Tell us about your background and family life in Cayman.
I was born and raised in Grand Cayman, more specifically in West Bay. I like to say that I am a generational West Bayer, my dad is from North West Point and my mom has lived in West Bay since she moved here in 1987. I’m a big melting pot of cultures and people. I am Bermudian and English on my mom’s side and Caymanian and Belizian on my dad’s side. There’s a little bit of Cuba and Scotland tossed in there too – but that’s a long story!
What was it like growing up in Cayman?
Growing up in Cayman can only be described as special. I was raised by my community. I feel very lucky to have experienced, and be able to remember, a pre-Hurricane Ivan Cayman (I was 8 years old when Ivan hit), and have fond memories of walking home from school and being called out to by elders on front porches telling me I shouldn’t get into trouble or they’d tell my Grandma.
What did you want to be as a child?
A few things. I wanted to be an actor and also a writer! My mom once took me to open casting calls for Nickelodeon and Disney in Miami – I’m still sad it didn’t work out! I also wanted to be a writer, I wrote my first "novel" by hand when I was 12 because I wanted to be like Christopher Paolini who wrote the Eragon series at 16.
You're clearly an ambitious individual. What drives you?
"Thank you. Probably a love of country. There’s a special bond that links everyone who lives, and loves, in Cayman and it is our tie to our island in the sun. I always want to make my best effort to keep Cayman as a special place, where you smile at strangers or say hello when you walk past someone (even if you don’t know them.) I’m committed to upholding that feeling, but also making Cayman an even better place than how I found it."
What’s the proudest moment of your career so far?
"It's funny because I always forget I have a career now, I really feel like a kid a lot of the time. Being hired full time for my first employer was a very special memory for me. I was an intern in Human Resources, with a law degree, and really didn’t have the experience to be there – when I was offered a full-time position 3 months out of university it gave me a lot of pride and a lot of hope that exciting things were to come."
Who is your biggest role model?
Probably my mom. The older I get, the more understanding I become of how hard being a parent is and how there really was no guide book. My mom went back to school for her degree when I was 10 years old and her perseverance towards providing me a better life always inspires me to always put in a little bit of extra effort into whatever I am doing.
Where do you see yourself in 10-15 years' time?
In 10 years, I’ll be 36. I’d like to be settled back into Cayman after some time working abroad. I have a personal goal of assisting an ambitious amount of young people in registering to vote over the next 10 years, so I hope I’ve hit that goal! I’d also like to be making plans to adopt a little boy or girl. My grandpa was adopted, so I have always known that is something I would like to do.
Why do you think it’s important to get involved in Cayman’s community?
We are all responsible for the place we live in, no matter where in the world we are. If you see something that you believe requires change, put action behind it. An inspiring action happening right now is the work being done by Bethany Ebanks-Pacheo and her colleague, Lorren Stainton, to try and increase parental leave rights in the Cayman Islands. They are members of the community who are on the path to making substantial change that will affect us all.
What challenges do you think the education system in Cayman is facing?
Probably the segregation between public and private schools. I am proud to be an alumnus of the Cayman Islands Public Education System (primary through high school) and can collectively say amongst my peers, we are lawyers, accountants, doctors – our experiences are not the same as what is often publicised.
What improvements would you like to see in Cayman’s education system?
I’d love to see it be more publicised that, pending available space, children of work-permit holders can attend public schools. I’d also love to see more efforts and incentives towards encouraging a more diverse public school population. I graduated in 2012, and can confirm that we did feel the difference between us and our private school peers. My mother moved to Cayman in 1987 and attended Cayman Islands High School (John Gray High School) and tells me stories of how different things were when kids weren’t separated. I believe it will help assist with the social divide we are seeing nowadays. I’d also like to see Cayman Culture included in the curriculum for public and private schools as a mandatory course.
What are your dreams for the future of Cayman?
I’d love to see a more walkable Cayman! I used to work in Camana Bay and have really carried the principles and benefits of New Urbanism with me. I would also like to see us lean into education of our heritage, supporting the future but also not allowing practices such as thatching to die out. I am proud to have that knowledge specifically, but I am aware there is so much that I and others don’t know.
What's your favourite thing to do on a weekend?
I like to rest, but in different ways. I like to read books or watch interesting movies. I watch the Twilight Zone a lot. I’m starting to learn that it is okay to go a little bit slower, that you can’t pour from an empty cup and sometimes doing nothing is productive.
Where is your favourite place in Cayman?
My favourite place is Liars Tree (Garvin Park) in West Bay, next to Calypso Grill. I find a lot of peace near the sea, and sometimes I will drive there on a Sunday and park my car and just listen to the waves.