ST. THOMAS – He sauntered aimlessly into the classroom, ten minutes after the bell had rung, with his back stooped as if belabored by the small backpack. He shuffled to his desk, noisily pulled out a chair and slumped down with a sigh. His bag dropped with a thud on the floor.
Taking a cursory glance in front of him, he noticed the notes scrawled across the blackboard. Looking around the room, he quickly observed that his classmates were engaged in their classwork. Without even bothering to take his copy book from his bag, Jahlil, whose name like the others below have been changed, propped his head in the crook of his arm on the desk and closed his eyes for the entire session.
When the bell rang to signal the end of the class period, Jahlil lifted his head from the desk, yawned, stretched, rubbed the sleep from his eyes, picked up his bag from the floor, and left the room, as if in a daze.
“He’s like this most days,” his history teacher said. “He hardly does any work, but I continue to encourage him.”
Jahlil, 19, is just one of many students who appear to have little or no interest in academics. His school records show that he is failing all of his courses. Four other students who were interviewed are not faring any better. Brent, 17, is in ninth grade – for the third time. He thinks that school is a waste of time for him. He has no plans to graduate.
“School is boring,” Brent said. “I am going to drop out of school soon, get a job and get my own apartment. I’ve already discussed it with my mother and she agrees.”
ST. THOMAS, VI- Forecasting an imminent graduation season at the end of this semester, UVI students are proud to have weathered the storm.
From ensuring that they have undertaken all their required courses to working feverishly to ensure all passes, trailing their academic advisers to seek advice for a smooth transition from university life to their career path, seniors are experiencing a nerve-wracking yet thrilling semester.
In speaking with Tayla-Marie Manners, a senior accounting major, she said that upon the heels of graduation she feels quite accomplished.
“Through the multiplicity and variation in academic programs, I can say UVI has molded me into a well-rounded individual,” Manner said. She added that although she is an accounting major, given the opportunity to enroll in science and foreign language classes have helped to make her a very marketable graduate. Continue reading Graduating student satisfied with UVI experience→
Reigning Ms. UVI and contestants pose before having lunch
Photo by Markida Scotland
Olinger Augustin |
ST. CROIX – Traditionally, the Student Government Association’s Queens Committee hosts a weekend-long retreat for the Miss UVI Ambassadorial Competition’s participants. During the retreat, contestants follow a rigorous itinerary of public appearances, themed photoshoots, and are required to attend workshops on skills that may be beneficiary.
This year the SGA Queen’s committee made it a four-day weekend retreat, which gave the current contestants an idea of what their schedule would look like once selected to serve the prestigious title.
Like every other year, the current contenders’ first public community appearance was at the Annual St. Croix Agricultural Fair or Agrifest. Uniformed in white dresses with a touch of traditional madras, the seven gutsy young women paraded the fairgrounds with style and grace.
The seven contestants attending the opening day of the 45th Annual Agricultural Fair
Photo by Dale Morton
Contestant no. 2, Khadijah Lee, exclaimed, “I loved and admired the fact that the St. Croix Ag Fair involved the younger generation in each aspect of the fair, opening prayer done by a six-year-old and also a third grader leading the attendees in the National Anthem on piano.” Lee continued, “Not just a section, but a whole warehouse of art dedicated to agriculture, created by just about every school in St. Croix really sealed the deal for me!”
The Ag Fair appearance was just one of many activities the contenders experienced on St. Croix. Attending the Valentine’s Day Jump Up was a first for all of the contestants.
ST. CROIX – Opening UVI St. Croix’s Student Government League’s basketball season, the university welcomed the VI National Guard basketball team, the Spartans, to an exhibition basketball game on Thursday, Feb. 11. In the end, the university claimed victory over the visitors, winning the game 46-38. Eddie Castillo topped score with 15 points and Chris Sealey pitched in with 11 points.
Senior forward Sealey started the game scoring the UVI team’s first 8 points.
“Chris came out the hole firing,” Castillo stated after the game. “The team’s mindset early was to set the tone defensively which got the team going offensively.”
By the end of the first quarter Spartans were down by 8.
“I was definitely aware of players like Sealey and Castillo,” Coach Webster of the Spartans said. “I told my team to focus on those two players defensively.”
By halftime the score was tied at 26.
Webster started the second half with his team playing a half-court pressure defense. The Spartans forced some turnovers early, but the great ball handling of senior point guard Amali Krigger helped UVI gain a lead.
As the new semester starts, students here at the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) have a lot on their minds. Our staff went around surveying local and exchange students to learn their thoughts and opinions for the Spring Semester of 2016.
first semester exchange student
What was your first reaction to St. Thomas and/or UVI? What surprised you the most?
My first reaction to UVI was kind of bad. This school is super tiny compared to my college back home. I arrived and my phone didn’t have service, hardly anyone was on campus, I didn’t have the code for the WiFi, and there were problems with my room. It was pretty tough for the entire afternoon. Then I met some other National Student Exchange students at dinner and everything changed completely.
What was your biggest mistake of last semester/something you want to improve this semester?
Last semester, I slacked off at the beginning of my classes. Thus, I dug a hole for myself and was forced to climb out of it by the end of the semester. This semester I’m going hard in the beginning so it will be easier at the end.
What are your goals for the end of the semester?
My goals by the end of the semester are to visit a lot of places, make lifelong friends, and become more cultured.
ST. THOMAS- When 19-year-old DeLanni Matthew was surrounded by friends who all wanted to become members of the Buccaneer’s Cheerleading Squad last Spring, she decided to give it a shot.
Years ago, skirts didn’t exist to her. She would put up a fight whenever someone tried to get her out of her favorite basketball shorts. Now she can be found courtside shaking her pom poms in a tiny skirt.
To most of her friends, it was quite a shocker.
“Are you serious, I don’t even know who you are anymore,” ToQuoya George, long time friend of Matthew, said.
In junior high, when all the girls in her class were having conversations about hair and nails, she often stood out.
“I was the outsider all the time,” Matthew said, “I preferred basketball.”
Cheerleading, however, wasn’t the breakthrough for her.
She didn’t quite fit the petite look of the majorettes you see competing in the World Baton Twirling Federation International Cup, but she practiced baton twirling each summer with the Lutheran Church of Reformation from the young age of seven.
For this 5’9” computer science sophomore, the change officially began eight years ago. This was when she fully dedicated her heart to the sport and began twirling professionally.
“All the girly girls call themselves fashionistas, but me I’m a batonista,” Matthew said. “Twirling for me is more than just fun – it’s a way of life.”
Matthew was one of the few Charter Members of the eight-time champions, the St. Thomas Majorettes, Inc.
“I got a phone call from the assistant director of the organization and I took her to the first practice and we haven’t left since,” Brenda Monsanto, Matthew’s mother, said. “I didn’t take her seriously because whenever I tried to get her involved in something she never stuck to it but she proved me wrong.”
Even though she had been used to performing, for her, being a cheerleader was like being a totally different person.
“Cheerleaders are supposed to have school spirit and be perky all the time and that wasn’t me,” Matthew said.
To many, Matthew is considered a star performer. Her fellow cheerleaders look up to her and expect a lot.
“DeLanni Matthew is a talented and well-rounded student. The enthusiasm and skill that she has brought to the team is a great example of what a university cheerleader should look like,” Thia Homer, captain of the Bucs Cheerleading Squad, said. “She represents us well and is always encouraging others to do well also.”
Outside of classes, she has been very involved in student organizations. She is known for her participation in the Social, Cultural and Carnival Organizing Committee in the 2012-2013 school year. Many of her peers were granted an opportunity to see her perform in the Dining Pavilion during the First Annual Carnival Week in March of 2013.
Matthew also enjoys reading, playing games on her iPad and most importantly spending time with family and friends outside of school and performances.
