Tag Archives: Caribbean

New Students Set Sail for Academic Success

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

IMG_0560Albert 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. Continue reading New Students Set Sail for Academic Success

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UVI PRIDE DAY OF SERVICE

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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

Tuition increase looms as UVI challenges continue

Patrice Reneé Harris |

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

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.

 

New Semester, New Approach

NATHALIE TROW-MCDONALD AND CHE-RAINA WARNER

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

USVI/BVI Friendship Day

By Symra Hendrickson

ST.THOMAS — Gov. John deJongh Jr. rolled out the red carpet this year to welcome the BVI delegates for the 41st USVI/BVI Friendship Day.

USVI/BVI Friendship Day is an opportunity for Virgin Islanders to reflect on the close ties that bind the two territories together. It was designed to strengthen and build upon the bond of friendship, history and shared cultures of the Virgin Islands. The theme of this year’s Friendship Day was “Ole Tyme Tings – Celebrating the Ties that Bind Us!” When the Friendship Committee said “Ole Tyme” they really meant it. There were Long Johns, local passion fruity and peanut punches and mini pineapple tarts. There were also coal pot demonstrations. Continue reading USVI/BVI Friendship Day

Bonnie Anderson Visits the University of the Virgin Islands

Bonnie M. Anderson 27-year news veteran, visited the University of the Virgin Islands on Monday Nov. 18 to speak with communication majors and other students.

Where are all the Men?

Where are all the Men?

CHRIS SEALEY|

ST. CROIX –Finding a male student at the University of the Virgin Islands is equivalent to finding an Eskimo in the Caribbean. At the university, 31 percent of freshmen are male and 29 percent of all undergraduate students are male. The typical undergraduate student at UVI is a mature local woman attending full time.

creg brown, part of the 28 percent of 2013 UVI male graduates
Creg Brown, one of the 29 percent of 2013 UVI male graduates

But why is this happening? Are young women simply more ambitious and harder-working? Are men becoming increasingly disengaged from academia?

Female high-school students are more likely to aspire to attend college than their male counterparts and the young women enrolled in college, persist and graduate at higher rates as well, according to a report released on Aug. 28, 2012 by the National Center for Education Statistics.

When young women graduate from high school they tend to go straight into college with a plan set on a four-year degree.

Men decide to go college at a lower rate. For example, while almost three-quarters of female students who enrolled in college did so immediately after high school, just over two-thirds of male students did. Slightly less than half of young men first enrolled in a college or university.

In high school women paid more attention to the college searches than men. They would consult college websites, publications or search guides for information on college entrance requirements. Only 60 percent of male seniors reached out to college representatives for information.

Once in college, a higher percentage of women  stay enrolled and graduate, according to the statistics taken by BYU in 2004. Roughly 60 percent of all first-time, full-time bachelor-degree-seeking students who started college in 2004 had earned an degree six years later from the same institution. A greater proportion of women finished than men.

When asked about her take on the ratio of female students to male students, third-year student Nicole Foster said, “It’s not that there are more males than females on the islands it’s just that more women decided to come school than men.”

The purpose of higher education is to be more qualified for higher paying jobs.

Women don’t typically go for jobs in construction or security, which don’t necessarily require a degree. So women try to get the edge with a degree.

Miss UVI Competes for Miss NBCA Hall of Fame

Miss UVI Competes for Miss NBCA Hall of Fame

ANTTOINETTE B. ANDERSON|

ST.THOMAS- Miss University of the Virgin Islands, Murchtricia Charles represented the University of the Virgin Islands in the Miss National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame Competition from Sept. 25 – Sept. 29 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia.

Charles, whom was accompanied by Student Affairs representative Leon Lafond and Cherie Wheatley, competed for the title against 29 other college queens from Historically Black Colleges and Universities around the country.

She received an abundance of support from the UVI community and the Virgin Islands as a whole.

“The preparation process for Miss UVI’s participation in the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame competition was a blessing. We had been meeting with Mrs. Lisa Wynn-Magnuson, director/owner of The Virgin Islands Etiquette & Leadership Institute who also participated in the same competition several years ago and came in first runner up. Mrs. Magnuson has been consistent with preparing Murchtricia Charles for this event,” Lafond said.

Charles took the initiative to do plenty of research on her own and other preparations to educate herself for the competition that is a part of the university’s tradition.

Miss UVI (second to the left), among other participants of the competition
Miss UVI (second to the left), among other participants of the competition

“Truthfully, I was terrified going into the competition however I saw how welcoming everyone was and it enabled me to open up and be comfortable. The experience was educating and phenomenal overall. I left with new plans for student leadership for the University of the Virgin Islands,” Charles said.

