Monday, August 18, 2014

V.I.’s Top Graduates to Attend UVI

UVI students Lizbeth Carrasquillo and Ryan Shaw will attend classes this Fall on UVI's Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix.
Central High School valedictorian Ryan Shaw and Central High School salutatorian Lizbeth Carrasquillo had both decided to pursue higher education on the United States mainland – until they visited UVI’s Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix.

Carrasquillo was always open to attending UVI, but selected a college in Florida. Then she attended “Preparing for the Next Generation of Hispanic Leaders,” a UVI – sponsored Hispanic outreach program held in June. That changed everything for Carrasquillo.

“Students were describing their experiences and I got to know people who actually enjoy their UVI experience,” Carrasquillo says. One of the student experiences that truly moved her was the story of a young man who didn’t think he was college material, until he applied to UVI. The young man enjoyed various experiences like participating in the University’s radio station, WUVI 1090 AM, and joining the UVI Bucs basketball team – realizing previously untapped potential. By the time the outreach event had ended Carrasquillo knew she was coming to UVI.

Carrasquillo will major in business. “I am excited for the new experience,” she says. She plans to take her first semester slow and focus on her studies until she can get a feel of what college life is like, then get involved in other activities at UVI in her sophomore year. After completing her degree, she plans to open her own business.

Ryan Shaw was encouraged by his neighbor to attend UVI. Still, he felt like he needed more information. “I went to Ms. Towal and I learned that UVI has more to offer than I thought,” he says. UVI Counseling Supervisor Patricia Towal told Shaw about UVI’s biology program and opportunities for research with other institutions. When Shaw left Towal’s St. Croix office, his mind was made up – he was coming to UVI.

Shaw has decided to start his freshman year on the Albert A. Sheen Campus and is looking forward to a smooth transition. Self-described as sociable and friendly, Shaw expects that his new living situation will be pleasant.

“I do enjoy a bit of research,” says Shaw, who is looking forward to taking on research projects while at the University. “I love discovering new things.” After earning his degree in biology from UVI, he plans to study medicine. He is still contemplating a field to specialize in.

Central High School Principal Janesee Sinclair supports UVI and says that the institution is comparable to any on the mainland. UVI offers a nurturing environment and puts students on the right track, she says. She added that UVI President David Hall and UVI’s faculty and staff are supportive of the students and families in the territory.

UVI provides scholarships for the valedictorians and salutatorians from Virgin Islands’ high schools.

In addition to Shaw and Carrasquillo, eleven other 2014 valedictorians and salutatorians have indicated they will enroll at UVI this fall. They are:
  • Jakobi Peets - salutatorian, All Saints Cathedral School 
  • Sherika Jacobs - salutatorian, Charlotte Amalie High School 
  • Rodney Querrad - valedictorian, Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic School 
  • Carishma Marsh ­- valedictorian, St. Thomas Seventh Day Adventist 
  • Kamira Webster - salutatorian, St. Thomas Seventh Day Adventist 
  • Jean Devera - salutatorian, Good Hope/Country Day  
  • Amelle Williams - valedictorian, St. Croix Seventh Day Adventist 
  • Shaquan Lewis - salutatorian, St. Croix Seventh Day Adventist 
  • Cody Cook ­ valedictorian, A-Z Academy 
  • Ameer Donaie - valedictorian, IQRA Academy 
  • Huda Qattum - salutatorian, IQRA Academy
UVI welcomes all new and returning students for the Fall 2014 semester.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

