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.
By Simone Augustus, Corporate Communications Officer
In a momentous stride towards agricultural sustainability and community development, the University of the Southern Caribbean (USC) proudly announces the official licensure of its farm by the Ministry of Agriculture, Land, and Fisheries of Trinidad & Tobago. This achievement not only signifies a significant milestone in USC’s rich history but also paves the way for enhanced contributions to regional food security and educational initiatives.
Established in 1927, USC’s farm has been an integral part of the institution’s heritage, serving as a hub for agricultural research, education, and community engagement. However, despite its longstanding presence, the farm faced challenges in obtaining official licensure due to historical intricacies surrounding land ownership. Nonetheless, through dedicated efforts and perseverance, USC has successfully navigated through these complexities, culminating in the recent issuance of the official license in October 2023.
The process of acquiring licensure involved meticulous adherence to statutory requirements, including legal documentation, affidavits, and detailed plans for cultivation and processing. With the farm now classified as a registered entity, USC gains access to a myriad of incentives and support from the Ministry of Agriculture, ranging from grants and loans to training programs and networking opportunities. This newfound recognition not only validates USC’s commitment to agricultural excellence but also reinforces its role as a key player in regional agricultural development.
Beyond the confines of the university campus, USC’s farm holds immense potential for collaboration and partnership with the local community and regional stakeholders. Initiatives such as hydroponics training and curriculum expansion signify USC’s dedication to extending its impact beyond academia, fostering a culture of hands-on learning and sustainable agricultural practices.
Looking ahead, USC envisions its farm as a beacon of food security and sustainability, serving as a model for locally sourced agricultural production. With grant applications underway and plans for the expansion of egg farming projects, USC is poised to play a pivotal role in reducing Trinidad’s dependency on imported food products, particularly in the East-West Corridor.
As USC embarks on its journey towards its centennial anniversary in 2027, the licensure of its farm symbolizes a new chapter in the university’s legacy of excellence and community service. USC invites individuals with expertise in agriculture and related fields to join hands in this transformative endeavor, fostering collaboration and innovation for a more resilient and prosperous future.
For those interested in contributing or partnering with USC’s farm, please contact Mrs. Sharon Ramkissoon-De Freitas, Director of Business Development, via email at email@example.com or telephone at (868) 662-2241/2 ext. 1211. Together, let us cultivate a future of abundance and sustainability for generations to come.
By Simone Augustus & Nykhya Gardiner
The University of the Southern Caribbean (USC) has taken a remarkable step towards addressing food insecurity among its students with the official opening of the “Food for Thought” pantry at the Ladies Residence Hall (LRH). This initiative, a key part of USC’s Food Sufficiency Program, is set to make a profound difference in the lives of students, especially those facing financial hardships. The pantry project was made possible through the generosity of donors, including Chosen 300 Ministries led by Pastor Brian Jenkins and Dr. Sharon Forde-Atikossie, Pastor, and CEO of The Sharing of Bread International Outreach Ministry, a US-based non-profit organization.
The pantry’s establishment comes with a clear mission – to support the students of the Ladies Residence Hall, with a particular focus on those facing economic challenges. A select committee, comprising five individuals including the Ladies’ Club President, the Residence Hall Dean, and three other named individuals, has been appointed to oversee the pantry’s management, disbursement, and inventory. The pantry is scheduled to open every two weeks, ensuring a regular supply of essential items to students in need.
The “Food for Thought” pantry was launched on January 15, 2023, as part of a week of activities designed to engage and uplift the student community. An integral component of the launch included a Women Enrichment Seminar, featuring a presentation by Dr. Forde-Atikossie.
While the “Food for Thought” pantry is now a reality, the vision behind it began to take shape long before its official launch. Jamila February, who served as the Ladies Club President from July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023, played a pivotal role in bringing this initiative to life. Her determination to address the needs of LRH Residents, who often found themselves struggling due to financial constraints, was the driving force behind the project. Jamila recalled her early inspiration, saying, “As I was at USC prior to the [Covid-19] pandemic, I heard that the school never had a pantry, and students would complain of a lack of money, therefore they would be limited on stuff to eat.”
