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By Latrishka Thomas

“I would like to create a platform that solely invests in the youths of Antigua and Barbuda,” Miss Antigua and Barbuda 2018 told Observer.

Twenty-six-year-old Ashley Boodhoo — who recently graduated from the US Embassy in Barbados’ Women in Politics Leadership Institute (WIPLI) — said that being young herself, she can relate to “the desire to want to grow, to want to succeed [although having] limited opportunities”.

“My dream is to continue furthering my education. I am not financially in a position to afford the top universities that are accredited and recognised internationally, but I will work very hard and I will find a way to educate myself and further my education,” she explained, noting that everyone has been dealt a different deck of cards.

The WIPLI graduate said that she wants to help youngsters further their education “because they deserve a chance”.

Boodhoo, who currently works in the tourism industry as the guest relations manager at Jumby Bay Resort, said the five-week WIPLI programme was just one step towards her goal.

It “gave us a skeleton of what to expect when you’re going into politics,” she remarked.

She further described the exercise, which was conducted via Zoom, as a great programme to “[empower] women who want to have a future in politics”.

“I would recommend any woman leader, whether you want to get into politics or not, even if you just want to make a difference, you wanna make a change, you wanna be an ambassador for something you feel very passionate about, I recommend applying to be a part of this course,” she said.

Boodhoo explained that as a result of her participation she is now a member of a sisterhood of women with similar aspirations.

The first runner-up in Jaycees Caribbean Queen Show 2018 and Miss Intercontinental Antigua and Barbuda 2018 told Observer that she plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management and then a master’s in law.

Boodhoo was one of two Antiguans who graduated from the institute on August 26, the other being Saran Purcell.

From among the 100-plus applicants, only 27 young women from the Eastern Caribbean made the final cut to take part in the four 90-minute virtual training sessions. The other participants represented Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines.

US Ambassador Linda S Taglialatela and Barbados’ Minister of Foreign Trade, Sandra Husbands, both attended the virtual closing ceremony and congratulated the women on completing the programme.

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