Thursday, October 10, 2019

UVI Physics Graduate – ‘It Took Everything to Earn My Degree’


Graduation cap adorned with Infinity Stones from Marvel Movie



Azhar Hussein poses with diploma


Azhar Hussein glided across the University of the Virgin Islands’ Commencement stage with a smile on her face and Bachelor of Science Degree in Physics in her hand. Hussein, a part of the first cohort to earn this degree, decorated her commencement cap just for this occasion. The cap was adorned with the gold glove of Thanos from the popular Marvel Movie “Infinity War,” complete with all five infinity stones. The cap read, “It Took Everything.”






Looking back at her time at UVI, Hussein remembers how challenging some of the physics courses were, specifically statistical mechanics. “That course I struggled through a lot,” said Hussein. “I had to apply myself and I had to spend more time studying.” However, she managed to complete the course successfully.






The St. Thomian of Palestinian descent has always had an interest in science and math. Hussein decided to attend UVI based off of her desire to attend college and the affordability of the university. “After that whole entire experience [in the physics programs], I don’t even regret going to UVI,” she says.






Hussein originally majored in nursing and then biology, but it was not until she had her first physics course that she discovered her true path. “I absolutely enjoyed it,” she says. “I loved it! I enjoyed how Dr. Smith taught. It was amazing.” After taking that course, Hussein made the final decision to become a physics major.

Dr. D. Morris, Dr. J. Staff, Hussein, Dr. D. Smith, and Dr. A. Cucchiara
Hussein thanked the Department of Chemical and Physical Sciences, especially her Physics professors (Dr. David Morris, Dr. Antonino Cucchiara, Dr. Jan Staff, and Dr. David Smith) for the wonderful journey she had as an undergraduate student. Her time at UVI provided her with internships and research opportunities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Colorado Advantage Program (graduate preparatory program), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) where she was during the summer of 2019. While at MIT, Hussein gained expertise in object recognition by using supervised machine learning. Machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence that provides computers with the ability to learn

Hussein accepts diploma from Dr. Hall


without being explicitly programmed. It also focuses on the development of computer programs that have the ability to change when exposed to new data.


Hussein presents poster at MIT



After interning at NASA, Hussein learned many new things and has been able to use her prior knowledge in machine learning for the purpose of astronomical studies. “My internship at NASA is going great,” she said. “I’m enjoying it thus far, and it’s awesome!”


Aside from internships, Hussein has been able to attend several science related conferences and events which include: the American Physical Society Conference, the Emerging Researchers National Conference, the MIT Summer Research Program, and the EPA Water Ambassador Program. Attending these events allowed her the chance to network and connect with scientist, physicists, educators and fellow students like herself.


Hussein will attend graduate school at Oregon State University where she was selected to receive the Provost’s Distinguished Graduate Fellowship, and eventually become a medical physicist. She says she’s definitely going to miss her time at UVI and the welcoming environment her physics professors brought along with them every time they taught. She takes with her so many exciting and joyful memories she gained throughout her college journey.


Hussein poses with graduation hat



“Even though it [physics program] proved to be difficult, it was still completely worth it,” Hussein said. “The experience it brought me, where I am today.”


When asked what she would say to anyone that has an interests in physics or plans to study Physics at UVI, she says, “Go for it, you won’t regret it!”

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

“Students Jump into Summer Camps at UVI”


When school was out summer camp was in at the University of the Virgin Islands. Throughout the summer months, the St. Thomas Campus and the Albert A. Sheen Campus hosted several camps, some of them being the Cybersecurity Camp, the Jeff Jones Basketball Camp, and the Youth Ocean Explorers Camp. Each camp brought excitement with activities tailored toward every camper that attended.

The Cybersecurity Camp


Cybersecurity campers take group photo



Students in the cyber camp learned a lot more than just the basic computer functions. They were exposed to Coding, Python (programming language), Google Colaboratory ( a coding program), binary numbers, encryptions, steganography, and other programming features like JavaScript and HTML.

