Friday, September 30, 2016

UVI Announces 2016 HackFest Winners

Fifteen student teams create prototype phone apps in 24-hour problem solving sessions.

Fifteen teams and over 40 University of the Virgin Islands students participated in HackFest 2016.  Participants generated prototype phone apps in 24-hour marathon problem-solving sessions on Sept. 9 and 10, on the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix, and on Sept. 16 and 17, on the St. Thomas Campus.
Student teams, supported by other UVI students, faculty and NEARiX Corporation staff members, generated creative apps related to this year’s theme, “Health and Wellness.”  HackFest team prizes were $500 cash for Best Hack, $100 cash for Most Innovative Hack and $100 cash for Most Impactful Hack.
Participants in St. Croix Hackfest

Now in its third year, HackFest would not be possible without the support of NEARiX, a St. Croix software development firm founded by Leon Hughes, CEO.  HackFest participants are “all winners” said Hughes. UVI President David Hall was on hand to personally congratulate all of the 2016 HackFest teams.
“I am so proud of what our students accomplish in 24 hours,” said Dr. Timothy Faley, UVI’s Sokoloff Professor of Entrepreneurship. “But to me this is not about the product they produce; it’s about their own personal development. I see their confidence and leadership skills grow exponentially over the 24-hours of HackFest – that’s a fantastic thing to watch happen before your eyes.”

St. Croix Winners
St. Croix Hackers Brainstorming
This year’s “Best Hack” on St. Croix was awarded to the team comprised of computer science major Amali Krigger and business major Mackenzie Gross for their phone app “WhatUEatin?” The concept phone app allows you to upload your recipes and any chronic health issues you may have. The app offers suggestions for healthy substitutes for ingredients in your recipes. The social component of the app lets you connect with others and share recipes and healthy eating advice.
In a surprise announcement, Hughes awarded Krigger and Gross a gift certificate each good for 40 hours of free consulting with top developers of his firm. These certificates, which have a total value of over $5,000, will provide the resources necessary for this team to further develop their concept app. “Participating in the HackFest was a life-changing and learning experience,” said Krigger. “It gave me a chance to imagine an idea and bring it to life. It has given me hope, resources and new ideas about my entrepreneurial and career goals.”
The “Most Impactful Hack” on St. Croix was awarded to the concept phone app “Mom.” This app was created by the team of Kalunda Cuffy, Tijani Shabazz, Alicia Taylor and Kaheem Thomas. “Mom” acts as a life coach for college students. Like your real Mom, the app gathers information from you on your NASA – Nutrition, Activity, Sleep, and Academics. Based on this input, the app responds with concern and behavior modification suggestions.

Hackfest Participants on the Albert A. Sheen Campus

 The “Most Innovative Hack” on St. Croix went to the team of Terrance Emmanuel, Leanne Morancie, and Geron Richards – the first English major to participate in UVI’s hackathons. This team created the “Holistic Practitioner Healers” app that assists in helping you to maintain your health by alerting you when your emotions are out of balance. The concept app interprets an IR scan of your body, available by using UVI’s 3D imaging cameras, to determine the state of your chakra centers. The app then makes personalized recommendations based on its analysis.
“I did not plan to participate in this event,” said Geron Richards.  “I attended the first day and became quite interested in the different analytical concepts that the students were brainstorming upon.  The name ‘Hackfest’ gave many students the idea that this event might be confined solely to computer science majors.”  Richards continued, “But it was a well-organized event that I think more students from different majors should consider participating in next year.”
The concept phone app “Mood Makers” earned a UVI Bookstore gift certificate courtesy of VI EPSCoR.  “Mood Makers” was developed by Yolanda Felix-Medina and Khadijah O’Neill, the first all-female team to participate in UVI hackathons. “Mood Maker” addresses the challenges college students face regarding their lack of physical activity, imbalance of social and productive life, time-management, depression and stress. The app functions as a portal offering suggested links to information on specific topics of students’ concerns.
Female hackers participating in the St. Croix event

“I entered the Hackathon to help my friend Khadijah O’Neill who desperately needed a partner,” said Yolanda Felix-Medina. “I met great people whose ideas blew my mind.  Khadijah participated in the hackathon last year and found it sad that only one girl had participated in the event.
This year O’Neill decided to partner with another woman.  The experience with a guy in the group would have been different, but we really wanted to be the first all-female team and it worked out great,” she said.  “I definitely plan to participate in next year’s Hackathon.”