Charles was excited about representing both the Virgin Islands and the University of the Virgin Islands amongst the other Historically Black College and Universities at the competition.

Charles was actively involved in the various sessions/workshops as part of her ambassadorial role at the competition in addition with the other queens. She participated in events such as the Queen’s Tea Party, visited local schools in Atlanta, personal interviews, and the Positive Image program.

“It may seem like a lot but Murchtricia Charles was fully prepared to partake in these events,” Lafond said.

The competition featured women who have been recognized by their respective colleges or universities with the coveted title of “College Queen.” The winner would carry the title of Miss NBCA Hall of Fame.

In addition, the competition provided an opportunity for young women attending our nations Historically Black Colleges and Universities to better prepare for the future.

 Though the program places emphasis on excellence, achievement and personal growth, it also strives to make the experience fun.

“There weren’t many challenges in our preparation process. I, along with her chaperone Ms. Cherie Wheatley, her other family and friends, especially her brother Jamal Drummond has been very supportive to her throughout the process,” Lafond said.

 “Unfortunately I did not place but it was a wonderful experience,” Charles said. “I learned so much about leadership and got to meet numerous other HBCU kings and queens. I grew as an individual and it was a very spiritual experience that I will never forget.”

Miss University of the Virgin Islands 2012-2013, Ivory Carter represented the Virgin Islands last year in the Miss NBCA Hall of Fame competition. Miss Morehouse College 2012-2013, Jasmine Mathews won the competition last year.

The UVI community wished their ambassador luck and supported Murchtricia Charles as she vied for the title of Miss NBCA Hall of Fame.

No Place to Create in the VI

Better resources and facilities needed for aspiring young artists

DENAE FLEMING

 ST. CROIX – In a society so rich and diverse in culture we find many ways of expressing ourselves as a people. Sweet combinations of various art styles connect us in ways that express how people feel, think and live. Whether it’s through music, dance, paintings, photos, videos, or illustrations, people as a whole interpret and obtain unique perspectives. They in turn share their own creative twist in hopes that someone can relate to and respect it.

 “It is strange that only around carnival time we tend to see a lot of art in a cultural aspect,” said Albert Hazard. Born in California, but a a resident of the territory since 1971.

 Hazard primarily started in the ceramics area of arts. He had accomplished 30 years’ of experience in teaching art and retired in 2003.

According to Hazard, art is all around us.

“We take it for granted and think that it is not important. Art is very important because without it life would be bland. Life would simply be black and white,” Hazard said.  “Students need some way to express themselves and an outlet to help develop their talents.”

Hazard has heard many parents say they don’t think arts are as important as other subjects. However, he believes that we have a lot of talented and gifted children in the Virgin Islands.

Although Hazard is retired, he has dedicated his time to St. Croix Educational Complex High School because they were in need of an arts instructor. His passion for art and his love for the future generation is why he agreed to come back to Complex and help students see a window of opportunity through the arts program.

Many believe the stigma in our society in the Virgin Islands that says we cannot make a living in the arts.

Ceramics foundation arts instructor, Dwydale Dariah. begs to differ.

“When people think of art, all they think about is drawing and painting; there is more to art than that,” said Dariah.

Dariah believes that as a career, the arts department is not taken seriously. Children are being discouraged out of pursuing their dreams because there is a lack of education as to how far arts can really take talented and inspired students.

Dariah was born in St. Lucia and has been an arts instructor for 13 years. He admires seeing each child’s  unique talents.

It saddens Dariah to see the drift in arts within the school system. With the lack of teachers and supplies it nearly seems impossible to facilitate students’ desires to get seriously involved in their passion for arts in the community.

“I believe 60 percent of the community could be better if there were better supplies and facilities to accommodate the youth of today. There is a trickle-down effect to things here,” Dariah Said. “If we as a people find more positive things for young people to do that will actually benefit them, we wouldn’t see as much crime and violence because they will be actively engaged.”

He stressed the need for more instructors, but feels that one reason the territory won’t receive any from abroad is because most won’t leave the mainland where there is better pay to come to the territory where resources are limited as well as income.

“For the sake of the children, we need change” Dariah said.

Marcus Castillo
Columbus College for Arts and Design Graduate Marcus Castillo

A student who wanted to pursue his dreams in the arts, Marcus Castillo, revealed his perspective on the matter.

