Friday, July 18, 2014

Education & Fun is all part of the UVI Junior University Experience

University of the Virgin Islands Junior University physical education instructor Mark Daniel conducts an exhibition game in the University's Sports and Fitness Center.

 Junior University is an intensive five-week program for boys who did not pass seventh grade but showed promise. It is a collaborative initiative of the University of the Virgin Islands and the Education Department St. Thomas-St. John School District. There are 100 enrolled in the summer 2014 edition of the program.

 Junior University students take part in basket 
ball tournament in UVI's Sports and Fitness Center. 
Junior University students work
on a math problem.

UVI Junior University students take interest in a mathematics lesson taught by Robyn Carlin, a visiting master teacher from Louisiana State University.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

UVI Workshop Provides Innovative Teaching Method to VI STEM Educators

Robyn Carlin, a master teacher from the GeauxTeach Program at Louisiana State University, teaches University of the Virgin Islands Junior University students.

This summer, some science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teachers territory-wide opted to become students. Fifty elementary, high school and college educators participated in an innovative workshop designed to entice students to learn. The UVI Teach Inquiry-Based Learning STEPs 1 and 2 for STEM Teachers Workshop was conducted for STEM teachers territory-wide with experience or interest in using inquiry-based learning in math or science.

Inquiry-based learning is an approach to teaching and learning that places questions, ideas and observations of students at the center of the learning experience. Educators play an active role throughout the process by establishing a culture where ideas are respectfully challenged, tested, redefined and viewed as improvable. This moves children from a position of wondering to a position of understanding and further questioning.

“This has been one of the better workshops that I have attended,” says Nneka Howard-Sibilly, Charlotte Amalie High School biology teacher and Science Department chair. “Walking away from it, I have a lot of tangible information that I can utilize in my classroom right away and be able to help other teachers.”

She says that this workshop has gotten her closer to her goal of having tools on how to make her classroom more inquiry-based and geared toward the Common Core Standards and the Next Generation Standards set to come on-line.

Fourth grade Lockhart Elementary School teacher Diana Tyson signed up for the workshop because she has a strong love for science and mathematics. “It has been extremely informative,” says Tyson. “I am learning a great deal about inquiry-based learning and letting the students explore and learn through their own investigations.” Tyson, who has taught for 15 years, was named Teacher of the Year in the St. Thomas-St. John District in the 2013-2014 School Year.

“It will definitely, I hope, increase and improve not only teacher effectiveness, but student achievement,” she says. “We are learning strategies that we can use to help better implement what is expected of our students from the Common Core State Standards.”

“This was a tremendous workshop,” says St. Croix Educational Complex High School mathematics teacher Dianne Theophilus. “The information that has been shared will assist me in becoming a better mathematics educator. I will also be able to use what I've learnt to assist my colleagues.”

UVI Teach is a secondary STEM teacher training program being developed at the University. It is a joint effort between the UVI College of Science and Mathematics, the School of Education and the V.I. Department of Education (VI DOE). It is adapted from the UTeach Program, a nationally recognized, innovative, and successful teacher preparation program for students majoring in science, mathematics, and computer science. The UTeach program was developed at the University of Texas, Austin, in 1997. Thirty-nine other universities around the country are now implementing the program. The UVI Teach program places emphasis on field-based, hands-on learning opportunities for future STEM teachers. “Since 2011, Provost McKayle has been leading this Noyce project to make UVI one of the pioneering HBCUs to implement a UTeach program,” said UVI Teach Program Director Dr. Celil Ekici.

Conducting the UVI STEM Teacher’s Workshop was a pivotal step towards launching the UVI Teach program. UVI and the VI DOE collaborated to bring this workshop to educators in the territory. Robyn Carlin, a master teacher from the GeauxTeach Program at Louisiana State University, taught inquiry-based teaching in mathematics, while Lynn Kirby, a master teacher from UTeach at Austin, taught science. They alternated teaching on the St. Thomas Campus and Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix, switching campuses one week into the training. UVI Associate Professor of Education Dr. Nancy Morgan helped to demonstrate the integration of various content areas, including literacy. VI DOE STEM Director Karissa Poszywak served as co-trainer to make content more relevant for STEM teachers in the territory.

“The overall goals are to help teachers experience inquiry-based learning in action and learn to apply it in their own practices as math and science teachers,” says Dr. Ekici. “They will learn to orient UVI Teach students coming to their classroom towards learning and facilitating inquiry-based lessons as future STEM teachers.”

During a workshop session in July 2014, educators were able to observe Carlin as she taught mathematics to middle school boys who were a part of UVI’s Junior University Summer Enrichment Program. Carlin used a variety of 3D foam shapes to teach students how to understand fractions and turn those fractions into mathematical word problems and equations. The students, working in four groups of four, actively participated in their own learning. While the students learned mathematics, the UVI Tech Workshop participants observed the lesson.

