Wednesday, December 9, 2020

UVI Graduate Finds Her True Path

Ozziesha Liburd attend TMCF Leadership Insitute

 As the first in her immediate family to earn an undergraduate degree, Ozziesha Liburd plans to become a businesswoman.  With her a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing from the University of the Virgin Islands, Ozziesha has set forth the foundation for her future.     

However, her path to finding her career path was not always clear. Earning a business degree wasn’t her first choice. Ozziesha enrolled in UVI as a biology major with plans of one day becoming an optometrist. Quickly realizing that a career in optometry may not be for her, she transitioned over into the School of Business where her love for marketing began.

“I took Introduction to Marketing with Dr. Lydia MacKenzie,” says Ozziesha, who was struggling to find something she was passionate about. “I loved it so much and I also loved Dr. McKenzie as a professor.” After changing her major 3 times from biology to business management and then accounting, Ozziesha finally settled on earning a degree in marketing.

Ozziesha remembers conducting hours of research, taking the lead in many group projects, and putting together a number of marketing plans and strategies. “It was really a lot of work, but I learned so much from those experiences,” she says. She also encouraged many of her peers and friends to take marketing classes.

In 2017, her life suddenly changed course. “My father fell ill, so I had move in order help take care of him,” says Ozziesha. She recalls how challenging it was trying to manage her course work online while also taking care of her father. “It was pretty hard, but I had a great support from my family, friends and professors.”

Ozziesha Liburd takes photo at SGA Ceremony

Staying committed to her academics, Ozziesha later returned to St. Thomas to continue her education in person. Her commitment towards her academics and a new love for marketing did not go unnoticed. Throughout her four years at UVI, Ozziesha maintained a spot on the Dean’s List and in 2019, she was inducted into the Golden Key International Honor Society.

Ozziesha Liburd takes photo at Dean's List ceremony

Making the most of her college experience, Liburd attended the Thurgood Marshall College Fund Leadership Institute (TMCF) and also served as treasurer of Student Government Association. She remembers the excitement she felt when she discovered she would be attending the TMCF leadership institute. “I was so happy. I experienced so many wonderful things while at the leadership institute,” says Ozzeisha. She had the opportunity to interact with a number fortune 500 companies and interviewed with The Kellogg Company.

Excited to be graduating with the UVI Class of 2020, Ozziesha is looking forward to opening her own business. “I’m still trying to figure out that part of my life, but I feel much more confident in pursuing my goals. My time in the School of Business as a marketing major, I believe has prepared me well,” she says.

Ozziesha would like to encourage current students to not give up. “Don’t give up. There were points where I did not want to continue college, but I am happy I decided to persevere.”


Tabitha Urgent: A Dream Fulfilled – RN Urges Former Peers to Keep Moving Forward

“Our Hardest Struggles Results in the Greatest Rewards”

Tabitha Urgent takes photo in nursing scrubs

On Friday, Dec. 11, Tabitha Urgent will celebrate earning a Bachelor of Science Degree during an online ceremony. She will be in the third cohort of nursing students to receive their Bachelor in of Science in Nursing on the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix. “I always wanted to be a nurse and help people,” says Tabitha Urgent. “Since elementary school, I knew I wanted to be in the medical field.” 

“When I was younger, I created a fake clinic with my Barbie dolls and teddy bears and acted as a nurse,” she recalls. Tabitha began her journey to become a nurse when she enrolled at the University in 2015. She excelled academically throughout her freshman, sophomore and junior years. 

Her journey to become a registered nurse, was going smoothly, then tragedy struck. “In the fall of 2016, I lost my twin brother, that was the first traumatic experience for me,” she says. Despite this tragedy, Tabitha decided to continue to pursue her nursing degree. “Normally people would say take a break or take some time off,” says Tabitha. However, with a goal in mind she decided to persevere. “Losing my twin brother has been my motivation to continue school,” she adds.

Through hard work and dedication, Tabitha was accepted into the School of Nursing program and was on the Dean’s List for four consecutive semesters. She also received the title of ‘junior female with the highest G.P.A.’ or grade point average.

Classes were going very well, but in December of 2018 her life suddenly changed. Tabitha lost her mother as a result of a pulmonary embolism during heart surgery. “It was pretty bad. People told me to take a break, others questioned how I would be able to continue school, however; I returned to school in January. The nursing professors, Dean Lansiquot and everyone were so supportive,” she recalls.

“When I lost my mom, it was very hard. I remember how proud my mom used to be. Even though I was just a nursing student, she always told people, ‘my daughter is a nurse’,” Tabitha says.

While in the School of Nursing, Tabitha became a mentor for other nursing students where she encouraged and motivated them. “I always tried to be there for my classmates,” she says.

Earning her Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing is a tribute to her mother and twin brother, Tabitha says.

