Friday, April 22, 2016

UVI Presents Playwrights in Paradise New Play Festival

“The Playwrights in Paradise New Play Festival,” a month-long celebration of the arts featuring new and unproduced works is being celebrated at UVI. The festival began on March 22, with several 12 to 15 minute plays.  The Festival will continue at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 22, and at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 23, at Seven.Minus.Seven Alternative Arts, located at the Lindberg Bay Warehouses, behind Boynes Gas Station.

Original, newly-created plays will be presented by playwrights Jai Kenyatta Anderson, Katherine Callwood, Dr. Patricia Harkins-Pierre, Julisa Marcel, Charles Martin, Sembon Sam, Lydia Simms, Kneema Willett and Christopher Williams.

The final event of the festival is at 1p.m. on Sunday, April 24. "Calling All Civil Rights Leaders" will be led by Julisa Marcel.

Actors for all productions include Eboné Adams, Jai Kenyatta Anderson, Kevon Browne, Katherine Callwood, Moneé Edwards, Dr. Patricia Harkins Pierre, Rachelle JnBaptiste, Kyla Joseph, Dr. Doug Larche, Charles Martin, Jr., Julisa Marcel, Branford Parker, Dr. Alex Randall, Asiah Rodgers, Sambon Sem, Lydia Simms, Christopher Williams and others. 

For additional information, please contact Dr. Doug Larche at (340) 693-1341 or e-mail

Friday, April 15, 2016

UVI Celebrates 54th Charter Day with UVI Pride

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. speaks at UVI's Charter Day Ceremony.Patrice Harris, Thurgood Marshall Scholar and UVI communication student; Miss UVI 2015-2016 Katherine Callwood and Zoe Walker, Thurgood Marshall Scholar and UVI communication student also spoke at that the celebration.

The University of the Virgin Islands celebrated the 54th anniversary of its charter on Friday morning, March 18, with an inspiring program that showcased the talent, leadership and charisma that has made UVI one of the most successful Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in America. Themes of vision, excellence, and intrepidity dominated the event. Keynote speaker Johnny C. Taylor Jr., president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), emphasized all of the above as he discussed the historic and future relevancy of HBCUs. 

The event was teleconferenced between the St. Thomas Campus and the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix, so that the whole University could celebrate together. It was a morning to remember. From the warm welcome of a jubilant President David Hall to the fearless remarks of student speakers, to the electrifying music of the Steve Turre Jazz Quintet, to the candid, emboldening and often hilarious words of Taylor, UVI’s greatest asset – its community members – was on flamboyant display.
Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.
Charter Day is a way to not only remember, but to actually touch and embrace the spirit of the UVI’s founders by continuing to set bold and ambitious goals,” said Hall, who set the tone by recognizing the hard work, dedication and vision of those who brought the University into existence 54 years ago. By way of an illustration, he spoke of the five new business degree programs that will launch in the fall of 2017, emerging Ph.D. programs, newly established Innovation Center and of course the nascent medical school. “Charter Day is a reminder of our founders’ high aim,” he said.

Katherine Callwood, Miss UVI 2015-2016, echoed Dr. Hall’s sentiment by describing UVI as an elastic institution that has evolved from college to university to HBCU. “There is no doubt in my mind that our institution will continue to change with the times,” she said, adding that one of UVI’s greatest strengths lies in its flexibility; in its capacity to adapt to the constant resurfacing of the territory, America and the world.

Following a humorous creative word selection by a humanities student and an
Steve Turre Jazz Quintet
earnest vocal selection by Ka’Reema Moses, President Hall introduced Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. as an attorney who left a successful legal practice to “… answer a call. By heading the Thurgood Marshall College Fund,” Hall said, “Taylor has become an unrelenting advocate for students at public HBCUs.”

Taylor began his remarks by praising the many new developments and innovations that are currently underway at the University of the Virgin Islands, and by congratulating President Hall for being awarded the TMCF leadership award. However, he said, while UVI appears to be expanding in a host of exciting ways, this has not been a trend among mainland HBCUs. Most public HBCUs are struggling just to survive, and some have been forced to close their doors. “I was reminded of the Dickens novel, ‘The Tale of Two Cities’,” Taylor said. “You all are experiencing the best of times down here in the Virgin Islands, while up in the states a lot of HBCUs are facing the worst of times. There used to be 117 HBCUs in America; there are now 105.”

