The UWI congratulates Ambassador Dr the Honourable June Soomer on receiving the Order “José de Marcoleta”

The University of the West Indies (The UWI) proudly congratulates Ambassador Dr the Honourable June Soomer on receiving the Order “José de Marcoleta” in the Degree of Grand Cross, which is the highest distinction that the Republic of Nicaragua can convey upon a foreign diplomat.

The official conferral took place at a virtual ceremony hosted on August 31, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. Nicaragua Time. Comrade Denis Moncada Colindres, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nicaragua conferred the award. The event was also attended by several members of the diplomatic corps across Latin America and the Caribbean.

Ambassador Dr the Honourable June Soomer is the current Chair of The UWI Open Campus Council. She also received her PhD from The UWI Cave Hill Campus in 1994, becoming the first female to graduate from that Campus with a doctorate in History. She also later lectured at the campus. In another first, she was the first female Secretary-General of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), a role in which she served for the period 2016-2020. Ambassador Soomer is also an accomplished author and historian by training with diverse experiences through her work in the diplomatic, financial and education sectors regionally and internationally. With over 35 years of academic and professional experience functioning at the managerial, operational and technical levels, she has a keen understanding of contemporary development issues and continues to advocate for equality and equity in sustainable development, especially for the Caribbean region. 

Commenting on the distinguished award, Vice-Chancellor of The UWI, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles said, “Dr Soomer is one of the best and finest of Caribbean citizens. She deserves the recognition that is bestowed on her. It will serve to spur her on to contribute even more to the advancement of the region. We at The UWI join with the Government and people of Nicaragua in celebration of the outstanding work of this regional advocate and ambassador.”

Also in celebrating the conferment of the award, Interim Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of The UWI Open Campus, Dr Francis Severin stated that “the Open Campus community joins with the rest of the region in extending our hearty congratulations to Ambassador Dr the Honourable June Soomer. Indeed, we are exceptionally thrilled not only because Ambassador Soomer is our Campus Council Chair, but also because of her passion for the peoples of the Caribbean region. This passion for people, especially those who are marginalized, is no doubt what makes her such a strong advocate for education, human rights and human dignity. We all feel “awarded” because we know that all Dr Soomer’s interventions are selfless and altruistic. I am especially thrilled that we share the same alma mater, an institution she is proud of.”

In addition to the José de Marcoleta award, Ambassador Soomer has received several awards during her distinguished career. In July 2018, she was presented with The University of the West Indies Alumni Association Pelican Award for excellence in diplomacy, public service and the promotion of regionalism. Earlier this year, in March 2021, Ambassador Soomer also received Saint Lucia’s highest national award, the Saint Lucia Cross.