by Curlan Campbell
- Bubb is Edward Bouchet Honor Society member
- Intends to serve as a health and climate change communications expert for development organisations
- Looks forward to giving back to his community of Pomme Rose and Crochu
Grenadian PhD candidate and recent inductee into the Edward Bouchet Honor Society Kellon Bubb continues to set the bar high. He endeavours to seek solutions to problems affecting developing nations like Grenada facing environmental threats associated with climate change.
Bubb is among 71 minority and immigrant PhD candidates from the United States, inducted into the Edward Bouchet Honor Society during the annual Edward Bouchet National Diversity Conference at Yale University, held on 8-9 April 2021.
Pursuing his PhD in Health and Development Communication at Howard University, Bubb’s research centres on studying the health impacts of climate change in climate justice communities since communities of colour and low-income communities in the United States and worldwide are disproportionately affected.
“As a communications scholar, I believe that there is a deficit in the way climate change is discussed by policymakers. These conversations tend to frame climate change only in the context of natural disasters and weather events. While these variables are key climate change impacts, this anthropogenic phenomenon is also affecting human migration, human health, and an overall reduction in quality of life indicators over time,” said Bubb.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250 000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress. In addition, the direct damage costs to health (excluding costs in health-determining sectors such as agriculture and water and sanitation), is estimated to be between US$2 billion to US$4 billion per year by 2030. These statistics are staggering, since many of the countries that will be affected contribute very little to this global crisis.
“The reality is that people who contribute less to climate change by way of fossil fuel emissions are bearing the greatest burdens of said emissions. Climate change for example is exacerbating the burden of asthma among asthma sufferers here in the United States and in the Caribbean. If we’re going to have a conversation about climate change impacts, we must reimagine ways in which these conversations can also take into account our ability to adapt to the health impacts of climate change. I am therefore bringing to bear tools of qualitative, quantitative and critical communication research to help inform public policy on climate change health impacts as they affect communities of colour in the United States and the Caribbean,” Bubb continued.
Upon completion of his degree, Bubb intends to serve as a health and climate change communications expert for development organisations including the United Nations and PAHO while continuing his work as a Journalism and Communications professor in the United States. He also looks forward to giving back to his home country. “I will try to also give back to young people in my community of Pomme Rose and Crochu, by the way of mentorship, training and personal development. I’m also a human rights advocate and will continue to assist LGBTQ youth who experience discrimination in their communities,” he said.
Bubb is quite elated to be among this year’s inductees into the Edward Bouchet Honor Society and said that the nomination came as a surprise. He said, “The nomination for the award came as a surprise for me as it is a very competitive accolade for high performing minority and immigrant students in the United States. I attribute my success to discipline, hard work and a solid academic foundation. At Howard University’s Cathy Hughes School of Communication, I was guided by a cadre of tough and caring professors who nurtured me into a burgeoning communications academician and practitioner. I must also express gratitude to the teachers in Grenada who informed my academic foundation in the Presentation College, St Joseph’s (Pomme Rose) RC School in St David and the JW Fletcher Memorial primary school (now defunct).”
Bubb is also proud to be affiliated with Howard University, which he described as a beacon of higher education for generations of Caribbean immigrants who were otherwise unable to attend racially segregated schools in the United States. He is among a growing list of Grenadians and Caribbean nationals who were privileged to attend the prestigious university.
“The current prime minister of Grenada, the late Unison Whiteman and my late cousin Rupert Ambrose all attended Howard University. Dr Eric Williams, the first prime minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago was also a distinguished faculty at the university teaching and researching political science and economics. I, therefore, see myself as continuing this rich legacy of leadership and service. We have a motto in Howard that speaks to excellence in truth and service and I hope that my life’s professional work would line according to this ideal,” Bubb said.
Bubb continues to see the fruits of his labour, and admits that the road to success did not come easy especially being a black man and a Caribbean immigrant in America which is ladened with systemic racism. He said, “Firstly, unless you are well resourced and well connected, the mantra that says every man to himself holds true here. I learn this quickly when I first arrived. So, for example, I worked in the food and beverage industry as a waiter, dishwasher and prep cook to fulfil the goals that I came here to accomplish. Secondly, I came into a new sense of consciousness about my Blackness after coming to this country. I dismissed African American notions of racism as being too reactive until I experienced racism for myself in New York City, as well as being stopped and frisked by law enforcement on several occasions (maybe it was my dreadlocks).”
Bubb speaks of having to adapt quickly in order to survive and overcome the obstacles now placed in front of him.
“I overcame some of these challenges by learning how to network and make connections with people whose interests aligned with mines. I also learnt how to get outside of my comfort zone and connect with people outside of the bubble of the Caribbean community. All while ensuring that I was keeping my eyes on my long term goals. The thing about this country is that time for some reason moves fast and you must have a plan of action on how to achieve your dreams. You blink twice here and it will cause you to evaluate what you’ve accomplished. I would say that my Caribbean upbringing which was challenging in so many ways on account of losing my mother when I was only 19 prepared me to navigate the challenges I faced and continue to face here. I won’t pretend to paint a rosy picture of this country. Personal responsibility paramount here. It’s every man and woman to himself type of reality,” he said.
Bubb has offered some advice to young people wishing to define their own success.
“I would say to young people that they need to believe in themselves, love themselves and be bold in carving a nice for themselves. Also, don’t be afraid to fail. I’ve had my many shares of failures in high school. But I persevered and tried again until I succeed. Success also not a destination but it is a set of personal everyday goals that are accomplished. We also have to redefine what it means to be successful. Success doesn’t only lie in becoming lawyers, engineers or medical doctors. These are great professions, but so are professions of auto mechanics, masons and other tradesmen. We have to change the mindset in the Caribbean that prepares young people to work for other people and develop a mindset that encourages entrepreneurship, self-reliance, creativity and industry,” he added.
“There is a young boy or girl who might be called dunce at this very moment. Instead of calling kids dunce, let us find ways of harnessing whatever potential they might have that doesn’t lie strictly within the realm of CXC and CAPE academics. Additionally, young people should not fulfil their parent’s expectations of them but they should want to carve career paths that make them happy. Too often we practice self-fulfilling prophecy for our kids which to me is too rigid and too old fashioned. We have to decolonise this way of thinking. So that would be my advice.”
The Edward Alexander Bouchet Society’s national charter was inaugurated on 15 September 2005, by Yale and Howard University in commemoration of Bouchet’s birthday (1852–1918). Bouchet became the first African American to earn a doctorate from an American university when he earned a PhD in Physics from Yale University in 1876. As a Bouchet Honor Society member, candidates benefit from academic and career development assistance from fellow members, participating in JHU diversity and inclusion initiatives and joining a network of preeminent scholars.