Dr. Ekici says the practice session was intended to allow participants to gain a deeper sense of inquiry-based STEM learning and teaching in practice. “It was intended to provide students and practitioners with a rich and genuine experience to build their own local practices for the inquiry-based STEM teaching/learning in our territorial schools,” he says.

Nneka Howard-Sibilly has asked that teachers be able to observe an inquiry-based lesson for some time. “It is one thing to say what an inquiry-based system is supposed to look like, but when you can actually see somebody stand in front of you and model it in front of live students – to be able to see the responses of students and observe the differences in questioning – I think that is what teachers need to see more of in order to better themselves,” she says.

UVI Works to Implement UVI Teach Program

The UVI Teach Program is being developed under the leadership of UVI Provost Dr. Camille McKayle, UVI Dean of the School of Education Dr. Linda Thomas and Dean of the School of Science and Mathematics Dr. Sandra Romano. Dr. Ekici is spearheading this collaborative effort. It is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and is part of the Robert Noyce Capacity Building Grant designed to develop and implement a secondary STEM teacher training program at UVI. Noyce Capacity Building Projects provide an opportunity for institutions to establish the infrastructure and partnerships for implementing a future Noyce Teacher Scholarship or NSF Teaching Fellowship. This grant had two major goals. One is to develop UVI Teach as a STEM teacher preparation program building on the basics of the UTeach model. Second, is conducting STEM education research to provide research-based and locally effective STEM education training programs. Several UVI professors are part of the UVI Teach collaborative team including, Dr. Ekici, Dr. Steven Greenstein, Dr. Nancy Morgan, Dr. Michelle Peterson, Dr. Marc Boumedine, Dr. Rita Howard, Dr. Judith Bloch and Ms. Danielle DeGain. They are under the supervision of Provost McKayle.

UVI Teach is integrating inquiry-based learning activities into UVI's developmental mathematics classes including, Mathematics 023/024/140 and introductory science courses such as Science 100, with peers, mentors, and master teachers trained to use the 5Es of inquiry based learning. The 5Es are engagement, exploration, explanation, elaboration and evaluation.

The 5 E Learning Cycle Model

  • Object, event or question used to engage students 
  • Connections facilitated between what students know and can do 
  • Objects and phenomena are explored 
  • Hands-on activities, with guidance 
  • Students explain their understanding of concepts and processes 
  • New concepts and skills are introduced as conceptual clarity and cohesion are sought 
  • Activities allow students to apply concepts in contexts, and build on or extend understanding and skill 
  • Students assess their knowledge, skills and abilities. 
  • Activities permit evaluation of student development and lesson effectiveness
UVI Teach St. Thomas Site Coordinator Dr. Marc Boumedine says that when the program is implemented, students interested in teaching STEM subjects will receive a bachelor’s degree in their field and be able to teach secondary education, once they have met the requirements of the School of Education and the Virgin Islands Board of Education. He says this program will allow UVI STEM students who wish to become educators to finish their degrees sooner.

Monday, July 14, 2014

University Bound Programs Underway on St. Thomas and St. Croix

More than 50 students from throughout the territory are living and taking courses on UVI's campuses on St. Thomas and St. Croix, as they participate in 2014 summer residential component of the University Bound college preparatory program. The programs are designed to generate the skills and motivation that lead to academic success for students in high school and beyond.

The six-week program - with 33 students on St. Thomas and 21 on St. Croix - continue through July 18. The students recently posed for class photos. Click photos to enlarge.

St. Thomas Campus - University Bound - Summer 2014

Albert A. Sheen Campus - St. Croix - University Bound - Summer 2014

Friday, June 27, 2014

VI SBDC: An Ally to Small Businesses in the Territory

Just Threads owners Cyril and Germene Thomas pose for a photo after their business was named the Small Business of the Year on St. Thomas. 
Running a small business, especially in these difficult economic times, can be trying, but with help from the Virgin Islands Small Business Development Center (VI SBDC), businesses in the territory have found an ally. In June, the VI-SBDC celebrated Small Business Week with specialized training sessions and lectures designed to foster business growth. The week culminated with award ceremonies that acknowledge small businesses in the territory that have excelled.

Jennifer Jackson and Lionel Jacobs, owners of Arawak Bay: The Inn at Salt River, LLC, were presented with the VI SBDC Small Business of the Year award on St. Croix. Cyril and Germene Thomas, owners of Just Threads, received the VI-SBDC 2014 Small Business of the Year award on St. Thomas.

“Our 2014 award winners are examples of determination and success,” said State Director of the VI SBDC Leonor Dottin. “Business ownership is about taking risks and working toward minimizing these risks as you grow your business. Our SBDC winners are examples of the success of utilizing services like the VI SBDC to further their dreams and subsequently grow their businesses.”

Arawak Bay: The Inn at Salt River, LLC

Arawak Bay opened in March 2007. Husband and wife team, Jennifer Jackson and Lionel Jacobs were both new to the hospitality business. Jackson was employed at UVI for 23 years. Before she separated from UVI in 2005, she served as the chancellor for the St. Croix Campus. Jacobs, a retired architect by trade, was previously the director of planning and construction at the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority. They opened Arawak Bay confident that their life and career experiences uniquely qualified them for the construction and management of their business.

