Monday, May 12, 2014

UVI to Graduate New Leaders

Stella Jarvis, left, and Paulette Jarvis pause for a photo before lining up for the 2014 Commencement on St. Croix on Sunday, May 18. Preliminary photos from this year's Commencement Ceremonies on both St. Thomas and St. Croix are featured on UVI's Facebook page - Check Facebook again soon for additional photos and be sure to like the page and share the photos with your friends.  

The University of the Virgin Islands will graduate another set of leaders at Commencement Ceremonies to be held on May 17, in the Sports and Fitness Center on the University’s St. Thomas Campus, and on May 18 on the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix. UVI will award more than 300 degrees in fields of study from engineering, to nursing, to music education.

See 2014 Commencement details at bottom:

Mother and Daughter Graduate in Class of 2014; Legacy to Continue with Son

Paulette Jarvis and her daughter Stella Jarvis will walk together as graduates on St. Croix. Paulette Jarvis will graduate with an associate's degree in nursing. Stella Jarvis, a student in the 3-2 Engineering Program, will graduate from UVI with a bachelor’s degree in applied science and a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from the University of Florida.

Through this program, students in the College of Science and Mathematics spend three years at UVI and two years at a participating institution. At the end of the program, the student earns a Bachelor of Science degree in applied mathematics from UVI, and a Bachelor of Science in his or her chosen field of engineering from the affiliated university. UVI has agreements with Columbia University, the University of Florida, and the University of South Carolina.

Stella Jarvis and Paulette Jarvis
Stella Jarvis’ journey towards earning a degree in higher education started at age 16, in UVI’s early admissions program. At first, she didn’t know what she wanted to study and then found out about the dual degree engineering program. She studied for one year at the Albert A. Sheen Campus and three years on UVI’s St. Thomas Campus, before traveling to the University of Florida. “I think it was the best path to take instead of going directly to the states,” she says. “You get two degrees and end-up with less debt.”

Stella has already landed a job at Dow Chemical Company in Freeport, Texas, as an environmental specialist. She credits the multiple paid research opportunities that she got at UVI for her ability to be hired right out of college. “At a larger school people are actually begging for research and they don’t get paid,” said Stella Jarvis. “Most of the things on my resume came from UVI. That’s what helped me get the second internship I got up here, and subsequently my job. When I transferred I had a lot more stuff on my resume than my classmates that started at Florida. ”

She is excited to be graduating at the same time as her mom. “Both of our paths were so different,” says Stella Jarvis. A nursing degree is something that I know that she wanted for a long-time and I think it is about time that she got something for her. She has been selfless with me and my brother, says Stella Jarvis.

Paulette Jarvis has wanted to be nurse ever since she was a little girl watching her mother and suffer from a mysterious illness. She asked the Lord to help her to become a nurse to help her mother. “That is why I never gave up,” says Paulette Jarvis. She began her education at UVI in 1999. After having difficulties with several classes, she left UVI and became a licensed practical nurse (LPN) through a vocational program. She returned to UVI after the Juan Luis Hospital released her and several of their LPNs.

To earn her degree, Paulette Jarvis, who is president of the 2014 nursing class, spent 12 hour days studying with her classmates. One night when they were burning the midnight oil she told her classmates, “We all have to make it, nobody’s staying behind.” On May 18, she expects to march with all 15 nursing students. After graduation she will work on her National Council Licensure Examination, which is the final step towards becoming a licensed registered nurse.

Paulette’s son, Travis Jarvis, has been accepted into UVI’s Early Admissions program. He plans to become a veterinarian.
St. Croix Class of 2014 President Raydiance K. Watts-Clarke

Watts-Clarke Continuing
the Family Legacy of Success

UVI Class of 2014, President Raydiance K. Watts-Clarke will graduate magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in education and a minor in social science on the University’s Sheen Campus. Her uncle, Horace Clarke – who played professional baseball for the New York Yankees and the San Diego Padres – will receive an honorary degree from UVI. Horace Clarke was the New York Yankees’ regular second baseman from 1967 through 1973. Following his professional career, he returned to St. Croix where he developed young players in the territory as a baseball specialist for the Virgin Islands Government. “I am proud of him,” Watts-Clarke says. “He has inspired other individuals, especially the young males who love playing baseball. From looking at his legacy, there is chance that they can also achieve their dreams and become professional baseball players.”

