By Nadira Mohammed
The University of the Southern Caribbean (USC) recently hosted its 12th iteration of the student leadership workshop which began in 2018. The mission of this workshop is to provide Leadership development for our University Students through professional education workshops and programs. The vision is to enhance the leadership capacity of students so they enhance their profession, communities and society.
The aim of this program is to allow students to develop critical thinking skills, an understanding of change processes, and be able to think critically about obstacles to change, and to comprehend and be able to utilize a process for decision-making.
This event was hosted by Dr. Kenneth Niles, a faculty member of grad school and social sciences. He was there to make the students get comfortable with their peers around them. Mr. Jad Isidore (Mr. USC) held an ice breaker which allowed the students to come up on the podium and express their style of leadership symbolized by any object/s in the room.
The guest speaker for this event was Ms. Vernisha Ayoung. Ms. Ayoung is an information and digital technology professional with over 28 years of IT experience. Her work experience has taken her from the US to the UK, Canada, South America, Latin America, Europe, and India. Her leadership experience comes from various industries including nonprofit health education media and oil and gas as well as from various roles in church.
She graduated in 1999 with a double major in Behavioural Science and Computer Information Systems and later acquired a Masters in Business Administration. During the pandemic she later completed a postgraduate certificate in executive strategic leadership and is currently a doctoral candidate at Liberty University.
Ms. Ayoung’s presentation was on Ethical Leadership in the Digital Age. This topic had three (3) important components; ethics, digital age, and leadership, all of which she expanded on as she went along.
She started off her presentation with the definition of ethical leadership and stated, “Ethical leadership requires professionals to have a wide range of skills and competencies, which are underpinned by ethics, trust, integrity, and recognition of their corporate responsibility. Complexity in the professional environment brought on by rapidly evolving technology, digital disruption and mis/disinformation, is directly impacting all organizations and professionals.” Following this definition, she further stated, “all of these things directly impact organizations and impact you as a professional.”
With reference to Mr. USC’s ice breaker she indicated that this is where ethics come in, “it is about your values.” Her main points revolved around cyber security, artificial intelligence (AI), and mechanical learning.
She indicated that youths need to be careful in the news they hear and to trust, but always verify because not all news that is shown is correct, fake news is an epidemic. Ethics transcend all ages, not physically but every period, and as young leader, the values you harness have to tie in with the corporate responsibility.
She informed that the Digital Age, similar to the Industrial Age, still has a learning process with the new upcoming tools. The tools of the digital age are Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) which is a subset of AI, Cyber Security, Data Culture, and Accessibility to Information. “Data is the new oil”
She begins her presentation on leadership with the stark difference between being a manager and a leader as explained by Steve Jobs. Following this Ms. Ayoung voices that information technology and business are extremely interwoven as everything in the digital age needs technology.
One of her most hair-raising quotations from the presentation came closer to her conclusion, “As a leader you look for the opportunities and the challenges and how you respond to them.”
She explained the different generations leading up to Generation Z (Gen Z) and tied it into the different markets that each generation reached and further explained how the current generation (Gen Z) can reach their target market.
Upon concluding, she quoted, “Christian leaders are driven by their ethics in any age,” and gave reference to persons from the bible such as Esther & Haman, Daniel, Moses, Joshua, and Gideon. With this she reiterated her points and shared the platforms in which you can reach her. Following the conclusion of her presentation, there was a brief question segment.
Ms. Anna Howell gave the vote of thanks and the closing prayer was done by Ms. Elsa Elvin.
By Nadira Mohammed
As the resounding cheers of students echoed and the enchanting melodies of musical and theatrical performances filled the air, USC wrapped up its semester with the grand culmination of Season 2 of USC Got Talent.
USC Got Talent stands as a beacon for nurturing and showcasing the finest talents from USC, extending its reach to embrace Trinidad and Tobago, the wider Caribbean, and beyond. This event was established and developed by the Spiritual Development Department and the School of Education and Humanities of the University of the Southern Caribbean.
The event spanned from November 8th to November 26th, kicking off with auditions on November 4th. It comprised five training sessions, one pre-recorded event, and two live showcases.
There were three plenary sessions that catered towards holistic development and professional networking of the contestants. The competition unfolded across three riveting rounds: Blind Auditions, Semi-Finals, and the climactic Final Round. Starting with a maximum of twenty contestants, each round saw a gradual elimination process, culminating in the top 3 contestants claiming their rightful places in the Final Round.
The Dean of the School of Education and Humanities, Dr. Loverne Browne, and Pastor Terry John are the two main stakeholders of this event. While the idea for a talent show was birthed in a Student Executive Committee meeting at the School of Education and Humanities in September, 2022, the students embraced the vision and have far exceeded all expectations.
The UGT is an initiative aimed at facilitating development and training of students on several levels. In the first instance it is geared at providing the platform by which students can lead out in the planning and execution of the event. The goal was to ensure that students found ways to harness their skills in productions such as these and create new skill sets that may not have been their prior.This is of critical importance for the students in the School of Education and Humanities in particular as well as other interested students in USC. One of the major selling points of UGT is that students are given the opportunity to lead while we as administrators provide administrative support. For all involved, they receive training in their various talent areas on stage and off and in so doing they obtain a take away that will be beneficial for the rest of their lives.
With Mr. Anton Charles being the Executive Producer, Director, Creative Director, and overall Host of USC Got Talent, he stated, “USC is a lighthouse for talent, talent emanates from every fiber of this school, and the Got Talent series is so important to the development of those talents because there are so many persons who are gifted in so many areas but do not know how to advance themselves in said areas, and so USC Got Talent aims at being that platform that allows students to grow the appreciation for developing their talent instead of just viewing it as a hobby.”
Four discerning judges, each representing distinct talent realms, presided over the elimination process. Post the semi-finals, contestants received personalized mentorship from their judges, honing their skills for the Final Round—a two-stage showdown culminating in the crowning of the USC Got Talent monarch. The People’s Choice Award honored the finalist with the highest online votes of the season.