St. Thomas Winners:
The “Best Hack” on St. Thomas was awarded to the team of Eliakin del Rosario and Jodie Dasent for their concept phone app “GourNet,” which will help you eat a more balanced diet by providing nutritional information about the food you are consuming. By either taking a photo of the food you are about to consume or verbally describing it, the app will search databases and return the meal’s nutritional information.
Gouret team accepting $500 Best Hack Prize

“I will continue, alongside my partner, to develop our app,” said del Rosario, who will pursue a career in software development. “I believe we can really make a change by informing the world about the nutritional values in the meals they consume throughout their day.  A healthy diet can truly extend our lives.”   
“Participating in the HackFest is always a fun experience,” said del Rosario, who has participated in all three Hackathons with Dasent. “I enjoy exploring new ideas and sharing with others the perks of technological advancements.”
 The most “Innovative Hack” on St. Thomas, which awards creativity, was presented to two UVI freshmen and first-time hackers for their phone app “Binaural Healing Waves.” The user of this concept app would self-diagnose their feeling… anxious, sad, stressed, etc. The app would then determine which of the five essential binaural waves might be responsible for the user’s negative symptoms. The app puts these waves back in balance by delivering the out-of-balance waves to the user as they watch a video or listen to music.
Binaural Waves Team on St. Thomas

“Our experience in the Hackathon was very inspirational,” said Hariol Brenton, who teamed up with fellow freshman and first-time hacker, Chris Murphy. “We were able to explore deeply in our minds to find an idea that would naturally, without any negative side effects, benefit humanity in less than 24 hours.”
“They say you never know what you are capable of until you try, and we were flabbergasted by how much we were able to accomplish in such a short time.  Just amazing,” Murphy said.
 The most “Impactful Hack” on St. Thomas, which awards utility and impact, was awarded to the three-person team of Jesus Arista, Samuel Jones, and ShaneĆ© Richards for their concept app” NutriSmart.”  This app delivers a recommended, user-specific diet plan based on the user-supplied food preferences, and their medical and physical conditions. 
Hackfest 2016 T-Shirt

 VI EPSCoR provided a UVI bookstore gift certificate to “$martFit,” which was developed by Michael Garcia, Natisha Hodge, and Tommy Wise. The app is a gamification of exercise app that motivates people to exercise by providing financial rewards. Sponsoring companies that also advertise on the app will provide gift certificates for achieving specific levels of exercise-related points.

The remaining seven concept apps and development teams were:
·         “Balance;” developed by Sean Benjamin and Jonathan Woods
·         “Diagnizer;” developed by Jason Baron and Riviere King
·         “Hive;” developed by DeWein Pelle and Elangeni Yabba
·         “L.G.M.;” Developed by Nakeshma Cassel, Lorne  Joseph, Morvel Fahie, and Davindra Ramsundar Jr.
·         “My Aid;” developed by Lawrence White and Kiarra Vanterpool
·         “NetMed;” developed by Zandria Acosta; Jahnelle Rivera, and Alayna Belshe
·         “UnderTake;” developed by Asel Mustafa, Fatimah Hussein, and Haya Mustafa
Hackfest Participants on St. Thomas
The hackathons will be followed this year by a new software development competition called “Design Slam.”  That program will kick off on both UVI campuses on Friday Oct. 14. During this months-long Design-Slam competition, the student teams will develop detailed click-able prototype apps or websites. Cash prizes and a trip to the national competition await the winners of this new competition, which is sponsored by the firm Social Wellth.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Miss UVI Brings Home National HBCU Crown

Miss UVI, Che-Raina Warner, secures Miss NBCA Hall of Fame Title...
Miss UVI / Miss NBCA Hall of Fame Che- Raina Warner addresses a UVI delegation at the airport.

Che-Raina Warner’s grace, poise and talent with the spoken word propelled her to victory when she competed against 27 other college queens from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) around the United States. The competition for the coveted title of Miss National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame was held from Sept. 21 to Sept. 25, in Atlanta, Ga. at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. In addition to winning the crown, Che-Raina won the “Hats and Heels” segment of the competition.

Miss NBCA Hall of Fame Che-Raina Warner

“Once again, UVI has demonstrated that it is not just producing academically capable students,” Warner said. “We are well-rounded individuals as well.” The competition in Atlanta was a great experience and a wild success, she said, but it was not all smooth sailing. “When we arrived, we discovered some challenges that we felt were impossible to overcome,” she said. “But as the UVI Buc champions that we are, we overcame those challenges, and the competition as well.”

