A York University associate professor was among four Queen’s College (QC) alumni recognized at the school’s New York chapter celebrations last weekend saluting four decades of co-educational and enrolment of girls at the 171-year-old Guyana high school.
Eminent scholar and educator, Dr. Alissa Trotz and 149 girls transferred in 1975 from Bishops High School, which was also a single-sex institution.
QC’s first female prefect, Dr. Trotz said the school provided a critical tradition that she’s proud of.
“There is a tradition that reproduces the status quo,” she said. “Let us remember that even though 40 years ago girls entered QC for the first time, there were many schools that were not elite schools. Then there is the tradition that speaks back to power and that is the one that brought girls in 1975.”
A 2013 U of T President’s Teaching Award recipient, Trotz paid tribute to late teacher, Patrick Fredericks, who passed away in 2010. He taught English and English Literature.
“He was my best teacher at QC,” she said. “He taught us incredible books like Geoffrey Chaucer and Sir William Golding. These books were all about sex and Mr. Fredericks taught us the titillating parts of these books. But when I think about it, that really laid the foundation for my career as someone who is profoundly interested in sexual and gender politics. I think my years with him teaching us material that was way beyond what you probably would be teaching high school students really sparked my curiosity.”
After leaving QC in 1985, Trotz completed the one-year University of Guyana and the University of the West Indies LLB program, earning the pro-chancellor medal and the UWI prize for the most outstanding first-year performance.
She graduated from York University in 1989 with a degree in political science and Latin American & Caribbean Studies and was awarded a Commonwealth scholarship to read for the Master of Philosophy in international relations at Cambridge University’s Trinity College, where she completed her doctorate.
In addition to teaching and U of T, Trotz is an associate faculty member at the Dame Nita Barrow Institute of Gender and Development Studies at the UWI Cave Hill campus in Barbados. Her research interests draw on the Caribbean and its Diasporas as a point of departure for exploring the wider resonance of questions that emerge from the incredibly complex site of colonial encounter that comprises this region.
Trotz also edits a weekly column in a Guyanese newspaper and is a member of Red Thread, a women’s organization in Guyana.
The other QC honourees were lawyer, Dawn Holder-Alert; Dr. Michelle Foster, who is the chief executive officer of a faith-motivated organization in West Virginia and doctoral fellow, Amlata Persaud, who is Guyana’s first female Rhodes Scholar.
Trotz’s uncle, Clarence Trotz, who was the headmaster when girls entered QC, was the keynote speaker at last Saturday’s gala in Queens, New York.