UVI Students Present their Work at Summer Research Symposium

The University of the Virgin Islands hosted the Summer Research Symposium on Friday, Aug. 1, in the Administration and Conference Center on the St. Thomas Campus. The goal of the summer symposium is to showcase student research at UVI as well as other institutions. UVI undergraduate students Sheresia Gumbs (pink shirt), Krislen Tison and Sherika Alexis worked together to determine if frogs on St. Thomas were infected with Chytrid Fungus, which is hazardous to their health. About 17 presentations were made by undergraduate students. Some of their topics include:
Lionfish invasion
Parasite burdens of hair sheep lambs
The Extraction, Quantification and Toxicity of Citral from Lemongrass
Antioxidant Activity of Herbs and Spices
Telescopes & Limiting magnitudes
Weather patterns and Erosion in the USVI
Complexometric Titration using Platinum Sensing Electrodes
Foraging Patterns of of Elysia crispata
Intimate Partner Abuse of Women in the Virgin Islands
Conch Locomotion
The Cultivation of Thalassia testudinum and Halophila stipulacea For Conservation Motivation in Learning: Game-based vs. Traditional
University of the Virgin Islands student Yentyle Levet (right) presents her project on ‘Motivation in Digital Game-Based Learning.’ 
University of the Virgin Islands student Ruel Mitchel explains his research
on ‘Neutron Stars’ to UVI Mathematics professor Dr. Robert Stolz.

University of the Virgin Islands student Stephen Santana presented the results of his research on ‘Assessing Land Cover Change on St. Thomas.’ Santana was among many UVI researchers to discuss their work at the Summer Research Symposium in the Administration and Conference Center on the St. Thomas Campus.

University of the Virgin Islands student Eliakin del Rosario (right) presented his research on ‘Malware Signature Detection: A Comparison Between Brute Force and Boyer-Moore’ on Aug. 1 at the Summer  Research Symposium.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Education & Fun is all part of the UVI Junior University Experience

University of the Virgin Islands Junior University physical education instructor Mark Daniel conducts an exhibition game in the University's Sports and Fitness Center.

 Junior University is an intensive five-week program for boys who did not pass seventh grade but showed promise. It is a collaborative initiative of the University of the Virgin Islands and the Education Department St. Thomas-St. John School District. There are 100 enrolled in the summer 2014 edition of the program.

 Junior University students take part in basket 
ball tournament in UVI's Sports and Fitness Center. 
Junior University students work
on a math problem.

UVI Junior University students take interest in a mathematics lesson taught by Robyn Carlin, a visiting master teacher from Louisiana State University.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

UVI Workshop Provides Innovative Teaching Method to VI STEM Educators

Robyn Carlin, a master teacher from the GeauxTeach Program at Louisiana State University, teaches University of the Virgin Islands Junior University students.

This summer, some science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teachers territory-wide opted to become students. Fifty elementary, high school and college educators participated in an innovative workshop designed to entice students to learn. The UVI Teach Inquiry-Based Learning STEPs 1 and 2 for STEM Teachers Workshop was conducted for STEM teachers territory-wide with experience or interest in using inquiry-based learning in math or science.

Inquiry-based learning is an approach to teaching and learning that places questions, ideas and observations of students at the center of the learning experience. Educators play an active role throughout the process by establishing a culture where ideas are respectfully challenged, tested, redefined and viewed as improvable. This moves children from a position of wondering to a position of understanding and further questioning.

“This has been one of the better workshops that I have attended,” says Nneka Howard-Sibilly, Charlotte Amalie High School biology teacher and Science Department chair. “Walking away from it, I have a lot of tangible information that I can utilize in my classroom right away and be able to help other teachers.”

She says that this workshop has gotten her closer to her goal of having tools on how to make her classroom more inquiry-based and geared toward the Common Core Standards and the Next Generation Standards set to come on-line.

Fourth grade Lockhart Elementary School teacher Diana Tyson signed up for the workshop because she has a strong love for science and mathematics. “It has been extremely informative,” says Tyson. “I am learning a great deal about inquiry-based learning and letting the students explore and learn through their own investigations.” Tyson, who has taught for 15 years, was named Teacher of the Year in the St. Thomas-St. John District in the 2013-2014 School Year.

“It will definitely, I hope, increase and improve not only teacher effectiveness, but student achievement,” she says. “We are learning strategies that we can use to help better implement what is expected of our students from the Common Core State Standards.”

“This was a tremendous workshop,” says St. Croix Educational Complex High School mathematics teacher Dianne Theophilus. “The information that has been shared will assist me in becoming a better mathematics educator. I will also be able to use what I've learnt to assist my colleagues.”

