The University of the Virgin Islands will hold its 46th Annual Commencement Ceremonies May 15 and 16, on the St. Thomas and St. Croix campuses, respectively. The St. Thomas campus ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 15, in the Sports and Fitness Center, with a live radio broadcast on Radio One AM 1000. The St. Croix campus ceremony will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 16, on the campus grounds, with a live radio broadcast on WSTX 970 AM.
The class speaker on the St. Thomas campus will be Jaedee S.K. Caines. The class speaker on the St. Croix campus will be Carmie K. Thompson. The class speakers are selected by members of their class.
The keynote speaker for both campuses is Randall Robinson, an internationally respected social justice advocate and author. Robinson is also a professor of law at Penn State University and a graduate of Harvard Law School. In 1979 he established TransAfrica, the mandate of which is to promote enlightened, progressive U.S. policies towards Africa and the Caribbean. Robinson also led the "Free South Africa Movement" - the nation-wide campaign to end apartheid in South Africa. Through his writings, congressional testimony, television appearances and civil disobedience campaigns, Robinson was actively involved in efforts to expose brutality, corruption and economic disparity around the world. Robinson has received many honorary doctorates, numerous awards and recognitions. He resides in St. Kitts, with his wife Hazel, where he continues to write.
Four St. Thomas students will graduate from UVI's 3-2 Engineering program. They are Everard A. Bellot, Artisha R. Hector, Glenfield A. Jarvis, Jr. and Aimee M. Sanchez. They will receive a Bachelor of Science in applied mathematics from UVI and a Bachelor of Science in engineering from Columbia University. The four will not participate in UVI's ceremony on Saturday, as they are in New York for the Columbia University ceremony which is set for the same day.
Cadet Roger O. Simon will be the first person commissioned from UVI's St. Thomas campus Army ROTC program. He will be commissioned on St. Croix. As a member of the VI National Guard, he is the platoon leader of the Service and Recovery Section of the 651st Maintenance Company.
Number of degrees to be conferred on the St. Thomas campus:
- Master of Arts in Education - 18
- Master of Business Administration - 8
- Master of Public Administration - 1
- Bachelor of Science - 45
- Bachelor of Arts - 121
- Associate of Science - 2
- Associate of Arts - 17
Total number of degrees on the St. Thomas campus - 212
Number of degrees to be conferred on the St. Croix campus:
- Master of Arts in Education - 9
- Master of Business Administration - 5
- Master of Public Administration - 2
- Bachelor of Science - 12
- Bachelor of Arts - 45
- Associate of Applied Science - 10
- Associate of Science - 13
- Associate of Arts - 4
Total number of degrees on the St. Croix campus - 100
Highest Grade Point Averages
The following students earned the highest grade point averages in UVI's May 2010 graduating class:
St. Thomas Campus
Rebecca Brahm is the graduate student with the highest GPA on the St. Thomas campus. She will earn a Master of Arts in Education. Mahogany Ambrose is the undergraduate student with the highest GPA on the St. Thomas campus. She will earn a Bachelor of Science degree.
St. Croix Campus
Carmie K. Thompson is the graduate student with the highest GPA on the St. Croix campus. She will earn a Master of Business Administration. Timothy W. Gilbride is the undergraduate student with the highest GPA on the St. Croix campus. He will earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in Accounting.
Other interesting graduates:
St. Thomas Campus
First of 14 to Earn Bachelor's
Zakenya Ross grew up in a tight-knit family with both of her parents and 13 brothers and sisters. On Saturday she will be the first of her siblings to earn a bachelor's degree when she graduates on the University of the Virgin Islands St. Thomas campus. Ross will graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. "I feel relieved for the most part. It was very hard," said Ross, who plans to pursue a graduate degree in public health. "I must say, I've had the support of my whole family." Ross' attendance at UVI began 10 years ago when she was an undecided major. Since then she has attended UVI full time, part-time, taken a hiatus, changed her major, became a mother and started a career. But she knew she had to get a degree. "I didn't do it only for myself, I did it for my son too," Ross said. While some of her sisters have earned associates degrees, Ross said she hopes to inspire her five brothers. "I want my brothers to follow in my footsteps," she said. Her parents Edmund Ross and Delores Rieara are "over elated," she said.