Arawak Bay, located on the north shore of St. Croix, was designed by Jacobs. It features sprawling balconies, landscaping and colors designed to emphasize the beauty and historic culture of St. Croix. Jackson runs the inn and shares the beautiful features of St. Croix with visitors to the territory.

“We essentially tried to create a hotel with a difference,” said Jackson. “It’s just not a place where people stay while visiting the island. We try to make sure that their stay in St. Croix is enjoyable. Based on their interests we help them plan what to do while on island so that they can enjoy the best features of the Virgin Islands.” They also work with groups, mostly from various mainland universities, and plan their activities to ensure that all guests have an excellent experience.

Jackson thanks the VI SBDC for the honor of recognizing their efforts. “When you start a small business in the Virgin Islands you’re pretty much on your own,” said Jackson. But she found allies in the helpful VI SBDC’s staff and the training sessions offered at the center. The VI SBDC courses that she took with other businesses owners assisted her in remaining compliant as a limited liability company and helped her shift focus from day to day management to planning and marketing and developing strategies for success. “The SBDC courses and their other offerings can be seen as a 101 in how you run a small business,” she said. During those courses, Jackson was also able to network with other business owners and discuss challenges and business strategies.

With the hospitality business being seasonal, Jackson has used many of the techniques learned at the SBDC and continues to strategically market her business. The Arawak Inn received certificates of excellence from the popular Trip Advisor website in 2013 and 2014.

Just Threads

“It was an honor to receive the award,” said Cyril Thomas, of Just Threads. “It shows all the hard work that we have been doing for the community and ourselves has actually made a difference.”

He worked for the Footlocker Corporation for 10 years before partnering with his wife to open Just Threads in Tutu Park Mall in 2002. Cyril Thomas started his career at Footlocker as a full-time sales representative in 1992. Two years later, he was promoted to store manager of two Footlocker stores – one on St. Thomas and one on St. Croix. Later he was promoted to market leader over all stores in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Just Threads is located at the center of Tutu Park Mall and sells all kinds of clothing, including unisex designer dresses, suits and pants. Among their inventory is a variety of caps.

Thomas was pleased with the support, advice and training he received at the SBDC. “While I have years of business experience, the SBDC helped me to add to my knowledge and improve my business outlook,” he said. In the near future, he plans to continue to work with the SBDC to find out how he can promote the business as he moves to diversify his inventory to include sporting goods.

“Small business owners must prepare themselves to strive and further grow their business,” said Dottin. “Through the services offered at the VI-SBDC, they can take advantage of counseling services that are of no-charge to them in areas such as financial management, accounting, marketing, sales, strategic planning, retail, merchandising, social media and other very important areas of business.” She continued, “What is most important is that the VI-SBDC counselors work as a team and they utilize each other’s strengths to further their service potential to clients.”

Other 2014 SBDC award recipients include:

· St. Thomas Woman-Owned Business of the Year – Jill Farley, owner of Cool Signs

· St. Croix Woman-Owned Business of the Year – Yoki K. Hanley, owner of Itiba, LLC

· St. Croix Entrepreneurial Success Award – Marston Adams, owner of Kiki’s Automotive, Inc. d/b/a Kiki’s Alternators & Starters

· St. Thomas/St. Croix Small Business Advocate of the Year – The Virgin Islands Daily News

The 2014 Small Business Administration award recipients:

· SBA Entrepreneur of the Year for St. John – Curtis Penn, owner of Caribbean Seashells Vacation Villas

· SBA Entrepreneur of the Year for St. Croix – Angel Diaz, owner of the La Reine Chicken Shack

· SBA Entrepreneur of the Year for St. Thomas – Michael S. Barrows, DDS, Happy Teeth Dental Office

· SBA Bank of the Year – Banco Popular de Puerto Rico

All the activities offered during Small Business Week were made available by the support received from FirstBank VI, Virgin Islands Next Generation Network, Banco Popular, Marriott Frenchman’s Reef Resort, and the Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority. The VI-SBDC is a partnership program of UVI and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Entrepreneur Business Institute Opens on UVI’s St. Thomas Campus

Students representing the majority of the Territory’s high schools gathered on UVI’s St. Thomas Campus for the opening of the 2014 Entrepreneur Business Institute.

The 2014 edition of the Entrepreneur Business Institute (EBI) summer program at the University of the Virgin Islands opened on Sunday, June 22, on the St. Thomas Campus. Some 30 students representing the majority of the territory’s high schools are participating in the an intensive, three-week program designed to help them develop entrepreneurial, leadership and business skills, while providing an insight into the college experience and campus life. They will also work with mentors, including successful entrepreneurs and business leaders in the community, and gain the experience of starting with an idea and developing it into a business plan.

