the University of Denver and got a full scholarship there,” she told UWIMONA Now. She went on to complete her PhD in Higher Education in record time and returned home to Jamaica.
Stewart launched her UWI career in September 2013 as a Lecturer General in the School of Education. She was soon promoted to Lecturer in Higher Education with Comparative Education, and three years later she was again promoted, this time to Senior Lecturer in Higher Education with Comparative Education. Today, Stewart is the author of more than 20 refereed publications, including two books. She has done close to 50 scholarly presentations across 12 countries, including seven keynote addresses. She has also received several awards, including her most recent Emerging Scholar and Early Career Fellow awards, as well as the 2016 and 2017 Principal’s Awards for Most Outstanding Researcher and Best Research Publication from The UWI, Mona.
The Principal’s Award (presented at UWI Research Days) was received for her research in 2017 examining “The scope and prevalence of private tutoring and its effects on access to Higher Education in multiple Caribbean countries”. In 2018, she copped awards identical to the previous year, this time for her research in “Schooling and Coloniality: Conditions underlying ‘extra lessons’ in Jamaica”. The research publications stemmed from a massive study she carried out as part of her dissertation. It was influenced by her own experience as a Campion College past student and a past student of Russell Bell’s private tutoring, or ‘extra lesson’ classes. “I was doing terribly at Campion [until] the Dean of Discipline had a meeting with my father and it led to enrolment in extra lessons,” she said. “I know for a fact that the reason I graduated from Campion is because I did extra lessons with Mr Bell,” she added. In fact, Stewart said she received private tutoring for eight of the 10 CXC subjects she studied.
Stewart’s 2018 African Diaspora, Emerging Scholar Award recognises her as a ‘cutting-edge’ researcher whose contributions ‘emphasise comparative studies and have the potential to impact positively the educational pursuits of the African Diaspora’. It will see her travelling to Mexico at the end of March to receive her award, along with three other recipients – Dr Julius Fleming from the University of Maryland, Dr Derron Wallace from Brandeis University and Dr Sheron Wray from University of California, Irvine.
Meantime, Stewart’s Early Career Fellow award will see her serving a three-year term, with responsibility for identifying salient research projects that connects to the AD-IRN for findings and publications; participating in African Diaspora-related panels at global conferences, participating in the AD-IRN working conference, collecting grant-writing for African Diaspora-related research projects and participating in ongoing lecture series at Columbia University and the University of Notre Dame. She is also expected to serve as an ambassador for the African Diaspora Consortium and its university initiatives.