UVI Teach is a secondary STEM teacher training program being developed at the University. It is a joint effort between the UVI College of Science and Mathematics, the School of Education and the V.I. Department of Education (VI DOE). It is adapted from the UTeach Program, a nationally recognized, innovative, and successful teacher preparation program for students majoring in science, mathematics, and computer science. The UTeach program was developed at the University of Texas, Austin, in 1997. Thirty-nine other universities around the country are now implementing the program. The UVI Teach program places emphasis on field-based, hands-on learning opportunities for future STEM teachers. “Since 2011, Provost McKayle has been leading this Noyce project to make UVI one of the pioneering HBCUs to implement a UTeach program,” said UVI Teach Program Director Dr. Celil Ekici.

Conducting the UVI STEM Teacher’s Workshop was a pivotal step towards launching the UVI Teach program. UVI and the VI DOE collaborated to bring this workshop to educators in the territory. Robyn Carlin, a master teacher from the GeauxTeach Program at Louisiana State University, taught inquiry-based teaching in mathematics, while Lynn Kirby, a master teacher from UTeach at Austin, taught science. They alternated teaching on the St. Thomas Campus and Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix, switching campuses one week into the training. UVI Associate Professor of Education Dr. Nancy Morgan helped to demonstrate the integration of various content areas, including literacy. VI DOE STEM Director Karissa Poszywak served as co-trainer to make content more relevant for STEM teachers in the territory.

“The overall goals are to help teachers experience inquiry-based learning in action and learn to apply it in their own practices as math and science teachers,” says Dr. Ekici. “They will learn to orient UVI Teach students coming to their classroom towards learning and facilitating inquiry-based lessons as future STEM teachers.”

During a workshop session in July 2014, educators were able to observe Carlin as she taught mathematics to middle school boys who were a part of UVI’s Junior University Summer Enrichment Program. Carlin used a variety of 3D foam shapes to teach students how to understand fractions and turn those fractions into mathematical word problems and equations. The students, working in four groups of four, actively participated in their own learning. While the students learned mathematics, the UVI Tech Workshop participants observed the lesson.

Dr. Ekici says the practice session was intended to allow participants to gain a deeper sense of inquiry-based STEM learning and teaching in practice. “It was intended to provide students and practitioners with a rich and genuine experience to build their own local practices for the inquiry-based STEM teaching/learning in our territorial schools,” he says.

Nneka Howard-Sibilly has asked that teachers be able to observe an inquiry-based lesson for some time. “It is one thing to say what an inquiry-based system is supposed to look like, but when you can actually see somebody stand in front of you and model it in front of live students – to be able to see the responses of students and observe the differences in questioning – I think that is what teachers need to see more of in order to better themselves,” she says.

UVI Works to Implement UVI Teach Program

The UVI Teach Program is being developed under the leadership of UVI Provost Dr. Camille McKayle, UVI Dean of the School of Education Dr. Linda Thomas and Dean of the School of Science and Mathematics Dr. Sandra Romano. Dr. Ekici is spearheading this collaborative effort. It is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and is part of the Robert Noyce Capacity Building Grant designed to develop and implement a secondary STEM teacher training program at UVI. Noyce Capacity Building Projects provide an opportunity for institutions to establish the infrastructure and partnerships for implementing a future Noyce Teacher Scholarship or NSF Teaching Fellowship. This grant had two major goals. One is to develop UVI Teach as a STEM teacher preparation program building on the basics of the UTeach model. Second, is conducting STEM education research to provide research-based and locally effective STEM education training programs. Several UVI professors are part of the UVI Teach collaborative team including, Dr. Ekici, Dr. Steven Greenstein, Dr. Nancy Morgan, Dr. Michelle Peterson, Dr. Marc Boumedine, Dr. Rita Howard, Dr. Judith Bloch and Ms. Danielle DeGain. They are under the supervision of Provost McKayle.

UVI Teach is integrating inquiry-based learning activities into UVI's developmental mathematics classes including, Mathematics 023 and 024 and introductory science courses such as Science 100, with peers, mentors, and master teachers trained to use the 5Es of inquiry based learning. The 5Es are engagement, exploration, explanation, elaboration and evaluation.

