September 22, 1970 – Shawn Marissa Nicholas was born to Gerald Nicholas and Eileen Richardson from Newfield and Wilikies respectively.
Shawn was raised on the Mayers Estate, Wilikies where she resided until adulthood. The original Estate House was her primary residence until Hurricane Hugo (September 1989). She attended the Wilikies Primary School, Pares Secondary School and the Antigua State College (ASC).
Shawn’s public life began in 1985 when she represented Pares Secondary School in the annual Mr & Miss Teenage Pageant. She placed 1st runner-up.
Her pathway to journalism opened in late1988 when she was part of a youth panel discussion on ABS TV. Shortly after in 1989, she was scouted by Tanny Rose Sr., the then General Manager of ABS, to co-host the popular television program Feedback with Carl Jackson. Upon Carl’s departure she continued to co-anchor with Ivor Williams-David then Peter Gordon. She joined ABS full time on completion of her A Levels at ASC rising to the position of News Editor.
Shawn was the first journalist in Montserrat after the volcanic eruption in 1995. She was part of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union’s (CBU) crew, an all Antigua-Barbuda team (Hubert Joseph and Cortwright Grant).
After leaving ABS, she worked as the Public Relations Manager for the Medical Benefits Scheme and as a Marketing & Public Relations Executive for the Antigua Commercial Bank.
Shawn’s tertiary education pursuits began in 1992 at UWI, Mona, a Diploma in Mass Communications. She continued to a BA in Mass Communication from the same institution (1993 – 1996). In 1999, she was the recipient of the British Chevening Scholarship and successfully completed an MSC in Journalism & Communication Studies from the University of Wales (Cardiff).
Senator Nicholas’ political career sprouted during her student life on Taylor Hall, UWI Mona. She was elected as Block Representative and actively participated in successful campaigns for Hall Chairman and Guild Presidents. She served as advisor on many levels during her period of study at UWI.
Shawn entered elective politics at the behest of former Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer who fast tracked her plans for her political career. Her two unsuccessful bids as the UPP’s Candidate for St. Phillip’s North 2014 and 2018, have served as foundation for her current cycle of life.
First appointed to the Senate as a Government Senator in April 2013, she was re-appointed as Opposition Senator in 2014 and 2018. She is currently the General Secretary of the United Progress Party (UPP).
When asked why politics, Senator Hon Shawn Nicholas replied “I always wanted to enter politics as my highest platform of national service, but I did sooner than I had anticipated. I was approached by the most honourable Mr. Baldwin Spencer and I took the opportunity. I have no regrets. I may be poorer financially, but the personal growth and professional experience gained in the trenches have been priceless. The training, the networking, the experiences are unmatched in any other environment”.
Shawn has had an active life of giving. Notably, she is a Vestry Member of St. Stephen’s Anglican Church and has served the Anglican Communion in the Diocese of North Eastern Caribbean and Aruba in various capacities. She is also a distinguished past president of the Kiwanis Club of St. John’s and has served as Chairman of the Salvation Army Advisory Board.
Senator Nicholas shared that her only noteworthy drawback from her current position is the limitation it has placed on her volunteer work in terms of available time and the partisan perceptions in the small community Antigua and Barbuda.