The 2017 graduating class of the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College comprised of 190 students will be part of the push to take the Territory to higher levels of achievement.
This year’s class comprised students from both the Tortola and Virgin Gorda campuses. The total included 133 females and 57 males. 172 students received Associate Degrees, and 18 received Certificates of Achievement.
Chairman of the HLSCC Board of Governors, Dr Charles Wheatley urged the graduates to be part of the solution: “You are part of the struggle to create a community where people respect one another as God’s children and not as commodity or things. You are part of the struggle to stop the trading and use of illegal drugs. You are part of the struggle to wipe out the use of guns and other destructive weapons, and to save lives.” “You are part of the struggle to stand for equity in public and private affairs. You are part of the struggle to increase opportunities for those behind you. You are part of the struggle to improve the quality of life for all who reside in this Territory and beyond,” Dr Wheatley further said while he charged graduates to appreciate the importance of self-worth.
Premier Dr. D. Orlando Smith announced that the graduation is a milestone for not only the students and the institution, but the Territory as well: “This achievement is not only about you, it’s also about the British Virgin Islands,” the BVI Leader noted.
“Let us use our degrees to make a difference…,” Student Responder Zahra Corion-Durante admonished her graduation class. She advised her fellow graduates to remain curious and to be always open to life’s lesson. “We must be open to constructive criticism, and be willing to accept the things that may seem out of our comfort zones…We can’t expect to change the world and make an impact if we ourselves don’t want to accept change… Change begins with us,” she added.
The keynote address for this year’s graduation was delivered by Clinical Psychologist Dr Michael Turnbull who spoke encouraging and empowering words to the graduates and used an inspiring poem to drive the lesson home.
The central message of the speech was the importance of goals and decisions. “Every big decision, everything that is done up to today, you have to start with the end in mind. The first thing you have to do is think big. You cannot allow yourself and your thoughts and ideas to be limited to just being an associate level graduate. You cannot allow the letters behind your name to limit your potential and what you are able to accomplish. You are more than what meets the eye.”
In urging the men and women in the audience to strive for more, Dr. Turnbull exhorted all to dream big, and have faith in their dream: “Do not allow yourself to be distracted. To accomplish your dreams, stay focused and run your own race. Sometimes when you’re trying to do something great in your life, you get distracted and wonder what race you’re supposed to be running.”
He added, “Obstacles will come, it’s not going to be easy. Nothing significant is done without sacrifice. Some of you might feel alone and can’t go any further, but you’re stronger together.”
Minister of Education and Culture, Hon. Myron Walwyn announced that this year’s graduation class is strong evidence that the negative stereotypes surrounding some of the Territory’s youths are not true.
“Very often the negativity surrounding a few young people is also characterized as the behaviour of all our young people. I want to put it to you that the small bit of anti-social behaviour is not a true and accurate representation of the young people of the Territory of the Virgin Islands. Today is evidence of that, as we have 190 young people and some young at heart who are proving these negative theories wrong.”
The Education Minister also used the opportunity to impart some life lessons to the graduates and urged them to be careful of those they share their dreams and plans with: “You will find people who you think are in your corner, but [they]are actually not. You will find people who wish you well until you start to do well. And you will find those who will lift you up and who will celebrate your successes. Whatever experience you have, make sure that you learn from it,” he said.
Special Awards and Honours
Two full time students graduated with a grade point average (GPA) of 4.0 this year. These students are: Julissa Cedano — Associate’s Degree in General Science, and Zora Williams — Associate’s Degree in Natural Science.
The part-time student with the highest GPA this year is Weslene Walters who graduated with a 3.90 GPA, and an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration and Accounting.
Andre Kartick who graduated with three Associate Degrees (General Science, Natural Science and General Studies) earned the Phi Theta Kappa award. Keneau Georges of Virgin Gorda who graduated with an Associate Degree in Computer Studies was awarded the Jenzebar Scholarship. Mrs. Stephanie Russ-Penn was voted faculty member of the year.