The 5 E Learning Cycle Model

  • Object, event or question used to engage students 
  • Connections facilitated between what students know and can do 
  • Objects and phenomena are explored 
  • Hands-on activities, with guidance 
  • Students explain their understanding of concepts and processes 
  • New concepts and skills are introduced as conceptual clarity and cohesion are sought 
  • Activities allow students to apply concepts in contexts, and build on or extend understanding and skill 
  • Students assess their knowledge, skills and abilities. 
  • Activities permit evaluation of student development and lesson effectiveness
UVI Teach St. Thomas Site Coordinator Dr. Marc Boumedine says that when the program is implemented, students interested in teaching STEM subjects will receive a bachelor’s degree in their field and be able to teach secondary education, once they have met the requirements of the School of Education and the Virgin Islands Board of Education. He says this program will allow UVI STEM students who wish to become educators to finish their degrees sooner.

Monday, July 14, 2014

University Bound Programs Underway on St. Thomas and St. Croix

More than 50 students from throughout the territory are living and taking courses on UVI's campuses on St. Thomas and St. Croix, as they participate in 2014 summer residential component of the University Bound college preparatory program. The programs are designed to generate the skills and motivation that lead to academic success for students in high school and beyond.

The six-week program - with 33 students on St. Thomas and 21 on St. Croix - continue through July 18. The students recently posed for class photos. Click photos to enlarge.

St. Thomas Campus - University Bound - Summer 2014

Albert A. Sheen Campus - St. Croix - University Bound - Summer 2014

Friday, June 27, 2014

VI SBDC: An Ally to Small Businesses in the Territory

Just Threads owners Cyril and Germene Thomas pose for a photo after their business was named the Small Business of the Year on St. Thomas. 
Running a small business, especially in these difficult economic times, can be trying, but with help from the Virgin Islands Small Business Development Center (VI SBDC), businesses in the territory have found an ally. In June, the VI-SBDC celebrated Small Business Week with specialized training sessions and lectures designed to foster business growth. The week culminated with award ceremonies that acknowledge small businesses in the territory that have excelled.

Jennifer Jackson and Lionel Jacobs, owners of Arawak Bay: The Inn at Salt River, LLC, were presented with the VI SBDC Small Business of the Year award on St. Croix. Cyril and Germene Thomas, owners of Just Threads, received the VI-SBDC 2014 Small Business of the Year award on St. Thomas.

“Our 2014 award winners are examples of determination and success,” said State Director of the VI SBDC Leonor Dottin. “Business ownership is about taking risks and working toward minimizing these risks as you grow your business. Our SBDC winners are examples of the success of utilizing services like the VI SBDC to further their dreams and subsequently grow their businesses.”

Arawak Bay: The Inn at Salt River, LLC

Arawak Bay opened in March 2007. Husband and wife team, Jennifer Jackson and Lionel Jacobs were both new to the hospitality business. Jackson was employed at UVI for 23 years. Before she separated from UVI in 2005, she served as the chancellor for the St. Croix Campus. Jacobs, a retired architect by trade, was previously the director of planning and construction at the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority. They opened Arawak Bay confident that their life and career experiences uniquely qualified them for the construction and management of their business.

Arawak Bay, located on the north shore of St. Croix, was designed by Jacobs. It features sprawling balconies, landscaping and colors designed to emphasize the beauty and historic culture of St. Croix. Jackson runs the inn and shares the beautiful features of St. Croix with visitors to the territory.

“We essentially tried to create a hotel with a difference,” said Jackson. “It’s just not a place where people stay while visiting the island. We try to make sure that their stay in St. Croix is enjoyable. Based on their interests we help them plan what to do while on island so that they can enjoy the best features of the Virgin Islands.” They also work with groups, mostly from various mainland universities, and plan their activities to ensure that all guests have an excellent experience.

Jackson thanks the VI SBDC for the honor of recognizing their efforts. “When you start a small business in the Virgin Islands you’re pretty much on your own,” said Jackson. But she found allies in the helpful VI SBDC’s staff and the training sessions offered at the center. The VI SBDC courses that she took with other businesses owners assisted her in remaining compliant as a limited liability company and helped her shift focus from day to day management to planning and marketing and developing strategies for success. “The SBDC courses and their other offerings can be seen as a 101 in how you run a small business,” she said. During those courses, Jackson was also able to network with other business owners and discuss challenges and business strategies.