Watts-Clarke served as the student representative to the UVI Board of Trustees from 2012 to 2013. “It was great to be a part of the board and being a part of making various decisions for the University and, most importantly, representing the students,” she says. Watts-Clarke also served as Golden Key Honor Society treasurer, vice president and president, which allowed her to travel to attend workshops and regional summits. “My UVI experience was amazing,” she says. 

After earning her bachelor’s in education, Watts-Clarke will return to UVI to earn a master’s degree in computer science. She loves teaching and her dream is to own and operate a childcare center offering afterhours care to meet the needs of single parents that may need their children tutored, fed and nurtured after 5:30 p.m. “I do look forward to becoming an educator on island,” says Watts-Clarke.

Senior Erick Willie to Become First Tubist to Graduate from UVI

UVI music student Erick Willie will become the first tubist to graduate from UVI. He will earn a bachelor’s degree in music education and will graduate magna cum laude.

Originally from St. Croix, Willie transferred to the University’s St. Thomas Campus as a freshman. “In the beginning it was a bit rough because I had not been playing for a year,” he says. But with the help of many of the professors in the Music Department he was able to adjust. 

UVI music student Erick Willie
Willie credits the arrival of UVI music Professor Dr. Leroy Trotman, two years ago, for helping him to excel. “It’s been a blessing since he has come here to the University,” he says. “He has so many resources and he saw my potential as a tuba player.” Dr. Trotman was only required to instruct Willie once a week, but took it upon himself to add an additional lesson. “For the past two years, I have been training under his directions and it has been awesome,” says Willie. 

“I am so pleased with his growth,” says Dr. Trotman. “Mr. Willie is the ideal student in music. I am hoping to see more students like him coming through the Music Department and other schools at UVI.”

The tuba is known for an ‘Umpa Umpa’ sound, but Willie is able to make melody come from a tuba. With his talent, Dr. Trotman says Willie will be able to teach his future students through instruction and by example. “I can sit here and say all of us should be really proud,” says Dr. Trotman. It is his hope that Willie will work for few years before continuing his education. “I am 100 percent sure it would benefit him even more if he earned a master’s degree in performing arts for the tuba,” he says.

Willie has served as the public relations officer for the St. Thomas Chapter of the Golden Key International Honour Society and is a Thurgood Marshall College Fund Walmart First Generation Scholar Mentor at UVI. He is also president of Musicians On A Rise and a member of Who’s Who Among American Universities and Colleges. Willie is the recipient of scholarships from the Board of Education and a two-time recipient of the Kenneth E. Harrigan Scholarship.

After commencement, Willie hopes to be gainfully employed as a band director/music teacher on St. Croix. He has always known that he wanted to be an educator. “As a teacher I hope to mold young minds and help them to see the importance of music and the arts in education,” says Willie. “I do understand that academics are top priority, but music and the arts in general help students to unwind and get into their own emotional side where they can enhance the academics. People who participate in music tend to do a lot better in the mathematics, sciences and English because they are using all parts of the brain.”

Willie continued, “I plan to make a positive impact to put some pressure on the young males to excel in school.” He plans to let them know it is okay to be academically talented and okay to go to college instead of going out looking for a job after high school.


UVI Commencement 2014 – At a Glance…

St. Thomas: Saturday, May 17, 2014
Sports & Fitness Center, St. Thomas Campus     Time: 7 p.m.

St. Croix: Sunday, May 18, 2014
Campus Grounds, Albert A. Sheen Campus         Time: 2:30 p.m.

