Linford Pierson, a former Speaker of the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly and government Cabinet minister, has earned a doctorate in psychology from Walden University in Minnesota, extending an already lengthy list of accomplishments for the native Caymanian politician and career public servant.
Mr. Pierson, 71, presented his dissertation, “Working Memory Training to Improve School Preparedness of Children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder”, to Minister of Education Rolston Anglin and University College of the Cayman Islands President Roy Bodden on 11 October during a gathering to celebrate his latest achievement at the government administration building in George Town.
Mr. Pierson’s postgraduate academic work examined the negative effects of ADHD on the working memory of children diagnosed with ADHD. The work further aimed at determining whether working memory training can improve these children’s school preparedness.
He said that this study filled a gap in research on this topic, as no other similar study has been done or documented in international journals of psychology.
Mr. Pierson, born in 1941 in the District of East End in Grand Cayman, said a sample of 20 students took part in the study. Mr. Pierson said he is interested in conducting further research and open to teaching at UCCI.
“Dr. Pierson is a wonderful example of a lifelong learner, showing that no matter what your age, you can always further your education once you have the determination to do so,” Mr. Anglin said. “It is wonderful when we witness our own Caymanians succeeding and obtaining a PhD and I would like to congratulate Dr. Pierson on his accomplishment.”
Mr. Bodden added: “We can now proudly say that we have a local expert in this area and I would like to thank Dr. Pierson for showing us that you can still do new things after 60 and further educate yourself.”
After attending high school in Jamaica, Mr. Pierson returned to Grand Cayman and embarked on a storied career path, including a stint as a merchant seaman and later as the first Caymanian to qualify as a professional accountant.
He worked for 16 years in the Cayman Islands Civil Service, where he filled senior positions, including principal secretary for health, education, and social services, as well as deputy financial secretary. He also served as director of finance for national flag carrier Cayman Airways.
In politics, Mr. Pierson represented the District of George Town for more than 16 years in the Legislative Assembly, having been first elected in 1984. He also served as a Cabinet minister for seven years, overseeing an upgrade of the telecommunication system to accommodate the 911 system, as well as the installation of the bulk storage fuel terminal in Cayman Brac and the establishment of the first public water supply system in Cayman Brac.
During his second term as Cabinet minister, he negotiated the liberalisation of the telecommunications sector, thus opening the Cayman Islands to commercial competition in the industry.
In 2002, government named a stretch of road in George Town – Linford Pierson Highway – after him in recognition of his accomplishments as minister with responsibility for road works.
Mr. Pierson was elected Speaker of the Legislative Assembly in 2003 and served in the post until his retirement from public sector work in 2005.
In 2008, Mr. Pierson earned a master’s degree in pastoral psychology and counselling, followed by a doctorate in educational psychology earlier this year.
He is also a fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants after having received his associate membership in 1978.
Mr. Pierson lives in George Town and is married to his wife, Sharon, an attorney-at-law. He has three children, two step children, eight grandchildren and one great grandchild.
Mary Rodrigues, chief officer for the Ministry of Education, said, “There is a lot we can learn from Dr. Pierson’s work, on how we can better support our students with ADHD. I congratulate him and I am pleased that he is keen to share his expertise with our educators.”