Following each season, USC Got Talent plans to host professional Master classes guided by seasoned experts, aimed at students keen on refining their skills. Additionally, an event akin to the original USC Got Talent is set to spotlight the talents of registered students to a broader audience.
The panel of judges comprised experts in their respective categories:
- Cleon Richardson, the voice category judge, renowned for his multifaceted expertise in music production and education.
- Anthony Woodruff, known as Tony Paul, led the instrumental category, celebrated for his prowess in jazz education and performance.
- Lesley Lewis-Alleyne, a distinguished figure in both scientific and artistic realms, presided over Dance & Choreography.
- Ronaldo Mohammed, an advocate and artist in Spoken Word/Poetry/Theatre/Drama, brought his expertise to the judging panel.
The pinnacle of Season 2 saw Ms. Ivana Wong, Ms. Alphiesha Guischard, and Mr. Jesse Schultz emerge as the top three winners.
Jesse Schultz claimed 3rd place in the music (instrumental) category, showcasing his prowess as a third-year Music major at USC.
Alphiesha Guischard, a Hospitality and Tourism major at USC, earned 2nd place in the Spoken Word/Poetry/Theatre category, captivating audiences with her phenomenal performances.
Securing 1st place was Ivana Wong, a Nursing major at USC, distinguished for her soulful voice and devout focus on faith-based music. Her winning piece, a powerful narrative woven through music, resonated deeply with the audience.
Ivana’s winning performance, starting as a poignant portrayal of a slave bound by chains, evolved into a powerful message of liberation and empowerment, urging everyone to “Let Go and Let God.”
Reflecting on their experiences, Alphiesha expressed it as “overwhelming, heart wrenching, and awesome,” while Jesse described it as a pivotal developmental moment in his life. For Ivana, it was nothing short of a blessing.
For those eager to witness these remarkable performances, USC Got Talent offers access to the winning showcase, events, and episodes on their YouTube channel (youtube.com/@uscgottalent) and Instagram (instagram.com/uscgottalent). Season 3 is slated for November 2024, with registrations opening officially in April 2024. USCians can actively engage by signing up for roles within the production team, management team, or editing bay.
By Hayden McKenna
This is the first of a series of feature articles that will focus on matters of leadership. The series coincides with the recent establishment USC Leadership Academy (USCLA).
Leadership is one of those buzz-words in the jargon of management, governance and political studies that never gets old or goes out of fashion, despite its quality of occasionally being fodder for trite cliché and worse even, spectacular mal-practice. From Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince with its schizophrenic motif of the fox and the lion, to the pessimistic literary offerings of George Orwell in Animal Farm, or William Golding in Lord of the Flies, to the brighter more hopeful contemporary works of a long list of other mostly Caucasian males like Peter Drucker, Sidney Finklestein, John C. Maxwell and Simon Sinek, leadership remains a global preoccupation of the well-read and the ambitious. The narrow cultural immanence in the literature on leadership is obvious to the conscious and critical eye. So too is what is perhaps a misogynistic skepticism about the true potency of feminine leadership, if one reckons it by the loudest voices in the room and among the proclaimed pundits and gurus – pardon the non-western monikers for the experts. The case for a richer democratization and more cultural diversity and gender inclusivity in the epistemology that supports how we learn about, practice, present and represent leadership is not difficult to make. Think deeply about what is commonly accepted and available to you on the subject of leadership and you most likely would agree.
As the University of the Southern Caribbean approaches its centennial, there is, or should be, a collective consciousness that our remarkable progress and our missed opportunities too, cannot be disentangled from our leadership culture and praxis. This claim does not have a selective adhesive that attaches solely to the 2 women and 27 men that have been our Presidents. Good and progressive organizational leadership must percolate to and be fed-back from every capillary and cell of the organizational anatomy if the organs, limbs and systems are to resist atrophy and necrosis. Leadership and conscious leaders exist and must be recognized, equipped and empowered to exist, thrive and multiply throughout the University. The success of the second 100 years depends on it.
On November 10, 2023, the USC Leadership Academy (USCLA) was launched. The keynote address for the opening of the USCLA was delivered by Dr. Leon Wilson, an illustrious alumnus of CUC/USC’s Class of 1974. Dr. Wilson has had a long and distinguished career that has included positions of leadership in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, where in his native Guyana he served as a Pastor and District Leader, an Associate and full Departmental Director and rose to the position of Executive Secretary of the Guyana Conference. After migrating to the United States, he continued to practice ministerial leadership pro-bono as a volunteer pastor of two churches for almost four years.
As a career academic, Dr. Wilson has served in various leadership roles in several universities in the United States of America, including Wayne State University, East Carolina University, Alabama State University, Tugaloo College and Morgan State University. His varied roles have included positions as Teaching Faculty, Departmental Chairperson, Vice Presidencies in several portfolios, Provostships, and an Interim Presidency. Dr. Wilson also has the permanent distinction of being the first person to be designated as Provost of the University of the Southern Caribbean. Dr. Wilson has also served on several committees and boards and was President of the North America Alumni Association of the University of the Southern Caribbean for three years. In his own words, he carries a “heavy bag of leadership experiences.”
I recently had the privilege of having an extensive conversation with Dr. Wilson on matters of leadership. We explored leadership in the field of academics, in the church, in Caribbean society and how its practice continues to evolve in the face of 21st century needs and challenges.
Good leadership for Dr Wilson, “inspires people, good leadership encourages followship, good leadership is also being a follower… Good leadership develops others…if you are simply leading, at some point what happens is when you are gone the influence disappears. A good leader is a person who develops a legacy. That legacy involves moving people along and making them better than when you found them…The legacy of good leadership is that there are people who can carry on what you have started but more so, they innovate because you have taught them to do that.”
