Feature Photo Caption: Ryan Shaw ready to take on the new academic year and next, the world. (Photo taken on St. Thomas courtesy of Adeola Adelekan, Orientation Leader)
By Alicia Taylor and Nathalie Trow-McDonald
Albert A. Sheen- St. Croix campus new student orientation island tour, August 20, at Point Udall. (Courtesy of Catey Mendoza, a National Student Exchange student from Alaska)
Albert A. Sheen – St. Croix Campus Orientation: Perspectives of An Exchange Student
Attending UVI is the beginning of our flight towards success. With the help of the orientation staff and student leaders, we were introduced to the flight attendants and captains that will assist in our navigation throughout the journey we call college.
Throughout our flight journey at UVI, we were instructed on safety precautions and instruments we can utilize to assist us. We were educated about campus security, dating and violence, sexual assault and physical and mental health concerns. Through counseling and health services, RAVE and a variety of other departments on campus, students can be reassured that the flight they are traveling on is a safe one.
The theme for orientation on the Albert A. Sheen campus on St. Croix was “Navigating Your Path to Academic Success,” hence all the flight metaphors.
Being a National Student Exchange (NSE) student, the Virgin Islands was an unknown territory waiting to be revealed to me. Attending orientation allowed me the opportunity to experience the university and the culture of St. Croix first hand.
The orientation staff and faculty made it their priority to make sure each student either learned or was reminded of the heritage of St. Croix and the Virgin Islands. Meals were prepared with a variety of foods local to the Caribbean, including the introduction of two local food trucks for students to try at lunch.
The St. Croix campus offered orientation students to take part in a movie night at the Caribbean Cinema, an island tour, bowling at Ten Pins and snorkeling lessons.
Of all the organized activities and events, the New Student Convocation and Buccaneer Welcome Reception was my favorite. Specifically, President Hall’s address to the students.
“He was engaging, relatable and genuinely cared about each of us individually,” said Cassie (Cassandra) Glodowski, a NSE student from Wisconsin. “He didn’t just see us as a statistic, but rather as a student of UVI.”
After walking the stage and being bestowed the medal, I felt like an official member of the Buccaneer community. UVI is proud of each and every student, whether they are here for a semester or five years. The bond created here is unbreakable and each individual of this community will assist in navigating you towards the path of academic success.
Regardless of the destination, you have allowed UVI to provide a stamp on your passport of life.
Excitement radiates during campus tours on St. Thomas, August 17. (Courtesy of Teresita Sanes, Orientation Leader)
St. Thomas Campus Orientation
For the more than 200 freshmen, 69 transfer students and 20 exchange students taking part, the New and Transfer Student Orientation was more than a tour of the St. Thomas campus and advice on classes. The program was designed to inspire them to succeed in college and in life.
The third annual Convocation Ceremony and Buccaneer Welcome Reception, held Thursday morning on August 18 in the Sports and Fitness Center, was the pinnacle of the week-long orientation. This year’s theme was “Set Sail for Success.”
Motivational speaker Keith L. Brown, who is also known as “Mr. I’m Possible,” hyped up the crowd, letting the young scholars know they will conquer and earn their degrees as long as they “don’t give away focus of their goal.” To demonstrate the point, he handed his glasses to a convocation participant and shared with the audience how he could no longer see clearly.
“I want to thank all the faculty and team members who made this convocation possible. Notice, I call them ‘team members’ and not ‘staff’ because Moses carried a staff, but we don’t carry them, they carry us,” Brown said as he encouraged the crowd to join him in chanting, “G. Double O. D. J. O. B. Good job, good job!”
Brown had all of the employees of the school who were in attendance, including orientation leaders and professors in traditional academic regalia, come to the front of the stage and dance in front of the new scholars as a way to demonstrate that these leaders are approachable.
“You are all now in a scholar-ship setting sail for success, but you can’t make it without the support of those sitting around you today,” Brown said.
Brown called up about 10 male students to demonstrate the importance of teamwork and support. He had the group pick up their fellow student, Kenique Liburd, and collectively carry him above their heads across the gym and then gently place him back on the ground.
Liburd was nervous for this journey, letting out an, “Oh God,” as the other young men lifted him into the air, but he demonstrated his trust for his peers by following through until the end.
Brown’s inspirational speech was full of helpful tips for college success. He told the students to always sit in the front row so the teacher quickly learns who they are and develops a connection with them.
Other speakers on the St. Thomas campus included UVI President David Hall, Dean of Students Verna Rivers, UVI Student Government President and Vice President Dewein Pelle, and Kaunda Williams respectively. The mistress of ceremonies was Miss UVI 2016-2017, CheRaina Warner.
“If you remember nothing else from today,” Warner said, “please remember to become involved in creative leadership in your classroom, creative leadership on your campus, and creative leadership in your community.”
A surprise duet of Adele’s “Hello” was performed by Ka’Reema Moses, a junior criminal justice major, and Leon Lafond, director of Student Activities.
“I left (the) convocation feeling good about myself,” said Jacob Hayes, a new transfer student from Illinois. “When I moved here, I felt a sort of separation anxiety, but orientation, and especially convocation, was pretty welcoming, warm and friendly. It made me feel like I could make a home again.”
Orientation activities on the St. Thomas included campus tours, free fracos, a resource fair for both on and off-campus organizations, an island sightseeing tour, and a free screening of “Batman vs. Superman” on the Herman E. Moore Golf Course.
Fall orientation consisted of much smaller crowds and shorter lines for advisement, registration, and financial aid on both campuses, as it followed the first early summer orientation on both campuses in July that catered to 180 new students from the territory.
“Honestly, this orientation was better than previous ones,” said Adeola Adelekan, who has been an orientation leader for the last two years and is a senior biology major. “With less people, the team of orientation leaders was more efficient.”