Upon earning her degree, Tabitha successfully completed the National Council Licensure Examination or NCLEX-RN earning the title of registered nurse. “I am so grateful for the UVI Nursing program. The nursing program is a hard program, but it really prepares students,” she says. 

With her childhood dream now a reality, Tabitha has decided to pursue a Master of Science in Nursing degree at Chamberlain University, with the hopes of becoming a family nurse practitioner. Tabitha wishes to gear her focus toward the field of mental health.

As living proof that anyone can accomplish their dreams, Tabitha encourages and motivates current nursing students to keep moving forward. “Don’t give up. If this is something you really want, you must work hard for it. There may be days where you’re crying or feeling hopeless, but I’ve learned that our hardest struggles result in the greatest rewards.”

Graduate’s Dream to Become a Doctor Soon to be Fulfilled

“Trust Your education. It Gave Me a Solid Foundation for Medical School”


Micaiah Bully takes graduation photo

Micaiah Bully is graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a minor in Health Sciences from the University of the Virgin Islands. Micaiah is a first-year medical student at Boston University’s School of Medicine. He enrolled at UVI in the Fall of 2016, with the intention of being accepted into the University’s Boston School of Medicine’s Early Medical School Selection Program (EMSSP). The EMSSP is a partnership between Boston University and UVI that is designed to provide an early and decompressed transition into the medical school curriculum through provisional acceptance into medical school at the completion of two years of undergraduate study. With this goal in mind, he dedicated a lot of time towards his academics, earning him top scores in a number of his biology courses, being on the Dean’s List for eight consecutive semesters, the Barnett Frank ‘Best in Class Award’ for junior male with the highest GPA in 2017, the Senior Biology major award, and Outstanding Student in French Award.

Growing up on St. Thomas, Micaiah always had an interest in STEM, however he wasn’t quite sure what field of study would best suit him. It wasn’t until he attended the National Student Leadership Conference on Medicine and Healthcare when he was a student in high school that his passion for a career medicine was born.



Micaiah Bully takes graduation photo


   After completing his sophomore year, Micaiah applied for the Early Medical School Selection program. “The biology faculty and professors were very supportive throughout the application process,” says Micaiah. Doing mock interviews and being advised by faculty in the biology program helped him to better prepare, he says. 

After weeks of preparation and three interviews later, all of which he recalls being nervous about, Micaiah received acceptance into the Early Medical School Selection Program. “Opening my acceptance letter was one of the happiest moments of my life,” he says. “Many consider getting into medical school one of the most challenging parts of becoming a physician, so it was a really big deal for me.”
UVI Has Done a Great Job in Preparing Me for Medical School” 

Now on the right track to pursuing a career in medicine, Micaiah began spending his summers in Boston taking pre-med courses and preparing for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). “I spent the summer of last year studying for the MCAT. I studied for two months straight,” Micaiah recalls.

In September of last year Micaiah took the MCAT and received a perfect score. “I remember opening my results and, after seeing my score, there was just a feeling of relief. The MCAT is one of the biggest hurdles, so I was happy to have completed that requirement for matriculation,” he says. After completing graduate level courses at Boston University in his senior year, Micaiah successfully matriculated into Boston University’s School of Medicine.

Now as a first-year medical student, where is he is a part of a number of programs and organizations related to the field of medicine, Micaiah is anxiously looking forward to earning the title of Doctor of Medicine with the hopes of returning home and serving his Virgin Islands community. “I plan to relocate to St. Thomas and hopefully open a private practice, serving the community that I know and care for,” he says.

Micaiah thanks his family and friends for their unwavering support and the University. “UVI has done a great job in preparing me for medical school.” When asked what he would say to current students who are also aspiring physicians, Micaiah says to follow your dreams. “Have faith in the education that you are receiving because It will give you a solid foundation for medical school.”

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

UVI’s Alternative Spring Break: A Week of Fun, Crafts, and Skills

ASB participants take group photo after beach day

Wearing brightly colored neon orange t-shirts; adding a flair of pop and color to the theatrical setting of the UVI little theater, student participants of the 4th annual Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program closed off a week of educational, exhilarating, and fun filled activities at a presentation and award ceremony on Friday, March 13, 2020. 

The one-week program, slated with several activities and events centered around the “Learn, Serve, Grow” theme, allowed students to learn something they may have never tried before, to serve others that were in need, and grow from the experience ASB offered. 