Taylor attributed these difficulties to underfunding, unfavorable education policy, and competition. But the biggest problem, he said, is a lack of support from the very people for whom these institutions matter the most. “The problem isn’t that white folks aren’t supporting HBCUs,” he exclaimed. “The problem is that black folks aren’t supporting HBCUs.”

Taylor went on to report that only 10 percent of black college and university
Patrice Harris 
students nationwide are choosing to attend HBCUs, and that as a result we may not be able to take for granted that public HBCUs will always exist, will always be able to ensure high quality education at affordable prices for people of all ethnicities. “We must celebrate the past, but think seriously about the future,” said Taylor. “If we don’t take pride in our own institutions, nobody else will.”

Thurgood Marshall College Fund student ambassador, Patrice Harris, spoke with precocious gravity and insight about her humbling experiences at the TMCF Leadership Institute. “There I was forced to let go of my sense of entitlement and embrace the hard work that would enable me to develop my own brand, maintain high standards, and negotiate an imperfect world without letting it wear me down,” she said. “I gained a tremendous amount of confidence.”

Harris’ St. Croix counterpart, TMCF student ambassador Zoe T.V. Walker, spoke
Zoe Walker
with comparable passion and grace about the enormity of the impact that both UVI and TMCF have had on her life. “Having a great support system on and off campus afforded me the opportunity to achieve excellence,” she said. Both Harris and Walker were effusive in their expressions of gratitude to TMCF for “… always believing in its students,” said Harris, “constantly looking for ways to increase opportunities for students of HBCUs, and for teaching us to take pride in our HBCUs.”

During a break between remarks, the ground floor conference room of the ACC erupted into a squall of jazz by the Steve Turre Quintet, which included percussionist Dion Parson who is currently an artist in residence at UVI. The dynamic performance, which featured virtuosic solos on trombone, trumpet, keyboards, drums and stand-up bass, climaxed with Turre’s signature conch shell performance in which he juggled shells of varying sizes, playing them with the same dexterity that he would apply to any traditional horn.

President Hall concluded the 54th Charter Day program by declaring it the “Best-Ever” Charter Day celebration in the history of UVI Charter Day celebrations. And while he acknowledged with his characteristically understated humor that the comment was mildly outrageous, it was clear that not a person in the room would have disagreed. As the conclusion of the Charter Day program gave way to the commencement of UVI’s Pride festivities, it was evident that members of the UVI community had gained a deeper and more nuanced appreciation for what it means to show, and genuinely feel, pride in its HBCU.

Friday, April 1, 2016

UVI Celebrates 54th Charter with 15th Annual Queen Mary Walk/Run

Annual Event Launches University Pride Celebration …
A few dozen walkers and runners, including past winners, repeat participants, students, faculty, staff and UVI alumni got up before sunrise on Friday, March 18, a work-day, to celebrate the founding of the University of the Virgin Islands and the 15th year of the UVI/Queen Mary 5K Walk Run.

The annual event, which is hosted by UVI and organized by the Virgin Islands Pace Runners, was held as part of the University’s first official event of its 13 day University Pride celebration.

Juan Robles decided early in the week to make it special and ran an unofficial race record of 15 minutes, 33 seconds on the point-to-point course that is slightly uphill.  So did Bridget Klein who broke her personal record of 20 minutes, 14 seconds, was the first overall female finisher, was the third overall winner with 19 minutes, 37 seconds, and now has the unofficial female race record.

Billy Bohlke, a former race winner, took second place with a time of 18 minutes, 55 seconds; Randall Nielsen was the third place male in 20 minutes, 30 seconds; Mike Klein, St. Croix Scenic Mile Champion was fourth in 21 minutes, 26 seconds and UVI student Alfredo Guerro was fifth in 21 minutes, 51 seconds.

Bridget Klein, track and cross-country coach at Good Hope/Country Day School, broke her 2014 unofficial race record with a first place finish for females and third overall with a time of 19 minutes, 37 seconds. Rachel Conhoff, of St. Croix Track Club/Good Hope Country Day, was second in 21 minutes, 51 seconds; Mikaela Smith, St. Croix Track Club/St. Croix Educational Complex High School, was third in 22 minutes, 14 seconds; Amy Roberts was fourth in 22 minutes, 15 seconds and Elizabeth LaBelle UVI student was fifth in 22 minutes, 55 seconds.