In recalling his preparation for leadership, Dr. Wilson hailed the example of leadership displayed by his mother and aunt in his formative years. His mother was up to the challenge of managing what he described as a household of “plenty boys, one girl and grandfather”. Later in his childhood, he lived with an aunt who served as a midwife for an expansive district in Guyana, in an age in the Caribbean where the rite of ‘cutting the navel-string’ was a very highly esteemed badge of honour. Dr. Wilson said that observing how these two women managed their responsibilities, offered him early preparation for his future role as a leader.
Church work was another valuable source of Dr. Wilson’s personal preparation for leadership. For Dr. Wilson, some of the lessons learnt and skills honed as a young Pastor, Director and Administrator in the Guyana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, were valuable and transferable to other challenging leadership contexts he encountered in his accomplished academic leadership career.
Important too in building his leadership aptitude and confidence was his fortune of having good mentors. As a young post-graduate student at Andrews University in Berrien Springs Michigan, USA, he came under the influence of Dr. Sakae Kubo and Dr. Walter Douglas. The latter – perhaps because of his Grenadian Caribbean heritage and iconic CTC/CUC/USC status as one of our most distinguished alumni, Dr. Wilson fondly referred to as “our man there” and said, “We watched him operate in an environment where he was very singular as a black person…We learnt a lot from him. The way he related to people inspired me. The way he conducted his classes, built leadership capacity… He was a champion in his own right and a good example to many of us younger people.”
Dr. Wilson also recalls that when he was elected as Executive Secretary of the Guyana Conference in the early 1980s, he was one of the youngest Conference Administrators in the world church. He considers the mentorship he received from seasoned Administrators like Pastors Samuel L. Gadsby and Peter J. Prime of Trinidad and Tobago, and his own Conference President, Pastor Gordon O. Martinborough as invaluable.
Receiving and offering mentorship is in Dr. Wilson’s view, an important aspect of the preparation for and practice of leadership. Dr. Wilson himself has been an inspirational mentor to many.
As a leader in academia, his passion to develop people has also made him a reagent in advancing the careers of many who he has served as leader. His collegial approach intentionally emphasises the value of people and the ideas and contributions can bring to the table when rightly exposed. His fidelity to valuing people, their ideas and their contributions even extends to when their views are at variance with his own. This orientation has allowed him to cultivate other successful leaders everywhere he has been.
Dr. Leon Wilson is persuaded that leaders in academia and elsewhere, blunder badly when they see themselves as bosses and suppressors of dissenting views. Academic leadership for Dr. Wilson is a position of privilege and not of power. “People who last, are not bosses” he says. Leaders should be humble enough to concede that they do not have to have all of the answers all of the time and they are not omnicompetent. Leaders must recognize their limitations. They are not gods. They must practice sincerity and be willing to admit responsibility when things do not turn out the way they are supposed to.
The perspective of the led and how they are evaluating the journey, is valued by the good leader, even when it is not pleasing to the ear. Good leaders are great listeners. For Dr. Wilson the great leader “intentionally orchestrates involvement” and is not intimidated by the sight, sound or smell of talent, abilities and expertise in others.
Dr. Wilson contends that leadership acumen in academia, is best developed through incremental climbing as opposed to leap-frogging. Leap-froggers are robbed of valuable learning experiences on their way up. They are typically impoverished of quality opportunities to build relationships and empathy with others they are responsible for. Leap-froggers often fall prey to insecurities when confronted with criticism and even constructive ideas, coming especially from persons they jumped over in their sudden flight. This insecurity sometimes manifests itself in rank-pulling. Academic institutions best develop leaders, by rewarding contributors with a path to incremental climbing.
For persons aspiring to be leaders, Dr. Wilson warns that being overly critical of their present leaders probably will not abet their ambitions well. Careful to draw a distinction between helpful critiquing and being unhelpfully critical, Dr. Wilson said “if you aspire to leadership, my counsel is always to take the best that everybody can give and create your own mosaic. There is nothing like a perfect leader”.
With respect to the challenges faced by higher educational institutions – particularly private Seventh-day Adventist institutions (like USC) in the so-called developing world), challenges that seem to have escalated in the wake of the COVID -19 pandemic and its aftermath, Dr. Wilson candidly argues that our present model requires re-examination and renovation. He expressed that if our church sincerely values all of the counsel of Ellen G. White on the matter of education, then the oft-repeated statement that “the work of redemption and education are one”, should trigger a sea-change in the way our church distributes its finite financial resources so that Mrs. White’s good counsel and the equivalency there embedded is truer than mere rhetorical elegance.
On the matter of the struggles our church is having with attracting and conserving young people and the leadership issues that arise therefrom, Dr. Wilson agrees that some of our approaches require change. A better theological balance needs to be struck between our sermonic preoccupation with apologetics on the one hand and contemporary pragmatism on the other. Greater attention is needed to addressing the needs of our young people in ways that connect organically and meaningfully with their present circumstances. He says that “a lot of our pastors do not recognize the time in which we are living” and argues that “there has to be a change in the leadership profile of the pastors”. Referencing Jeremiah 6:16 and its counsel to look for the old paths and walk therein, he opined that this passage and others like it, might be a possible basis for some pastors resisting the urgency to minister to our young people in the context of their time, Dr. Wilson says that he is giving mental attention to the traditionalist hermeneutic around such passages of scripture that may stand in the way of greater pragmatic perspicacity in how our church ministers to our endangered youthful population. Scripture also enjoins us to knowing the times he argues and a balanced blend of searching the old paths with knowing the times can result in “ministry that speaks to everybody”.
