Louise Le Roux: We felt welcomed and safe
Enchanting Island: I came, I saw, I stayed
A South African native, with a passion for the well-being of animals, is sharing her love for creatures through her work on the island she now calls home.
Louise Le Roux, is the Dean of Academic Affairs at the St. Nicholas University of Veterinary Medicine, which opened here in January 2021.
However, Louise's move here came way before she even considered working at the University. Instead, she and her husband were looking for somewhere safe and peaceful to call home.
"We came to visit in April of 2017 and after a few days my husband said to me 'this is our new home'," she said, "because we actually fell in love with the place, specifically the people. We felt so welcomed and safe. It just felt right."
Early the following year, Louise, her husband, and three daughters – the youngest attends school – made the move to Dominica, and another characteristic of the people stood out to the family.
"We like the schooling system; even how serious people take the school-leaving exams," she said. "It shows that the community is into education and when the students do well it makes the community happy. They all value this and I think it is very special."
In addition to the people, Dominica's physical beauty held a strong appeal to the Le Roux family.
"The island is beautiful; we like everything about it from the wild ocean to the calmer seas. And even working in the garden, that is so lovely," Louise said.
Dominica took a major hit in 2017 during Hurricane Maria, but Louise and her family stuck to their plan to move here in January 2018.
"We were very sad, on the other side of the world, to see this devastation. We were at the point of 'should we still go?' and we decided yes, this is the plan and we are sticking to it," she said.
They knew the road to recovery would be bumpy, but the Le Roux family was in it for the long haul and have never regretted their decision.
Jump forward a few years Louise now works at the St. Nicholas University School of Veterinary Medicine, though this was not the original plan.
"We just came as normal people, trying to raise our teenagers. We went into a bit of subsistence farming. We love living a healthy and safe life. It is the most precious thing you can think of, " she said.
Her decision to apply to the University came at the advice of a friend.
"Someone said to me 'why don't you check it out?' because I have a Ph.D. in parasitology and they might want a parasitology lecturer. And that is how that part of the journey started, " Louise said.
Now the Dean of Academic Affairs and a lecturer of Parasitology, Louise has also fallen in love with her job.
"The students have such a positive outlook; they are hardworking and grabbing this opportunity," she said. "The other part I love is you actually get to know the students, not just a number, it's an actual face with a story."
An extra perk is the students are from all over the world. The school first catered to Dominica then opened up to CARICOM and will accept international students this year.
Louise's love for animals makes her even more proud to be involved in an outreach branch of the institution.
"The University is part of St. Nicholas Animal Rescue so each time an animal is rescued and seeing that animal get well after it has been through some trauma or injury, you feel you are part of that good thing which has happened," Louise said.
During her four years here, Louise's impression of the country has changed, only for the better.
"I love it even more through the years. The first feeling we got of feeling safe and accepted by the community has just gotten stronger and stronger," she said. "We feel we have cemented our feet in here."
-By Andrea Louis