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. - Harvard Professor, Filmmaker, Literary Scholar

Additional Honorary Degree Recipients:
            Hon. Ron de Lugo and Horace Clarke

More Information: UVI 2014 Commencement Details (click to view)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

UVI Receives Largest Gift Ever to Develop New Medical School

 Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria speaks, as honored guests look on. Seated from left: Schneider Regional Medical Center CEO Dr. Bernard Wheatley, Juan F. Luis Hospital CEO Dr. Kendall Griffith, Boston University School of Medicine Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs and Director of the Office of Medical Education Dr. John Wiecha, Senate President Shawn-Michael Malone, Governor John P. de Jongh Jr., and UVI President Dr. David Hall.
When Dr. David Hall was inaugurated as the University of the Virgin Island’s president in 2010, he asked the UVI community to share his vision of greatness. On April 25, one of those visions moved closer to reality when UVI announced a $30 million gift for the development stage of a medical school in the territory. Both the gift and the medical school are historic for UVI and the Virgin Islands.

“There are times when a compelling vision is delayed because of the absence of resources, both human and capital,” said Dr. Hall at the Government House announcement. “There are times when a compelling need goes unaddressed because we are not courageous enough to overcome our fears of failure. There are times when progress is held captive by the forces of doubt and division.” He continued, “This day has been ushered into existence because the University, working collaboratively with so many dedicated individuals and institutions, had created a vision, secured critical capital resources, conquered our fears and is now ready to step out on faith so that we can help enhance the quality of healthcare in the Virgin Islands, and thus improve the lives of so many individuals in the territory.”

The $30 million gift was made by New Generation Power (NGP) and its Chairman, Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria and was announced one week after a unanimous vote by the UVI Board of Trustees allowing President Hall to commence the development phase for the medical school that UVI will develop in partnership with the Territory’s two hospitals – Schneider Regional Medical Center on St. Thomas and Juan F. Luis Hospital on St. Croix.

“This is a historic day in the life of the University of the Virgin Islands and the Virgin Islands,” said President Hall. “Dr. Kathuria’s gift is the largest in the history of the University, and its impact will last for generations to come. Many Virgin Islanders will receive improved healthcare because of this generous gift,” he said.

VI Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. and UVI President David Hall
Discussion and planning for the medical school began in 2010 with the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), which has been very instrumental in helping UVI move in this direction. Some BUSM students have been taking their fourth year electives at Schneider Regional Medical Center for the last two spring semesters.

“We congratulate our UVI colleagues on this generous gift,” said Dr. Karen Antman, dean of the Boston University School of Medicine. “The development of a medical school will attract medical faculty to the islands and foster collaboration among VI hospitals,” Dr. Antman said. “Graduates will consider establishing practices in the VI, raising the number of physicians and improving access to health care.”

The goal of the project is to develop a high-quality medical education program that relies heavily on the use of innovative teaching techniques, educational technology, and community care training that produces knowledgeable and caring physicians committed to helping the Virgin Islands’ communities, President Hall explained. This transformative endeavor for the VI and the University will present an opportunity for the Territory to establish the only English-speaking medical school in the Caribbean accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), the group that accredits medical schools in the United States and Canada.

According to President Hall, LCME-accreditation will ensure that UVI develops a high quality medical school that operates according to the highest academic standards. A medical school in the Virgin Islands would enhance the quality of healthcare, help address the nation’s and Territory’s anticipated physician workforce shortages in the future, help populate the physician workforce in the VI and Caribbean with the regions’ own residents and citizens, and contribute to economic development.

Dr. Kathuria, a global entrepreneur and innovator, has founded and built multiple businesses that have generated shareholder wealth and created numerous jobs worldwide. He founded NGP, a global developer, investor, owner and operator of infrastructure assets in three key areas – utility scale power generation, distributed generation, and mining exploration and extraction. Recently, NGP, a Chicago-based renewable energy company, together with UVI, signed a landmark power purchase agreement for a solar panel project on UVI’s two campuses.

Dr. Kathuria, who holds a medical degree, in describing his motivation for the gift said: “We are honored to be part of this historic endeavor that will significantly improve the healthcare of the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Our goal with the USVI medical school is to establish new trends in providing health care using advanced technology, such as remote healthcare monitoring and diagnoses, and cutting edge research that could lead to improved health outcomes for people globally.”