Our conversation then turned to the question of leadership in our post-colonial Caribbean reality. Most of what academic literature presents about leadership, is based on a quite narrow stream of knowledge that comes primarily from research and writing done in the United States of America and the United Kingdom over the last 120 years. In many ways our cultural realities in the region are quite different from those of the US and the UK. Short of a re-invention of the wheel, there is room for more indigenous epistemology, research and approaches to leadership, rooted in our unique historical and cultural contexts. For Dr. Wilson, an inversion of the plantation pyramid inherited from our colonial past is necessary. The master-servant binary which still influences how we view and practice leadership is a stubborn obstacle to our progress. According to Dr. Wilson, “We were trampled. We were nobodies… The leadership we have been exposed to is a model where there is some big-shot up there that we look up to… It’s a model that is top-down. It’s a model that everything flows from somewhere on-high and rains down on the lower mortals. You need to invert that concept.”
Dr. Wilson, the Sociologist, argues that we need – now that we have the opportunity – to craft leadership approaches that better serve our collective good. The urgency of doing so, found cogent inflection in two rhetorical questions he posed: “Who is getting the bigger share of the oil in Guyana? Who is getting the biggest share of the oil (resources) anywhere in the Caribbean?”
On the highly topical matter of some of the unique challenges confronting 21st century human civilization, such as the rapid growth of AI, a gilded democratization of the power to publish and consume content in cyberspace (accompanied by the conspicuously undemocratic control of ICT by huge, rich trans-national private entities), the planned obsolescence of the universe in the service of the metaverse and multiverse and the inability of philosophers and ethicists to keep up with it all, Dr. Wilson, while conceding the redoubtable threats, prefers to focus on the wealth of opportunities. He argues that our young people – as natives of this age must be entrusted with greater leadership responsibilities to help us navigate through these dizzying times and find the answers we need, if we are not to be left behind. On this matter he expressed a special concern for our church institutions and their capacity and will to rightly harness the leadership value our young people can bring – especially now.
Finally on the matter of the establishment of the USC leadership Academy (USCLA), Dr. Wilson thinks that “it is a fantastic idea”. He expressed that the USCLA will help to grow talent internally. It will help to keep good people employed at USC and in the region. Young people can now see a path to rising to top positions of leadership at the University without necessarily leaving the institution and the region in search of opportunities for personal and career growth. “I believe it is a very very good step in the right direction… The Leadership Academy is a good thing. I hope it is sustained …and we get some solid leaders out of it”.
Stay tuned for part two of our series – Leadership matters!
By Simone Augustus, Corporate Communications Officer
The University of the Southern Caribbean (USC) proudly represented and actively participated in the highly anticipated 2023 National Health Research Conference (NHRC) held on Friday, November 17, 2023 at the Hyatt Regency in Port of Spain. The conference, themed “Healthcare for the Future: Emerging Threats and Sustainable Solutions,” provided a platform for experts, policymakers, and institutions to address critical health challenges facing Trinidad and Tobago.
The NHRC 2023 was made possible through the collaborative work of several partners in health: Ministry of Health, Trinidad and Tobago National Nursing Association, Tobago House of Assembly (THA), Faculty of Medical Sciences & Caribbean Centre for Health Systems Research and Development, The University of the West Indies, The University of Trinidad and Tobago, The University of the Southern Caribbean, Eastern Regional Health Authority, North Central Regional Health Authority, North West Regional Health Authority, South West Regional Health Authority, Tobago Regional Health Authority, and the Caribbean Community of Practice for Health Policy & Systems Research.
The event commenced with opening remarks from leaders of collaborating partners, including USC’s President, Dr. Colwick Wilson, who expressed gratitude for the invitation and underscored the importance of contextually driven scientific knowledge in addressing the nation’s health challenges.
Dr. Wilson’s remarks emphasized USC’s commitment to the conference’s goals and its integral role in informing and influencing discussions on culturally and contextually relevant health issues. He commended the organizers and volunteers for their unwavering commitment to the NHRC’s upward trajectory, highlighting the importance of the conference in shaping national growth and development.
Dr. Wilson drew attention to the rich and diverse agenda of the conference, with presentations covering critical health topics such as COVID-19, emerging diseases like monkeypox, lived experiences among patients with chronic non-communicable diseases, and the economic impact of dementia. He emphasized the importance of evidence-based therapies and the need to cultivate practice-based evidence for effective healthcare interventions.
Acknowledging the persistent gap in culturally specific research methodologies in the Caribbean, Dr. Wilson affirmed USC’s commitment to addressing this challenge in the future. He particularly highlighted the escalating concern of dementia in the region, emphasizing the need for prevention through early diagnosis and robust risk reduction strategies.
In closing, Dr. Wilson expressed gratitude to the research mentors and applauded their efforts in nurturing young scholars. Congratulations were also extended to all participants for their contributions to the conference, affirming a bright future for research and interventions in healthcare.
The feature speaker for the event was Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick, the 17th President of Howard University, who delivered an insightful address on “A.I. and Healthcare.” The keynote address was presented by The Honourable Terrence Deyalsingh, Minister of Health, Trinidad and Tobago.
The conference agenda featured presentations, encompassing topics from COVID-19 and emerging diseases like monkeypox to the experiences of chronic non-communicable disease patients. The USC delegation actively participated in various aspects of the conference, with student and faculty representatives attending presentations covering a diverse range of topics.
Dr. Dave Cassie, co-chair of the NHRC 2023 Inter-Institutional Planning Committee, played a key role in the successful planning and execution of the conference. Dr. Susan Chand and Dr. Lydia Campbell-George also represented USC, contributing their expertise to the conference’s overall success.
The USC delegation left the NHRC 2023 with a renewed commitment to actively contribute to translating scientific findings into culturally appropriate, affordable, and reliable interventions, furthering the university’s dedication to advancing healthcare in Trinidad and Tobago.
The 2023 National Health Research Conference served as a pivotal platform for knowledge exchange, collaboration, and the collective pursuit of sustainable solutions to the emerging health threats faced by the nation. The USC community looks forward to continued engagement in such impactful initiatives, furthering its mission of contributing to the advancement of healthcare in the region.