Middle and High School participants
Makeda Cabey, who is an upcoming 9th grader at All Saints Cathedral School has been attending this camp for over four years now. “I learn something new every year and there are new people and new teachers every year,” says Cabey.

Rosalie Faulkner, an upcoming 9th grader with plans to attend Montessori School is a first year participant of the camp. “It’s teaching me some skills that I could use for future reference, even though I don’t plan on majoring in this [cybersecurity], I think it’s good to at least know the basics.”
Elementary School Participants

Biton Charles, a recent graduate of Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic School has plans to enroll at UVI and major in computer science. “It’s benefiting me well because it’s reviving my love for computer science”, says Charles. At first it was draining because I didn’t fully understand how to do it   but now that I have teachers to guide me I have a better understanding.”

Middle and High School students in Lab
Kalani Simon, is an upcoming 9th grader with plans to attend the Charlotte Amalie High School with hopes of one day becoming a software engineer. “I’ve learned many different things in cybersecurity and coding along with programming,” says Simon.



Elementary School students 





The Jeff Jones Basketball Camp

The Jeff Jones participants take a group photo



The Jeff Jones Basketball Camp brought a lot of energy along with smiles and positive personalities. The camp which hosted campers ranging from ages four to seventeen ran for three weeks, with each week being a different session. Camp Director Coach Jackson Dolor says he is very excited to be hosting this camp. “We are trying to teach these young men and women to follow a certain direction that a college coach is going to be paying attention to.”  


Coach Jackson and the younger participants 



Coach Jackson with the older participants

With the hope of finding a future UVI Buc, Dolor says that coming to this camp prepares young children in “pee wee” category and older for the next level of basketball whether that be middle or high school, but ultimately leading up to college basketball. 







“We want to bring something that is not offered here, we are going to train them in the art of basketball and we’re going to give them everything that they need”, he said. Several of these young athletes have hopes of becoming NBA superstars while others want to pursue college careers. 

Denny Gonzalez is an upcoming 11th grader at the All Saints Cathedral School. “It’s a very rigorous but good camp it really helps you with your skills,” he says. 


Hakim Alexander is a recent graduate of the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School. “I learned a lot, plays that I never seen on St. Thomas before,” comments Alexander.




Young athletes plays a basketball game

Shirmoy O’Garro is an upcoming senior at the Charlotte Amalie High School. “This camp is benefiting me because it’s helping me in terms of my dribbling, my shooting, and my basketball awareness of the court, and actually teaching me the sport,” O’Garro says. 



Younger athletes play on the court

Caylen Johnson is a 6th  grader visiting all the way from Germany where he attends the Nelson Mandela School. “Next year, I’m coming to this camp again because I really love it and I enjoy being there,” says Johnson. 



Young athlete shoots ball into basket





J’vante Harrigan is an upcoming 5th grader at the All Saints Cathedral School. “It’s benefiting me a lot,” he says. “They’re making me have a better form. I’m shooting better. I’m dribbling better,” Harrigan says. “My overall experience has been very great.”









  Cymorie Miltie is visiting from the states and heard about the camp from a friend who lives on St. Thomas. “It’s been great,” he says. “Coach has been great. Camp has been great, and everything overall has been great. I would recommend it.” Miltie added: “It’s a good camp to experience things. It’s a good camp to learn, and it’s a good camp to make friends.” 


Young athlete makes a slam dunk as others watch





The Youth Ocean Explorers (YOE) Summer Program

Youth Ocean Explorers Participants 

This summer, students enrolled in the Youth Ocean Explorers (YOE) Summer Program were introduced to careers in marine and environmental science, while absorbing ocean breezes and enjoying our crystal clear waters. Since its launch in 2016, YOE, a 4-week marine science-based summer program has recruited on average 25 students each year, in grades 7-12 to participate in the program where the ocean is used as the classroom to teach students about various concepts in marine and environmental science. With funding support from the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, Program Director Forbes was able to launch YOE on St. Croix, with additional support from the Virgin Islands Department of Education, the National Park Service, and the Department of Planning and Natural Resources Coastal Zone Management. Sixteen students participated on St. Croix and while the program only lasted for 2 consecutive weeks, the students were able to be introduced to a plethora of science topics and careers. “We have to date engaged approximately 150 students since the start of these programs and we hope that [number] will continue to rise.” says Howard Forbes Jr. program director.