Michelle Elliot, UVI business services supervisor, welcomed the finishers, a mix of local and visiting runners and walkers who for some reason, likes the challenge of the start on a work-day, in the dark. 

The walk/run was the idea of co-founder Jenifer Jackson, former chancellor of UVI on St. Croix. 

“The reason I picked the time and day was to make a special effort to get the public’s attention,” said Jackson, who was recognized at the annual award breakfast held following the event.  Wallace Williams, co-founder, said the Virgin Islands Pace Runners got its start at UVI back in 1978 with the UVI Cooperative Extension 4-H Program on the University’s St. Croix Campus in the exact spot for the finish line and awards presentation area for the UVI/Queen Mary 5K.

He said, “those who ran then, still do”, including Dr. Alan Lewit, UVI professor of Computer Science, who wrote the first computer program for results for V.I. Pace. Dr. Lewit was present on Friday. He thanked the University and the runners for maintaining the long relationship with the V.I. Pace Runners.

Special Category Awards include:
·         UVI Male Student: 1st Alfredo Guerro
·         UVI Female Student: 1st  Marcia Tuckett
·         UVI Alum: Male 1st Dexter Hypolyte
·         UVI Alum Female: 1st Hedda Finch-Simpson
·         UVI Male Staff: 1st Anthony Laurent;
·         UVI Female Staff: 1st Elizabeth Labelle
·         UVI Male Faculty: 1st Bernard Castillo;
·         UVI Female Faculty: 1st Valerie Combie
·         Community Member: 1st Randall Nielsen;
·         Community Member Female: 1st Rachel Conhoff

Click here for results of the 5K race.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

UVI Grads Moving Onward and Upward

Dr. Charnise Goodings '09
As part of the Emerging Caribbean Scientist Research Seminar Series, Dr. Charnise Goodings, University alumna, returned home to share her knowledge and experiences with a room full of young graduate school hopefuls. She gave insights on the grad school application process and the things that one would need to successfully complete grad school. She also talked about the research she conducted while at Vanderbilt University and the work she is currently doing at St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

Both of Dr. Goodings’ research projects are based on the study of cancer biology, specifically leukemia. This disease is a result of the deregulation of hematopoiesis, which is the process in which hematopoietic stem cells self-renew and differentiate into blood cell lineages. The research is aimed at understanding the role of certain genes in the development of normal and malignant lymphoid cells.

Dr. Gooding gave an honest account of the grad school process, from application through graduation. When asked if grad school is hard, she replied, “Yes, it is going to be hard. You will cry. You will want to quit. You have to try though; go in there with an open mind and just try.” Throughout her presentation, Dr. Goodings emphasized on being a good student and going the extra mile to get the job done.

“Your science speaks for you,” she says. Dr. Goodings touched on responsibility, work ethic, and independence being key traits necessary for success; and it was her experiences at UVI that taught her that. Dr. Goodings says while at UVI she learned good work ethic. “You have to be responsible for yourself, your research, and your own work,” she says. During an interview, Dr. Gooding gave an account of the time her research advisor became unavailable to her due to medical reasons. She explained that even though her main source of aid was gone, she knew what was required her – the work had to be done despite the circumstances.

Dr. Goodings, who is steadily forging her pathway to greatness, graduated from UVI in 2009 with a degree in biology. She headed to Vanderbilt University that same year under their Initiative to Maximize Student Diversity program. She received her Ph.D. in cancer biology in 2015. Currently, she is a Postdoctoral fellow at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. She is the daughter of UVI alumna, Denise Turnbull-Goodings. Her brother, Chaz Goodings, is a senior at UVI and recipient of the Afternoon on the Green Volunteer Scholarship. It is safe to say that getting an education at UVI is certainly a Goodings’ tradition.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Fantasy by the Sea: St. Thomas Winner of UVI’s 13D Entrepreneurship Competition Turns Dream into Reality