The NBCA queen contestants are judged in four categories: talent, poise, image and personal and private interviews where the contestant has up to two minutes to introduce herself and discuss her platform. Miss UVI’s platform, “The Beauty Myth,” has the acronym, D.R.E.A.M.S. (Developing a Realm of Educated Ambitious Motivated Sisters) which she plans to promote vigorously. As Miss NBCA Hall of Fame, Warner will serve as a national representative and advocate of HBCU’s. She will receive a $5,000 academic scholarship along with other prizes.

Warner is greeted by UVI supporters at the airport.

UVI has been represented at the Miss NBCA Hall of Fame pageant for many years and several UVI queens have placed in the top five. Elisa Thomas was the first Miss UVI to win the crown in 2014. 

The NBCA competition is sponsored by the NBCA Hall of Fame organization, which is dedicated to the growth and development of HBCUs through scholarships, internships, training and technical assistance, alumni recognition, and programs to encourage humanitarian involvement.
Here is a selection of comments from the UVI social media sites. A selection of photos is also available on Facebook.


Darlene Hill: Awesome! Congratulations!

Carmelo Rivera: As a graduate of CVI/UVI and a former faculty member, it gives me great pleasure to hear this sweet news! Little unknown UVI has lots of talent to offer the world and is a giant in many ways! Congrats, Che-Raina.

Sheryl J. Matthias: Congrats to miss uvi from an alumna.

Dorn Wheatley Walker: Wow! My alma mater! Congrats to Miss UVI.

Student Activities STX Page:

Claude Steele: Congratulations Miss UVI!!


Olivere Wade: Congratulations

Mae Louise Williams: Congratulations

Jeanette Ferdinand: Yasssss!!! I knew she had it in her! Congratulations.

Che-Raina Warner’s Facebook Page

Avonelle Carey: Gongrats Che Raina!!!!!!!

Tessa Phipps: Congrats Dear

Iclima Paul: Congrats. Continue climbing to the top of the ladder, but always remember to put god first. Proud of you.

Verna Rubaine: Amen so true congrats to you, your family and all the fellow citizens of Sandy Point. A well done job keep pushing for the stars. Big-up a proud Sandy Pointer

UVI Student Activities – St. Thomas Campus

Sophia Tyl Johnson: Yessssssssssssss!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Twitter @UVI_edu

Nanyamka Farrelly: UVI does it again! Miss National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame Che-Raina! #NBCAHOF

Friday, September 2, 2016

Ph.D. Candidates to Fulfill Advance Degree Dreams at UVI

UVI Celebrates History Making Program
UVI's first Ph.D. cohort poses with administrators and faculty. 
Ron Meek stood among 50 doctoral candidates ready to embark on UVI’s first Ph.D. program in Creative Leadership for Innovation and Change. It was a goal he had set for himself while working at another university where he was also a doctor of education candidate for educational administration.

“I was four classes and a dissertation away from my degree when I got sidetracked by dirt bike racing,” Meek said at a welcome reception for Ph.D. candidates on Sunday, Aug. 21, at the President’s Guest House. “It was a passion I shared with my sons, which at the time seemed like a lot more fun than academic scholarship,” said Meek. “But it always bothered me to have left that goal unfinished.”

Meek, now director of Human Resources and Organizational Development for the University of the Virgin Islands, is looking forward to being among the students to join the first cohort of UVI’s first Ph.D. program to fulfill his longstanding dream of earning a doctoral degree.

Ron Meek
“When UVI’s first Ph.D. program emerged, offering the perfect opportunity for me to resume my study of leadership in service learning, I got excited,” said Meek. “I’ve always been drawn to the idea of education that can stimulate individual growth and the common good at the same time.”

The candidates, a diverse group of life-long Virgin Islanders, U.S. mainlanders, international students from around the Caribbean and beyond, shared personal stories of the journey that brought them to UVI’s Ph.D. Program.

“Earning a Ph.D. was always something that I wanted to do,” said Charmaine Mayers, a St. Thomas native, who earned her Masters of Arts Degree in Business Administration from UVI and is currently the federal grants coordinator for the Virgin Islands Department of Health. “But I had a daughter and I wanted to put a lot of energy into getting her through school. Finally she has her degree in engineering, and the time has come around again for me to do me.” Mayers is eager to start the program’s Organizational Development and Leadership track.

