Monday, May 6, 2024

Nadege Barber: It Takes a Village

Nadege Barber

Native to Dominica, the Nature Island of the Caribbean, Nadege Barber moved to the U.S. Virgin Islands in 2019, shortly before beginning her college journey. She recalls her upbringing with great fondness, crediting many of her early achievements to the unwavering support of her mother, brother, and village.

“I believe my upbringing was one of the best. I was mainly raised by my mother. I love my culture and how community-based we are. I know nearly everyone from my village, and it has really developed me into the person that I want to be, and I consider myself to be,” said Barber.

Encouraged to dream big and aim high, shortly after moving to the Virgin Islands she decided to attend the University of the Virgin Islands after being spurred by a positive influence, Jana Austrie, a staff member at the University, who led her to what now considers her second home.

“She basically sold the school to me. She also committed to assisting me to sign up for classes,” Barber recalled.

In her home village, Barber had been considered a student with a great deal of potential. However, as her journey of self-discovery began and she took steps toward academic and personal growth, she realized that she did not know what having potential truly meant.

“What does it mean to have potential? How do I tap into that extra potential I may have? Is there a possibility of reaching that potential? How do I go about doing that? It was always confusing,” she wondered.

Despite the initial hardships and moments of doubt in her early college career, Barber found solace amid adversity. Lost in a sea of unfamiliar faces and foreign landscapes, Barber had discovered a newfound village at UVI that would lead her to discover the untapped potential within her.

Barber recalls several people who provided the guidance that shaped her academic and personal evolution.


Dr. Sharon Honore, associate professor in the UVI Communication Unit, was the first to push Barber out of her comfort zone.

“I never was someone who would share an opportunity that I was going to attend. I always, if I did something, and I succeeded, then I would probably share it with family and friends but never in a public space,” Barber said. “So, she pushed me to get accustomed to doing so with the aim of inspiring others to achieve these different opportunities or at least take advantage of the different opportunities including the study exchange program with Denmark.”

The support from the University did not stop there. Barber recollects the many faculty members, professors, and students who contributed to her self-discovery and academic success including the staff from career services, staff from the business services, and residence hall faculty members.

“It doesn't stop at one department. It doesn't stop at one person. It doesn't stop at one professor. It's all of them. Anybody who I encountered, I'm grateful for their support, especially through the highs and rough states. I believe they carried me through,” she added.

Barber enjoyed a successful career at UVI. She participated in the study exchange program in Denmark, was UVI’s National Association of Black Journalist (NABJ) president, attended the NABJ Convention in Las Vegas and served as an ambassador and influencer for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

Serving as a liaison between the organization and students at other Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) through her four years at UVI, Barber addressed her fears and questions and ultimately pursued opportunities that fostered her growth. Along the way, she discovered a reservoir of resilience and potential within herself thanks to the support and mentorship from her UVI village.