Patsy Bruenlin in the Reception Area of Phantasea Tropical Botanical Garden, Home to more than 1,000 Orchids
For years, Patsy Breunlin dreamed of starting her own business.  So when she learned in 2013 that she did not have to be a matriculated student at the University of the Virgin Islands in order to take a course in entrepreneurship, she dashed over to the University and registered.  The course would enable her to participate in the University’s 13D Entrepreneurship Competition, a collaborative program between UVI and 13D Research (USVI) LLC in which students compete to win start-up capital for their emerging businesses.
Gifts and Refreshments
Patsy had a big project in the works: A tropical botanical garden that was ready to be transformed into a local eco-attraction.  But first she needed financing and some business expertise.  Her instincts were spot-on; the course, taught by Dr. Tim Faley, provided the coaching and preparation she would need to successfully compete in the 13D program, and her second-place finish yielded $20,000 in start-up capital.  After 20 years of clearing and weeding, trimming and pruning, digging and planting, the Florida-born architect and general contractor was finally in a position to realize her dream of opening Phantasea Tropical Botanical Garden to the public.   
“The garden was my passion even before I owned this property, and creating it has been a labor of love,” said Patsy, gesturing toward a gently sloping path which leads visitors into a naturally air-conditioned, and perfumed, cascade of more than a thousand orchids and hundreds of bromeliads, heliconias, gingers, palms, aroids and succulents.  “I brought my plant collection to St. Thomas when I moved here in 1987, and spent the next six years looking for the perfect place to put them in the ground.  It wasn’t until a friend told me that the garden ‘was just too good not to share it with others’ that I decided to create a traditional botanical garden for St. Thomas, since it didn’t have one already.”  
Steps Leading into the Garden

Patsy’s discovery that botanical gardens were allowed in her zoning area near the top of St. Peter Mountain on the north side of St. Thomas, overlooking Magen’s Bay, galvanized her to obtain a business license in 2000.  This led to the construction of the garden’s labyrinth of paths, steps and planting areas.  She also collected and installed many new plants, which she looked forward to sharing with visitors from near and far as she transitioned away from architecture and contracting toward what she had already started to think of as her “retirement career” in the garden.  The start-up capital that she secured through the partnership between UVI and 13D provided the funds she needed to complete the parking area and buildings.  Phantasea opened to the public on February 7, 2015. 
“The garden is a one-of-a-kind attraction on St. Thomas,” said Dr. Glenn A. Metts, Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship.  “Unlike other attractions which can be built over a year or so, a botanical garden takes many years, even decades to mature.  Patsy’s love of gardening existed long before she turned it into a business.”
Ms. Bruenlin found the course and the competition’s requirments to be both rigorous and helpful.  Under the supervision of Dr. Faley, she constructed a detailed business plan that prompted her to research approximately how many tourist-filled safari’s drive by her property on an average day (68) and the popularity of gardening (fifth most popular hobby in America.)  She wrote an effective “elevator pitch” and learned how to create persuasive Power Point presentations.  She developed a marketing strategy, which led to a solid web presence complete with website, social media, and a fruitful account on TripAdvisor.  “The UVI program was tough,” said Patsy. “They teach you how to understand your business in terms of how economically viable it has the potential to be.  Several people dropped out along the way.  It’s not an academic exercise; it really is about getting successful businesses started in the Territory.”
Patsy Behind the Front Desk
One year after she opened Phantasea, Patsy has a guest book filled with glowing remarks about the magnificent beauty and transcendent serenity of the garden.  She has 51 reviews with an overall rating of excellent on TripAdvisor.  She is, according to Dr. Metts, a “patient, hard-working and extremely determined entrepreneur.”  Nevertheless, she is frustrated by how difficult it has been to break into the excursions marketplace on St. Thomas, much of which is controlled by third-party organizers.  “I’ve enjoyed a lot of support from this community,” she said.  “I thought that it would be easier to get in with cruise ship tourism.  I also didn’t realize just how much work it was going to be to maintain the garden while at the same time managing guests and keeping up with all of the marketing.” 
Despite her concerns, the Phantasea Tropical Botanical Garden appears to be holding its own with 168 visitors during the first three weeks of January, most of which were referred by TripAdvisor, and a steadily growing reputation locally and online.  Dr. Metts agrees that the garden is a tough business, but remains optimistic about its potential to provide a good living for the owner, while at the same time enriching the St. Thomas community.  “Once she can get enough attention through the media, I think Phantasea will be a great attraction for St. Thomas visitors,” said Dr. Metts.  “Patsy is not a major corporation so she has to rely on local media more and she deserves all of our help in making Phantasea a success.  What we need to realize about Phantasea is that the cost of actually developing the garden over more than a decade was tens of thousands of dollars, not to mention the cost of the property.  A tropical garden owned by an individual requires a lot of money over a long period of time with no payback.  That is the real value of Phantasea; nobody can just install a botanical garden.  It reflects decades of work just to be ready for the first visitor.”

If you have a great idea for a business start-up, consider entrepreneurship classes at UVI.  You too will have the chance to win $10,000, $20,000 or $30,000 in start-up capital. Entrepreneurship classes are available to all students regardless of their major, as well as to members of the broader Virgin Islands Community.
Purple Orchid in Bloom

Friday, February 19, 2016

UVI Innovation Center to Spark Creativity and Entrepreneurship

UVIDEA club members present UVI's new 3D Printer

This spring, the University of the Virgin Islands made history with its first open house to showcase state of the art Innovation Centers.  Outfitted with computers, work tables, white boards and a 3-D printer – from which actual models or product prototypes can be digitally rendered out of biodegradable plastic – the newly established centers are located on the St. Thomas Campus and on the Albert A. Sheen campus on St. Croix.
UVI President David Hall addresses students, faculty and partners
at the official opening of UVI's innovation center

UVI President David Hall referred to the centers as “maker spaces” in which students will be encouraged to gather, brainstorm, and channel their classroom knowledge into creative endeavors with entrepreneurial potential.

“So many of the technological innovations we now take for granted were developed by real people in garages and basements and back rooms throughout the territory and the country,” says Dr. Hall.  “When you’re using something like a mobile phone app, it’s easy to forget that somebody actually thought about this.  Somebody put their energy into solving all of the problems that needed to be solved in order to make this application available and convenient to use.  We want that same energy to exist here at UVI. Our hope is that we will soon outgrow this innovation space and have to expand.”

“The Innovation Center is going to be a place where students can let their creative juices flow and know that others are there for the same reason,” says UVI Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Camille McKayle.  “It was gratifying to see the turnout at the opening and the sparkle in the eyes of those in attendance,” she said at the open house.  “Innovation, Design, and Entrepreneurship Association (UVIDEA) is a growing student organization, and I am sure they will consider this their new home.”

 “Investing in the progression of innovative ideas from our students will only return positive results for the university and the community as a whole,” says Daricia Wilkinson, UVIDEA club member.  She feels confident that the center will appeal to a growing number of young people as the semester unfolds. “The launch of the Innovation Center signifies the start of a new era in which Virgin Islanders will no longer be just the consumers of technological and innovative products, but also the creators.”
Leon Hughes (left) and Tim Faley (right) admire 3D
printer objects

Dr. Tim Faley, distinguished professor of Entrepreneurship and Special Assistant to the President, saw no reason why UVI should not join Stanford, MIT, the University of Michigan and other institutions that have already established thriving innovation centers. “The next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs are going to need both knowledge and know-how,” says Faley. “Knowledge can be transferred in a course setting, but developing know-how often requires hands-on experience. That experience can be acquired in experiential learning programs.”

The first such program emerged in the form of a $5 million grant from Kiril Sokoloff, the founder of the Research and Technology Park company, 13D Research (USVI) LLC.  The grant established a robust, cross-campus entrepreneurship and innovation initiative at UVI.  Under this initiative, the 13D Entrepreneurship Competition was created, in which any student who is enrolled in the university – though not necessarily full-time – can compete to win $10,000, $20,000 or $30,000 in start-up capital for his or her business proposal.  

Objects rendered from 3D printer
Another business collaboration that is fostering innovation initiatives at UVI involves Leon Hughes, founder of the St. Croix-based software technology company Nearix.  He believes that Hackathons – weekend-long events in which students work around the clock to find technology-based solutions to real-world problems, mostly in the form of website development or mobile phone apps – will help to promote a culture of creative problem solving among young people in the territory.  Hughes began to sponsor hackathons on both campuses in 2015.  Cash prizes totaling $900 have been awarded for the best hack, the most innovative hack, the most impactful hack and the most sustainability focused hack.

A look inside the new Innovation Center on the
 Sheen Campus . 
The UVI Hackathons were such dynamic events that President Hall and Dr. Faley undertook to create a physical space in which the brainstorming and collaboration could go on indefinitely.  “Our center is going to function as a working laboratory in which students from different academic backgrounds can pool their talent and work toward common goals, just like they do in real companies,” says Dr. Faley. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Buccaneer Empowerment Seminar Helps Students Prepare for Future

Mary Myers (left) and Verna Rivers (Right) were two of many speakers at the first ever Buccaneer Empowerment Seminar (BES) on the St. Thomas Campus

January 28, marked the first ever Buccaneer Empowerment Seminar (BES), a forum aimed to inform students of the dynamics of professional development.