“Always try to make the world a little better place before you leave,” said Dr. Kathuria quoting his father. “We hope that what we’re doing here will help improve the quality of life of all the people of the Virgin Islands.”

Virgin Islands Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. has also committed to help provide funding for the medical school, creating a public and private partnership that President Hall said is essential for success.

UVI Board of Trustees Chairman Alexander A. Moorhead, VI Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr., Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria, and UVI President David Hall pose for a photo at Government House.
“By approving the development of the medical school just last week and endorsing the gift agreement with Dr. Kathuria of New Generation Power, the UVI Board of Trustees has taken a major step forward in the development of the Virgin Islands,” Gov. de Jongh, Jr. said. “The Virgin Islands is truly fortunate to be eligible for accreditation of its planned medical school. America's Liaison Committee on Medical Education is the accreditation body for medical schools in the United States and Canada, and it would also extend its authority to the Virgin Islands, as the only English-speaking United States territory in the Caribbean,” he continued. “This advantage over every other medical school in the Caribbean will put UVI's Medical School on the map and ensure its success.”

“I fully expect that the opening of the medical school will change the health care landscape of the Virgin Islands, as well as enhance the University of the Virgin Islands’ reputation as the preeminent learning institution in the region,” Gov. de Jongh added.

Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen, Senate President Shawn-Michael Malone, some senators of the 30th Legislature and UVI President Emeritus Dr. Orville Kean were on hand for announcement.

“We are in support of having this medical school and stand ready to assist the University and administration in this endeavor,” said Sen. Malone of himself and his colleagues in the 30th Legislature. He noted the positive economic impact that the medical school will have on the territory.

Delegate Christensen said her office has reached out to the U.S. Economic Development Administration at the Department of Commerce, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the Congressional Research Office to seek what funding would be available for construction purposes. “We look forward to working with all concerned to the fruition of this establishment of a University of the Virgin Islands School of Medicine,” she said.

“Establishing a medical school in the United States Virgin Islands will give this Territory an opportunity to grow its own qualified doctors and workforce that will help alleviate the future healthcare needs in the territory,” said Schneider Regional Medical Center CEO Dr. Bernard Wheatley.

“We at the Governor Juan F. Luis Hospital are excited and primed to do our part to ensure that this medical school will be a success,” said Juan F. Luis Hospital (JFL) CEO Dr. Kendall Griffith. “Dr. Hall you have at your side very qualified and dedicated physicians who are ready and eager to create an academic environment at JFL.”

“I am very excited about this,” said Kimberlee Smith, UVI Student Government Association President on the St. Thomas Campus. “Not only will the medical school bring students to the University of the Virgin Islands, but it will expose students already enrolled at UVI to the medical field. Dr. Hall is doing an awesome job.”

She continued, “This is an opportunity to bring more people into the Virgin Islands.”

“I am really glad it came into fruition in such a short time,” said Kevin Dixon, UVI SGA President on the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix. “I am really glad that it is going to benefit students and the territory as a whole.”

Dr. Kathuria’s gift will allow UVI to begin the development stage, which includes creating a curriculum, developing affiliation agreements with the hospitals and clinics, developing partnerships with other medical schools and hospitals, and commencing the accreditation process with the LCME. UVI will create an endowment fund that will provide continuous funding for the medical school. UVI is currently in talks with Dr. Benjamin Sachs to act as dean of the new medical school. He is former dean of the Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, La.

Securing additional development and operational funding remains a goal for the project. The University estimates that $10 million from local and national donors is still needed to make the medical school a reality. Tuition costs are estimated to be below market for Caribbean medical schools and UVI hopes to enroll its first class in 2016-2017.

UVI had collaborated with NGP before. Last August, UVI entered into a power purchase agreement with NGP to build a three-megawatt photovoltaic system that is expected to produce 4.5 million kilowatt-hours annually. The system will use approximately 4.2 acres on the St. Thomas Campus and 3.9 acres of the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix.