The Community Hospital and The University of the Southern Caribbean are forging a Strategic Partnership
By Hayden McKenna
On Sunday 17th September 2023, The Community Hospital of Seventh-day Adventist (TCH), in partnership with The University of the Southern Caribbean (USC), formally opened the TCH-USC Urgent Care Clinic, located opposite Gate 2 of the USC Main Campus on Maracas Royal Road, St. Joseph Trinidad. The opening was a significant community event for the people of Maracas Valley and environs and further afield. It involved an open-house type health fair where community and other attendees received the benefits of free vision and health screenings, consultations and nutrition and health and wellness counselling.
On the surface of it, this is a simple, seemingly non-newsworthy matter of a local private hospital becoming the operator of the university’s primary health care service. It is that, but in this case, it is so much more. What this joint-venture represents, is the first public showing of an emerging strategic, functional and sociable partnership between two aged and very experienced, community oriented, Seventh-day Adventist institutions in Trinidad and Tobago and by extension, the Caribbean Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
The University of the Southern Caribbean, through its various names and stages, has been in existence since August 27th 1927. The Community Hospital – though officially opened on December 02, 1962, first admitted patients a few months before on September 17th 1962, seventeen days after Trinidad and Tobago became an independent nation. TCH is therefore the oldest existing private hospital in Trinidad and Tobago and September 17th, the date chosen for the opening of this clinic, is an important date in TCH’s history. USC and TCH when combined, can boast of a service legacy of more than 150 years in Trinidad and Tobago. The value of aggregating 150 years of multi-sector service experience in a society as diverse as Trinidad and Tobago is hard to overstate. This is what this emerging partnership brings to the market.
USC and TCH also have a shared philosophy, value-system and worldview. They are both Seventh-day Adventist institutions. Adventism at its core, teaches that education is inextricably connected to human redemption and restoration. It also teaches and health and wellness are the “right hand of the gospel” – no offense intended to the south-pawed. Education and health and wellness are inseparable parts to the human-redemption and restoration project in the Adventist worldview. This fundamental combination is a tried and tested formula. In the very Adventist-influenced Loma Linda University community in San Bernardino, California for instance, research shows that where these factors are strongly combined, residents on average, live for up to ten years longer than the national average. Loma Linda for this reason, is the sole blue zone community in the USA. Can the USC-TCH partnership in Maracas Valley be nascent brush-strokes-of-blue-zoning in miracle valley? Maybe.
The presence of a well-staffed first-class medical clinic, backed by the resources of TCH, offers to USC students, faculty and staff and the communities of the Maracas Valley and its environs, the security of a readily accessible urgent and preventative healthcare facility. According to TCH’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Stephen Carryl, the location and context of this Maracas Valley clinic, have already attracted meaningful discussions with the Ministry of Health about the provision of services to special niches of the wider population of the country.
Apart from the clinic, the USC-TCH partnership will also result in the strengthening of the practical elements of USC’s existing and emerging curricula in the areas of Nurse Education, Allied Health, Occupational Therapy, Social Work, Business Management and even Computer Science, through the offer of internships to USC students and other forms of mutually beneficial engagements. This has already begun and will be deepened in the medium and the long terms. Referencing TCH’s present efforts to digitize all of their medical records for instance, Dr. Carryl pointed out that a project such as this, would be a fertile place for students of Computer Science and IT to see such a process play-out and to participate in the same. Dr. Carryl envisions TCH and USC having a strategic relationship where “USC students would have a home at TCH where they could come here and rotate”. TCH can emerge as a teaching hospital for USC students.
The USC-TCH partnership will also create a robust research ecosystem on matters of interest to both institutions, the nation and the region. Building capacity in this area, is critically important to a post-colonial region of the world, whose populations continue to present live artefacts of a difficult past, manifested in epidemics of obesity, chronic non-communicable diseases, high rates of alcohol consumption and endangered mental wellbeing.
Backstory: God’s Will and a Cedar Hall ‘Bromance’
With all of these compelling reasons for co-operation, the question of why this is happening now and not before, is difficult to dodge. The default answer for people of our faith tradition, is that nothing good happens outside of God’s willing and out of sequence with the fullness of time.
In July of 2021 and June of 2022 respectively, while the world, our region and nation were still grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, both USC and TCH experienced transitions in top leadership. Dr. Colwick Wilson was appointed President of USC and Dr. Stephen Carryl was appointed the Chief Executive Officer of TCH. These two visionary leaders have a long ‘bromantic’ history with each other.
The back-story is that they have maintained a close mutually supportive friendship for more than forty years. They both entered Caribbean Union College (now the University of the Southern Caribbean) in 1979 as Theology Majors and lodged together, at the famous Cedar Hall. As “Noble Spartans’ of that famous residence hall, their early friendship would most probably have been negotiated over shared meals and sack-lunches, worship services, chapels and weeks of prayer, and a miscellany of other joys and irritants of dorm life. Indeed, it was at a Graduation Ceremony they witnessed together that Colwick intimated to Stephen his special attraction to the President’s regalia, especially the gown with its unique four-stripped festooning on its sleeve. Hmmm.
Though these classmates were separated when Dr. Carryl switched his focus to Biology and departed for Oakwood College (now Oakwood University) in 1981, they both sustained their mutual friendship and never lost touch, despite their divergent career paths. Dr. Wilson graduated from CUC with his Theology degree in 1983, pastored briefly in Guyana and in 1986 migrated to the United States to further his education in the Social Sciences. This he did to the level of a terminal PhD degree, which he received from the University of Michigan. Dr. Wilson has enjoyed a fruitful academic and leadership career at prestigious institutions in the US, including the University of Michigan, Loma Linda University, The Kettering Health Network and most recently, he held the Provostship at Oakwood University.
Dr Carryl, after completing his baccalaureate degree at Oakwood, went on to Loma Linda University School of Medicine, where he earned an MD. His education and career journey also includes a Master of Health Administration (MHA) from the University of Southern California, Surgical Internship and Residency at the Brookdale University Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York. Dr Carryl is a board-certified surgeon with expertise in Laparoscopic Surgery, Bariatric Surgery and Robotic Surgery. He rose to the position of Chairman of Surgery, Chief of Perioperative Services and Director of Bariatric Surgery at Harlem Hospital Center, before taking on the less lucrative job as CEO of TCH.
When directly asked about what prompted the partnership between USC and TCH at this moment, Dr Carryl characterised it as “divinely inspired”. Referring to his enduring friendship of over forty years with Dr. Wilson and the coincidence of both of them being back in Trinidad and Tobago at the same time to lead two significant Adventist institutions, Dr. Carryl conceded that “we know we weren’t smart enough to orchestrate something like this”.
Dr. Wilson in responding separately to the same question, said that “it was Spirit-led. I really think God’s Spirit was speaking to him as He was speaking to me at the same time”. Dr. Wilson shared that when Dr. Carryl came to Trinidad to take up duty at TCH, they were house-mates at the President’s Residence on the campus of USC. They would almost nightly have dinner together – Dr. Wilson doing most of the cooking – and they would talk about the challenges and opportunities facing their organizations. This led to a clarity that co-operation could create a whole that was greater than the sum of the parts. They began with the easier things. TCH was engaged to run USC’s health care service. This partnership would later become more organized and focused. There was the selection of a joint leadership team and a thoughtful expansion of the menu of services to be offered. Informal conversations at a cricket tournament organized by USC for the Maracas Valley community and the expression by villagers of the need for an accessible clinic in the area, added refinement to and popular confirmation of the rectitude of a plan already in train. The TCH-USC Urgent Care Clinic is the maturation of that process that most probably began with a conversation between two friends over a meal that Dr. Wilson claims to have cooked.
TCH’s Present Trajectory
Dr. Carryl speaks with a persuasive passion of the intention to aggressively pursue initiatives to re-establish TCH as “a premier provider of quality healthcare in Trinidad”. According to Dr. Carryl, there are three deliverables that form the basis of TCH’s present focus They are: Quality healthcare, good patient experience and affordability.
TCH medical staff boasts of highly qualified surgeons, specialists and physicians. The Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Damaris Baptiste-Sylvester for instance is a Consultant Obstetrician-Gynaecologist and Gynaecologist-Oncologist trained in the Caribbean, North America, and the UK. For good measure, she is also a USC alumna.
TCH is one of only a few hospitals in the Caribbean that now operates an in-patient rehabilitation clinic, particularly directed at victims of stroke. This service is led by US-trained and certified Trinidadian Dr. Gerard Antoine. With several decades of experience with the US military, Dr. Antoine is the only rehabilitation physician in Trinidad.
There is also a drive to ensure that TCH is on the cutting edge of modern diagnostic and medical technology. Dr. Carryl said that if there are 100 things you should expect from a modern hospital, TCH must be able to do no less than 90 of those things. Significant capital investments are being made to upgrade the hospital’s capacity in this area.
Under Dr. Carryl’s leadership, TCH developed and implemented a programme that is unique among private hospitals in the country and perhaps the anglophone Caribbean. Through a Behavioural and Mental Health Department, every patient that visits TCH gets a psycho-social assessment to ascertain what else is happening in their lives that needs to be addressed apart from their medical condition. This programme is led by Dr. Joanne Williams-Carryl a Social Worker and Therapist and the spouse of Dr. Stephen Carryl. This special department and unique programme have created valuable opportunities for internships for USC’s Social Work Majors. This approach will also be brought to the TCH-USC Urgent Care Clinic.
Dr. Carryl describes the healthcare sector in Trinidad and Tobago as a “productive place” for private operators. He pointed out that the costing of services at TCH is consistently below prevailing market rates. This allows for TCH to price its services in a way to achieve profitability and growth without taking away affordability from customers. “We are not mercenaries. We are not in the business of losing money but we do not have to make the most money” he said. This approach has attracted insurance companies that are excited to work with TCH and bench mark some of their products based on TCH’s pricing structures. TCH is also unashamed of its Adventist ethos and sees it as a differential advantage that sets it apart from its competitors.
Commenting specifically on the TCH-USC Urgent Care Clinic and what it means, Dr. Carryl said he sees the clinic as an extension of the main hospital into the valley. It is consistent with TCH’s strategy to expand its footprint in Trinidad and Tobago. He described the clinic as “the down-payment on an investment in this community”.
As USC moves towards marking the first 100 years of its existence in 2027, it is delighted that at this critical time of its own transformation, it has found in TCH, an equally progressive, values-compatible, well-led partner. The TCH-USC Urgent Care Clinic is a signal manifestation of great things to come for both institutions and the publics they serve.
USC and Community Hospital Officially Unveil Campus Medical Clinic: A New Era of Healthcare Excellence
By Simone Augustus, Corporate Communications Officer
A new era of accessible, cost-effective, and improved healthcare dawned in Maracas Valley on Sunday, September 17, 2023, as the University of the Southern Caribbean (USC) and the Community Hospital of Seventh-day Adventists (TCH) proudly inaugurated the TCH-USC Urgent Care Clinic.
This partnership ushers in a new era of healthcare excellence, making quality medical services accessible to the university community, and more than 3000 residents in Maracas Valley. The collaboration between USC and the Community Hospital of Seventh-day Adventists represents a commitment to providing cost-effective and improved health services in the heart of the university campus. This initiative ensures that students, faculty, staff, and the surrounding community can enhance their overall well-being through access to high-quality healthcare resources and services provided by Doctors and Nurses of the Community Hospital.
The Grand Opening and Health Fair, held at the TCH-USC Urgent Care Clinic directly opposite USC’s Main Campus on Royal Road in Maracas Valley, St. Joseph, were attended by a diverse crowd of community members, faculty, staff, and students, all united in their excitement for this transformative healthcare initiative. The event provided an opportunity for all attendees to benefit from a wide range of free healthcare services and resources, emphasizing the importance of proactive health management.
Legacy of Service Commended in Inspirational Address:
The highlight of the opening ceremony was the feature address delivered by the Honorable Esmond Forde, Member of Parliament for Tunapuna. MP Forde’s speech was an inspiring journey through the history and values of the Seventh-day Adventist community and its enduring commitment to healthcare.
In his address, MP Forde reflected on the timeless message of Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever,” emphasizing the unchanging principles that guide the Seventh-day Adventist community’s mission, including their medical missionary work. He shared historical anecdotes, such as the arrival of Miss Stella Colvin, a trained nurse from the United States, in Trinidad in 1894 to provide medical care, highlighting the denomination’s long-standing legacy of medical outreach.
MP Forde also paid tribute to the Port of Spain Community Hospital, established in 1962, and its significant role in supporting government medical services and relieving the strain on existing hospitals. He noted the historical significance of September 17th in the Seventh-day Adventist community’s engagement with medical and community health.
MP Forde celebrated the collaborative effort of USC and the Community Hospital, recognizing the clinic as a bold step that complements the government’s healthcare services
Highlights of the Health Fair included:
Vision Screenings: Attendees availed themselves of comprehensive vision screenings, promoting early detection of eye-related issues.
Doctor’s Consultations: Highly qualified medical practitioners offered individual consultations, addressing a variety of health concerns and providing expert guidance.
Blood Pressure Testing: Free blood pressure testing allowed individuals to monitor and maintain cardiovascular health.
Blood Sugar Testing: Complimentary blood sugar testing aimed to empower attendees to manage and prevent diabetes through early detection and education.
Nutrition Consultations: Nutrition experts were on hand to provide valuable insights into maintaining a balanced diet and its profound impact on overall health.
The event was a celebration of community, wellness, and collaboration, bringing together families, friends, and colleagues for a day of learning and proactive health measures. The TCH-USC Urgent Care Clinic embodies the shared values of education, community engagement, and holistic well-being.
As it opens its doors to the public, the clinic invites everyone to embark on a journey toward a healthier, happier life. This collaborative effort between USC and the Community Hospital of Seventh-day Adventists represents a beacon of healthcare excellence in the heart of Maracas Valley.
By Simone Augustus, Corporate Communications Officer
The recently concluded Grant & Proposal Writing Workshop, held from September 11 to 13, 2023, has left a lasting impact on participants from various Seventh-day Adventist entities across the Caribbean. The workshop, hosted by the ADRA & Health Ministries Department of the Caribbean Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (CARU), in collaboration with Loma Linda University (LLU) and the University of the Southern Caribbean (USC), aimed to equip participants with the knowledge and skills necessary to secure vital funding for their projects and initiatives.
The three-day workshop was a resounding success, thanks to the guidance and expertise of its facilitators, Dr. David P. Harris, Vice President of Information Systems at Loma Linda University, and Dr. Albin Grohar, Senior Advisor for Foundations and Grants at Loma Linda University. The facilitators brought a wealth of experience in grant writing and proposal development, making this event an invaluable opportunity for participants to learn from experts in the field.
Participants Representing Diverse Entities:
The workshop attracted a diverse group of participants, hailing from various Seventh-day Adventist organizations and missions across the Caribbean. Notable attendees included:
- Caribbean Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (CARU)
- South Leeward Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
- Tobago Mission of Seventh-day Adventists
- St. Vincent & the Grenadines of Seventh-day Adventists
- St. Lucia Mission of Seventh-day Adventists
- North Caribbean Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
- ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency)
- Community Services of Seventh-day Adventists
- Guyana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
- East Caribbean Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
- South Caribbean Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
The diverse representation underscored the critical importance of grant writing and proposal development skills across a wide range of organizations focused on community development, healthcare, education, and humanitarian work.
Throughout the workshop, participants gained practical insights into various aspects of grant writing, including identifying funding opportunities, crafting compelling proposals, and establishing strong relationships with funders. Interactive sessions and hands-on activities allowed attendees to apply their newly acquired knowledge in real-world scenarios, thereby enhancing their understanding of the grant-seeking process.
One of the standout features of the workshop was the emphasis on tailoring proposals to meet the unique needs and expectations of different funding organizations. Dr. Harris and Dr. Grohar stressed the importance of aligning project goals with the mission and priorities of potential funders to increase the likelihood of success.
USC Administrators, Faculty, and Staff at the Forefront:
The enthusiastic participation of USC’s administrators, faculty, and staff members underscores the institution’s commitment to a culture of lifelong learning, academic excellence and the development of its community members.
On the cusp of celebrating its centennial in 2027, USC has set ambitious goals for its next century of service to the Caribbean region. These goals include expanding academic offerings, increasing research and development initiatives, and strengthening partnerships with local and international organizations. The Grant & Proposal Writing Workshop directly contributes to these objectives by equipping USC’s community with essential skills to secure external funding for research, projects, and community development initiatives.
As our participants further build upon the knowledge and skills acquired during the workshop, USC is poised to make even greater contributions to the region’s development. This collaborative effort exemplifies USC’s commitment to excellence and its unwavering dedication to empowering its community for a brighter future.
By Hayden McKenna
Mr. Kerron Hislop, his wife Dr. Tracy Hislop and their son Asaiah are about to write a new chapter of their life journey in Southern California, USA. Kerron proceeds on leave to further his studies. For sure, this has a bitter-sweet taste for USC. His leadership, work-ethic and dauntlessness have come to be so valued here in miracle valley, that his departure will create a huge void. However, his personal and professional development can never be begrudged, and accordingly, the USC community wishes him the very best as he follows God’s leading.