Ross, a lead transportation security officer with the Transportation Security Administration said ultimately she would like to continue working for the federal government, perhaps the Centers for Disease Control.
Sleepless Nights and Days
For the past three years Stephen Persaud got by on an average of four hours sleep during the week. The nursing major worked 12-hour night shifts at the hospital and attended UVI from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. He got home in time to sleep for a few hours before going to work again at 7 p.m. He will earn a Bachelor of Science in nursing on the St. Thomas campus.
From New Jersey, Persaud had already earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Rutgers University when he enrolled in UVI in the Spring 2007 semester. In 2007 he also became a Certified Nursing Assistant, got married and began working full time. In 2008 he became a father and had surgery on both his shoulders. Persaud said he was able to balance it all and attend UVI full time with prayer. "If you put your faith and trust in God you can do extraordinary things," he said. He had helpful professors too. "One thing I really liked is that at UVI you can communicate with the professors very easily," he said. "They really want you to succeed. They go out of their way to help you."
Persaud's first goal is to pass the state board exams to become a registered nurse. Then he hopes to further his education to become a nurse practitioner and open a private practice. "Nursing school is not easy, it's really rough. If you really try hard, nursing school is still possible."
A Balancing Act
Rhashaunda Charles likes to keep busy. In addition to attending UVI full-time in order to graduate in four years, she has been involved in many clubs, organizations and other activities. She was one of the first student representatives on the recently formed UVI Senate. She has also been a senator of the St. Thomas campus Student Government Association (SGA). In addition she has served as the president and vice president of Rotaract, the secretary of Always Believe In Yourself and a lead Student Peer Educator. She was also a member of Golden Key Honour Society, the Psychology Club, Peers Educating Peers, and the SGA's Social and Cultural Committee and Queens Committee. She also worked as a student employee. She spent a semester as a student teacher at Gladys Abraham Elementary School.
Charles has also maintained a high GPA. She will graduate summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education. She is excited about starting her career. "As soon as I'm offered a position, I want to teach," she said.
St. Croix Campus
Medical Management and Business Management
Charmin Springer does not believe in giving up, as challenging as moving forward may be. "People have told me time and time again 'go on disability, don't work,'" Springer said. "But if I don't work I'll be a very unhappy person," the recycling coordinator for the VI Waste Management Authority said. Springer has the autoimmune disease lupus and had had to manage her condition, while working and attending UVI. She will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in business administration with a concentration in marketing. Springer has had a long road to earning a bachelor's degree because she has been forced to withdraw from classes many times. She would start her courses, everything would be fine, then she would end up getting sick, being hospitalized and having to drop classes. "Everybody told me to quit school because that kept happening," she said. Even as recent as this semester Springer was ill and started the semester late, then she was hospitalized in March - during mid-term exams. But with graduation looming she knew she had to pull through. Springer said her determination and attitude helps her to cope. "It's challenging, but you have to keep going," she said. "You have to work three times as hard with my condition." She hopes to inspire other people who have lupus.
Springer plans to pursue a graduate degree at UVI in the near future. "I've had lots of opportunities to go away, but I don't need to go anywhere other than UVI to feel accomplished," she said. "I will be here for my master's degree." She hopes to eventually open an environmental consulting firm.
Admission to the St. Thomas campus ceremony is by ticket only. Parking on the St. Thomas campus will be available in the parking lots of the Reichhold Center and the Administration and Conference Center. Shuttle service will be provided to and from the Sports and Fitness Center. Only those with disability permits and who were granted prior special permission will be allowed to park in the Sports and Fitness Center parking lot.
In respect to all of the graduates, their families and friends, the use of air horns, whistles and other noisemakers will not be permitted at either ceremony.
For more information or to interview the previously mentioned students call the UVI Public Relations Office at 693-1056.