With the hospitality business being seasonal, Jackson has used many of the techniques learned at the SBDC and continues to strategically market her business. The Arawak Inn received certificates of excellence from the popular Trip Advisor website in 2013 and 2014.

Just Threads

“It was an honor to receive the award,” said Cyril Thomas, of Just Threads. “It shows all the hard work that we have been doing for the community and ourselves has actually made a difference.”

He worked for the Footlocker Corporation for 10 years before partnering with his wife to open Just Threads in Tutu Park Mall in 2002. Cyril Thomas started his career at Footlocker as a full-time sales representative in 1992. Two years later, he was promoted to store manager of two Footlocker stores – one on St. Thomas and one on St. Croix. Later he was promoted to market leader over all stores in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Just Threads is located at the center of Tutu Park Mall and sells all kinds of clothing, including unisex designer dresses, suits and pants. Among their inventory is a variety of caps.

Thomas was pleased with the support, advice and training he received at the SBDC. “While I have years of business experience, the SBDC helped me to add to my knowledge and improve my business outlook,” he said. In the near future, he plans to continue to work with the SBDC to find out how he can promote the business as he moves to diversify his inventory to include sporting goods.

“Small business owners must prepare themselves to strive and further grow their business,” said Dottin. “Through the services offered at the VI-SBDC, they can take advantage of counseling services that are of no-charge to them in areas such as financial management, accounting, marketing, sales, strategic planning, retail, merchandising, social media and other very important areas of business.” She continued, “What is most important is that the VI-SBDC counselors work as a team and they utilize each other’s strengths to further their service potential to clients.”

Other 2014 SBDC award recipients include:

· St. Thomas Woman-Owned Business of the Year – Jill Farley, owner of Cool Signs

· St. Croix Woman-Owned Business of the Year – Yoki K. Hanley, owner of Itiba, LLC

· St. Croix Entrepreneurial Success Award – Marston Adams, owner of Kiki’s Automotive, Inc. d/b/a Kiki’s Alternators & Starters

· St. Thomas/St. Croix Small Business Advocate of the Year – The Virgin Islands Daily News

The 2014 Small Business Administration award recipients:

· SBA Entrepreneur of the Year for St. John – Curtis Penn, owner of Caribbean Seashells Vacation Villas

· SBA Entrepreneur of the Year for St. Croix – Angel Diaz, owner of the La Reine Chicken Shack

· SBA Entrepreneur of the Year for St. Thomas – Michael S. Barrows, DDS, Happy Teeth Dental Office

· SBA Bank of the Year – Banco Popular de Puerto Rico

All the activities offered during Small Business Week were made available by the support received from FirstBank VI, Virgin Islands Next Generation Network, Banco Popular, Marriott Frenchman’s Reef Resort, and the Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority. The VI-SBDC is a partnership program of UVI and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Entrepreneur Business Institute Opens on UVI’s St. Thomas Campus

Students representing the majority of the Territory’s high schools gathered on UVI’s St. Thomas Campus for the opening of the 2014 Entrepreneur Business Institute.

The 2014 edition of the Entrepreneur Business Institute (EBI) summer program at the University of the Virgin Islands opened on Sunday, June 22, on the St. Thomas Campus. Some 30 students representing the majority of the territory’s high schools are participating in the an intensive, three-week program designed to help them develop entrepreneurial, leadership and business skills, while providing an insight into the college experience and campus life. They will also work with mentors, including successful entrepreneurs and business leaders in the community, and gain the experience of starting with an idea and developing it into a business plan.

The program, which has students living on campus, runs on the St. Thomas Campus from June 22 through July 11. It is sponsored by International Capital & Management Company (ICMC), a management services company based in St. Thomas, in collaboration with the University of the Virgin Islands School of Business.

    Orville Smith                                                   Joshua Murray                                         Marisha Butcher
Several graduates of the 2013 EBI program spoke to this year’s incoming students about their experiences with the program. The students, from left, Orville Smith from the Tutu Church of God Academy, Joshua Murray from St. Croix’ Central High School, and Marisha Butcher from St. Croix’ Education Complex, described their various successes in  business efforts they initiated based on what they learned during the program. Program Director Dr. Paul Fleming, an assistant professor of Business Management at UVI, said the students who returned to share their experiences represent the program well.