The three-hour seminar took place on the University’s  – St. Thomas Campus. Thanks to the combined efforts of the Golden Key Honor Society, the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and the Student Government Association (SGA), who were able to have experienced professionals from a number of different fields speak to UVI students.

Each presenter offered tips and advice from their own experiences. Topics ranged from how to dress for an interview to getting your first credit card. The seminar also included, an hour-long résumé workshop – a time where students could talk one-on-one with a career service counselor on ways in which they can restructure, or enhance the quality of their résumé.

Opening Ceremony

Patrice Harris talks about how to make
 a good first impression and how it can
 help you land a job.
The afternoon kicked off with Patrice Harris, the news director at WUVI – UVI’s student radio station. Harris said in the past, she has had to persuade bosses on why she should get a position, whether it is a full-time job or a summer internship. 

Harris then had a student (voluntarily) give her a 20-second speech introducing themselves and stating why they would be the best fit for their dream job.  After working with the student for about two minutes, the student developed a great 20-second speech. Harris said that making an introduction to an interviewer comes down to two key components: having confidence and being persuasive.

Harris also expressed how important it is to make a good first impression. She emphasized that in a tough job market you need to make sure you nail your interview and capitalize on every opportunity you get

Career Services and Résumé Fundamentals

Mary Myers, a programs specialist for UVI’s Provost’s office, and Verna Rivers, the dean of students at UVI, hosted the second speech of the day which was broken down into two parts. Part one focused on acing the interview and dressing the part, while the second half focused on building your résumé.

In the first half of the presentation, both mentioned that everyone should have a professional email and not have anything inappropriate or tasteless on social networking profiles. On the contrary, they mentioned how “Thank you” notes are a gesture that can increase your chances of landing a job.

Myers and Rivers also talked about what to wear for an interview. They both recounted experiences where interviewees have dressed inappropriately or they have features that draw the interviewers away from the substance of the conversation.

“You don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression,” Rivers said, as she recounted interviewing someone with bad drawn-on eyebrows.

The second half of the presentation focused on re-tooling and improving one’s résumé. Rivers and Myers shared tips such as not putting your high school education information on your résumé if you are in college. Moreover, they said to make sure you are showing future employers the skills you gained, and not just summarizing the duties of your previous positions.

“I got a lot of great tips from both of them [Myers and Rivers]. I realized that there are definitely some things I need to change on my résumé,” said Mackenzie Lewis, an exchange student at UVI. 

Following the hour-long presentation was a résumé workshop, which allowed students to sit down with faculty members from career services to ask questions or fix problems on their résumés.

Students work one-on-one with professionals from career services on ways to fix their résumés.

Becoming an Entrepreneur

The third presenter of the day was Albert Richardson, who is currently a financial manager at Scotia Bank, but is a former entrepreneur. He spoke about finding startup money, risk management, insurance options and even dealing with landlords, and how well all those things correlate with owning a business.

“The things I am telling you today are things I learned on the street and through my experiences. These are not things you will learn in school,” Richardson said.

He reflected fondly on his days as a business owner, and he recommended it to anyone who is willing to work long hours and make sacrifices.

“At the end of the day when it comes to owning a business, you cannot doubt yourself. You have to believe in yourself and what you are doing, if you want to be successful,” Richardson said.

After the presentation, The UVI Innovation Design and Entrepreneurship Association (UVIDEA) and the University Innovation Freshmen (UIF) sponsored a 30-minute event on generating and improving quick business pitches and ideas.

Creating a Financial Plan

Shayla Solomon, a projects coordinator at
Banco Popular, 
discusses steps students should take
now to plan for life after graduation.
Shayla Solomon, a Projects Coordinator at Banco Popular, rounded out the day with a presentation on financial planning. Solomon touched on how to open a checking account or a savings account, while also discussing terms such as APR, interests rates, and IRA’s and what they mean and how they affect personal finances. 

Solomon offered a number of tips on budgeting and how to build credit early in your life. She also assured students that credit cards are not a bad thing – if used properly.

“From this age, I want to make sure you are making smart financial decisions to help you in the future,” Solomon said.


Each presenter at the seminar shared experiences and tips that are sure to stick with students as they prepare for life after university. From strengthening résumés, to developing a financial plan, students were given valuable insight on what it takes to be successful in the outside world. 

