October 10, 2018 | Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago | Shalon Kerr/IAD News Staff

Two Seventh-day Adventists were recently honored during the National Awards Ceremony held at the North Academy of the Performing Arts in Port of Spain, Trinidad.  Both were recognized for their contribution to the welfare of society by President Paula Mae Weeks and government leaders on Sep. 24, 2018.

Contribution to Community

Dr. Kern Tobias, president of the church in the Caribbean Union headquartered in Trinidad, was awarded the Chaconia Silver Medal for Community for his significant contributions to the community throughout his life.

Among the 50 persons awarded during the ceremony, Tobias was the only one from Tobago, so he became an instant national hero in his home island and was interviewed by the news media.

“It’s a heart warming feeling to be recognized,” said Tobias. “It’s quite a privilege and honor and I am thankful to God for the opportunity to serve.”

Dr. Kern Tobias, president of the church in the Caribbean Union, shares moment with wife Linda after receiving the Chaconia Medal (Silver) in Port of Spain, Trinidad, Sep. 24, 2018. Photo courtesy of Kern Tobias

Tobias said he was shocked to be nominated and awarded and encouraged young and old to serve God wholeheartedly in everything they do.

“Do service to humanity as for Christ,” said Tobias. “If we serve God and humanity selflessly and sacrificially one never knows who is look and what impact we have made.”

That has been Tobias philosophy of life.

Born in Tobago, Dr. Tobias has served the church for 40 years mostly in Trinidad. As president of the church in the Caribbean, he has overseen the church’s University of Southern Caribbean–one of only three universities in the nation– as chairman, graduate and post graduate professor for 40 years.

His service for the church began as a secondary school teacher, ministerial intern, district pastor, publishing ministries director, conference president, and union president.

Tobias has a master’s degree in religion and a doctorate degree in family ministry from Andrews University.

Dr. Tobias is married to Linda Hislop for nearly 36 years, and together they have three adult children.

Gallantry and Loyalty

Seventeen-year-old Sariah Estrada, a first year nursing student at the University of Southern Caribbean, also received a national award.  The Hummingbird Bronze Medal was given to Estrada for her gallantry and loyalty and devotion to Trinidad and Tobago.

Sariah Estrada, age 17, a first-year nursing student at University of Southern Caribbean received the Hummingbird Medal (Bronze for her gallantry and loyalty to Trinidad and Tobago, after saving a man’s life. Photo courtesy of the University of Southern Caribbean

The Hummingbird Medal (bronze), is a state decoration of Trinidad and Tobago. The medal is the 4th highest award bestowed on citizens for loyal and devoted service beneficial to the state in any field, or for acts of conspicuous gallantry or other outstanding humane action.

Estrada recalls the events that led to her nomination for the award. She stated that having been led by the hand of God, she participated in a basic life-support training course offered by the North Central Regional Health Authority on July 8, 2018.

Five days later, on July 13, 2018, Estrada and two cousins left home to visit the Marianne Beach located in Blanchisseuse, a small community on the north coast of the island. Upon leaving the beach, Estrada and her cousins noticed a young man facing difficulties at sea. Immediately, one of her cousins sprang into action and swam to the young man’s rescue. When the two returned to shore, the young man was unresponsive and in dire need of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Having recently acquired the skill of administering CPR, Estrada sought to help the young man regain consciousness. After several attempts, she was successful and the young man’s life was saved.

Estrada summed up her experience by saying: “This was an act of humility as I saw someone in need. It is such a great feeling to know that I was able to give someone a second chance to live.” She encouraged young people to always do well, keep positive and strive for excellence.

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