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PHOTOS: 190 graduates vow to ‘be the change’

Some of the graduates

While persons stated their expectations of 190 college graduates here on Tortola yesterday, the graduating class declared that it will not shy away from using its degrees and certificates to influence positive change.

“We are the gateway to changing the world; let us use our degrees to make a difference…” said Zahra Corion-Durante, who spoke on behalf of the students who graduated yesterday from H Lavity Stoutt Community College (HLSCC).

She further noted that failures and challenges may be encountered, but the graduates will not be daunted.

“We must be open to constructive criticism, and be willing to accept the things that may seem out of our comfort zones,” added Corion-Durante.

“We can’t expect to change the world and make an impact if we ourselves don’t want to accept change… The change begins with us.”

Zahra Corion-Durante spoke on behalf of the students who graduated

Dr Charles Wheatley, chairman of the HLSCC Board of Governors, stated that the graduates can indeed make the world a better place by – among other things – joining the struggle against guns and drugs.

“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.

“Your value goes far beyond acquiring physical things and material things. That value is rooted in love, faith, hope, and generosity,” he asserted.

Chairman of the HLSCC Board of Governors Dr Charles Wheatley

Minister of Education Myron Walwyn, in the meantime, indicated that he has no doubt the majority of young people want to change the world for the better.

“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.”

Walwyn also urged graduates to be mindful of their brand, to run their own race, and to surround themselves ‘with people who are going somewhere’.

He further said: “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.”

Premier Dr D Orlando Smith (foreground) and Minister of Education Myron Walwyn

Psychologist and guest speaker, Dr Michael Turnbull, told the graduating class to think big. “You are not just a last name; you are not just where you were born; you are not just how much money you have in your bank account,” he reasoned, adding that persons should strive to make their end greater than their start.

Meanwhile, Premier Dr D Orlando Smith encouraged the graduates to use what they have learnt to improve themselves and their homeland. “This achievement is not only about you; it’s also about the British Virgin Islands…” he said.

Other persons who attended the graduation ceremony included Leader of the Opposition Andrew Fahie and other lawmakers, as well as current President at HLSCC Dr Janet Smith, and former president Dr Karl Dawson.

The graduating class, which is drawn from the college’s campuses on both Tortola and Virgin Gorda, comprised 133 females and 57 males.

Full-time students with the highest Grade Point Average (GPA) of 4.0 are Zora Williams and Julissa Cedano, who both study the Sciences on Tortola.

Weslene Walters, a Guyanese native who has been living in the British Virgin Islands for just over 10 years, was declared the most successful part-time student. She has earned an Associate Degree in Business Administration and Accounting.

Dr Turnbull

Meanwhile, during the graduation ceremony yesterday, the HLSCC chairman, Dr Wheatley, noted that the event was unfolding 24 years after the first Associate Degree was awarded at the college in 1994. Since then, the school board has warded about 2,571 Associate Degrees and certificates in various fields of study, added Dr Wheatley.

He continued; “The journey from that first graduating class to [yesterday’s] graduating class has been exciting, demanding, and invigorating.”

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