The majority of the students at the event were members of the Golden Key Honor Society, the Student Government Association or the National Society of Black Engineers – the three organizations that put this event together. Next year, they are hoping the seminar will attract all students from UVI, so everyone can obtain guidance from professionals.

“I feel like all students would benefit from opportunities like this,” said Mary Myers from the UVI Provost’s Office. “There were some great speakers at this event.”
Students receive a certificate after staying for the three-hour-long seminar.

At the end of the conference, all those who attended the seminar were awarded certificates. One student in attendance was Lisa Marie-Hodge, a junior at UVI and a member of the UVI SGA.

“BES was a great event. I learned so much from all the speakers. I’m thankful that these three organizations were able to come together and create such an awesome conference. It proves that UVI cares about their students even after they graduate,” Hodge said.

Friday, February 5, 2016

UVI Bucs Triumph at Paradise Jam Exhibition Game

Students adorned the Sports and Fitness Center (SFC) with their UVI gear
and painted faces to cheer the Buccaneers to victory.
With a score of 77-61, the UVI Buccaneers defeated the British Virgin Islands All Star team during the annual Paradise Jam exhibition game, held Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015 in UVI’s Sports and Fitness Center. Paradise Jam gives men’s and women’s college basketball teams a pre-season opportunity to test and fine-tune their skills while having some fun in the sun.
Coach Myron Brown gives the team a pep talk
Coach Myron Brown gives the team a pep talk
during the 2015 Paradise Jam game against the BVI All Star team.
The Bucs earned an early lead in the game and held on to it throughout the first and second quarters, bringing the halftime score to 36 – 21. In the third quarter, BVI pulled ahead quickly and forced UVI to play catch up; but in the end, the Bucs sealed the victory.
Captain of the Bucs, John Nunnally, led the way, contributing 20 points to the team’s win. Paul Watson and Leo Castillo both chipped in with 10 points apiece; and Steven “Ace” Watkins, forward, managed to block six shots and grab eight rebounds.
Coach Myron Brown has been conditioning the players since October 2015 and describes practice as “structured and organized.”  After reviewing plays, the players work the defensive side of the ball for more than half of an intense three hour practice. 
John Nunnally seized the moment for a dunk at the 2015 Paradise Jam Basketball tournament.
John Nunnally seized the moment
for a dunk at the 2015 Paradise Jam
Basketball tournament.
The game included halftime performances by the UVI Treasures Dance Team and the cheerleaders. The dance team took the floor and energized the audience with their shimmering gold outfits and an original hip hop, R & B and Spanish infused routine. The cheerleaders followed with an exceptional rhythmic and acrobatic number, jam-packed with smiling faces, pompoms, and even more energy. 
While the action taking place on the court was, of course, the highlight of the night; there was action stirring on the bleachers as well.  Behind the dance team and cheerleaders sat a dedicated crowd of painted faces, blue and white shirts, and a placard that read, “What the Bucs.” It all came together as a creative and exciting display of school pride. “I have dreamed of this during various basketball games in the past, and to see it manifest itself was very touching and inspiring,” said President David Hall in his emailed community address.
What’s next on the Bucs docket? For spring 2016, they will participate in the Liga Atletica Interuniversitaria, the Intercollegiate Athletic League of Puerto Rico. According to Coach Brown, the team’s toughest challenges have to do with support – from the University campus and the VI community. “We hope to represent the University in high class model where everyone will be proud to call themselves a Buccaneer,” he says.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Hall Honored with Tommy Star and Thurgood Marshall Awards