The program, which has students living on campus, runs on the St. Thomas Campus from June 22 through July 11. It is sponsored by International Capital & Management Company (ICMC), a management services company based in St. Thomas, in collaboration with the University of the Virgin Islands School of Business.

    Orville Smith                                                   Joshua Murray                                         Marisha Butcher
Several graduates of the 2013 EBI program spoke to this year’s incoming students about their experiences with the program. The students, from left, Orville Smith from the Tutu Church of God Academy, Joshua Murray from St. Croix’ Central High School, and Marisha Butcher from St. Croix’ Education Complex, described their various successes in  business efforts they initiated based on what they learned during the program. Program Director Dr. Paul Fleming, an assistant professor of Business Management at UVI, said the students who returned to share their experiences represent the program well.

Student pose for a group photo on the steps of UVI's Paiewonsky Library.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Kean Senior Morgan Cleaveland Awarded Four-Year ROTC Scholarship to UVI

Kean High School Senior Morgan Cleaveland receives a check representing her ROTC scholarship to attend the University of the Virgin Islands. Making the presentation are, from left, ROTC Professor of Military Science Lt. Col. Robel Ramirez, Cleaveland, Kean High School Battalion Cmdr. Eddie Charles and Master Sgt. Russell Bannister Russell, the senior military instructor on UVI’s St. Thomas Campus.

Ivanna Eudora Kean High School senior Morgan Cleaveland received a four-year Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) scholarship to attend the University of the Virgin Islands during a special presentation ceremony at the high school on June 10. Cleaveland, a cadet captain in Kean’s ROTC program, is the fifth student to receive a full ROTC scholarship to attend UVI. The presentation was made by ROTC Caribbean Region Commander Lt. Col. Rodel Ramirez, who is also a professor of military science. ROTC scholarships were also presented to Kean seniors Cadet Lt. Col. Dinelle Cadette and Cadet Maj. Jamaal Al-Ameen during the same ceremony.
U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Herman Bardouille, right, a recent UVI 
graduate, addresses students at Kean High School.  

The presentations were made before other Kean students and each scholarship recipient took the opportunity to speak to their classmates about the importance of focus, hard work and involvement in school activities. Newly minted U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Herman Bardouille, who was commissioned during UVI’s recent Commencement Ceremony on the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix in May, was also on hand to discuss the opportunities available to high school students.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

UVI Class of 2014: Destined to Change the World

Harvard professor, award-winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist and historian Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. addresses the graduates at Commencement.

At University of the Virgin Islands commencement ceremonies on May 17, on the St. Thomas Campus and on May 18, on the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix, graduates declared that they are ready for everything that lies ahead.

“We are ready to revolutionize the world and make those who invested in us supremely proud,” said St. Thomas Campus Class Speaker Natalie Richardson, who earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration on the St. Thomas Campus. She said the Class of 2014 will remain optimistic because the class is passionate about the issues which prove their abilities and challenge their potential. “These memories that we have made will live with us forever,” Richardson said. “But even more so the bonds that we have forged, friends that have turned into family, dreams that have turned into reality, and dedication that has turned into success.”

St. Thomas Class Speaker Natalie Richardson
“Our inclusion in today’s ceremony shows, that we have what it takes to sacrifice, to start a project and see it to completion,” said UVI Albert A. Sheen Class Speaker Allison De Gazon, who earned a masters’ degree in business administration. “This academic journey defined us and showed us what we are all made of.”

De Gazon urged her fellow graduates to defy the norm of walking away from their alma mater after receiving a degree. “The baton to build our businesses and our community has been passed to us,” she said. “We must embrace all we have been taught by our professors and utilize everything within us to focus forward and transform this community.”

“Together we are all walking through the door fully equipped with knowledge, faith in God and the ability to lead any institution to success,” she said. “I believe we can have everything we want if we help others get what they want.” De Gazon continued, “At the end of life, it won’t matter how many degrees we have earned, how much money we’ve made or how many material things we have amassed. What will matter is how many people we have served and what our community has to say about our contribution, our affiliation and our legacy.”

View and like Commencement photos on the UVI Facebook page:

De Gazon took advantage of every open door offered by UVI. She participated in the UVI Upward Bound Program, participated in the student exchange program, was president in the Golden Key National Honour Society, president of the debate team, and earned her bachelor’s degree at UVI. Recently, De Gazon participated in the 13D Entrepreneurship Program and took home the top prize of $30,000 for her business plan named Cruzan Organix Farm.

Sheen Class Speaker Allison De Gazon
“Let us embrace the opportunities that lie ahead” she said. “Let us honor our past by demonstrating excellence and leadership in every undertaking. Let’s represent UVI and these Virgin Islands with pride and conviction.”

“I hope your experience here has taught you that your dreams can come true,” UVI President David Hall told the graduates. “I hope you understand now at a much deeper level that your future is within your hands. Dr. Hall continued, “I hope you understand that this university was created for you so you can have the experience that you just had. Now you must go out and create something that allows the dreams of others to be fulfilled as well.”