This year, the Division of Student Affairs offered four unique programs for students to participate in while allowing them to live on campus for one week, giving them the opportunity to indulge in every event or activity they so desired. The four programs were titled: Culture Shock; Lights, Camera, Action; ReGRO VI, and Helping Hands 

Culture Shock 

Student participants in "Culture Shock" create moko jumbie dolls

 Students in “Culture Shock” learned the arts of carnival costume making, storytelling and other cultural crafts. This program was created to add a much needed spark to Virgin Islands culture by empowering young adults as culture bearers.  The emphasis of culture shock was for students to add their own personal flair to their newly learned craft. In collaboration with the Department of Education’s Division of Cultural Education, students created moko jumbie dolls and carnival headpieces led by Waldemar Brodhurst and Anthony Felix. Five young women (Sherkquan Henry, Clinisha Todman, Quiannah Potter, Fritzlanda Andre, and Serita Somersalle) strut the little theater stage showing off beautifully designed carnival costume hats, each having a unique distinction to it.  

Deanna Jeffers shows off carnival hat and moko jumbie doll

Quiannah Potter participated in the Culture Shock program and was overwhelmed with how much she had learned. “Aside from the many very fun social activities we had every night, what I really enjoyed the most was being able to step outside of my comfort zone,” said Potter. “I had the ability to express myself through creating various types of crafts which was something I wouldn’t be able to do. Potter also modeled the cultural headpieces, which was a first for her. “Through modeling, I felt a confidence I never felt before,” said Potter. “ASB provided me with fun, new friendships, laughter and growth. 

“Modeling the headpieces on stage was intimidating but it was a way to show the accomplishment of the headpieces and the growth of my confidence,” said Clinisha Todman. Overall the program was truly enlightening, and I highly recommend that every college student gives the program a chance in the future.” 
(Left to Right) Clinisha Todman, Serita Somersalle, and Quiannah Potter group photos while wearing carnival hats

Nicholas Durgadeen shares storytelling experience
Remaining in the lines of culture, four young talented storytellers (Torhera Durand, Madelin Yousef, Empress-Addaliah Potter, and Tekettay Ludvig) brought old fables and Anansi stories to life with their acting through humor, impersonations, facial expressions, jumping, falling, crawling and more.   It was evident that their performance met UVI standards. The audience showed their appreciation for the carnival pieces and storytelling with roaring applauses and cheers.  In addition to storytelling, students practiced creative writing and learned the Dynamics of Caribbean folklore storytelling under the guidance of Khalarni Rivers. Rivers is a   UVI Alumna and currently serves as community outreach manager for the Division of Cultural Education at the Department of Education. “Having the opportunity to work with such an eager group of students was like a breath of fresh air. Their willingness to learn made each session that much more rewarding for them and myself,” said Rivers 

“During my session at storytelling I was taught to appreciate every little thing that you have because it might end up being ALL that you have,” said Tekettay Ludvig. 

Tekettay Ludvig acts out story

Torhera Durand presents story
 "Growing up in St. Croix, my culture has always been a huge part of my identity. I've danced quadrille and maypole, but story telling was something that I never got to experience first hand, said Torhera Durand," SGA Vice President. "So when I heard about the storytelling I immediately jumped at the opportunity. The experience in this group went way beyond just learning old folk stories," Durand added. "We explored our own identities, how to perform and bring life to the stories that were telling, and embraced all the things that made each of us and our life experiences different."


Imani Daniel of STRT helps students build garden boxes

ReGRO VI got their hands dirty, in a positive way of course by building gardens for persons and communities still recovering from Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Students in ReGRO VI worked with the St. Thomas Recovery Team (STRT), a non-profit organization that was established after the hurricanes whose focus is to rebuild homes and community gardens. Imani Daniel and Tyrone Webster of STRT exposed students to gardening and building one’s own community garden. The gardening project took place on an open field in Bordeaux next to a playground. The three-day project involved lifting lumber, clearing the land, building garden boxes, planting seeds and lawn beautification. Student participants described their overall experience of the ReGRO VI project.  

Student create garden boxes

“It was fun, it was really nice working together with my team. The fun part about it is that we actually got to help out a community. Overall, the experience was worth it,” said Brandon Chambers. 

Students planting plants in garden boxes

“I really enjoyed it because at the end of the day you can actually see that youre giving back to those that actually need it [help or assistance],” said Ahriya Fearon. 

Students shoveling soil into garden boxes

Tehron Rabsatt worked with the STRT prior to joining the ReGRO VI group. “Having all these people come out and help us create a garden in a place where we can give to sustain ourselves as an island and be more independent was a really nice experience  and being able to give back to the community was nice as well,” said Teh’Rhon Rabsatt. 

Lights, Camera, Action 

Amos Francis operates stage lights
The Lights, Camera, Action crew experimented with production equipment and received introductory lessons on how to use stage lights, cameras; in which they conducted video recording and photography; tested the use of mics, interviewed students, created content and practiced how to edit videos. Tevin Lettsome, a student who is interested in photography and film, said “The Lights, Camera, Action, program gave me a reason to love photography and film even more. The program has opened up my eyes to the hard work that photographers, filmmakers and light operators put in on a daily basis,” said Lettsome. 
Joraine Russell operates stage lights

Joraine Russell who learned how to use stage lights said, “The lights are especially bright, the lights are especially hot, but lights are what can make any story or presentation spectacular.”  

