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Cave Hill holds first virtual graduation

Cave Hill holds first virtual graduation
Valedictorian Thacher Loutin. (Picture courtesy UWI)

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A Graduation Class of over 1 300 students was celebrated with unique elegance when The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus held its inaugural virtual graduation ceremony on Saturday evening.

Family and friends of the graduates were able to share in the occasion as images of them were beamed across the globe on UWItv and social media platforms.

Vice Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles started off the proceedings by commending the graduating class on successfully managing their studies while adjusting to life in the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They have been tested, not only by their professors, but by a pandemic. And in their triumph in academic year 2020 they have risen above this COVID-19. They have been resilient, resourceful, and they have risen above all the circumstances that they have encountered,” he said.

University Chancellor Robert Bermudez highlighted the work of the region’s essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, and reminded the graduating class to demonstrate a sense of responsibility through service to country, especially in the post-COVID world.

“You will be needed in the days and months ahead as the region builds its new reality. Our collective capacity to respond to global challenges begins with knowledge, creativity and innovation,” Bermudez said.

Valedictorian Thacher Loutin called on her classmates to remain open to learning, and to challenge Caribbean leaders to do more to ensure excellence in the region.

“We must use our voices to inspire regional scholars and experts to occupy spaces of global influence… And when it is your turn to lead, remember that we must be honest leaders bringing positive change, innovators who create for the welfare of the people, and dreamers who make a positive impact in the lives of all,” she said.

As part of the ceremony, honorary degrees were conferred on three outstanding global citizens. Journalist Sonita Alleyne received a Doctor of Letters (DLitt) for her contribution to entrepreneurship and journalism, while Doctor of Science Degrees were conferred on cancer biologist, Professor Juliet M. Daniel and President of the University of Miami, Dr Julio Frenk for their work in cancer research and medicine respectively.

Professor Daniel, who delivered the feature address, called on the students to be innovators and change makers in a post-COVID world, and to pursue their dreams with passion and purpose.

“Don’t be afraid to take risks or fail. Hold fast to your core values but be willing to flex and pivot if needs be so that you don’t snap under pressure.  Don’t focus on getting promotions or accolades; those will come naturally if you live your life in a way that causes others to thrive and excel,” Professor Daniel stated.

In closing off the evening’s proceedings, campus principal, Professor the Most Honourable Eudine Barriteau reminded viewers that Cave Hill would not be defined by any diverse situation that it faces.

“Even when those circumstances prevent us from providing you with the accustomed ceremonial pomp and splendor that you richly deserve, we have found creative and innovative alternatives such as this inaugural online ceremony to celebrate your achievements,” she told the graduating class

She also urged the new graduates to accept challenges they may encounter as opportunities for growth.

“Always be willing to try new things and accept the reality that as you grow older your range of interests and acquisition of skills will evolve. In other words, do not limit yourselves to the confines of what you believe are the dictates of your current degree,” Barriteau said. (PR)