Pastor Vijonet Demero, a 2004 graduate of UVI's Summer Institute for Future Global Leaders, returned on Wednesday, May 30, to serve as keynote speaker at the commencement ceremonies for the Summer Institute's class of 2012. Twenty-seven students received certificates of completion of the two-week leadership development course that is marking its 18th anniversary. The students represent 15 universities in the Caribbean and the United States, including a contingent from Haiti.
Pastor Demero, who is a lead pastor, educator and advocate for building the capacity of future leaders in Haiti, encouraged this summer’s graduates to applaud UVI on reaching its Golden Jubilee Year. “Wake up to your potential,” he urged the graduates. "The world needs you,” he said. “Haiti needs you."
Student speaker, Lucia Castillo, from Florida International University, hailed the Summer Institute's diversity and networking opportunities as a broadening experience. She urged her fellow students to "be the change that you wish to see in the world."
UVI President Dr. David Hall also stressed the world’s ever increasing need for more wise and compassionate leaders. “Our hope,” Dr. Hall said, “is that the work you have done here will help reshape the world and make for a brighter future.”
Dr. Hall also praised the work of the Summer Institute’s founding Director Dr. Solomon Kabuka, a UVI Professor of International Business and Management. In noting Dr. Kabuka’s impending retirement, Dr. Hall said he had been “the force behind the Future Global Leader’s Institute.” Also honored during the ceremony were Institute Coordinator Dr. Ronald Harrigan, and Dr. Gilbert Sprauve. Drs. Harrigan and Sprauve, both retired UVI professors, have served as long-term members of the Summer Institute faculty.
Summer Institute students focused their attention on a variety of leadership issues, including managing crises in a global environment, conflict resolution, mastering the art of impromptu speaking, personal branding and self-marketing, and cross cultural communication with a focus on Japanese, French, Spanish and American Sign Language.
A wide variety of experts offered presentations, led by career Ambassador Terence Todman who led a forum on global diplomacy. Pamela Berkowsky, Gov. John de Jongh, Jr.’s chief of staff and a former U.S. Department of Defense official, spoke on security in times of crises in a global environment, and former West Indian Company president and CEO Edward Thomas discussed the management of cruise ship tourism. UVI President Emeritus Dr. Orville Kean conducted a dialog on leadership. During the Institute, students participated in round-table discussions concerning the crises in a global environment, conflict resolution and the art of impromptu speaking.
Dr. Carlyle Corbin, the V.I. government’s former representative for external affairs, prepared the students for the Summer Institute’s major public event, the World Forum Debate, which was held on May 28.
While on St. Thomas, the students participated in a number of social and cultural activities, including visits with local families, attendance at church services, beach visits and tours of the V.I. Senate Building, Government House and Superior Court.