Monday, May 6, 2024

Celestial Dazle: A Journey through Education and Growth

Celestial Dazle
Celestial Dazle

The University of the Virgin Islands serves as a gateway to education, growth, and empowerment for students like Celestial Dazle. Born and raised on St. Thomas, Dazle’s academic career was fueled by her determination and drive for personal fulfillment both mentally and physically. Her journey to majoring in Business Management with a minor in Communications at UVI has been marked by maintaining a delicate balance between personal aspirations and self-empowerment.

Dazle grew up in a household that was affected by mental health challenges.

“From a young age, I dealt with parents who struggled with mental health issues. My father has been diagnosed with schizophrenia as well as bipolar disorder. The severity of his mental health prevented him from working, and that really impacted my life,” she recalls.

Despite feeling immensely loved by her parents, the environment put a strain on Dazle’s own mental health and affected her self-esteem. Being a firsthand witness to the impacts of stigma and adversity, Dazle found her proverbial light at the end of the tunnel when she started attending the UVI and came upon an opportunity that would change her forever.

In the summer of 2022, Dazle was offered the opportunity to participate in the Washington D.C. program as an undergraduate intern for two months. She worked remotely, attended her courses, and managed to find free time during the week to explore the Washington Center and the District of Columbia.

“One of the most impactful moments [of my career at UVI] was going to the Washington Center for one of the internship programs, because during that time I was facing a lot of challenges with my mental health,” Dazle shared.

It was during these moments of exploration that Dazle was able to witness different perspectives from diverse communities within the district. Specifically, she obtained a great deal of knowledge after seeing how people interacted outside of the Virgin Islands.

After the program, Dazle found herself embracing more programs, responsibilities, and opportunities that would ultimately help expand her college and leadership experiences. Most important, they broadened her point of view and instilled a newfound confidence in her.

The following summer, Dazle participated with the UVI Passport to the World program and had the opportunity to go to Egypt, marking her first international travel experience.

The program offered a vivid, eye-opening experience of Egypt's culture and landscapes; participants explored Cairo, visited temples, walked through the pyramids, cruised the Nile River, and interacted with locals.

“It was my first time traveling outside of the United States, and I just loved the experience” said Dazle. “When I landed in Egypt, it was so different. The atmosphere itself was different. I felt like the world around me was in a different color.”

Inspired to see even more of the world, Dazle wasted no time signing up for another overseas experience in Panama and Colombia later that year.

In addition to the internship program, Dazle is grateful for the unwavering support she received from the UVI community, particularly from friends, professors, and faculty members.

“They would be there to support and motivate me. It was more than one person that assisted me through my academic journey, and I would say my experience was similar to the saying ‘It takes a village to raise a child’. It took many individuals to help support and push me and believe in me for me to continue believing in myself,” Dazle stated.

As Dazle prepares to continue her academic pursuits at Columbia University, she hopes that those who hear her story will also take away her mantra to take every opportunity that aligns with one’s path because it may open a door to much more than that for which was hoped.

"There are a lot of opportunities students can take for granted, and sometimes we look at emails and ignore them or just don't pay them any attention. But that could be an email to an opportunity that would open the door to your success in your career. All you have to do is take that opportunity, and you never know where it will lead you," she advised.