“UVI has done its work well if you aren’t just looking at what stands behind you, but you are able to see more clearly what lies ahead of you – even if others can’t see,” he said. “At this special moment we want you to peek in the mirror of the past few years and be thankful and joyous for what you see, but more importantly, we want you to look into the window of your endless potential and know that you are destined to change the world.”

The UVI Class of 2014 was addressed by Harvard professor, award-winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist and historian Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., UVI’s 2014 keynote speaker on both campuses. “You can’t know where you are going until you know where you have been,” said Dr. Gates. “Your education has made you ready to move from point A to point B and beyond. You are ready to go as far as your dreams will take you because you have the strongest validations and the tools of which to build on.” A day after the St. Croix ceremony, Dr. Gates traveled to New York to receive a Peabody Award for his PBS television series “The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross.”

Dr. Gates, the Virgin Islands’ first elected Delegate to Congress the Hon. Ron de Lugo, and St. Croix baseball legend and youth mentor Horace Clarke were awarded UVI honorary degrees at the 2014 Commencement. De Lugo was unable to attend the commencement ceremony, but his daughter Angela de Lugo received the degree and was hooded in his stead.

At the Commencement Ceremony on the St. Thomas Campus, Dr. Hall presented the cap, gown and hood to the family of the late David Payne, Jr., a UVI alumnus and graduate student who was killed in front of his Anna’s Retreat home in 2012. Payne earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from UVI in elementary education in May 2012 and was enrolled in UVI's Master of Arts in Education program on the St. Thomas Campus at the time of his death. In 2011, he earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in criminal justice. “We are honored to present this regalia to his sister and his son and present it to say to the entire family that David still lives in our hearts, but we especially say to his son that we want you to wear this regalia in honor of your father when you graduate from UVI,” said Dr. Hall.

He said that he believed Payne would have earned his degree had he not have been killed. “You may kill the dreamer but you will never kill the dream,” said Dr. Hall. “Virgin Islanders must strive to do great things in their lives.” After Payne’s death, UVI increased its efforts to reduce violence in the community with the creation of the Anti-violence and Peace Initiative in honor of Payne’s memory in order to ensure that others do not suffer the same end.

On the Sheen Campus, UVI awarded a posthumous nursing associate’s degree to Natalie Fenton, who was working towards that degree while fighting a battle with cancer. She died on April 18.

UVI conferred over 300 degrees at the commencement ceremonies.

ROTC Presents Four-Year UVI Scholarship to Complex Graduate Augustus Laurencin

Shown, from left, are UVI Interim Provost Dr. Camille McKayle, Senior Military Instructor Master Sgt. Jose Delgado, Senior Military Science Instructor Maj. (R) William J. Velazquez, Professor of Military Science Lt. Col. Robel Ramirez, UVI scholarship recipient Agustus Laurencin, JROTC Senior Instructor at Central High School Maj. Fernando Webster, Central High Cadet Battalion Commander Daleena Parker and Sixth ROTC Brigade Commander Col. Brent Barnes. 
Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Professor of Military Science Lt. Col. Robel Ramirez presented a four-year ROTC scholarship to Augustus Laurencin to attend the University of the Virgin Islands in a ceremony at the St. Croix Educational Complex High School on May 16. Laurencin, a former JROTC Cadet at Central High School, was the fourth cadet to receive a full scholarship to UVI. It will cover tuition, books and all educational expenses at the University.

Col. Brent Barnes, ROTC commander of Continental USA 
South East Region, speaks  to JROTC Cadets attending 
Complex High School. (Click image for larger view.)
The ROTC Commander of Continental USA South East Region Col. Brent Barnes, who was on hand for the presentation, spoke to JROTC Cadets attending Complex High School. UVI Provost Dr. Camille McKayle represented the University.

Monday, May 12, 2014

UVI to Graduate New Leaders

Stella Jarvis, left, and Paulette Jarvis pause for a photo before lining up for the 2014 Commencement on St. Croix on Sunday, May 18. Preliminary photos from this year's Commencement Ceremonies on both St. Thomas and St. Croix are featured on UVI's Facebook page - Check Facebook again soon for additional photos and be sure to like the page and share the photos with your friends.  

The University of the Virgin Islands will graduate another set of leaders at Commencement Ceremonies to be held on May 17, in the Sports and Fitness Center on the University’s St. Thomas Campus, and on May 18 on the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix. UVI will award more than 300 degrees in fields of study from engineering, to nursing, to music education.

See 2014 Commencement details at bottom:

Mother and Daughter Graduate in Class of 2014; Legacy to Continue with Son

Paulette Jarvis and her daughter Stella Jarvis will walk together as graduates on St. Croix. Paulette Jarvis will graduate with an associate's degree in nursing. Stella Jarvis, a student in the 3-2 Engineering Program, will graduate from UVI with a bachelor’s degree in applied science and a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from the University of Florida.