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Leadership Advancements at the University of Southern Caribbean: Introducing the USC Leadership Academy (USCLA)
By Kadan Esson, Nadira Mohammed
On Friday, November 10, 2023, the University of the Southern Caribbean (USC) launched its Leadership Academy (USCLA) with the tagline “Leadership Matters”. This initiative is set to reshape the future of leadership within our beloved USC and resonate far beyond.
USCLA’s inaugural session kicked off with welcoming remarks from USC’s Director of Human Resources, Mrs. Marsha Harris, and President, Dr. Colwick Wilson. Dr. Wilson closed with words of empowerment by commending all the student leaders who carry the mantle of perseverance and applauding their passionate drive.
The launch’s keynote speaker was quite a familiar face to the USC community, Dr. Leon Wilson, Professor and Chair, Morgan State University, formerly served USC as Provost in 2018. Dr. Wilson’s keynote topic of “So You Want To Be An Academic Leader! Why Bother!” captivated the audience as he shared insights from his impressive academic career on what not to do as an academic leader.
Dr. Wilson shared that, “The value of academic leaders lies in the recognition of unique contributions each one can make, celebrate, and avoid shutting it down but letting it flourish and grow.” He stated that one of the world’s biggest problems is that there are people who do not harbor the skills and have not been exposed to anything but themselves, yet want to be leaders in the academy and leap to the top while ignoring the values of experiences. He left us with a reminder that “Leadership is centered on the idea of building and maintaining relationships.”
Specially invited guest, Mr. Dexter Riley, CEO of Unipet and USC alum shared observations and anecdotes from his decades of leadership that provided motivation and inspiration to USCLA attendees.
Drawing from his personal life, Mr. Riley described himself as a family oriented man who continues to be guided by values instilled by his mother. Referencing the story of Noah and the Ark, Mr. Riley highlighted the value of trust, planning, preparation, and building for the future. Mr. Riley attributed trust as the bedrock that kept UNIPET together, he further expanded that, “…leadership is not about being in charge but taking care of those in your charge.”
USCLA is designed to foster the growth of ethical, visionary, and transformational leaders from all backgrounds who can make a positive impact at the University and by extension society. USCLA aims at targeting Administrators, Deans, Chairs, Directors, and Coordinators who are pivotal to USC’s success. It seeks to inspire, educate, and empower individuals to become ethical, visionary, and transformational leaders. USCLA combines theoretical foundations with experiential learning to ensure that participants not only acquire knowledge but also develop the skills and attitudes necessary for effective leadership; that align with the university’s mission, vision and overarching objectives.
USCLA’s Mission and Objectives
USCLA’s mission is to inspire, educate, and empower individuals to become leaders driving positive change. We envision leaders guided by integrity, empathy, and commitment, leading with purpose, inspiring innovation, and fostering sustainable progress.
The academy seeks to upskill leaders through comprehensive training, provide real-world experiences, and foster a culture of ethical leadership. Our goal is to cultivate leaders embodying the highest standards of excellence, representing principles like authenticity, continuous learning, collaboration, and more.
With a mix of local and foreign facilitators/practitioners boasting extensive leadership experience, USCLA promises an enriching learning journey. Our diverse training programs cover Leadership Essentials, Organizational Impact, Development, Relational Leadership, Emotional Intelligence, and more. Tailored to address various leadership facets, these programs aim to enhance USC’s leadership potential.
USCLA is not just an academy; it’s a commitment to shaping leaders who will inspire, innovate, and drive progress. Leadership matters, and at USC, we’re investing in ours.
By Hayden McKenna
For all of our institutional history to date, Guyana has consistently been the national homeland for by far the largest number of our international students. This unbroken record has been aided by the fact that Guyana’s population size is second only to that of Trinidad and Tobago among the nations that make up University of the Southern Caribbean’s historical and geopolitical constituency. In strictly Adventist terms, the Guyana Conference (since 2004 when the South Caribbean Conference was re-organized and the Tobago Mission was established), has had the largest membership of any of the constituent fields of the Caribbean Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (CARU). Because of these two factors, it should not be surprising that Guyanese students have always had a large footprint on East Caribbean Training School (ECTS), Caribbean Training College (CTC), Caribbean Union College (CUC) and now the University of the Southern Caribbean (USC). This reality belies the fact that maintaining that proportional significance in our student population for nine and a half decades has not always been easy.
In 1976, the education system of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana was nationalized as part of an ambitious pro-socialist programme to de-colonize the Republic’s education system, grow its capacity, align it more perfectly with national needs and make it more egalitarian. Consequently, denominational schools in Guyana were absorbed into the state-run education system and the Adventist Church in Guyana was no longer able to operate its schools.
When, in the 1980s and 1990s, Guyana faced a debt-crisis and crippling economic hardships, Guyanese Adventists – and many non-Adventists too, continued to make the sacrifice to attend what was then Caribbean Union College, in numbers that attested to their courage and faith in the transformative Christian education that CUC offered. Guyanese students of CUC from this era are among some of the most accomplished and loyal of our alumni. Absolutely! While the temptation to name many names is great, it must be generally resisted with a few irresistible, ‘ex-officio’ exceptions, namely, our current University President, Dr. Colwick Mervyn Wilson, our Vice-President of Administration, Advancement and Planning, Dr. Barbara Grace Reynolds and our Vice-President of Student Services and Enrolment Management, Pastor Onesi Kelita La Fleur. These three, share at least three things in common. They are all alumni of our dear old CUC. They all worked on campus as students to help fund their education. They all identify with Guyana as their natal homeland.
When the University of the Southern Caribbean began to expand its physical operations outside of Maracas Valley and beyond Trinidad and Tobago, Georgetown (the capital of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana), seemed pre-destined to be one of the first locations for a USC satellite site. So, in January 2006, USC came to Guyana. The then USC President, Dr. Trevor George Gardner and then USC Director of Distance Education, Dr. Phyllis Andrews, saw to it that USC planted a stake in the land of many waters.
