Dr Kern Tobias, says his love for helping people is what earned him the Chaconia Medal (silver) for Community Service, which was presented to him by President Paula Mae Weekes at Monday’s National Awards ceremony at the North Academy of the Performing Arts (NAPA) in Port of Spain.
Tobias said his foundation is built on humility and he was surprised when he received news that he was recipient of a National Award.
“l am honoured, it is a heart-warming experience. It is an emotional time for me. I have never felt this wonderful in a long time. It brings a warm feeling to me.
“I was never expecting this; it was something that never ran across my mind. I did not see myself as a national figure. I have always been in my quiet corner offering my services to assist and grow people in whatever way I can in Trinidad and Tobago and beyond,” he said.
Tobias said he also felt honoured being the only Tobagonian to receive a medal this year.
“My life’s objective is service to God and to people. I am bearing in mind my humble beginning from failing Common Entrance, but God has really guided my life and I feel privileged to be a model for my contemporary Tobagonians.
“Also taking into consideration, I would have come from a very small village and with just hard work and determination I was able to receive this kind of blessing,” he said.
Tobias is from Mason Hall.
Tobias, an ordained pastor, is President of the Caribbean Union Conference of Seventh Day Adventists (a board comprising of Seventh Day Adventist field leaders and professionals, overseeing all SDA churches and organisations across the Caribbean).
He also lectures at the University of the Southern Caribbean and is a board member of the Adventist Development Relief Agency (ADRA) board.
He said ADRA was one of the first groups that reaches out to persons affected by disasters in Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean.
He recalled a visit by President Weekes to the USC campus a few months ago.
“She was surprised by the school’s infrastructure and also stated that she didn’t know the school was this developed. Over 3,000 students currently enrolled at our campus,” he said.
Tobias attended Mason Hall Government Primary School where he failed his Common Entrance exam. It wasn’t until he was 14 years old that he got the opportunity to write a private exam to get into the Harmons Seventh Day Adventist school. He said he did exceptionally well in that exam and was placed in Form Two.
After leaving Harmons’, Tobias started his teaching career in 1975 at the Charlottesville Government Primary school before leaving Tobago to continue his education in Trinidad, at age 20.
He said teaching was always his goal but after volunteering with a group focused on the development of young men, he found another purpose, which was helping young people grow.
“I based my life on encouraging young people to get into the church ministry, to provide empowerment to anyone who requires it. I also provide counselling in career development to show young people that life is about hard work…
“Human development, professional and personal development is what I focus on to improve within these individuals because it is better to make the right decisions early to have a more credible life,” he said.
“All this for me was about service, it was about giving my best to the country by way of being a law-abiding citizen to uphold the standards of the country. Now that I have become a leader of men, I can now teach and mentor young people to become leaders. I am at that stage of my life now where I am focused to push people to be the best they can be,” he said.
Married to Linda Hislop, also of Mason Hall, for the past 36 years, and with who he has three children - Dr Kerly-Ann Tobias-Joseph and Kylon and Lyndon, Tobias paid homage to the elders of his village, his teachers, church leaders and family members.
He advised young people to work hard.
“It doesn’t matter your humble beginning what matters is the work you put into yourself. I want to remind the young people that the Bible says a good name is better that riches so the philosophy of living a fast life doesn’t always work out.
“Honesty and hard work is to be chosen above the shortcut, drugs and violence,” he said.