Through this program, students in the College of Science and Mathematics spend three years at UVI and two years at a participating institution. At the end of the program, the student earns a Bachelor of Science degree in applied mathematics from UVI, and a Bachelor of Science in his or her chosen field of engineering from the affiliated university. UVI has agreements with Columbia University, the University of Florida, and the University of South Carolina.

Stella Jarvis and Paulette Jarvis
Stella Jarvis’ journey towards earning a degree in higher education started at age 16, in UVI’s early admissions program. At first, she didn’t know what she wanted to study and then found out about the dual degree engineering program. She studied for one year at the Albert A. Sheen Campus and three years on UVI’s St. Thomas Campus, before traveling to the University of Florida. “I think it was the best path to take instead of going directly to the states,” she says. “You get two degrees and end-up with less debt.”

Stella has already landed a job at Dow Chemical Company in Freeport, Texas, as an environmental specialist. She credits the multiple paid research opportunities that she got at UVI for her ability to be hired right out of college. “At a larger school people are actually begging for research and they don’t get paid,” said Stella Jarvis. “Most of the things on my resume came from UVI. That’s what helped me get the second internship I got up here, and subsequently my job. When I transferred I had a lot more stuff on my resume than my classmates that started at Florida. ”

She is excited to be graduating at the same time as her mom. “Both of our paths were so different,” says Stella Jarvis. A nursing degree is something that I know that she wanted for a long-time and I think it is about time that she got something for her. She has been selfless with me and my brother, says Stella Jarvis.

Paulette Jarvis has wanted to be nurse ever since she was a little girl watching her mother and suffer from a mysterious illness. She asked the Lord to help her to become a nurse to help her mother. “That is why I never gave up,” says Paulette Jarvis. She began her education at UVI in 1999. After having difficulties with several classes, she left UVI and became a licensed practical nurse (LPN) through a vocational program. She returned to UVI after the Juan Luis Hospital released her and several of their LPNs.

To earn her degree, Paulette Jarvis, who is president of the 2014 nursing class, spent 12 hour days studying with her classmates. One night when they were burning the midnight oil she told her classmates, “We all have to make it, nobody’s staying behind.” On May 18, she expects to march with all 15 nursing students. After graduation she will work on her National Council Licensure Examination, which is the final step towards becoming a licensed registered nurse.

Paulette’s son, Travis Jarvis, has been accepted into UVI’s Early Admissions program. He plans to become a veterinarian.
St. Croix Class of 2014 President Raydiance K. Watts-Clarke

Watts-Clarke Continuing
the Family Legacy of Success

UVI Class of 2014, President Raydiance K. Watts-Clarke will graduate magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in education and a minor in social science on the University’s Sheen Campus. Her uncle, Horace Clarke – who played professional baseball for the New York Yankees and the San Diego Padres – will receive an honorary degree from UVI. Horace Clarke was the New York Yankees’ regular second baseman from 1967 through 1973. Following his professional career, he returned to St. Croix where he developed young players in the territory as a baseball specialist for the Virgin Islands Government. “I am proud of him,” Watts-Clarke says. “He has inspired other individuals, especially the young males who love playing baseball. From looking at his legacy, there is chance that they can also achieve their dreams and become professional baseball players.”

Watts-Clarke served as the student representative to the UVI Board of Trustees from 2012 to 2013. “It was great to be a part of the board and being a part of making various decisions for the University and, most importantly, representing the students,” she says. Watts-Clarke also served as Golden Key Honor Society treasurer, vice president and president, which allowed her to travel to attend workshops and regional summits. “My UVI experience was amazing,” she says. 

After earning her bachelor’s in education, Watts-Clarke will return to UVI to earn a master’s degree in computer science. She loves teaching and her dream is to own and operate a childcare center offering afterhours care to meet the needs of single parents that may need their children tutored, fed and nurtured after 5:30 p.m. “I do look forward to becoming an educator on island,” says Watts-Clarke.

Senior Erick Willie to Become First Tubist to Graduate from UVI

UVI music student Erick Willie will become the first tubist to graduate from UVI. He will earn a bachelor’s degree in music education and will graduate magna cum laude.

Originally from St. Croix, Willie transferred to the University’s St. Thomas Campus as a freshman. “In the beginning it was a bit rough because I had not been playing for a year,” he says. But with the help of many of the professors in the Music Department he was able to adjust. 

UVI music student Erick Willie
Willie credits the arrival of UVI music Professor Dr. Leroy Trotman, two years ago, for helping him to excel. “It’s been a blessing since he has come here to the University,” he says. “He has so many resources and he saw my potential as a tuba player.” Dr. Trotman was only required to instruct Willie once a week, but took it upon himself to add an additional lesson. “For the past two years, I have been training under his directions and it has been awesome,” says Willie. 

“I am so pleased with his growth,” says Dr. Trotman. “Mr. Willie is the ideal student in music. I am hoping to see more students like him coming through the Music Department and other schools at UVI.”