Determined to serve her fellow residents and fulfill her role as a leader, Jamila embarked on a quest to find donors who could help stock the pantry. Her dedication to the cause was unshakable, and her efforts did not go unnoticed.
The pantry’s meaningful name, “Food for Thought,” was suggested by one of its primary donors, Dr. Sharon Forde-Atikossie. Jamila explained, “It’s more than just food; it has a purpose,” emphasizing the broader mission of the pantry.
The journey to establish the pantry was not without its challenges. Jamila and the team encountered obstacles, including customs delays, that could have deterred their progress. However, their unwavering determination, coupled with the belief in a higher purpose, enabled them to overcome these hurdles.
Chosen 300 Ministries and The Sharing of Bread International Outreach Ministry made substantial contributions to the pantry, including a diverse range of items. Their donations encompassed ready-made or easy-to-cook foods, such as macaroni and cheese and various canned items. Recognizing the unique needs of female residents, the ministry also generously provided essential sanitary items and pads.
The students of the Ladies Residence Hall warmly received the “Food for Thought” pantry, appreciating the caring and compassionate gesture. It has not only addressed immediate food needs but also conveyed a powerful message of support and unity within the USC community.
USC commends the dedication of Jamila February, the generous donors, and all those involved in this endeavor for their commitment to serving the student community and upholding the values of compassion and empathy. The “Food for Thought” pantry is more than just a source of nourishment; it symbolizes the care and solidarity that define the University of the Southern Caribbean.
By Simone Augustus & Peggy Guerrero
The University of the Southern Caribbean (USC) has embarked on a mission to foster sustainability, enrich the lives of its students, faculty, and the wider community, and promote educational excellence with the grand opening of the USC Kind-hearted Thrift ‘N Valley Store. This initiative, proposed by distinguished USC alums and coordinated by Mrs. Sharon Ramkissoon-De Freitas, USC’s Director of Business Development, goes beyond a typical thrift store, serving as a testament to USC’s commitment to nurturing the head, heart, and hand of its community.
On Thursday, April 27, 2023, the USC Kind-hearted Thrift ‘N Valley Store was officially inaugurated in a vibrant ceremony held at the USC Student Lounge. The launch event welcomed a diverse turnout of USCian students, faculty, staff, and administrators who gathered to support this noble cause.
At its core, Thrift ‘N Valley is not merely a store; it’s a vision brought to life. This venture is designed to provide affordable shopping options for individuals and families, but its significance extends far beyond. It stands as a beacon of sustainability, fostering a culture of socially responsible consumerism by accepting donations of gently used clothing, furniture, and household items. What sets this venture apart is its pledge to channel its profits towards enhancing the experiences of students in need through scholarships. These scholarships will contribute to the operations and quality of life among students, faculty, staff, and the broader community.
The USC community, comprising over 2,500 students spread across seven campuses in Antigua, Barbados, Guyana, St. Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago, has shown tremendous support for the Kindhearted Thrift ‘N Valley store since its inception, just four months ago.
Generous donations from various quarters have poured in, including contributions from foreign alumni and friends like Colwick & Deleise Wilson, Cheryl Wilson, Nicole Archer, and the North America Alumni Association. These contributions have been instrumental, with an average estimated value of TTD$7,000.00. USC’s dedicated staff and faculty have also joined the cause, with over a dozen members contributing items to the thrift, averaging TTD$4,000.00 in value. Furthermore, the store has received support from friends and the local and foreign community, who, although not directly affiliated with USC, have donated items averaging TTD$10,000.00 in value after learning about the project.
