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It must have been a moment of pride and accomplishment for thousands of students at the Cave Hill campus on Saturday when they received their certificates, diplomas and degrees as reward for their successful completion of years of dedicated study.
I’m delighted at this outcome since it means the island’s knowledge base will be enhanced with these new graduates. Well done and congratulations to all of them and hopefully they are not joining a queue to see who will employ them, but what they learnt can be applied to risk taking in the form of entrepreneurship.
The ceremonies must have been interesting; there was clearly a lot of jubilation in the atmosphere. New Chancellor Robert Bermudez, Vice Chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles and Principal of Cave Hill, Professor Eudine Barriteau gave their usual words of wisdom to the students and were optimistic in their outlook. Even the valedictorian Zachary Phillips spoke in terms, which hopefully, his peers clearly understood and appreciated.
There was an important theme however, which should have been a common thread but seemed to have been missing. It may have been addressed, but it certainly wasn’t the key point. Even the guest speaker Dame Selma Jackman ought to have used the occasion to reinforce the message.
It is about giving back. This is after all, a message of goodwill and hope. It is a clarion call which cannot be underscored enough across the University of the West Indies various campuses, especially at Cave Hill.
Yes, the Cave Hill campus needs to experience exponential growth. This is important for both its economic viability and its contribution to the manpower development of this society. It is about helping to position our youth for the best available opportunities whether locally or internationally. It is about enhancing our capabilities in research and development, in innovation, and in entrepreneurship. It is about building a world-class institution with a reputation for scholarship.
Yet these are different times. The state’s coffers are almost empty yet the demands are great and never-ending. So even though we all understand that education still remains key in driving the country’s success, the way the Government once funded tertiary education will change. The good thing is that Barbadian students accessing an education at Cave Hill fortunately don’t have to pay the economic costs.
Yet, it will be challenging for some who want to eventually wear that academic dress and receive their scroll. The pathway to success is hardly ever an easy one nor can be taken via shortcut. It is about sacrifice.
That is why those who have completed the journey need to appreciate their responsibility, especially if they enjoyed those benefits thanks to the taxpayers.
They must now show gratitude and live a life of thankfulness, not only indulging in the material rewards of their academic success. It is not about fighting to become “bougie”.
This most recent group of graduates, and indeed those before them, have a duty to ensure others can follow in their footsteps.
A small monetary donation, let’s say a minimum of $1 000 annually over three years, from each of those proud students whose names were called on Saturday and on graduation day over many years dating back, would make a huge difference.
Yet, to those whom much has been the message is clear: it is your turn to give back to the Cave Hill campus.
And, please, don’t bring in the foolish talk about paying taxes.