The tuba is known for an ‘Umpa Umpa’ sound, but Willie is able to make melody come from a tuba. With his talent, Dr. Trotman says Willie will be able to teach his future students through instruction and by example. “I can sit here and say all of us should be really proud,” says Dr. Trotman. It is his hope that Willie will work for few years before continuing his education. “I am 100 percent sure it would benefit him even more if he earned a master’s degree in performing arts for the tuba,” he says.

Willie has served as the public relations officer for the St. Thomas Chapter of the Golden Key International Honour Society and is a Thurgood Marshall College Fund Walmart First Generation Scholar Mentor at UVI. He is also president of Musicians On A Rise and a member of Who’s Who Among American Universities and Colleges. Willie is the recipient of scholarships from the Board of Education and a two-time recipient of the Kenneth E. Harrigan Scholarship.

After commencement, Willie hopes to be gainfully employed as a band director/music teacher on St. Croix. He has always known that he wanted to be an educator. “As a teacher I hope to mold young minds and help them to see the importance of music and the arts in education,” says Willie. “I do understand that academics are top priority, but music and the arts in general help students to unwind and get into their own emotional side where they can enhance the academics. People who participate in music tend to do a lot better in the mathematics, sciences and English because they are using all parts of the brain.”

Willie continued, “I plan to make a positive impact to put some pressure on the young males to excel in school.” He plans to let them know it is okay to be academically talented and okay to go to college instead of going out looking for a job after high school.


UVI Commencement 2014 – At a Glance…

St. Thomas: Saturday, May 17, 2014
Sports & Fitness Center, St. Thomas Campus     Time: 7 p.m.

St. Croix: Sunday, May 18, 2014
Campus Grounds, Albert A. Sheen Campus         Time: 2:30 p.m.

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. - Harvard Professor, Filmmaker, Literary Scholar

Additional Honorary Degree Recipients:
            Hon. Ron de Lugo and Horace Clarke

More Information: UVI 2014 Commencement Details (click to view)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

UVI Receives Largest Gift Ever to Develop New Medical School

 Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria speaks, as honored guests look on. Seated from left: Schneider Regional Medical Center CEO Dr. Bernard Wheatley, Juan F. Luis Hospital CEO Dr. Kendall Griffith, Boston University School of Medicine Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs and Director of the Office of Medical Education Dr. John Wiecha, Senate President Shawn-Michael Malone, Governor John P. de Jongh Jr., and UVI President Dr. David Hall.
When Dr. David Hall was inaugurated as the University of the Virgin Island’s president in 2010, he asked the UVI community to share his vision of greatness. On April 25, one of those visions moved closer to reality when UVI announced a $30 million gift for the development stage of a medical school in the territory. Both the gift and the medical school are historic for UVI and the Virgin Islands.

“There are times when a compelling vision is delayed because of the absence of resources, both human and capital,” said Dr. Hall at the Government House announcement. “There are times when a compelling need goes unaddressed because we are not courageous enough to overcome our fears of failure. There are times when progress is held captive by the forces of doubt and division.” He continued, “This day has been ushered into existence because the University, working collaboratively with so many dedicated individuals and institutions, had created a vision, secured critical capital resources, conquered our fears and is now ready to step out on faith so that we can help enhance the quality of healthcare in the Virgin Islands, and thus improve the lives of so many individuals in the territory.”

The $30 million gift was made by New Generation Power (NGP) and its Chairman, Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria and was announced one week after a unanimous vote by the UVI Board of Trustees allowing President Hall to commence the development phase for the medical school that UVI will develop in partnership with the Territory’s two hospitals – Schneider Regional Medical Center on St. Thomas and Juan F. Luis Hospital on St. Croix.

“This is a historic day in the life of the University of the Virgin Islands and the Virgin Islands,” said President Hall. “Dr. Kathuria’s gift is the largest in the history of the University, and its impact will last for generations to come. Many Virgin Islanders will receive improved healthcare because of this generous gift,” he said.

VI Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. and UVI President David Hall
Discussion and planning for the medical school began in 2010 with the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), which has been very instrumental in helping UVI move in this direction. Some BUSM students have been taking their fourth year electives at Schneider Regional Medical Center for the last two spring semesters.

“We congratulate our UVI colleagues on this generous gift,” said Dr. Karen Antman, dean of the Boston University School of Medicine. “The development of a medical school will attract medical faculty to the islands and foster collaboration among VI hospitals,” Dr. Antman said. “Graduates will consider establishing practices in the VI, raising the number of physicians and improving access to health care.”

The goal of the project is to develop a high-quality medical education program that relies heavily on the use of innovative teaching techniques, educational technology, and community care training that produces knowledgeable and caring physicians committed to helping the Virgin Islands’ communities, President Hall explained. This transformative endeavor for the VI and the University will present an opportunity for the Territory to establish the only English-speaking medical school in the Caribbean accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), the group that accredits medical schools in the United States and Canada.