The first location of USC’s satellite site in Georgetown was on Laluni Street, Queenstown, in the building of the Josel Educational Institute – a private primary and secondary school operated by Ms. Elizabeth Gonsalves, a Seventh-day Adventist friend of USC and an ardent supporter and advocate for Christian education in Guyana. USC classes were held in the afternoons after the end of the school-day of the Josel Educational Institute. USC-Guyana began with sixteen students enrolled in three baccalaureate programmes in the areas of Elementary Education, Psychology and Behavioural Sciences. The first Site Co-ordinator was Dr. Alexander Isaacs. Over the seventeen years of its existence, USC-Guyana has grown in its enrolment, its programme offerings and its value to the Adventist Church in Guyana and the broader Guyanese society.
The growing needs of USC-Guyana necessitated a relocation to another building owned by Ms. Gonsalves on nearby Anira Street. This relocation happened in 2010. At the Anira Street location, which is in close proximity to the head office of the Guyana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, USC-Guyana is the sole tenant and as such it now had the freedom to extend its operating hours. Owing to the needs of students, classes remain largely concentrated in the afternoon to evening period but with the advantage of longer hours of administrative support. In 2010 also, the current Site Co-ordinator, Mrs. Mignon Maynard-Sancho, succeeded Dr. Alexander Isaacs, who was called to serve at the Davis Memorial Hospital and eventually as a Director at CARU.
In 2021, the Government of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana launched the Guyana Online Academy of Learning (GOAL). The stated intention of this initiative is to grant 20,000 scholarships to Guyanese in tertiary academic and vocational education disciplines considered relevant to the current and future developmental needs of the nation by 2025. These scholarships are made available at the certificate, diploma, bachelor’s, postgraduate certificate, postgraduate diploma, master’s and doctoral levels. The GOAL has partnered with eight universities and higher education providers from various parts of the world to deliver the designated programmes of study. The University of the Southern Caribbean is among the selected group of universities participating in the GOAL scholarship initiative. USC’s participation centres on six undergraduate and four postgraduate degree programmes, namely: the BS in Nursing, the BS in Elementary Education, the BS in Early Childhood Education, the BS in Educational Studies (Special Education) the BS in Criminology and Criminal Justice and the BS in Nutrition and Dietetics. At the postgraduate level, current options include the MA in Educational Administration and Leadership, the MA in Educational Psychology, the MS in Counselling Psychology and the MS in National Security and Intelligence Studies.
In addition to the GOAL scholarship initiative, through a special arrangement with the Ministry of Home Affairs, the BS in Criminology and Criminal Justice and the MS in National Security and Intelligence Studies have also attracted students from the Guyana Prison Service (GPS) as part of its drive to strengthen its human resources in the area of corrections and reduce recidivism rates. At present, eight members of the GPS are enrolled in these USC programmes, six in the BS in Criminology and Criminal Justice programme and two in the MS in National Security and Intelligence Studies, the latter including an officer in the top brass of the service.
Given the deep and wide geographical expanse that is Guyana, – the capacity to deliver curricula remotely is inseparable from the policy framework that governs the partnership with the Guyana Government. The aim is that students in all ten regions of Guyana must not have access to the benefits of scholarships abridged by the transportation and other hardships that affect the communities that are most remote from Georgetown. That the GOAL scholarship initiative was first rolled out during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, may have further strengthened its fidelity to remote instructional delivery as is embedded in its very name.
USC’s participation in the GOAL scholarship initiative has grown the university’s footprint in the higher education sector in Guyana. Never before, in the history of the mutually valuable relationship between USC (ECTS, CTC, CUC) and the people of Guyana, has there been more Guyanese students enrolled in the USC system than there are today.
Although the GOAL scholarship initiative privileges distance education pedagogy as its primary mode of delivery, the fact that USC-Guyana physically exists in Georgetown, has proven an invaluable support system to scholarship recipients. According to Mrs. Maynard-Sancho, while the GOAL scholarships have not really increased the number of students enrolled at USC-Guyana, it has increased the volume of traffic at the site, as many GOAL scholars call on the brick-and-mortar site for a range of services including counselling, academic advisement, computer lab facilities and other kinds of hands-on support. At the start of this academic year, for instance, USC Provost Dr. Len Archer, Pastor Onesi La Fleur, Vice President for Student Services and Enrolment Management, and Dr. Genevieve Boucaud, Dean of the School of Distance Education visited USC-Guyana for a face-to-face orientation exercise for USC students, including GOAL scholars.
When asked to share her dreams for the future of USC-Guyana, there was an audible lift in the vocal enthusiasm of Mrs. Maynard-Sancho. We were perhaps broaching a subject for which she has a great deal of affection. Mrs. Maynard-Sancho shared that the dream is to have “a full-fledged (USC) university campus in Guyana”. She mentioned that a proposal was developed to use a 700-acre parcel of land the Guyana Conference owns on the Linden Highway. The Government of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana has also been approached to assist with an endowment of land on which a full campus can be constructed. The idea of a USC Campus specializing in medical and health sciences with a world-renowned Adventist university as a partner is one that the Ministry of Health in Guyana would like to see actualized “last year” she said. USC-Guyana is not without lofty ambitions for the future, located as it is, in the nation in the western hemisphere with the greatest prospects for rapid development and growth during the ensuing decade.
The dynamo behind Guyana’s very bright growth prospects was the discovery of large reserves of crude petroleum in commercial quantities in Guyana’s offshore bank in 2015. This discovery is the largest in the world in the last ten years. Extraction began in 2019. The GOAL scholarship initiative is one of several public-policy programmes established by the Government of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana to upskill the nation’s indigenous human capital in keeping with its national developmental goals – no pun intended. The Co-ordinator of USC- Guyana Mrs. Mignon Maynard-Sancho is laser-focused on finding more meaningful and sustainable ways for USC-Guyana to improve the relevance of its offerings to the emerging realities of Guyana’s new energy-driven economy. USC-Guyana and by extension the broader University of the Southern Caribbean is steadfastly committed to working with the governments and other stakeholders of the region to continue the pursuit of the improvement of Caribbean civilization and the contributions our region makes to the world.
