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St Thomas leader inspires youth

Published:Tuesday | March 8, 2022 | 12:09 AMShanna Monteith/Gleaner Writer
Tishauna Mullings has pledged to make a difference in her native St Thomas.
Tishauna Mullings has pledged to make a difference in her native St Thomas.

Social development practitioner Tishauna Mullings of Seaforth, St Thomas, is, simply put, a force to be reckoned with.

A Chevening scholar, recipient of the Prime Minister's Youth Award for being a stalwart in community and nation-building, named among the most influential young people in the Caribbean under 30 years old, and among the youngest justices of the peace in Jamaica, her impact reaches beyond the borders of her rustic home town.

Nicknamed 'Indomitable', Mullings has had speaking engagements or executed projects in several countries, including Peru, the United Kingdom, Ethopia, and Morocco.

The advocate said, however, that nothing makes her prouder than the strides of her mentees in the eastern Jamaica parish as she seeks to multiply success stories.

Mullings said that she has been passionate about breaking biases and false narratives associated with St Thomas ever since she became aware of them.

“When I heard fellow college students saying they would not return to St Thomas because there was a lack of opportunities, I thought to myself that that was the very reason I would return,” Mullings said in a Gleaner interview.

“If there were limited opportunities, it means there are many ideas, industries, and untapped areas to be explored. What was a deterrent for others was an opportunity for me.”

During university, she founded the St Thomas Advocates for Positive Change Youth and Development, a movement aimed at mobilising patriotic youth committed to parish development.

The visionary shared that one of the key challenges she observed was an increasing number of unattached youth who often complained that they see no opportunity for growth.

One of the first projects she launched on her return home after four years at Northern Caribbean University was an Opportunities Fair in partnership with the National Youth Service, the St Thomas Municipal Corporation, and the Social Development Commission. That project sought to help youth get critical documentation and information to chart a career path.

Mullings later won the 2013 Farm Queen competition, soon developing an initiative, Little Genius, geared at equipping young people with the skills for advocacy.

Though landing a job in banking, the people-centred leader opted out to pursue her heart's desire of empowering of others through her business, NexxStepp Lifelong Educational Services.

“This opportunity to serve the parish meant a lot to me, as I believe that while infrastructural development is key, what will allow St Thomas to really develop is human capital,” said Mullings, who is 31.

Among her other exploits are the Little Genius Competition, which leverages the skills of local creatives, and the St Thomas Renaissance Foundation, for which she serves as an ambassador and director who engages expatriates in fundraising and the pooling of human resources to further support the parish.

Custos of St Thomas, Marcia Bennett, has described Mullings as a bold role model.

“All the young persons who have come in contact with her have grown because of her example. There is nothing impossible for her. She is courageous and always standing up for others,” the custos told The Gleaner.

“It's her dream for all young persons in St Thomas to be able to communicate effectively, sell themselves, and realise their full potential. She wants to change lives.”

She is elated at the development projects under way in St Thomas, including the construction of a highway and the buildout of town centre. Mullings has her own ideas for St Thomas' future.

“To do my part in my small corner, plans are currently afoot to build out a mini-innovation lab poised to become the first Intergenerational Innovation Hub in St Thomas. This centre is set to be a quintessential example of an innovative approach to rural regeneration as people of various ages will be funded to execute innovative ideas that solve social issues in their communities,” she said.