On 28 June, 93 students graduated from the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College and were generously praised for their decision to continue with the institution following the damages buildings sustained following the passage of hurricanes Irma and Maria last September.
In her address President of the College Janet Smith described the 2017-2018 academic year as a challenging one. “While classes got underway as usual on 21 August 2017, operations were interrupted by the hurricanes of 6 and 21 September. There were considerable damages to the classrooms, computer laboratories, equipment, and science labs. Classes resumed on 23 October, but only in the daytime. Only 379 of the 663 full time students who had enrolled in August returned.”
The President shared that through much of the first four months after reopening the college’s operations at all levels were hampered by the limited availability of electricity, technology and other conveniences.
The difficulties faced by the students were also mentioned by Chairman of the Board of Governors, Dr. Charles Wheatley who addressed the graduation under the theme “we will rise.” Dr. Wheatley outlined the loss of instructional space and equipment following the hurricanes and thanked the students for staying with the college though their “instructional surroundings were compromised.”
Dr. Wheatley said that there were also issues of mold infestation which affected both staff and students and said that the college had difficulty containing and remedying the mold. This mold issue is said to have placed a strain on both staff and students.
The Chairman of the Board disclosed that the college lost senior faculty members and staff through the year and because of that was not as successful and exciting in their Phi Theta Kappa program this year. Nonetheless, he said, despite the challenge this graduating class performance is comparable with those before them.
Vice President of the College Judith Vanterpool also shared the story of how the graduates persevered: “You came to campus when our computers were down, but you came. Some of you brought your own internet boxes and you shared them with others; that is what I call your persistence. Irma has taught our young people to connect as well. They did their homework by flashlight trying to concentrate with the drone of a generator.”
Minister for Education Hon. Myron Walwyn also lauded the graduates commitment to their studies: “We had a myriad of issues that compromised the learning experience for you…Today I am sure that each one of you are stronger mentally now than you were before and I ask each one of you to give yourself a round of applause.” The Minister also thanked the Board of Governors of the College and President Janet Smith for their role in ensuring that the students got to this point.
During the 2018 graduation exercise nine students were awarded Certificates of Achievement and 93 awarded Associate of Science degrees. This year’s President’s award was presented to Emmanuel Oluwajomiloju Borokinni and Eula Alica-Nesia Thomas who had the highest cumulative Grade Point Average for full and part-time students, respectively. Lecturer of Humanities, Social Sciences Rochelle Smith was presented with the award of Faculty member of the year. In his remarks he admonished his fellow graduates to not measure their success by other’s achievement and to remember that their accomplishments are personal and success is relative.
Premier and Minister for Finance, Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith in his address to the graduates urged the class of 2018 to “Think ahead, but plan now.” Hon. Smith told the graduates “do not wait until you get there, envision in your mind what your future looks like and then actively take the necessary steps to get there.”
“I want you to look around. See what is missing based on your interests and take an active step and fill that void using the skills that you now have. In doing so, keep an open mind and tailor your next steps to the BVI you want to see. Never stop learning. Continue to research and learn about what the world is doing, and think about what you can adopt, add new or make better. You have the aptitude, endurance and the capability to do so, and I know this because the evidence is in your presence here this afternoon. I encourage you to stay on top of your game. Read widely, read outside your comfort zone. Stay aware so that you can scope out innovative opportunities,” the Premier added.
Former Deputy Governor and Keynote Speaker V. Inez Archibald delivered the keynote address. The Student Respondent was N’Khoy Stoutt.