Two students snorkel underwater


Portia Miles is a first year participant and attends Antilles School. “I applied to this program because I want a career in science and I felt this program would provide me  more information about global warming and ways I can reduce it,” says Miles. 

Youth Ocean Explorer students engage in group activity
Anushka Chandiramani is a 14-year-old participant and also attends Antilles school. “My experience has been really interesting thus far; learning about the environment that I live in and have lived in my entire life,” she says.  “It is nice to learn about things that I did not know about before and has taught me that we need to do better about protecting the environment.” 

Students snorkel underwater and pose for the camera

Brian Alexander attends the All Saints Cathedral School. “I applied to this program because I am interested in marine science; I hope to one day become an oceanographer,” he says. “This program has taught me more about the field of oceanography, which I am thankful for,” says Alexander. 



Anissa Wallen from All Saints Cathedral School

Raphael Hodge is an 11–year-old who attends Antilles school as well and is a first year participant. “I am interested in the field of marine science. This program has definitely shed more light on what marine scientist do, which is great!” 




Thursday, September 19, 2019

Free Tuition – Making Goals Achievable

Students engaging in group study in the Ralph Paiewonsky Library, St. Thomas Campus

The Fall 2019 semester has seen the University of the Virgin Islands welcome hundreds of new, transfer and returning students, who have decided to make UVI their school of choice, having one less thing to worry about – overwhelming tuition fees 


Convocation 2019, Albert A. Sheen Campus

The University of the Virgin Islands has now become the first Historically Black College and University (HBCU) that provides comprehensive free tuition to students within its state or jurisdiction. 

“When the history books are written about this territory there will be those who will record that at the dawn of 2019 the Government of the Virgin Islands, and thus the people of the Virgin Islands, glimpsed their future in the mirror of their own reality, and decided to shape it for themselves, so that it would be a brighter future, and a more perfect reflection of their potential and dreams,” said UVI President David Hall. 


UVI President David Hall

The marked increase in enrollment over last year is shown by the figures for registration as compared with the same time last year. This hike in enrollment is credited in large part to the Free Tuition Program. Some students recorded their profound gratitude to the framers of the bill that has made them eligible for free tuition. 

The fact that I am able to receive the Free Tuition makes it possible for me to pursue my dream of becoming a registered nurse,” says Deja Primus, a freshman. “If I didn’t receive this free tuition, I would not be able to afford the costs to come to school. This is not just a blessing for me, but a blessing for my family as well.” 

On Aug. 19, all students including returning studentflocked to the campus, anxious and eager for the start of a new semester. A few of these students indicated that because of the free tuition program, they can now focus solely on their academics and not have to worry if they will be able to continue to pursue their academic goals. 

Students traversing the Albert A. Sheen Campus

“I am definitely happy to receive this assistance, not only does it remove the financial burden from my parents, I too am assured that my only responsibility is to stay focus on my academics,” said Faith Prosper, a returning sophomore. 

“It’s a relief getting an opportunity to come to university and not have to be burdened and worried by the thoughts of how I will cover the associated costs,” said Christopher Murphy, a returning junior. 
“I have three younger siblings who are in high school and without this free tuition policy, it would have been really hard for our mother to afford to send all of us to this University,” said a freshman, who chose to remain anonymous. “This is definitely one of the best things that the government has done for education in the territory. There are many students who did not imagine going to University before, but this policy makes it possible for all.” 

Introduced by Lt. Gov. Tregenza Roach, who was a senator at the time, and signed by former Governor Kenneth Mapp, this program has been a door opener for individuals who are not capable of pursuing a higher education due to financial constraints. 

In preparation for the Spring 2020 semester, beginning Jan. 13, 2020interested persons are urged to apply for the Free Tuition by Oct. 15, 2019. 


For more information about the application process, contact Access and Enrollment Services at 1-877-468-6884 or visit www.uvi.edu