Graduates were all smiles after turning their tassels and officially becoming members of the Class of 2023 at H. Lavity Stoutt Community College. The ceremony took place on June 8 at the Multi-purpose Sports Complex. (Photo: DANA KAMPA)

At the prompting of H. Lavity Stoutt Community College President Dr. Richard Georges, students clad in forest green robes solemnly turned their tassels and reflected on the hours of academic study they invested in their education.

Then, they broke into smiles and cheers to celebrate their graduation with family and friends as the Class of 2023.

The students were part of the 30th class to graduate from the college.

On June 8, 142 graduates — about two thirds of them women — earned their associate degree or certificate of achievement from HLSCC, with 15 receiving honours.

“We indeed look forward to them taking their rightful place in society and helping us to build a more beautiful Virgin Islands,” Dr. Georges told attendees during the ceremony at the Multi-purpose Sports Complex.

He also offered advice to the graduates.

“It is only through hard work, discipline and creative thinking that you will be able to solve the biggest problems you face,” he said. “As you go out into the world, do not forget the mountains you have climbed or the privileges you have enjoyed, nor the people who have guided you through both.”

Student speech

Student Respondent T’Nique Scatliffe said her years of study weren’t always smooth sailing.

She acknowledged being overwhelmed by the challenge of college-level biology courses — and even considering dropping out of her area of interest.

But with a new mindset and the support of her educators — especially Mathematics and Science Department Head Stephanie Russ-Penn — Ms. Scatliffe exceeded her academic goals, she said.

She encouraged her peers to face the future with an optimistic spirit.

“Anything you want to do, you can,” she said. “On the road to success, you will most definitely come across setbacks and struggles, and the only way to conquer those things and achieve your goal is to have strong perseverance and a positive attitude.”

Ms. Scatliffe graduated with her associate degree in general science, netted the Vice President’s Award for Leadership, and plans to pursue a career in paediatric nursing. She also pursued her extracurricular interests, becoming captain of the HLSCC dance team and a member of Phi Theta Kappa.

Keynote speaker Darryl Flanders offered the acronym “ACT” to encourage the new graduates to continue working toward bettering themselves.

“Now is the time to act,” said Mr. Flanders, a BVI Airports Authority operations and safety manager and HLSCC adjunct lecturer. “Acknowledge your accomplishments. Chart the course for your future. Try resiliently.”

Other speakers at the ceremony included Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley; Education, Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Sharie de Castro; and HLSCC Board of Governors Chairman Arthur Richardson.

“Enjoy this moment,” the premier advised the graduates. “Celebrate your triumph. You have earned it. But this is also an ideal time to think about moving beyond. Moving beyond is about keeping up your momentum. It is about putting your new qualifications to work for you, to advance you in your life, both professionally and personally.”

The class

Graduates pursued a variety of interests during their time at HLSCC.

The class included 102 students pursing programmes in arts, sciences and general studies, and 40 pursuing workforce training. The class is slightly smaller than the 174-member Class of 2022.

The largest cohort was in business administration, with 27 students, while 19 students specialised in general science and 13 went into accounting. Many students didn’t limit themselves to a single area of study, though. Six earned triple awards, and five earned double.