“The possibility of students who leave the territory to reach opportunities and coming back home with the knowledge, skills, and talents is very small,” Castillo said. “If students can’t achieve their art potentials here because of limited funds, staffs, and supplies, at least inform the students that there are options outside of the territory although I feel as a diverse community we should have been able to provide for students who don’t have the privilege of going abroad.”

Castillo is a recent graduate of Columbus College for Arts and Design in Ohio, and one of the first from the territory to attend the college.

He was born in Dominican Republic but was raised in the Virgin Islands. Upon graduating from the St. Croix Educational Complex High School, Castillo made the decision to leave St. Croix to go to the mainland to acquire his Bachelor’s degree.

According to Castillo, It was a tough move to leave family and friends. The University of the Virgin Islands didn’t have a sufficient program that would help him the way he envisioned. Because of his move to the mainland he is currently working as an illustrator doing what he loves and has a passion for.

He did come back to the territory to do work, and when that backfired, he felt it was best to stay in the United States where he had more opportunities.

“I had a strong support system from family and friends,” Castillo said “but the man that helped me get where I am today is Mr. John Jones.”

Artwork by Marcus Castillo
Artwork by Marcus Castillo

Mr. Jones was Castillo’s art instructor throughout his high school life. He educated Castillo and pushed him positively in his talents and abilities because he saw the potential in him.

“The territory could do better with more multi-centers where children can go to feed their creative imaginations. Giving them something constructive to do, helps minimize idleness in the youth and provide them with something to do other than steal, fight, and get into trouble,” said Castillo. “I found an escape from a stereotype as a young man through my passion for arts; others should have that chance as well.”

Four Acres of Land Donated

ZENOBIA HOWE|

ST. JOHN – On Wednesday, Sept. 10 four acres of land were donated to University of the Virgin Islands on St John from compassionate locals with a flare for education.

The St John Academic Center held a reception in celebration of the generous donation from Marva Applewhite and Gloria Samuel, who are sisters and former teachers.

STJ_Land_Donation_Samuels

“Education has been the number one priority for our family,” Applewhite said.

Applewhite taught in New York before she came back home to the Virgin Islands and taught at Charlotte Amalie High School.

Samuel also taught at Charlotte Amalie as well as Ivanna Eudora Kean High School.

The sisters, in addition to the four acres, gave two acres of land to UVI back in 2002. All six acres are located in Estate Zootenvaal in Coral Bay and are valued at over $1.2 million.

“We decided to give back to the people of St John, the Virgin Islands, the Caribbean and the world,” Applewhite said. “I am very happy to donate the land and hope that it will be used to achieve goals that meet the needs of the institution.”

Applewhite and Samuel are the daughters of mason James Alfonso “Harry” Samuel, who built the original Cruz Bay Pier and the Benjamin Franklin School, now Guy Benjamin Elementary School.

“It was a generous token towards the advancement of education on St. John and I am eagerly awaiting its development,” said Dionne Wells, a relative of the sisters who came to show her support.

Linda Hill, who attended the donation ceremony, said, “I always admire people who give back to the community.”

Dionne Jackson, vice president of Institutional Advancement at UVI, said, “They wanted to be a part of UVI’s next 50 years of service to the Virgin Islands and St. John communities.”

UVI President Dr. David Hall noted, “Most people who make donations to the university are ‘folks of great wealth,’ Samuel and Applewhite are people of the soil. This is an example of sincere generosity and an investment to the people of St John. I am proud to be the president at this time.”

STJ_Land Donation

President Hall plans on building a Cultural Convention Center where visitors can come and learn about the rich history of the island. He also made sure to stress the importance of lobbying for funds as the project has been estimated to cost over $2 million.

This donation adds to the St. Croix campus, which is 130 acres and the St Thomas campus, which is 388 acres.

Excitement will be mounting until the unveiling of St John’s expansion. This land will not only broaden the UVI campus, but also allow students and visitors from everywhere to get familiar with Love City.

UVI’s “Journey to Greatness” Will Be Remembered in 50 Years

ARIGE SHROUF |

ST. CROIX — In the spirit of moving forward and acknowledging the past, Committee Chair Raquel Silver shared the progress of the time capsule project at the Charter Day Ceremony, “Our Journey to Greatness,” which took place via video conference on the University of the Virgin Islands’ St. Thomas and St. Croix campuses on March 15.

Silver said she sees the project as an opportunity for the members of the UVI community to pass on “legacies, lessons, knowledge, hopes, and dreams” to future members of the UVI community to show “how far we have come.”

Continue reading UVI’s “Journey to Greatness” Will Be Remembered in 50 Years