The GOAL scholarship initiative is one of several public-policy programmes established by the Government of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana to upskill the nation’s indigenous human capital in keeping with its national developmental goals – no pun intended. The Co-ordinator of USC- Guyana Mrs. Mignon Maynard-Sancho is laser-focused on finding more meaningful and sustainable ways for USC-Guyana to improve the relevance of its offerings to the emerging realities of Guyana’s new energy-driven economy. USC-Guyana, and by extension the broader University of the Southern Caribbean, is steadfastly committed to working with governments and other stakeholders of the region to continue the pursuit of the improvement of Caribbean civilization and the contributions our region makes to the world.
USC’s historical connection with empowering the dreams of so many of the people of Guyana and the success of its Guyanese alumni at home and abroad as patriotic nation builders and moreover as extraordinary servants of God to humanity, adds an invaluable credibility to our university’s profile as a partner in the present and future progress of the great Co-operative Republic. As Guyana progresses, so too will USC!
By Nadira Mohammed, Corporate Communications Intern
In a ceremony held at the Social Sciences Auditorium on USC’s Main Campus, the University of the Southern Caribbean (USC) inaugurated its 2023/2024 Associated Student Body (ASB) Executive on Monday, October 16, 2023. Under the theme of “Willing to Serve Beyond the Call of Duty,” these dedicated student leaders pledged to make a difference in the USC community.
The inauguration event commenced with a soul-stirring praise and worship set by I-Praise Ministries, creating a harmonious atmosphere filled with inspiration. The ceremony then took on a solemn note as Mrs. Julie-Ann Guy delivered the opening prayer, calling upon a spirit of unity and purpose for the ASB Executive and the USC community.
As anticipation filled the auditorium, the new ASB members were invited to the stage in reverse order of their positions as per their respective constituents, marking the beginning of their journey to serve beyond the call of duty.
The National Anthem of Trinidad and Tobago, beautifully played on the steelpan by Mr. Marc Anthony Burrows Jr., further added a sense of national pride to the event. Following this, Pastor Onesi La Fleur, USC’s Vice President of Student Services & Enrolment Management, addressed the audience, emphasizing the commitment of the ASB Executive to serve the USC community wholeheartedly.
An enchanting musical performance by Ms. Jewelle Cordice enthralled the audience and set the stage for the highly anticipated guest speaker, Dr. Barbara G. Reynolds, USC’s Vice President of Administration, Advancement, and Planning.
Dr. Reynolds delivered an engaging and thought-provoking speech that left a lasting impression on all in attendance. She quoted the well-known proverb, “If you think you are too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent a night with a mosquito,” and drew a parallel between the essential role of mosquitoes in an ecosystem and the significance of the ASB Executive in the USC community. Dr. Reynolds emphasized that just as mosquitoes, despite their size, are vital to the ecosystem, the ASB plays a crucial role in maintaining the university’s vibrancy and unity.
Continuing with her theme, Dr. Reynolds shared another proverb, “Even if the mosquito has nothing to boast of, it has got a voice for humming songs.” This proverb underscored the unique talents and voices that each ASB member brings to the USC community.
Dr. Reynolds concluded her address with, “Do not be like the mosquito and bite the owner of the house”, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a respectful and cooperative relationship between the ASB Executive and University Administration. Dr. Reynolds’s speech conveyed the critical role of the ASB Executive in maintaining the university’s health and vibrancy.
Following the outstanding speech by Dr. Reynolds, the ASB members were invited to stand, and Dr. Wilson was called upon to give the inaugural charge. In his address, Dr. Wilson emphasized the significance of responsible and ethical leadership, stating, “Leaders don’t abuse power, leaders don’t hide their personal desires behind the mask of leadership.” This charge reiterated USC’s commitment to nurturing principled leaders who lead by example.
The event concluded with Mr. Michael Gabriel delivering the vote of thanks and Mr. Gamir Malcolm offering a prayer of consecration. Both reflected the unity and shared commitment among the ASB Executive, USC administration, and the entire university community.
The 2023/2024 ASB Executive at the University of the Southern Caribbean has embarked on its mission to serve beyond the call of duty, fostering a spirit of unity, commitment, and responsible leadership. These dedicated student leaders, elected by their peers in an election held in April 2023, are set to make a positive impact on the USC community, maintaining the institution’s vibrancy and commitment to excellence in the academic year ahead.
By Nykhya Gardiner, Corporate Communications Intern
The University of the Southern Caribbean’s Timothy Greaves Residence Hall, male dormitory and home to USC’s Noble Spartans, celebrated a momentous event that epitomizes compassion, unity, and progress. In a heartwarming ceremony attended by esteemed university officials, dignitaries on Monday, October 16th, 2023, the Timothy Greaves Residence Hall proudly unveiled its newly established pantry and renovated kitchen.
The brainchild of an innovative vision set in motion by past Men and Ladies’ Club presidents, Keston Jacobs and Sherniah Carbon, the initiative to introduce a pantry received unwavering support from Mr. Delbert Defoe, Men’s Club President 2022/2023. Mr. Defoe, in collaboration with ASB President 2022/2023, Mr. Vayani Toney, and the dedicated Dean of the Timothy Greaves Hall, Mr. Dominic Merritt, successfully realized this visionary project. The new kitchen renovation, aimed at enhancing the students’ dining experience, was initially conceptualized by Mr. Vayani Toney during his tenure as ASB President.
The evening ceremony commenced with a heartfelt devotional speech delivered by Pastor Randy Dixon, who emphasized the “goodness of God,” drawing inspiration from Psalms 34:8, and encouraged attendees to reciprocate love in a tangible way. The program continued with a soulful performance by Ms. Shauntae Price, who serenaded the audience with the song ‘His Strength Is Perfect.’ Following this, all eyes and ears turned to Dr. Colwick Wilson, USC’s President, who expressed his immense pride in the innovative initiatives taking shape at the Timothy Greaves Residence Hall. Dr. Wilson also announced the Food Sufficiency Program, which pledged a generous donation of $500.00 each to the pantries at the Ladies Residence Hall and the Timothy Greaves Residence Hall.
