Wednesday, April 24, 2024

SEEN UP NORTH: Beyond his wildest dreams


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Socrates, the famous Greek philosopher, had an interesting view about life. It was: life, no matter how outstanding, wasn’t worth much if it went unexamined.
Although Dr Ken Harewood, a Barbadian scientist, academic and retired university administrator in the United States, didn’t make a name for himself in politics, law, the media, philosophy or literature, he has enjoyed a highly successful life that was examined in the halls of academe, corporate and university science labs and in scholarly and scientific papers.
Harewood, who grew up in a tiny village in St John in the 1940s and 1950s, and received his early education at The Lodge School, has now added another dimension to that examination by chronicling his accomplishments in a 335-page memoir entitled Beyond My Wildest Dreams, which was launched a few days ago in Barbados.
In the book, Harewood, who lives in North Carolina with his wife of more than 40 years, Eudine, and not far away from their two children, one a physician and the other a banker and their children, traced the origins of his “dream” from a chattel house in College Land, which still stands, through his years at The Lodge School.
He also tells the story of his days as a soccer player who represented Barbados on its national football team before emigrating to the United States where he ended up as a distinguished professor of biochemistry and director of the North Carolina Central University. Before that, he was a professor at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee.
A vital chapter is his work as a major research scientist at Pfizer, the global pharmaceutical company.
“It has been an incredible journey,” he said. “I decided to write the book to fulfill a promise I made to my father Glenville Harewood. Actually, he suggested to me that I should write it and I told him I would do it.”
The book contains countless compelling stories about life in Barbados, coming to America in 1960, settling in Brooklyn and working to put himself through school during the first year at New York University in Manhattan.
“It was tough but fascinating,” he stated.
There were recollections of his graduation with a Master of Science degree from City College of the City University of New York; doing research at the New York Blood Centre and at the prestigious Rockefeller University, where he capped off that early portion of his life with a doctorate in biochemistry.
But it was his move to corporate America that opened the door to some of his greatest scientific accomplishments, including the contribution to global research efforts that led to the discovery of the first human leukaemia virus and the virus that causes HIV/AIDS.
Next was his pioneering work that culminated in the cloning of a gene for bovine calf rennin, which is needed for the manufacture of cheese. It received approval from the Food & Drug Administration as a food ingredient.
“I had succeeded beyond my wildest dreams,” he said about the success of his work on rennin.
But apart from the pledge to his father, there is another reason why Harewood, who was awarded a Gold Crown Of Merit, one of Barbados’ highest national honours, decided to write.
“I also wrote the book to share my experiences with young Barbadians so they too can pursue their dream with vigour, knowing that hard work, persistence and taking advantage of every opportunity [will pay off],” he said.


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