To ensure the thrift store remains relevant and accessible to its target market, USC has invested an average of TTD$15,000.00 in supplies, with an average purchase value of TTD$40,000.00. In its short existence, USC Thrift has achieved remarkable sales nearing TTD$65,000.00, with stock on hand averaging TTD$45,000.00.
Looking ahead, the Kindhearted Thrift ‘N Valley store is poised to become a cornerstone of USC’s efforts to support its students. A local donation drive is already in motion, with companies and organizations like The Tourism and Hotel Association of Trinidad and Tobago, Associated Brands, Bermudez Biscuits, and Terra Caribbean being approached for support. As the store gains momentum, it is anticipated to significantly impact the USC community and beyond, fostering a culture of socially responsible consumerism and inspiring more initiatives that align with these values.
The Kindhearted Thrift ‘N Valley store invites all USCian families and the wider community stakeholders to join in this noble cause, contributing to a future where every student has the opportunity to go beyond excellence.
For more information about the USC Kind-hearted Thrift ‘N Valley Store and how you can contribute or donate, please visit usc.edu.tt/thrift.
By Nadira Mohammed & Nykhya Gardiner, Corporate Communications Interns
The University of the Southern Caribbean (USC) welcomed its 96th academic year with the much-anticipated annual President’s Convocation Ceremony held on Monday, October 2, 2023. The event, held under the theme “Changing Mindsets: Self, Systems, and Strategies,” served as a pivotal moment for USC, setting the stage for the institution’s upcoming centennial celebrations scheduled for 2027.
The President’s Convocation brought together USC’s students, administrators, faculty and staff. This year’s convocation held a unique distinction as it welcomed, for the first time in its history, two special guests of honor: Mr. Leslie Hislop, Principal of the Caribbean Union College Secondary School, and Mrs. Charmaine Jardine-Brisbane, Principal of the Maracas SDA Primary School.
The evening commenced with scripture readings presented by representatives from both the Maracas SDA Primary School and the CUC Secondary School, followed by warm acknowledgments of the special guests by Provost Dr. Len Archer, and greetings from the Deans of USC’s various schools. The audience was serenaded with a piano instrumental by Mr. Steve Marcelle before the keynote address by Dr. Colwick Wilson, USC’s 29th President, who has been in office since July 1st, 2021.
Dr. Wilson’s inspiring speech centered on the theme, “Changing Mindsets: Self, Systems, and Strategies,” emphasizing the need to break away from outdated approaches and embrace the path to becoming “#USCSTRONG.” He eloquently stated, “You cannot put new wine into old wine skins,” underscoring the importance of evolving and adapting to the changing times.
In his address, Dr. Wilson stressed the inclusivity of the Maracas SDA Primary School, CUC Secondary School, and USC, forming a “Partnership at Home.” He echoed the sentiments of Dr. Susan Chand, Dean of the School of Social Sciences, by expressing a commitment to “walk with you through this valley,” signifying a united effort to overcome challenges.
One of the key highlights of Dr. Wilson’s speech was the vision for an improved campus life encapsulated in the Strategic Plan 100 (SP100). Over the next four years, Dr. Wilson, along with Pastor Bertie Henry, Treasurer of the Caribbean Union Conference, will work on plans for 25 campus buildings. These plans are expected to revitalize the university and enhance the overall educational experience for students.
Reflecting on the success of the “Get On The Bus” Campaign, which raised TTD$1.4 million, Dr. Wilson announced the launch of a new fundraising initiative called the Capital Campaign, scheduled for November 18th, 2023. This campaign will provide the necessary resources to bring the ambitious projects discussed during the President’s Convocation to fruition.
In conclusion, the President’s Convocation for the academic year 2023-2024 was an evening filled with profound insights and a vision for USC’s future. It left both the audience and speakers with a renewed sense of purpose and direction as they embark on a journey towards “Changing Mindsets: Self, Systems, and Strategies.” As they move forward, USC is poised to continue its legacy of excellence while embracing innovation and inclusivity in the pursuit of educational excellence in Miracle Valley.