As the evening progressed, Mr. Jad Isidore, newly inaugurated Men’s Club President (2023/2024) extended his gratitude to Dean Dominic Merritt, recognizing his tireless efforts in making these initiatives a reality. He also expressed appreciation for the unwavering support from key figures such as Dr. Wilson, Dr. Len Archer, Provost; and Pastor Onesi La Fleur, Vice President of Student Services and Enrollment. Mr. Isidore took a moment to virtually recognize his predecessor, Mr. Delbert Defoe, for his role in igniting the project.
Mr. Defoe, reflecting on the journey of the pantry’s creation, humorously quipped, “I am excited that the pantry has finally opened. It has been ‘in the works’ since 2021 with the ASB of that time. Today, the men of the Timothy Greaves [Residence Hall] can appreciate that their chances of ‘passing away’ from lack of food and clothing while on dorm are slimmer.” He also acknowledged the generous contributions from donors, the unwavering support from the men’s Dean, and the dedication of the 2022/2023 ASB Executive.
Pastor La Fleur emphasized the importance of ‘Growing, Improving, and Developing,’ mentioning an upcoming re-enrollment of dorm students in mid-November, which will further enhance the efficiency of various initiatives. Attendees were then taken on a tour to witness the new facilities being celebrated.
The first stop on the tour was the renovated kitchen, which now boasts two new stoves, two microwaves, a refrigerator, and modernized counter and sinks. During this segment, Mr. Toney spoke about the challenges he and Mr. Defoe faced in securing the funds for this transformation. The tour continued with a pledge by Mr. Juhmaul Belfon, a prayer of dedication by Pastor Terry John, Vice President for Spiritual Development and University Pastor; and an insightful speech by Mr. Kerilius Leslie, who referred to his marriage series, “Outside Looking In,” to inspire the students to care for and tend to their new kitchen.
Finally, the tour culminated at the pantry, which was stocked with a wide variety of food items, neatly organized into categories such as dried foods, milk, cereals, macaroni, tuna, veggies, soup, beans, corn, ketchup, snacks, and toiletries, including soaps, detergents, and toothpaste. In addition to food supplies, the pantry also featured a clothing center with shirts, ties, belts, and more.
This initiative has many donors some of which are Diamond Small, Leon Leslie, Durey Arthur, Kerilius Leslie, Donna Headley, Stephen Christopher, Lyndon Antoine, Claudine Allert, Bert Gittens, Pastor Davin Scarborough, Dr. Rosie Ward, Dr. Cynthia Ward & the Golden Girls, Pastor Randy Dixon and his Pastoral Districts of Tunapuna and Tacarigua.
The success of the kitchen and pantry initiatives marks a significant step towards making Timothy Greaves Residence Hall a better place for both current and future residents. The Noble Spartans are overwhelmed by the tremendous support they have received from donors, alumni, faculty, and fellow students, both within and outside the university.
In closing, Mr. Jad Isidore reiterated his gratitude, saying, “We are grateful for the support we have received and eagerly anticipate a promising future for the Noble Spartans of Timothy Greaves Hall.” This initiative serves as a beacon of hope, unity, and progress for the University of the Southern Caribbean community, highlighting their dedication to the welfare and well-being of their students.
USC proudly announces the successful completion of its inaugural professional certificate course, “The Art of Television & Video Production,” held from July 3 to July 10, 2023. The intensive course, which was coordinated by USC’s Integrated Marketing & Communications Department, attracted participants from diverse backgrounds, including Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana, Belize, Suriname, St. Vincent & The Grenadines, and many more. The course was led by the esteemed international industry expert, Dr. Dwyane A. Cheddar.
Dr. Cheddar, renowned for his expertise in the broadcasting industry, serves as the Director of Oakwood University Broadcasting Network (OUBN) and Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at Oakwood University. With a remarkable career spanning over 20 years, Dr. Cheddar has been a significant contributor to the field of broadcasting and higher education.
“The Art of Television & Video Production” course offered a perfect blend of theory and practical sessions, equipping students with the necessary knowledge and hands-on experience to excel in the field. Through engaging lectures and interactive discussions, Dr. Cheddar shared his wealth of experience, providing invaluable insights into the world of television production.
The practical sessions were a highlight of the course, allowing students to gain first-hand experience in producing a 10-minute television show. In addition, the participants had the unique opportunity to observe the setup of a production at a convention organized by the South Caribbean Conference held at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy. This experiential learning approach enhanced their understanding of the intricate processes involved in producing high-quality television content.
One of the key highlights of the course was the students’ production of their own film-style 30-second video commercial. Shot at Darren’s Doubles in San Juan, Trinidad, the project showcased the creativity and technical skills of the participants. Under the guidance of Dr. Cheddar, they conceptualized, planned, and executed the commercial, applying the knowledge acquired during the course.
Another notable highlight of the course was the guest speaker, Leslie Ann Wills-Caton, the Film Commissioner of Trinidad and Tobago and the General Manager of the Trinidad and Tobago Film Company [FilmTT]. Ms. Wills-Caton, a respected industry professional, provided invaluable insights into the opportunities, incentives, and support offered by FilmTT to filmmakers. Her presence added an extra layer of expertise to the course, inspiring participants and broadening their understanding of the film sector’s development.
USC takes great pride in its commitment to providing exceptional educational opportunities to its students. The “The Art of Television & Video Production” professional certificate course exemplifies the university’s dedication to offering practical, industry-relevant programs that equip participants with the skills and expertise necessary for success in the ever-evolving media landscape.
For further information on upcoming courses and programs at the University of the Southern Caribbean, please visit usc.edu.tt.