Student pose for a group photo on the steps of UVI's Paiewonsky Library.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Kean Senior Morgan Cleaveland Awarded Four-Year ROTC Scholarship to UVI

Kean High School Senior Morgan Cleaveland receives a check representing her ROTC scholarship to attend the University of the Virgin Islands. Making the presentation are, from left, ROTC Professor of Military Science Lt. Col. Robel Ramirez, Cleaveland, Kean High School Battalion Cmdr. Eddie Charles and Master Sgt. Russell Bannister Russell, the senior military instructor on UVI’s St. Thomas Campus.

Ivanna Eudora Kean High School senior Morgan Cleaveland received a four-year Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) scholarship to attend the University of the Virgin Islands during a special presentation ceremony at the high school on June 10. Cleaveland, a cadet captain in Kean’s ROTC program, is the fifth student to receive a full ROTC scholarship to attend UVI. The presentation was made by ROTC Caribbean Region Commander Lt. Col. Rodel Ramirez, who is also a professor of military science. ROTC scholarships were also presented to Kean seniors Cadet Lt. Col. Dinelle Cadette and Cadet Maj. Jamaal Al-Ameen during the same ceremony.
U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Herman Bardouille, right, a recent UVI 
graduate, addresses students at Kean High School.  

The presentations were made before other Kean students and each scholarship recipient took the opportunity to speak to their classmates about the importance of focus, hard work and involvement in school activities. Newly minted U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Herman Bardouille, who was commissioned during UVI’s recent Commencement Ceremony on the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix in May, was also on hand to discuss the opportunities available to high school students.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

UVI Class of 2014: Destined to Change the World

Harvard professor, award-winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist and historian Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. addresses the graduates at Commencement.

At University of the Virgin Islands commencement ceremonies on May 17, on the St. Thomas Campus and on May 18, on the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix, graduates declared that they are ready for everything that lies ahead.

“We are ready to revolutionize the world and make those who invested in us supremely proud,” said St. Thomas Campus Class Speaker Natalie Richardson, who earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration on the St. Thomas Campus. She said the Class of 2014 will remain optimistic because the class is passionate about the issues which prove their abilities and challenge their potential. “These memories that we have made will live with us forever,” Richardson said. “But even more so the bonds that we have forged, friends that have turned into family, dreams that have turned into reality, and dedication that has turned into success.”

St. Thomas Class Speaker Natalie Richardson
“Our inclusion in today’s ceremony shows, that we have what it takes to sacrifice, to start a project and see it to completion,” said UVI Albert A. Sheen Class Speaker Allison De Gazon, who earned a masters’ degree in business administration. “This academic journey defined us and showed us what we are all made of.”

De Gazon urged her fellow graduates to defy the norm of walking away from their alma mater after receiving a degree. “The baton to build our businesses and our community has been passed to us,” she said. “We must embrace all we have been taught by our professors and utilize everything within us to focus forward and transform this community.”

“Together we are all walking through the door fully equipped with knowledge, faith in God and the ability to lead any institution to success,” she said. “I believe we can have everything we want if we help others get what they want.” De Gazon continued, “At the end of life, it won’t matter how many degrees we have earned, how much money we’ve made or how many material things we have amassed. What will matter is how many people we have served and what our community has to say about our contribution, our affiliation and our legacy.”

View and like Commencement photos on the UVI Facebook page:

De Gazon took advantage of every open door offered by UVI. She participated in the UVI Upward Bound Program, participated in the student exchange program, was president in the Golden Key National Honour Society, president of the debate team, and earned her bachelor’s degree at UVI. Recently, De Gazon participated in the 13D Entrepreneurship Program and took home the top prize of $30,000 for her business plan named Cruzan Organix Farm.

Sheen Class Speaker Allison De Gazon
“Let us embrace the opportunities that lie ahead” she said. “Let us honor our past by demonstrating excellence and leadership in every undertaking. Let’s represent UVI and these Virgin Islands with pride and conviction.”