UVI Alumnus David Cannonier, a police sergeant for the Virgin Islands Police Department who also teaches psychology at UVI, as well as at the police academy, shared his enthusiasm about joining the program’s Educational Leadership (ELC) for Change Track. “I am here because Dr. Frank Mills, who was my master’s thesis advisor, advised me that this was something I should do,” said Cannonier. “This is the only University I have ever attended, and I just feel so proud and happy to be part of this inaugural class.”

UVI Provost Dr. Camille McKayle stands with Ph.D. candidate at opening and welcome ceremony.

UVI alumnus Timothy Hodge, who is from the island of Anguilla, has sent two of his daughters to UVI and was mildly startled to find himself back on campus. “When Dr. Maddirala came to Anguilla and put the application form in front of me, I signed it,” he said. “My mother always told me that I should get my Ph.D., and now I am.”

Kenisha Thompson is a consultant for Humana and an adjunct professor at Ottawa University who currently lives in Louisville, Ky. According to Thompson, she had been looking into graduate programs in innovation for the past four years. She chose UVI for her doctoral work despite being recruited by Purdue and Indiana University when she saw that a fellow Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) was launching a program. “My family is full of HBCU graduates,” she said. “I graduated from Spelman in 2003. My brother went to Tuskegee and Howard. HBCU’s run all through the family. So when I did a little bit of research and saw what this program had to offer, I tweeted Provost McKayle. She tweeted me right back and that’s how I became one of your classmates.”

The development and launch of UVI’s Ph.D. program in Creative Leadership for Innovation and Change was, as UVI President David Hall pointed out in his welcoming remarks, itself an act of creative leadership for innovation and change. President Hall and the Board of Trustees had already determined that the creation of a Ph.D. program was inevitable for the University; but in what area? After attending a powerful conference on creative leadership, Dr. Hall became convinced that – given the territory’s need for a new generation of strong and insightful leaders who possessed the skills to drive positive social and economic change – creative leadership would be the perfect interdisciplinary field for UVI’s first Ph.D. program in which not just one, but all departments could participate.

UVI Provost Dr. Camille McKayle speaks at welcome reception.
Dr. Hall met with UVI Provost Dr. Camille McKayle, who received the idea with great enthusiasm. She then recruited Dr. James Maddirala, associate provost for global, graduate and academic affairs, who gladly stepped up to become the primary architect of the program. Together, Dr. McKayle and Dr. Maddirala reached out to other institutions, eventually finding partners in Buffalo State University and Fielding Graduate University for the first Ph.D. of its kind. But, Dr. Maddirala declared, it would not be the last. “Nowhere else in the world have three institutions come together to create a program like this,” he said. “Now that it has been done, it can be done again in India, Brazil and China. If we all stay here and work really hard, UVI can be a global university.”

“Just think for a moment about how much we read in the newspaper and on social media about the need for stronger creative leaders,” said Dr. Orlando L. Taylor, vice president for Strategic Initiatives and Research at Fielding Graduate University. “But many people have not taken the time to look at the fact that strong leaders have strong preparation.” Dr. Taylor continued, “They have not focused on the fact that there is an art, a science, and a set of best practices associated with leadership. And so the pursuit of this Ph.D. – and at Fielding we talk about the scholar/practitioner – is a journey where you all will attempt to link scholarship and theory with practice so that you can do things like change the world, change society, change organizations, and change local communities.”

“We are going to focus on leadership for a diverse world, a global world, a multi-cultural world, and that is what makes this program so very special,” he said.

Ph.D. candidates Rhea Beckett and Monica Rae speak at welcome reception.
“Be the change you want to see in the world,” said Gerard Puccio, department chair and professor at the International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State University, quoting Mahatma Gandhi. “I honestly believe that the world would be a better place if we had more creative leaders. Imagination conquers fear, and because of that I see all of you as pioneers. This is a historic evening.”

A substantial portion of the degree requirements for UVI’s doctoral program is completed at a distance, but residencies are required each semester. The program is unique in that traditional classrooms and lectures have been replaced with flexible workstations and master practitioners who will work with adult learners as peers. During the weeklong residency sessions, students will connect with the game-changers of a global world to jointly explore possible futures and exciting ideas. For more information visit: