Retired deputy commissioner of police Mervyn Richardson is the new president of the Northeastern College Alumni Association (NECAA).
He was elected last Sunday during the organisation’s election of officers’ meeting, held at the school’s compound, Graham Trace, Ojoe Road, Sangre Grande.
Richardson replaced attorney Dale Scobie, who had served in an interim capacity after the idea to revive the NECAA first surfaced two years ago. Scobie now serves as the association’s public relations officer.
Richardson leads a team of eight executive members who will chart the course of the organisation over the next two years.
They are Mu’min Abdulwudud (first vice president); Oliver Roopsingh (second vice president); Lana Mc Donald (general secretary); Bernadine Carter (assistant secretary); Cheryl Scott-Alvarez (treasurer); Gewan Durga (assistant treasurer) and a school representative (yet to be named).
The association’s work includes addressing some of the school’s social, educational and infrastructural challenges.
“We have a bright vision and we will come back to you in short time with a strategic plan on how we intend to roll out the strategic plan over the next two years,” Richardson said in a brief acceptance address.
The retired lawman urged alumni to “get on board” in assisting the executive with its work.
“Send the message far and wide to all Northeastern students. This is something waiting to happen. Our vision is to make Northeastern the premier school that it used to be, not only in the eastern county but throughout Trinidad and Tobago.”
Known as the mecca of education in the east, Northeastern College opened its doors in 1961, catering primarily to students in Sangre Grande, its environs and other far-flung communities in east Trinidad.
Some of its distinguished alumni include late assistant commissioner of police Winston Cooper; retired principal/poet Eva David-Swain and the school’s first head girl, retired teacher Maura Cooseelal.
The trio was honoured by the interim alumni association, one year ago, for their efforts to rejuvenate the organisation.
Richardson, who entered Northeastern College in 1966, reminded alumni of the school’s success in academia, sport and other extra-curricular activities, over the years.
Saying the school has continued its proud tradition, Richardson told the gathering that three of the institution’s distinguished alumni– Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan, Energy Minister Franklin Khan and parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of National Security Glenda Jennings-Smith– were now in the Parliament.
“That is an achievement that we must boast about.”
He recalled that as a young student, “we used to have people who would go out and debate and Northeastern used to come first.
“We were one of the best schools in the whole country. So what is stopping that now. So, let’s put our shoulders to the wheel.”
Richardson thanked Scobie and members of the outgoing interim executive for laying the groundwork for the rebirth of the NECAA.
Scobie, in his remarks, also thanked members of the interim executive for their support in keeping the dream of a bonafide alumni association alive.
“We have seen a level of volunteerism and selfless commitment that Northeastern should be very proud of,” he said.
However, Scobie said one of their major challenges has been to attract a large cross-section of the student body, spanning the decades.
“Since ths school started in 1961, the first graduates would have been in 1965. So between 1965 and the current year, we would have had thousands of graduates. But the challenge of starting an alumni association at this point in time is that we had to tailor some of what we were doing to attract several different generations with several different activities.”
Scobie said the NECAA’s theme, Stronger Together, was symbolic of the strides made within the association since 2016.
He urged the new executive to rise to the occasion.
“Take it as a labour of love in strengthening our communities and dealing with the challenges facing the country.”
Scobie’s sentiment resonated with visiting alumna Meldrina Bernard, who said she and others have long wanted to give back to their alma mater.
Based in the United States, Bernard revealed she has been involved in policy planning and decision-making in the area of mental health for many years. This resulted in her receiving a national leadership award from Washington DC.
Bernard attributed her success to the foundation she received at Northeastern College.
“It started here....where I used to talk up a storm. And, I talked up a storm in America,” she said, eliciting laughter among her contemporaries.
Bernard said she was appalled by social ills plaguing the country and felt the time had come to make a contribution.
“I would look at the news and I would read things and cry. I would say, ‘Lord, help my poor country. But then instead of praying, I said, ‘Let me pick up and come back and see what I could do to help.”
The school’s acting principal Sharlyne Fox-Damani, who also attended the event, said while students were performing well academically, there was still room for improvement.
She also said the school, like others, was plagued by challenges.
However, Fox-Damani expressed hope the school would rise above its challenges to once again, become the leading educational institution in the east.
“I am sure that with the assistance of the alumni and stakeholders, we will get Northeastern College to be back where it ought to be,” she said.
“We are counting on you to assist us and work together with us to lift up Northeastern College and who better to depend on than people who have an interest in the school, people who attended the institution.”
ABOUT MERVYN RICHARDSON
* Richardson served as the chairman of the Private Security Network Commission from 2011 to 2013.
* Richardson is acknowledged for his role in bringing the kidnapping for ransom rate down, several years ago.
* Richardson acted as Commissioner of Police in June 2013 while Stephen Williams attended a conference in the Far East.
* The former People’s Partnership government promoted Richardson to the position of director of the National Operations Centre in July 2015.
* Former national security minister Jack Warner claimed Richardson was involved in the cover-up of a marijuana find at the private residence of former prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, in Phillipine, in 2013.
* Richardson had his leave bought out by the PP Government on two occasions.
* Richardson had led several police investigations into government officials, including Emailgate