President Hall (left) and Professor Tamara Lang (right) pose with Hospitality students at the Tommy Star Awards. (Photo right) Dr. Hall stands with TMCF Educational Leadership Award.
In its 50 plus years, the University of the Virgin Islands has received numerous awards on behalf of its stellar students, prestigious faculty and is associated with greatness because of its talented alumni.
This fall, UVI’s fifth president Dr. David Hall, received local and national awards for his leadership and dedication to excellence.
U.S. Congress Woman Alma Adams presented President Hall with the Thurgood Marshall Educational Leadership Award on Nov. 16, at the 27th annual Thurgood Marshall Awards Gala in Washington, D.C.
“My charge as I see it is to give this community a license to dream again, to believe in each other again and reach for the stars of greatness,” said Adams as she quoted Dr. Hall.
Dr. Hall (left) accepts Thurgood Marshall 
Award from Congress Woman Alma Adams &
 Johnny C. Taylor, TMCF president & CEO.  
 “Under Dr. Hall’s leadership UVI has made important strides towards raising the image and the position of the University,” Adams said. “He has implemented new programs and increased resources to ensure that all students who enter the University achieve and realize their dreams of academic success on both campuses.”
This award is compelling evidence that the University is on the right path, said President Hall, before an audience of celebrities, industry leaders, and hundreds of Thurgood Marshall Scholars in the International Ballroom at the Washington Hilton.
“This prestigious award is not for me, but for the faculty, staff, students, cabinet members and president’s office staff of a unique and wonderful University that is located in paradise, but whose mission is to transform stifled dreams into unlimited possibilities,” he said. “Our Strategic Plan requires us to work hard to make sure that every student who graduates from UVI, is academically sensitive, entrepreneurially excellent, globally sensitive, entrepreneurially focused, emotionally and spiritually balanced and willing to serve the world.”
A UVI delegation poses with Dr. Hall at the TMCF Gala.
 “Dr. Hall is one of the hardest-working, steadfast leaders in the HBCU community,” said Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., TMCF president and CEO. “There are few higher education executives who have the ability to lead with vision – always seeking cutting-edge solutions and creating a vibrant 21st century HBCU.” 
The TMCF Education Leadership Award is the highest individual award presented annually to a president of an HBCU who has demonstrated outstanding business, academic and visionary leadership through effective management of his or her institution.
A small delegation of UVI administrators, staffers, deans and 11 students from the St. Thomas Campus and the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix were present at the gala. The students were in Washington, D.C. attending the annual TMCF Leadership Institute. A delegation of students attend the institute annually.  
Tommy Star Award of Excellence
Just two days before being nationally recognized by the TMCF, Dr. Hall was honored by the USVI Hotel and Tourism Association at the Annual Tommy Star Awards.
Dr. Hall was presented with the Tommy Star Award of Excellence for his role in creating UVI’s Hospitality and Tourism Program.
 “When he first took over as president of UVI and discovered we did not have a hospitality program, he proactively reached out to the association to see how we could rally and remedy the situation,” said USVI-Hotel and Tourism Association President Lisa Hamilton.  “Dr. Hall was the key driver in ensuring this program was brought to life and now we have about 100 students enrolled.”
President Hall accepts the Tommy Star
Award of Excellence
“One of my proudest achievements as the fifth president of the University of the Virgin Islands is the fact that we have been able to assemble a group of individuals who are dreaming about greatness for this University,” said President Hall. “That is a combination of people who were here when I arrived and others who have come on board, others who have changed their position, but all of us have embraced the notion that UVI can be a great University.”
“The vision of the University of the Virgin Islands is to move away from working on, dreaming about, thinking about greatness – to implementing greatness,” he said. “This award is not just an award for me. It’s an award for dreamers and the fact that people can work together and bring something into reality.”
Dr. Hall said that he is standing in for the many individuals who have worked to bring the program about.
“This award is special to me because you can get an award for some singular act that you have done, but this award is one that is solely about the collective of individuals who wanted to change the reality of what existed at the University and in the Territory,” he said.  “To be the symbol of that makes it very special.”
The HTA also presented UVI Professor Tamara Lang with an award for her work as director of the University’s Hospitality and Tourism Management Program. Students enrolled in UVI’s Hospitality Degree Program can earn a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management. “In our program we teach our students about all of the industries that are in the Hospitality and Tourism Industry—from the cruise lines, resorts to travel and tourism,” said Lang. “Tourism and Hotel Management is the number one growing industry in the world and we are expanding. In the Caribbean, of course, it is our life bread.”
Additionally, Cathriellah Shabazz, a UVI Hotel and Tourism senior, was nominated for the Tommy Award’s Associate of the Year. Shabazz, who attends classes on the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix, believes and strives to deliver exceptional service.
President Hall (left) and Professor Tamara Lang (right)
pose with Hospitality students at the Tommy Star Awards.
Each student must complete approximately 200 to 300 hours in internships within the industry. Students on St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix are participating in internships through the program. Students participate in tours, site visits, lectures, hospitality community projects, special events, laboratory experiences and more. The hospitality program received national recognition, ranking number 26, in a list of “50 Most Affordable Small Colleges for Hospitality Administration and Management.”