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SEEN UP NORTH: Aiding in tough times


SEEN UP NORTH: Aiding in tough times

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THESE ARE BITTERSWEET DAYS for students of the University of the West Indies Cave Hill campus in Barbados.

The “sweet” is the opportunity to welcome a new principal, Professor Eudene Barriteau, a highly respected Caribbean scholar who was appointed a few days ago by the UWI Council. Prof. Barriteau will succeed Sir Hilary Beckles, who is leaving to become the vice chancellor

The “bitter” taste is the financial pain Bajan students are feeling now that the Barbados Government has decided they must pay 20 per cent of the cost of their education because of Barbados’ poor  economic condition.

“We worry about the students at Cave Hill who are being forced to drop out of classes because of their inability to contribute something towards their degrees,” said Professor Nigel Harris, who is stepping down as vice chancellor in April.

“That’s where scholarships, bursaries, student loans and so on will come in in the future.”

Dr Harris’ reference to scholarships for UWI students is timely. He was in New York for the 18th annual gala of the American Foundation for the UWI. The 59-year-old Foundation awards scholarships every year to UWI students so they can achieve their dreams of receiving a solid education and launching fruitful careers And the Foundation’s major fundraising event is the gala whose proceeds finances the scholarships. It was held at the Pierre Hotel in Manhattan.

“The Foundation has contributed about US$750 000 in scholarships to our students and without that money the young people wouldn’t have been able to move forward with their educations,” added Harris, who was attending his last dinner as vice chancellor.

“The annual gala is a vital source of scholarship funds. The Foundation has done great work.”

Sir George Alleyne, the University’s Chancellor agreed.

“The changing times, especially the changing economic times in the Caribbean compel us to think of the galas not only as occasions to celebrate and laud the achievements of Caribbean people and those who have links with the Caribbean,” said Sir George.

“It is very important that we showcase the university and recognise brilliance. But is not being crass to note that we must increasingly regard this event and events like these as fora and opportunities for allowing our well-wishers to make a contribution to the University.”

Just look at the faces or listen to “the trials of our students” and the reality of the economic situation comes forcibly to mind, Sir George added. The stories told by students in the gala journal underscore his point.

Take the case of Shemille Waterman, a Bajan who is pursuing a degree in international business at Cave Hill.

“Because of you, AFUWI and donors of my scholarship, the financial strain experienced by my family can now be eased,” said Waterman, a student in the faculty of social sciences.

Pamela Stanford, a third year Bajan student and the recipient of a scholarship awarded by Kay Foster Cheek, a Barbadian corporate executive in the United States, said that as a Cave Hill student she was “finding it impossible to seek financial assistance from lending agencies because of my state of unemployment and an already delinquent loan.” Now the scholarship has eased the financial pressure.

Shauntel Aubrey, a Barbadian, said the Foundation’s help had given her a chance to “complete my studies and fulfil my desire of becoming an effectivce teacher”.

Chico Collie, a Bahamian studying medicine at Cave Hill gave an interesting testimonial about life on campus.

“I lived a rather humble life and have had to learn money management and prioritisation to maximise the funds I had,” he said.

Kaye Foster Cheek, the dinner patron, said in a printed message that “the challenges of today can only be solved by ensuring that gifted young women and men do not face barriers or constraints to their learning and growth”.