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UVI to Award More than 300 Degrees on Saturday & Sunday

2013 Graduates

The University of the Virgin Islands will award more than 300 degrees at the 49th Commencement Ceremonies on May 11 and 12, on the St. Thomas Campus and the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix, respectively. More than 200 degrees will be awarded at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 11, in the Sports on Fitness Center on the St. Thomas campus. More than 100 degrees will be awarded at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 12, on the grounds on the Albert A. Sheen Campus. 

The class speaker on the St. Thomas campus will be Linda Ritter. The class speaker on the Albert A. Sheen Campus will be Charnele M. Burton.

Former U.S. Congressman, Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus and President of the NAACP Kweisi Mfume will be UVI’s 2013 commencement keynote speaker.

During the ceremonies, Career Ambassador the Honorable Terence A. Todman and historian George F. Tyson will receive Honorary Doctorates, along with Mfume.

Admission to the St. Thomas campus Commencement Ceremony is by ticket only. Parking on the St. Thomas Campus will be available in the parking lot of the Reichhold Center for the Arts. Shuttle service will be provided from the Reichhold Center to the Sports and Fitness Center.

Both ceremonies will be broadcast live on Da Vybe 107.9 FM and will stream live online on http://www.davybe.com. WUVI 1090 AM, UVI’s student run radio station, will carry a live stream of both commencement ceremonies on http://wuvi.am. The St. Croix commencement ceremony will also be broadcast on 1090 AM.

UVI 2013 Commencement Statistics
Number of degrees to be awarded on the St. Thomas campus:
Master of Arts in Education – 15
Master in Marine and Environmental Science – 9
Master of Business Administration – 6
Master of Public Administration –7
Bachelor of Science – 51
Bachelor of Arts – 103
Associate of Applied Science – 4
Associate of Science – 4
Associate of Arts – 15
Masters of Arts in Psychology – 4
Total number of degrees on the St. Thomas campus – 218

Number of degrees to be awarded on the Albert A. Sheen campus on St. Croix:
Master of Arts in Education – 7
Master of Public Administration – 2
Bachelor of Science – 2
Bachelor of Arts – 55
Associate of Applied Science – 11
Associate of Science – 16
Associate of Arts – 15
Masters of Arts in Psychology – 5
Total number of degrees on the St. Croix campus – 113

Total number of degrees on St. Maarten – 1

Interesting Graduate Story, St. Thomas
From Buccaneer to Blue Devil;
Marisha Perkins Accepts Presidential Fellowship to Duke University

When UVI senior Marisha Perkins got her first acceptance letter into a Ph.D. chemistry program she was so excited that she couldn’t find the words to describe her feelings. That first letter was from the University of Florida. “I continued to get more and more,” the UVI graduating senior said. Acceptance letters poured in – Emory University, the University of Michigan, Florida State University and Stony Brook University. “I became very confused,” Perkins said about making her final college choice. She eventually decided on Duke University because of the research being conducted there, the school’s facilities and the “heart-warming” feelings she got when she visited. All schools offered her a presidential scholarship, which comes with full tuition. But Duke also offered an additional stipend for living expenses. After earning a doctorate in chemistry, Marisha’s ultimate goals are to lead education reform and expand the science and mathematics programs in the Virgin Islands.

At UVI Marisha was an all-around student. Her involvement reads like a seasoned resume. She has spent summers doing research at Merck Laboratories, Rutgers University and the Pacific Northwest National Lab as a Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Scholar and United Negro College Fund-Merck Fellow. She was a supplemental instructor for general chemistry, treasurer of the Chemistry Club and captain of the Cheerleading Squad. She has also learned American Sign Language and scuba diving. How is she able to get it all done? “There are 24 hours in a day,” she said with a laugh. “I guess I use them all.”

On Saturday she will earn a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and an Associate of Science in Physics from UVI. She has earned summa cum laude honors.