According to President Hall, LCME-accreditation will ensure that UVI develops a high quality medical school that operates according to the highest academic standards. A medical school in the Virgin Islands would enhance the quality of healthcare, help address the nation’s and Territory’s anticipated physician workforce shortages in the future, help populate the physician workforce in the VI and Caribbean with the regions’ own residents and citizens, and contribute to economic development.

Dr. Kathuria, a global entrepreneur and innovator, has founded and built multiple businesses that have generated shareholder wealth and created numerous jobs worldwide. He founded NGP, a global developer, investor, owner and operator of infrastructure assets in three key areas – utility scale power generation, distributed generation, and mining exploration and extraction. Recently, NGP, a Chicago-based renewable energy company, together with UVI, signed a landmark power purchase agreement for a solar panel project on UVI’s two campuses.

Dr. Kathuria, who holds a medical degree, in describing his motivation for the gift said: “We are honored to be part of this historic endeavor that will significantly improve the healthcare of the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Our goal with the USVI medical school is to establish new trends in providing health care using advanced technology, such as remote healthcare monitoring and diagnoses, and cutting edge research that could lead to improved health outcomes for people globally.”

“Always try to make the world a little better place before you leave,” said Dr. Kathuria quoting his father. “We hope that what we’re doing here will help improve the quality of life of all the people of the Virgin Islands.”

Virgin Islands Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. has also committed to help provide funding for the medical school, creating a public and private partnership that President Hall said is essential for success.

UVI Board of Trustees Chairman Alexander A. Moorhead, VI Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr., Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria, and UVI President David Hall pose for a photo at Government House.
“By approving the development of the medical school just last week and endorsing the gift agreement with Dr. Kathuria of New Generation Power, the UVI Board of Trustees has taken a major step forward in the development of the Virgin Islands,” Gov. de Jongh, Jr. said. “The Virgin Islands is truly fortunate to be eligible for accreditation of its planned medical school. America's Liaison Committee on Medical Education is the accreditation body for medical schools in the United States and Canada, and it would also extend its authority to the Virgin Islands, as the only English-speaking United States territory in the Caribbean,” he continued. “This advantage over every other medical school in the Caribbean will put UVI's Medical School on the map and ensure its success.”

“I fully expect that the opening of the medical school will change the health care landscape of the Virgin Islands, as well as enhance the University of the Virgin Islands’ reputation as the preeminent learning institution in the region,” Gov. de Jongh added.

Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen, Senate President Shawn-Michael Malone, some senators of the 30th Legislature and UVI President Emeritus Dr. Orville Kean were on hand for announcement.

“We are in support of having this medical school and stand ready to assist the University and administration in this endeavor,” said Sen. Malone of himself and his colleagues in the 30th Legislature. He noted the positive economic impact that the medical school will have on the territory.

Delegate Christensen said her office has reached out to the U.S. Economic Development Administration at the Department of Commerce, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the Congressional Research Office to seek what funding would be available for construction purposes. “We look forward to working with all concerned to the fruition of this establishment of a University of the Virgin Islands School of Medicine,” she said.

“Establishing a medical school in the United States Virgin Islands will give this Territory an opportunity to grow its own qualified doctors and workforce that will help alleviate the future healthcare needs in the territory,” said Schneider Regional Medical Center CEO Dr. Bernard Wheatley.

“We at the Governor Juan F. Luis Hospital are excited and primed to do our part to ensure that this medical school will be a success,” said Juan F. Luis Hospital (JFL) CEO Dr. Kendall Griffith. “Dr. Hall you have at your side very qualified and dedicated physicians who are ready and eager to create an academic environment at JFL.”

“I am very excited about this,” said Kimberlee Smith, UVI Student Government Association President on the St. Thomas Campus. “Not only will the medical school bring students to the University of the Virgin Islands, but it will expose students already enrolled at UVI to the medical field. Dr. Hall is doing an awesome job.”

She continued, “This is an opportunity to bring more people into the Virgin Islands.”

“I am really glad it came into fruition in such a short time,” said Kevin Dixon, UVI SGA President on the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix. “I am really glad that it is going to benefit students and the territory as a whole.”

Dr. Kathuria’s gift will allow UVI to begin the development stage, which includes creating a curriculum, developing affiliation agreements with the hospitals and clinics, developing partnerships with other medical schools and hospitals, and commencing the accreditation process with the LCME. UVI will create an endowment fund that will provide continuous funding for the medical school. UVI is currently in talks with Dr. Benjamin Sachs to act as dean of the new medical school. He is former dean of the Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, La.

Securing additional development and operational funding remains a goal for the project. The University estimates that $10 million from local and national donors is still needed to make the medical school a reality. Tuition costs are estimated to be below market for Caribbean medical schools and UVI hopes to enroll its first class in 2016-2017.

UVI had collaborated with NGP before. Last August, UVI entered into a power purchase agreement with NGP to build a three-megawatt photovoltaic system that is expected to produce 4.5 million kilowatt-hours annually. The system will use approximately 4.2 acres on the St. Thomas Campus and 3.9 acres of the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix.