Tourism Sponsors National Association of Black Journalists Meeting, Sends Two UVI Students

Featured Photo: Gov. Kenneth Mapp speaks to Patrice Harris and Nathalie Trow-McDonald about job opportunities at the NABJ founders’ reception in Washington, D.C. (photo courtesy of Bevan Springer).
Nathalie Trow-McDonald

Last weekend the V.I. Tourism Department sponsored two local university students to attend the first joint convention of the National Association of Black Journalists and National Association of Hispanic Journalists in Washington, D.C.

For the last six years, Tourism has been a corporate sponsor for the annual NABJ convention in an effort to bring a more culturally diverse pool of tourists to the territory.

As a communications student at the University of the Virgin Islands entering my junior year, I was invited to attend the meeting along with Patrice Harris, a recent UVI communications graduate who spoke at the school’s St. Thomas 2016 commencement ceremony. Attending the meeting was an opportunity to expand our career horizons and learn from minority journalists.

“It was a strategic decision to strengthen the territory’s outreach to multicultural markets and especially the African American community,” explained Beverly Nicholson-Doty, Tourism commissioner.

Nicholson-Doty continued, “Sponsoring NABJ is one way the department can demonstrate its support of and belief in the important work its members are called to do – ensure an educated, informed citizenry, which is the basis of our nation’s democratic ideals.”

This is the third consecutive year that university students have joined the V.I. delegation to represent the territory at the meeting and showcase its young talent.

“The Department of Tourism has sponsored students from the University of the Virgin Islands thanks to the encouragement of UVI Professor Dr. Alexander Randall,”  Nicholson-Doty said. “The department believes firmly in educating and empowering our young people so they can be prepared to be future leaders, thinkers and change-makers. Students of the communications arts, including journalism, have a key role to play in this regard. We believe exposing them to rich experiences such as NABJ is an investment in our future.”

Nicholson-Doty said Tourism continues to work with NABJ because it’s a great venue to showcase all the Virgin Islands has to offer to people who can spread the word. Steel pans, soca music and a mocko jumbie gave attendees a taste of the Virgin Islands during a special evening event hosted by Tourism.


Amber Sizemore of the SpeakEasy M.E.D.I.A. Foundation, left presents scholarships to Nathalie Trow-McDonald and Patrice Harris at the NABJ Salute to Excellence Gala (photo courtesy of Bevan Springer).

“This is a prime opportunity to tell the USVI story to an audience of highly educated professional men and women who are not only stewards of information but also travelers,” said Nicholson-Doty. “On a more individual level, we are able to develop and nurture personal relationships with journalists who focus on travel, tourism, sustainability, history, culture, culinary arts or a variety of niches where the USVI has much to offer.”

Governor Kenneth Mapp gave a speech at the NABJ Founders’ Reception held in the new Smithsonian National Museum for African American History and Culture slated to open in September.

“As African Americans, we have really made great strides in this nation,” Mapp said. “Yet we have a long road to travel. So I say to each of you, continue to do the fine work that you do in reporting to our communities, reporting to the nation and reporting to the world.”

Following Mapp’s speech, Nicholson-Doty gave out prizes that included three-night stays at local hotels in both St. Thomas and St. Croix, as well as airfare to the islands on any date of the winner’s choosing. Throughout the event Ryan Joseph, a trumpet player from St. Croix, and his jazz band.

Due to our association with the Tourism Department, Harris and I received tickets to see Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speak, as well as a special sneak-peak of the new museum.

During a panel discussion preceding Clinton’s speech, a journalist said, “We need more people of color in the journalism field because we need to be telling our own story and not having others tell us what is going on in our own communities.”

A number of inspirational journalists spoke, including Jarrett Hill, who discovered the similarities between Melania Trump’s Republican National Convention speech and a speech given previously by First Lady Michelle Obama.  And several famous authors held meet and greets, such as actor and author Hill Harper.

The conference extended beyond news media: Harris and I attended one of the first screenings of the upcoming Disney movie, “Queen of Katwe,” which included an exclusive question and answer session with one of the main actresses, Lupita Nyong’o. Other movies screenings that star black people included “Loving,” “Hidden Figures,” “Southside with You” and “Birth of a Nation.” Conference attendees were also introduced to Disney’s first Latina princess, Elena of Avalor.

Workshops that gave us tips to become better multimedia journalists were interspersed between lectures, and a career fair offered opportunities for potential internships and job positions.

At the end of the annual NABJ Salute to Excellence Gala, Harris and I were each awarded a $500 scholarship by the Speak Easy M.E.D.I.A. Foundation, which was created to provide scholarships to youth in the United States and the Caribbean interested in pursuing a career in the field of communications. Harris received her scholarship in tears, knowing how proud her late father would be of her accomplishments.

Currently UVI has a four-year bachelor’s degree program in Communications as well as its own student run media outlets, including a radio station, WUVI AM-1090/97.3 FM, and an online newspaper, The Voice. There are plans in the making to establish an NABJ Student Affiliate chapter at UVI.

WUVI station manager Dara Monifah Cooper said, “I’m looking forward to selecting students from St. Croix next year” to attend the NABJ convention. “They do a lot,” Cooper said, “but have yet to be selected to attend and I aim to change that.”




Participants taped their mouths as a way to exhibit the effects of anti – LGBTQ acts.

Olinger Augustin |

ST. CROIX – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning organization ONELOVE, held their second annual Day of Silence, hosting a silent march on the Albert A. Sheen campus.

On Thursday, April 14, students, staff, faculty and community members joined together to take a vow of silence to address the issue of anti-LGBTQ and bullying acts. Participants illustrated silence by taping their mouths to showcase the effect of bullying and harassment on those perceived to be LGBTQ.

ONELOVE member, Michael Rosario, had a comment on the event. “What we wanted to do with this march is to show that we weren’t going to be silent anymore. This is the third or fourth event we’ve done on campus, and we just want the UVI community to know that there is an LGBTQ organization that is willing to represent and have a voice for anyone who needs our help.” Continue reading UVI CELEBRATES DAY OF SILENCE



Volunteers repaint the kiosk information center as part of Pride Week activities.

Olinger Augustin |

ST. CROIX – Students, faculty, and staff met on Monday, March 28 to provide a day of service on the Albert A. Sheen campus by sprucing up the kiosk information center.

As part of the university’s annual Pride Week, the UVI community gathered to provide community service on the campus itself.

Student Activities’ Hedda Finch-Simpson noted, “Often times we tend to go off campus to provide community service, but this time we decided to bring it to the actual campus to get students excited about school pride.” Continue reading UVI PRIDE DAY OF SERVICE

Graduating student satisfied with UVI experience

Che-Raina D. Warner |

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.

“The fact that the culture of the Virgin Islands was represented through performances, art, food and music for both tourists and locals gave me an ecstatic heartwarming emotion,” noted Contestant no. 7, Patricia Francis. Continue reading UVI CONTESTANTS PARTICIPATE IN ANNUAL ST. CROIX QUEEN’S RETREAT

Tuition increase looms as UVI challenges continue

Patrice Reneé Harris |


Aerial View of UVI St. Thomas Campus. Photo Credit:

ST. THOMAS — Students at the University of the Virgin Islands will have to brace themselves for a possible tuition increase in the upcoming academic year in light of the university’s continued fiscal challenges. As the university continues to tighten its belt amidst decreasing government appropriations, increasing tuition will likely be one of the new schemes to improve its financial situation.

In an email on Feb. 9, David Hall, president of the University of the Virgin Islands alerted the UVI community that there was a deficit in the 2016 fiscal year budget. Dr. Hall explained the three main factors that contributed to the deficit.

“This present challenge is a result of various factors, including (1) the drop in enrollment over the previous fiscal years from 2,700 students to 2,300 students which has lowered our revenues and unfortunately we have not made the appropriate adjustment in expenditures; (2) the drop in our government appropriations over the previous fiscal years has eliminated a lot of the flexibility in our operating budget; and (3) some of our accounting controls have  not forced units to stay within their budgeted amounts,” the email read.

In an interview with the UVI Voice on Feb. 15, President Hall explained that the units were not maliciously overspending, but accumulated unpaid bills that rolled over from the end of the previous fiscal year.

In light of such, President Hall said the university is introducing new monitoring tools. These controls include denying authorization for purchases that exceed department budgets, closely monitoring department budgets towards the end of the fiscal year, and bringing forward the cut off point for orders and purchases.

“All of us have to be much more willing to stay within the budgets we are given and not exceed them, even when they are good reasons to do it,” Hall said.

In an effort to mitigate the impending deficit of $1.4 million, the president asked each unit of the university to reduce its budget by 4.8 percent for fiscal year 2016. In doing so, Dr. Hall asked each department to ensure that the reduction in budget does not affect employees’ jobs nor the quality of students’ education.

According to Hall, the fall in enrollment by some 400 students significantly affects the school’s operational budget, as the faculty size remained the same.

“We are also attempting to enhance our revenues through various new programs and especially through an increase in enrollment,” President Hall said. “The university is looking for ways to increase class sizes but not affect the quality of students’ education.”

Though the proposal is not final, Hall said a tuition increase is likely to be among the new measures to circumvent the deficit. The decision will only become final after the president proposes the tuition increase to the board and meets with the Student Government Associations and the student population.

Zoé Walker, vice president of the Student Government Association on St. Croix said the tuition increase is warranted in light of UVI’s fiscal challenges.

“I can understand why the students would find this proposed tuition increase frightening. But our students must remember that UVI currently has the most affordable tuition in the nation as an HBCU. In order for us to continue to receive a quality education in paradise, the university has to do certain things to achieve that, especially in light of a decrease in funds received from the government.”

Walker is also advocating for an improvement in the university’s payment option, stating that the options should be more flexible to accommodate students.

“I also believe that the university must observe that, although it is not a drastic increase, every student’s situation is different and (we) should make sure we have appropriate payment plans available,” Walker said.

Though the fiscal challenges are burdensome, President Hall is confident that UVI will overcome them as it has in the past.

“…I am still optimistic about UVI and where we are heading,” he said. “We have had fiscal challenges for the last four or five years. Students should not be fearful that this signals some major problem with the institution, but it is just unfortunately a part of doing business these days, where you have to tighten your belts and ensure you are generating more revenue. Besides a tuition increase, we are looking at new programs that can bring more revenue to the institution,” Hall said.

President Hall will present a revised fiscal year 2016 budget to the Finance and Budget Committee of the Board on Feb. 22 and approval is expected at its March 5 meeting.


Basketball Returns to the Albert Sheen Campus


UVI St. Croix Campus Basketball Team

Chris Sealey |

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.

“I felt we did well on the defensive end,” Krigger said, “when by playing pressure defense we forced turnovers, mainly because they were weak when it came to ball handling.” Continue reading Basketball Returns to the Albert Sheen Campus

University Prepares for Zika Virus


Update from the USVI Dept. Health posted to their webpage Feb. 16 2016

Alayna Belshe |

ST. THOMAS – The University of the Virgin Islands is taking the Zika virus situation seriously.

Friday UVI’s Emergency Management Committee hosted an informational forum featuring Dr. Dan Baden, of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and Dr. Esther Ellis, the territorial epidemiologist, of the VI Department of Health. UVI’s own nurse, Maritza DeCosta, director of the Student Health Center, also presented and directed the Q&A session following the presentations.

The purpose of the forum was to present known information on the Zika virus, to hear from the CDC representative, and to answer the UVI community’s questions.

Dr. Baden focused on Zika and pregnancy. His main point suggested that there is currently not enough data on Zika, although the CDC has confirmed that there is transmission of Zika from mothers to unborn children.

“Pregnancy does not increase infection rate,” said Baden. Regarding the recent connection made in Brazil between Zika and microcephaly, children born with small heads, he pointed out that there are two types of microcephaly. The primary type is due to genetics and the secondary type is a result of infections. Continue reading University Prepares for Zika Virus



ST. THOMAS – “…It is less about beauty and more about intellectual skill set and ambassadorial performance.” That’s how Che-Raina Warner characterized the 2016 Miss UVI Ambassadorial Competition, themed Broadway in Paradise. “I am proud to be one among a cadre of beautiful and intelligent contestants,” she said.

While the Voice doesn’t favor one contestant over another, we thought it would be interesting to see the competition through the eyes of one of our majors. Warner, 23, is a Communications junior at UVI set to graduate next spring and one of seven contestants who will be vying for the Miss UVI crown at an event slated for March 26 at the Reichhold Center for the Arts. Continue reading A COMMUNICATIONS MAJOR’S AMBASSADORIAL PLANS

Hall declares agricultural development essential to the Virgin Islands’ future

Che-Raina D. Warner |


Photo Credit: Che-Raina Warner

ST. CROIX – Before a tent-filled audience and surrounded by booths of vendors, St. Croix’s 45th annual Agrifest got off to a late but rousing start on Saturday, Feb. 13.

Among 100 platform guests and those making special remarks at the opening ceremony was President David Hall of the University of the Virgin Islands.

Agricultural development is fundamental to the Virgin Island’s future, the University President said.

“We realize that we need to do more in regards to agriculture development especially academic agricultural development,” he declared.

In noting the university’s efforts to advance and promote agriculture, he commented, “We are in the early stage of exploring how we can do more in regards to creating academic programs related to agriculture.”

Hall said he was delighted to know that the University continues to play a major role in Agrifest as a sponsor and participant, especially through its Cooperative Extension Services. Continue reading Hall declares agricultural development essential to the Virgin Islands’ future

Blues in the Caribbean

Photo Credit: Noelle Olive Photography
Right to left: Estelle Andrews, Rubina Wade, Jada M. Lark, Mimi de Seda, and Christina Harper

Alayna Belshe |

ST.THOMAS – Five women and one man, a love story that is sure to break hearts, opened Friday night at the Pistarckle Theater.
The musical, Blues in the Night, created by Sheldon Epps, takes place in a rundown hotel in Chicago with classic blues from the 30’s and 40’s telling the story of one man’s relationships with five very different women.
The cast is made up of fan favorites from previous Pistarckle shows such as Rock of Ages and The Heidi Chronicles, as well as new talent.

This musical has limited dialog and relies on the lyrics and actors to tell its seductive and emotional story. Pistarckle’s intimately sized venue is a perfect showcase for these voices backed up by local musicians.
The show dates run through Valentine’s Day weekend and ticket costs range from $17 to $52. There are student discounts available, so please have your student email address or ID ready when you purchase your tickets.
The remaining show days are: Feb. 12, 13, 19 and 20. Please call the box office at 340-775-7877 or go online to to make your purchase.




Members of the St. Kitts-Nevis Student Association graciously represent their table as they educate attendees about their organization and culture.

Olinger Augustin |

ST. CROIX – Community clubs and organizations gathered in hopes to Inspire by Example on the Albert A. Sheen Campus on Tuesday, Feb. 2.

Hosted by the campus’ Student Activities and Counseling/Career Services, UVI held the first annual Civic Service Fair themed “Inspire by Example.” The purpose of the fair was to give UVI students the chance to see what the businesses of the Virgin Islands have to offer in terms of community service.

Alongside various campus organizations, including The Substance Abuse and HIV Prevention Program Peer Educators, The St. Kitts/Nevis Student Association, Golden Key International Honor Society and The STX Residence Hall, were off-campus community organizations. These were American Red Cross, Yvonne Galiber Breast Cancer Foundation, AARP, Lutheran Social Services, The St. Croix Environmental Association and others, all to assist in educating the students.

A brand new organization, ONE LOVE, was represented by member Jude Ramirez.

“Our goal today is to just recruit more members into our group and allies to join us. Right now we have 12 members and two allies and we’re just looking to get more people into the group,” Ramirez said. ONE LOVE provides a safe haven for its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members and non-members.

Residence hall representatives used the fair as a way to advertise all the advantages there are to living on campus. Alternative Resident Assistant Janelle Edwards spoke on the importance of their appearance at the fair.

“We are trying to make the appearance more appealing to up and coming college students and transit students, and basically expressing what res life is all about,” Edwards commented.

The Civic Service Fair was the first of many annual fairs to come, according to organizers.


New Semester, New Approach


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.


davidbeavansDavid Beavans

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.

Continue reading New Semester, New Approach

UVI Bucs not deterred by last season’s losses


ST. THOMAS – If you ever need a lesson in determination and perseverance look no further than the UVI Men’s Buccaneers basketball team.

Continue reading UVI Bucs not deterred by last season’s losses

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