Students take group photo on boat

In addition to the daily sessions each program offered, social activities were scheduled every night as well. On Tuesday, the campus shuttle ventured a little quite beyond the hills and roads that lead to the UVI Library, the Administration Building and the CA Building and rode all the way to the country side of the island to Caribbean Cinemas for a movie night. The new thriller Invisible Man was the choice for some while a few others watched the action packed Bad Boys II.  

“Invisible man had me at the edge of my seat, questioning whats going to happened next,” said Dalissa Lettsome. “The suspense was great.” 

“Bad boys included unexpected situations that were eye opening,” said Deanna Jeffers. 

Ahriyah Fearon snorkels in the water
On Wednesday, Game Night brought out everyone’s inner child with classical games like musical chairs; red light, green light, 123hide and seek, UNO, and dominoes. Students described it as being fun and interactive. 

On Thursday, ASB, set sail on the Castaway Girl boat excursions and had a boat party while enjoying
good food and music. During the excursion, students got the chance to snorkel and visit Buck Island and Water Island. “The boat ride was such an awesome experience,” said Amos Francis. “Being able to explore the beautiful Caribbean ocean and islands helped to relieve some of the stress college brings along.” 

Students enjoy their time on boat excusion

Students snorkel in the ocean 

Helping Hands 

(Left to Right) Cedricia Jeffer, Adina Browne, and Kenique Liburd create homemade hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes

     ASB could not close off the week without offering some kind of community service and that is just what the “Helping Hands” group did. Waking up early morning with smiles on their faces and trash bags in hand, Helping Hands visited each residence hall asking students if they had any clothing that they would be willing to donate. They successfully collected six large garbage bags of clothing and donated them to the Salvation Army and Humane Society.  
In light of the COVID-19 virus, Helping Hands created homemade hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes with on hand ingredients that include rubbing alcohol, aloe vera, vinegar, peroxide and scented oils with assistance from Dahlia Stridiron-Felix, Mary Meyers, Jenifer Palmer-Crawford and the rest of the Students Affairs team. These finished products were donated to the UVI cafeteria. 

Students make homemade hand sanitizers

After recapping a week full of events and activities at the presentation and award ceremony, Dean Verna Rivers walked unto the little theater stage full of excitement and joy, extending heartfelt congratulations, compliments and well wishes to the students who participated and to those who made Alternative Spring Break possible. “I feel so proud you guys. I’m really overwhelmed with emotion, said Verna Rivers, dean of Students Affairs for the St. Thomas campus.  

Dean of Students Verna Rivers

“I felt like this program afforded you the opportunity to reflect, to feel yourself, for you to experience something that you were passionate about. It helped you to develop and hone your skills,” said Dean Rivers. Students quickly agreed with her statement with a round of applauses and cheers.  

She added, “I want ASB to continue to grow, to be a student lead and student empowered organization.” 

She then called on Nyalia Callwood and presented her with a gift bag and thanked her for all her hard
Deans Rivers hands Nyalia Callwood gift bag
work. Nyalia served as the program coordinator for the Alternative Spring Break and played a major role in making thevent a huge success. “ASB probably would not have happened if it wasn’t for Nyalia,” said Dean Rivers. 

“This program was insane,” said Nyalia. The mix of social, service and creative activities made for an all around transformative experience. So many students joined and had fun,” added Nyalia. “I’m happy I was able to give them a chance to get closer to their passions and community. Next year will definitely be greater. I anticipate more students, better programs and some travel opportunities during Spring break and other breaks.” 

“I enjoyed the overall experience. It helped to open my eyes to the things we have in our community such as the making of moko jumbie dolls and how good storytelling with the correct amount of dramatic flair and energy can impact people, said K’Dani Paul. “I learned how to use many different types of equipment and how to operate different kinds of cameras.” 

“What I enjoyed the most about Alternative Spring Break is that it has given me the opportunity to utilize my talents through creating crafts, exploring ideas and interacting with other students,” said Deanna Jeffers.  “This is my third year participating and each year gets better.” 

The Alternative Spring Break program created a new perspective for students at the University of the Virgin Islands. This program allowed students to temporarily forget about the worries and stress of college and their daily lives and allowed them to unravel their inner potential and abilities through creating, working, servicing, and expression whether it is through culture, community service, social activities or content creation Although, UVI will now transition to online classes for the remainder of the Spring semester ASB has allowed students to re-energize and re-focus because it not was not only about having fun, students were able to “serve, learn, and most importantly grow.”