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By Hayden McKenna
Accidents of birth, the fact or fiction of kismet, fate versus agency, the unforgiving, unrelenting metronome of life’s clock, good luck, tough luck, and the untamed caprice – sometimes tyranny – of serendipity and opportunism are existential mysteries that without faith, the meaning to living would remain an estranged fugitive-at-large. Let us not over-think this though. The intention here is far more light-hearted. All of this metaphysical waxing is simply to say that it is extremely doubtful that any of the almost 750 freshers among us this year, intentionally purposed to graduate in the Class of 2027 – the class of our university’s centennial! Yes in 2027 our beloved USC celebrates 100 years of existence. Follow the simple math; the freshers of 2023 possess – by dint of accident of birth or matriculation – the unique and significant claim to being members of the presumptive centennial class.
In human reckoning – across time, geographies and cultures, 100 of almost anything is significant – not 94, at least 100! Generally though, there is almost unanimous consensus that 100 metres in track and field, 100 runs in cricket, 100 reps at the gym, 100 miles of cycling, even £/€/$100 (depending on the currency) is significant or valued. When it comes to years, our relatively short lifespans rarefy the triumph of surviving for 100 years. A 100th anniversary or birthday truly matters. At the University of the Southern Caribbean, we can expect that everything will be bigger brighter and better in 2027.
When the topic of our quickly arriving centennial and the beginning of the incubation of the Class of 2027, was recently broached with University President, Dr. Colwick Wilson, he re-joined with his trademark enthusiasm:
I wish I were graduating during the year when the institution celebrates 100 years… It would be a graduation experience like none other…It seems as if that embedded in the psyche of the populations of the world is this notion of what happens within a century…There is something distinctive about getting to 100. It is a marker of significance in all of our memory and all of our lives. There is that social-psychological reality that allows people to pause and say wow, thank God for 100 years.
Dr. Wilson went on to point out that in USC’s lived history, there have been classes that have been special because of the institutional milestones attached to them. There was the very first class that entered East Caribbean Training School. The first class to graduate from Caribbean Training College, the first class to graduate with a bachelor’s degree, the first class to begin a bachelor’s degree at CUC and complete it, the first cohort of students to graduate with a USC conferred master’s degree, the first batch of nurses to graduate. Institutional milestones embellish some classes with special memorability – perhaps none more so than the Class of 2027.
When asked about some of the unique things the Class of 2027 can look forward to during their four-year tenure at the university, Dr. Wilson projected an exciting 48 months ahead. On November 18th and 19th of this year, we can expect to see the soft launch of the university’s centennial celebrations, with its supporting capital campaign and the Get on the Bus (GOTB) 2023 initiative.
Sub-committees drawn from a broad cross-section of the university community, including administrators, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends of USC, have been formed and are being formed to plan-out a slew of activities for 2023, 2024, 2025, 2026, and 2027. In the 2026 – 2027 academic year, in every month there will be a major activity leading up to graduation weekend and the Founders’ Day climax.
In this academic year, there will be a major international research conference on the campus to mark Charter Week in the month of March 2024. At that conference, the David Williams Centre for the Study of Religion Spirituality and Health and Well-being will be launched. The conference will also feature national, regional and international scholars and presenters. It is the intention for this international conference to become an annual fixture of the university’s calendar.
In the lead-up to the centennial, students can look forward also, to more opportunities to engage in research. Dr. Wilson said that “research will be integrated into the curriculum. Students will be trained at a higher level to get involved in research through the curriculum and also outside of the curriculum, in areas that they are interested in”.
The improvement of the aesthetic, functionality, efficiency and quality of campus infrastructure will also be pursued through a programme of campus beautification, renewal and development. On the main campus, the Campus Beautification Sub-committee for instance, has already begun working on proposals for the remodelling of the main entrance to the campus.
