A Heart for the Region: A Reflection on my Journey to CCREEE
By Sapphire Vital, CCREEE Project Development Associate
I had never seen the airport so empty. There was one other car in the drop off zone, one other person at airport check-in, and one flight leaving Dominica that morning – possibly that day. I went through the check-in process in record time and my flight had arrived early. Before I knew it, it was time to go.
“I can’t believe you’re leaving us already,” my sister said as I hugged her goodbye.
I couldn’t quite believe it either. Securing an internship at the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE) had been a bit of a whirlwind. Within a week of the interview, I was on my way from Dominica to the CCREEE headquarters in Barbados to start a new chapter as a Project Development Intern. Reflecting on my journey to CCREEE, I think about the past experiences that led me to the organisation and the alignment of this new position to my goals and aspirations.
Being a fresh university graduate at the cusp of a global pandemic was interesting to say the least. Although recently armed with an MSc in Environmental Change and Management with a BSc in Civil with Environmental Engineering already under my belt, searching for employment in a time where many were losing their jobs was a daunting task. Nevertheless, I set out determined to find a pathway into the Caribbean sustainable energy sector.
My interest in sustainable energy grew progressively. The desire to pursue a career in the field developed as I discovered the intersection between my aptitude for engineering and heart for sustainable development. With each step in my journey the picture has become clearer. Most recently, my MSc dissertation on climate compatible infrastructure development with a focus on energy led me to a fellowship at a renewable energy start-up in Uganda. Witnessing first-hand the vast potential impact of renewable energy, particularly in a developing country, intensified my desire to contribute to sustainable energy advancement in my region.
In my search for employment post-graduation, I found myself drawn towards regional organisations. Having been born in Dominica, raised in St. Kitts & Nevis and Barbados, then university-trained in Trinidad and Tobago, I’ve always considered myself a pretty good representation of CARICOM. My mixed accent rightly reflects my regionalist heart. As I learnt about different organisations and contemplated our region’s untapped potential, I quickly realized I wanted to apply my knowledge and expertise to my collective home.
When I first stumbled on a post by CCREEE on LinkedIn, I knew it was a potentially perfect fit. CCREEE’s mandate as the CARICOM implementation hub for renewable energy and energy efficiency stood out to me. I swiftly added CCREEE to my list of organisations to check regularly for vacancies. When the Project Development Intern position as part of the Regional Energy Apprenticeship Programme was advertised, I was more than ready.
The time following my application seemed to fly past. Looking back, it feels like one day I was walking to the river near my house and the next I was walking across the airport runway towards a plane. The memory is still vivid. As the plane lifted off the tarmac, I gazed out the window admiring Dominica’s towering mountains and their mesmerizing plunge into the choppy seas. As she grew smaller my attention shifted to the blue expanse of opportunities. Although sad to leave my family and friends, I was excited to continue charting my path in the sustainable energy sector. I was excited to join CCREEE ‘s effort to accelerate renewable energy and energy efficiency uptake in the Caribbean. I was excited and hopeful.