Though she is over the age limit to perform in the annual Carnival Children’s Parade whenever there is an opportunity to perform, on or off island, she goes for it.
“DeLanni has proven herself to be a very dedicated and talented contributing member to the majorettes,” said Alicia Gumbs, secretary of the organization. “Even though she has graduated and is attending college, she continues to give up her time in order for the group to remain a success.”
So when you see her around campus, baton or no baton, pom poms or no pom poms, feel free to ask her to show you one of her famous “Olympic” toe touches. If you get lucky, she might even teach you.
ST. CROIX — Jack Welch once said, “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”
St. Croix— Jack Welch once said, “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”
There are leaders of large nations and small organizations, but great leaders strive to help and inspire others; they “have a heart for outreach.” Student Government Association (SGA) President Kevin Dixon has been described as one such leader.
Since being elected president last year, Kevin has made it his mission to “move the organization forward” in order to better serve the student body. Under his leadership, SGA has become an organization that junior Zoe Walker believes “could really make a difference.”
A senior majoring in business administration with a concentration in marketing, Kevin Dixon is a very busy person. On his second year at UVI, he decided to “get involved” on campus and that has been one of his goals ever since.
In addition to being second-term SGA president, Kevin Dixon is also a member of several other clubs, organizations and committees on campus. These include the UVI Senate, the Honorary Degree Committee, the Voices of Inspiration Choir and the St. Croix Presidential Advisory Committee. With so much on his plate, Dixon still manages to excel in his classes and is even the student ambassador for the Thurgood Marshal College Fund.
How does he do it? “Long nights and weekends” and learning to “balance and prioritize.”
“It’s stressful, but knowing the stress is worth it, makes it okay. When you have a purpose, it makes up for all the stress and when it’s over and you know you did things right and people enjoyed it, it’s all worth it.”
One word Kevin Dixon tries to live up to is “ambitious.” He is motivated by “that sense of having an impact.”
Even at sixteen he had taken on leadership positions in an effort “to help change lives.” He led walks in the American Cancer Society Relay for Life in which his group raised the most money. During his second year at UVI, Kevin joined SGA and became its public relations officer. He then became treasurer and worked his way “up the scale” to president of the organization.
However, Kevin has not always been the confident and charismatic young man you can see walking around campus greeting people with a smile. Before becoming a leader, Kevin faced his own struggles to “grow himself.”
When he moved here from St. Kitts in 2003, Kevin was “shy and quiet” and he “did not like speaking in front of audiences.” Today, he can be seen giving speeches and representing various organizations at events.
He credits the change in him, in part, to the “support of his family members,” and Ms. Washington, Ms. Finch and Ms. Elliot. However, the greatest influence in Kevin’s life has been his pastor, who acted as “a mentor and role model” to a young Kevin Dixon.
Without the influence of people such as his pastor, Kevin believes he “would not be as involved on campus as he is.” He also “would not have grown as much as he has in the past few years” in which he has overcome most of his shyness to become the public figure he is on campus today. For that influence, says Kevin, he is “really grateful.”
Just as others have inspired and influenced his life, Kevin hopes to use his leadership skills to “inspire others” and “touch other people’s lives.”
As John Quincy Adams said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
For Kevin Dixon, “it is always a pleasure serving.” He advises students to “get involved” and “set themselves apart from other students by showing they are well rounded.” Kevin says about every situation, “make the best of it.”
Sophomore Felicia Emmanuel describes Kevin as “not only a strong leader, but also a visionary.
Using fresh ideas such as the SWAGG (Students with a Greater Goal) movement, he not only improved the appeal of SGA, but also how SGA stays current with the student body” Emmanuel said.
Because of Kevin’s dedication and effectiveness as a leader, several family members and individuals have been encouraging Kevin to run for government office. It makes sense, they argue, “since he has been setting himself up to do so.”
“It’s definitely something to think about,” says Kevin, but right now, he is focused on his last year at UVI and intends to “go out with a bang.”