A top priority of campus renewal for our president is creation and/or enhancement of student spaces on the campus. Dr. Wilson mentioned plans to develop places where students and others could take good photographs, have social gatherings and events, “spaces where students can document memories of their time here at USC… green spaces on campus where students can sit and fall in love…”
A major recipient of the funding to be raised by the capital campaign mentioned earlier, would be a state-of-the-art health and wellness centre to be built where the de-commissioned Linda Austin Hall now stands. Amenities would include a modern gym, a swimming pool, a basketball court, lawn tennis and volleyball courts. Speaking of this facility, Dr. Wilson said “that is where our number one centennial building is expected to be.” Speaking also of plans to have the playfield resurfaced and lit, he said “we have to have a place on the campus where -individuals – young people and older people are able to recreate.”
Dr. Wilson spoke also of plans for the improvement of other aspects of campus infrastructure. There are about 19 buildings earmarked for renovations and upgrades. There is the need to complete the unfinished Dean’s quarters, and the annex to the ladies’ residence hall, up on cardiac hill. The music building will also get some attention and alas, the weather-worn foundation to the northwest of the secondary school would be given newness of life. The electrical power on the campus will also be upgraded to meet present and future needs. All of this will be pursued within a framework that is committed to a greener more energy-efficient campus.
Campus development will not be confined solely to the main campus. The needs of the extension campuses and satellite sites are well known and understood by the university’s administration. There are ongoing negotiations with government bodies at the various locations to improve the endowments of land for expansion and development of our remote campuses.
The Caring University Church building project, which is the shared responsibility of the university, other denominational stakeholders and the congregation itself, is another aspect of campus development that can be expected to be completed before the university’s centennial year. Dr. Wilson expressed a commitment to support this project through fundraising and personal efforts.
The development of the university’s human capital is also a priority of the centennial vision. There will be a special emphasis on leadership development. Dr. Wilson in commenting on this aspect of the centennial trajectory said:
I think there are a number of individuals on this campus, if given the right exposure and experiences… would be excellent candidates for the job of leading this university into the next fifteen to twenty years. I think we have to invest in them. We are going to start a leadership academy with a sub-theme of transition.
Members of faculty and staff can look forward to opportunities for specialized training, upskilling, meaningful mentorships and exposure to leadership building experiences. The first instalments of the training the academy will offer, comes as soon as this November 3rd and 16th.
The university structure has also been modified in order to improve its prospects for delivering a superior USC as it enters its second century. A new administrative division dedicated to advancement and planning has been created. This division, headed by the very experienced Dr. Barbara Reynolds, will ensure that the university becomes adept at multi-tasking the urgency of its present operational functions with its intentional pursuit of planned progress.
Deeper, more constructive community involvement is also on the institutional agenda. Dr. Wilson spoke with passion about finding novel ways for the university to become more meaningfully involved in its immediate community and further afield, in the nation and the region. The TCH-USC Urgent Care Clinic, recently opened in the heart of the Maracas Valley is one example of a greater commitment to community engagement. At the ceremonial opening of the clinic Dr. Wilson spoke about USC’s almost 100-year relationship with the Maracas Valley community. He promised that “USC, is here to stay and will grow bigger, stronger and more involved in the community… We will invest in getting deeper into the community to provide the resources the community needs across multiple dimensions…” he said. Many of the other capital project mentioned previously, will also be designed, built and deployed with the benefit of the wider community also in focus.
The centennial vision, even in the face of scarce resources, is ambitious, bold and affluent in faith. Persuaded by God’s awesome faithfulness over the past 96 years, there is a composed confidence that God is not finished yet with miracle valley.
The Class of 2027, enters USC at a time of unparalleled excitement and opportunity. If you are a fresher this year, you belong to a special class that is destined to be remembered. Spare no opportunity to do remarkable things during your time here. Embrace this journey for all that its worth and do not disembark before you have travelled beyond excellence.