“I hope your experience here has taught you that your dreams can come true,” UVI President David Hall told the graduates. “I hope you understand now at a much deeper level that your future is within your hands. Dr. Hall continued, “I hope you understand that this university was created for you so you can have the experience that you just had. Now you must go out and create something that allows the dreams of others to be fulfilled as well.”

“UVI has done its work well if you aren’t just looking at what stands behind you, but you are able to see more clearly what lies ahead of you – even if others can’t see,” he said. “At this special moment we want you to peek in the mirror of the past few years and be thankful and joyous for what you see, but more importantly, we want you to look into the window of your endless potential and know that you are destined to change the world.”

The UVI Class of 2014 was addressed by Harvard professor, award-winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist and historian Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., UVI’s 2014 keynote speaker on both campuses. “You can’t know where you are going until you know where you have been,” said Dr. Gates. “Your education has made you ready to move from point A to point B and beyond. You are ready to go as far as your dreams will take you because you have the strongest validations and the tools of which to build on.” A day after the St. Croix ceremony, Dr. Gates traveled to New York to receive a Peabody Award for his PBS television series “The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross.”

Dr. Gates, the Virgin Islands’ first elected Delegate to Congress the Hon. Ron de Lugo, and St. Croix baseball legend and youth mentor Horace Clarke were awarded UVI honorary degrees at the 2014 Commencement. De Lugo was unable to attend the commencement ceremony, but his daughter Angela de Lugo received the degree and was hooded in his stead.

At the Commencement Ceremony on the St. Thomas Campus, Dr. Hall presented the cap, gown and hood to the family of the late David Payne, Jr., a UVI alumnus and graduate student who was killed in front of his Anna’s Retreat home in 2012. Payne earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from UVI in elementary education in May 2012 and was enrolled in UVI's Master of Arts in Education program on the St. Thomas Campus at the time of his death. In 2011, he earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in criminal justice. “We are honored to present this regalia to his sister and his son and present it to say to the entire family that David still lives in our hearts, but we especially say to his son that we want you to wear this regalia in honor of your father when you graduate from UVI,” said Dr. Hall.

He said that he believed Payne would have earned his degree had he not have been killed. “You may kill the dreamer but you will never kill the dream,” said Dr. Hall. “Virgin Islanders must strive to do great things in their lives.” After Payne’s death, UVI increased its efforts to reduce violence in the community with the creation of the Anti-violence and Peace Initiative in honor of Payne’s memory in order to ensure that others do not suffer the same end.

On the Sheen Campus, UVI awarded a posthumous nursing associate’s degree to Natalie Fenton, who was working towards that degree while fighting a battle with cancer. She died on April 18.

UVI conferred over 300 degrees at the commencement ceremonies.

ROTC Presents Four-Year UVI Scholarship to Complex Graduate Augustus Laurencin

Shown, from left, are UVI Interim Provost Dr. Camille McKayle, Senior Military Instructor Master Sgt. Jose Delgado, Senior Military Science Instructor Maj. (R) William J. Velazquez, Professor of Military Science Lt. Col. Robel Ramirez, UVI scholarship recipient Agustus Laurencin, JROTC Senior Instructor at Central High School Maj. Fernando Webster, Central High Cadet Battalion Commander Daleena Parker and Sixth ROTC Brigade Commander Col. Brent Barnes. 
Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Professor of Military Science Lt. Col. Robel Ramirez presented a four-year ROTC scholarship to Augustus Laurencin to attend the University of the Virgin Islands in a ceremony at the St. Croix Educational Complex High School on May 16. Laurencin, a former JROTC Cadet at Central High School, was the fourth cadet to receive a full scholarship to UVI. It will cover tuition, books and all educational expenses at the University.

Col. Brent Barnes, ROTC commander of Continental USA 
South East Region, speaks  to JROTC Cadets attending 
Complex High School. (Click image for larger view.)
The ROTC Commander of Continental USA South East Region Col. Brent Barnes, who was on hand for the presentation, spoke to JROTC Cadets attending Complex High School. UVI Provost Dr. Camille McKayle represented the University.