Interesting Graduates Stories, St. Croix:
It’s A Family Affair
Three Sisters; Two Brothers to Earn Degrees on St. Croix

Doris Burton has plenty to be proud of this May. All three of her daughters will receive degrees from UVI this weekend - but they are not triplets. Sisters Cherise Burton, Charnele Burton and Joyan Nelson all entered UVI at different times and at different stages in their lives, but all will receive degrees on Sunday on St. Croix.

“I feel proud. I feel good. I’m really on top of the world,” Doris Burton said. “I’ve always told them they must do better than I did,” said Doris who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees. So when each graduated from high school, she was there with them encouraging them throughout college. “Parents should stick with their children. Encourage them to strive as high as they can,” the elementary school teacher said, noting that her girls plan to continue their education. “I just need them to say on track and never settle for less. They told me what they want to be and I don’t want anyone to deter them. They know they are capable,” she said.

Cherise, the youngest of the three, entered UVI in fall 2009 semester. She will earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics. In the fall she will enter an engineering MS Ph.D. program at the University of South Florida on a full scholarship. Cherise began her freshman year with undiagnosed injuries to her leg nerves and shin bone sustained while preparing with her Educational Complex High School Marching Barracudas for performances at President Barack Obama's first inauguration.

After suffering with excruciating pain and spontaneous paralysis for almost a year, in 2010 she went to the Cleveland Clinic where she was diagnosed and put on a recovery plan. It was not only her body that suffered for a year – her grades suffered too. “Psychologically it knocked me out,” the 3-2 Engineering Program student said. Soon the hard work began. “I took over every single one,” she said of the classes for which she received unacceptable grades. Cherise was also determined to graduate in four years; that often meant taking credit overloads. She would average 19-21 credits per semester.

“I refused to fail again,” she said. While focusing on her academics, Cherise was also active in leadership and extracurricular activities at UVI, including many Student Government Association organizations and the UVI Senate. She was also a member of the AKA sorority and a Thurgood Marshall scholar - all while holding down jobs on and off campus. At one point she simultaneously worked four jobs. She also worked as an associate junior scientist at the Brookhaven National Lab in New York for the past three years. Even though she had a painful start, Cherise made sure she finished strong. She has earned cum laude honors.

Charnele was chosen to address the class on the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix as the student class speaker. She will earn a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology. “It’s still unbelievable in my mind,” Charnele said of all of them participating in Commencement together. “I am so proud of my sisters,” she said. The fact that she will deliver student address at this momentous occasion is a lot to process, she said. “Right now I’m just humbled by everything.” Currently employed as a histo technician at the Juan Luis Hospital on St. Croix, she plans to attend medical school to become a physician. “I’ve been really active as a student and, no doubt, it has prepared me to be a professional,” said Charnele, who served on the UVI Board of Trustees and was also a Thurgood Marshall Scholar and resident assistant. She has earned cum laude honors.

Charnele’s significant other John Phillip will also earn a degree on Sunday. His brother Marlon Phillip will earn a degree also. The Phillip brothers will receive degrees in Process Technology and they plan to further their studies.

Joyan was already a medical assistant practicing in the states when she decided to return to St. Croix and pursue her dream of becoming a nurse. “Nursing is not an easy thing,” said Joyan. She said she had to sacrifice her social life in order to get good grades. “My priority for the past couple of years was studying. Nothing really mattered to me except staying focused on what I needed to do to be successful,” she said, noting that she lost a few friends because of her commitment. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in nursing after taking the registered nurse licensure exam.

Other notable graduates on St. Croix:

13D Student Entrepreneurship Competition winners Kalayar Myint and Duane Sydney. Myint will earn a Bachelor of Arts in Business degree and Sydney will earn an Associate of Applied Science degree on Sunday. On May 7, the team won $30,000 to assist with start-up costs for their DK Shrimp Farm on St. Croix.

Miss St. Croix Cliaunjel L. Williams will earn a Master of Arts in Education degree.

The statistics contained in this press release refer to degrees conferred in the fall (December 2012) and the spring (May 2013) unless otherwise noted. Students whose degrees were conferred in December are listed in the commencement booklet for the May ceremonies and have the option of participating in the ceremonies.