Music is an indispensable element to the sound of worship in most human cultures. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the psalms comprise by far the largest identifiable section of the Old Testament. Even so, the psalms, as extensive as they are, are not the sole province of music in the Holy Bible. There is music elsewhere in both the Old and New Testaments
The school in the valley – through its various names and stages – has always been a place of worship. The completion of the implied syllogism is that music has and will always have existential significance to the sound, rhythm and cadence of life and worship in miracle valley. Music has provided a rallying point for engendering school spirit, collegial camaraderie and cherished memories of belonging to something great that long outlive the ceremonial toss of the tassel at graduation.
As consistently important as music has been to the fabric of USC over the 96+ years of its existence, there has been an uneven pattern of ebbs and flows in standards of achievement, subjective perceptions of attractiveness and popular appeal, classical rigour, and even institutional priority. There have been golden, silver and bronze ages, but never an accommodation for artistic ignobility, ambivalence or death.
From jump, Mrs. Inez C. Hamilton, a talented musician, composer, chorister, teacher and counsellor laid the foundation of music’s indispensability to campus life. Mrs. Hamilton – also the spouse of Professor R.S.J. Hamilton, our school’s first treasurer and third principal – first arrived on new-born campus of East Caribbean Training School (USC’s maiden name), on the second day of its life (August 28, 1927). By November of the following year, she directed what was perhaps the first off-campus showing of the music of the school at the Bi-annual South Caribbean Conference Session held in Port of Spain, Trinidad. Under Mrs. Hamilton’s stewardship, music became so important to the school’s curriculum, that the ability to sight-read music, became a graduation requirement. Mrs. Hamilton composed many songs, among them, was what – for its popularity – might well be informally regarded as the first, unofficial school song: “A Student I’ll Be”. There were several others that came off the tip of her prolific fountain pen.
Mrs. Inez Hamilton was not the sole contributor to the sound of music in the early days of the campus. Between the late 1930s and the first half of the 1940s, there were the creditable contributions to music leadership on the campus made by Mrs. C.E. Stenberg, who was succeeded in the mid 1940’s by Professor and Mrs. J.I. Crawford.
Students also had agency in contributing to the growth of the music culture of the campus over the years. There were early groups like a male quartet comprising of the very known names of Vasco Boyce, George Riley, Samuel Gadsby and Victor Mc Eachrane in the 1930s. In the early 1950s, there was a male nonuplet known as The College Heralds, which again featured students who would go on to accomplish great things in their careers. In the 1960s there was the memorable work of the original Golden Tones.
Those who know well and appreciate deeply the music of miracle valley, would undoubtedly hold up the 1970s and the leadership contributions and indeed the era of Dr. Vernon E. Andrews as a golden age for music on and off the campus. It was an age characterised by an emphasis on chorale music excellence that was memorialized by the production and recording of two outstanding long-playing albums, pressed on vinyl: Echoes From The Valley Volumes 1 & 2. The music of Caribbean Union College was taken to an unprecedented high. There was the fortunate co-mingling of inspirational leadership, with an affluent windfall of musical talent and giftedness on and about the campus – in the student body and otherwise – that formed the conditions for a perfect artistic storm. This period in my reckoning – perhaps to the particular delight of St. Lucian readers – was one of ‘the Pitons’ of our school’s music journey over the many decades.
In the second half of the 1980s, student groups like Collegiates, led by Candyss Ann Davis, the Harmonettes, led by Donna Kirk and a handsome male quartet The Ideals, must come up for honourable mention among others. There was also a new iteration of the Golden Tones and Shalom during this period, both led by the late Vernetta Andrews.
In the 1990s, there were groups such as Voices in Praise (VIP) led by April Roach and later Selwyn Noel, David Jeffery and Cleon Richardson and Adoration led by Jason Max Ferdinand (of Aeolians and Jason Max Ferdinand Singers fame) and Darrel Daniel. There were many other groups and individuals who made their contributions to the beauty of campus music in that decade.
Undoubtedly the second of the twin peaks of ‘the Pitons’ has been the current seven-year period (2016 to 2023), under the inspiring and shrewdly entrepreneurial leadership of maestro Kerron Hislop. The case that can be made for this elevation is both redoubtable and compelling.
- For the first time USC offers a full baccalaureate degree in music with a Music Education emphasis
- For the first time there is an integrated University Choir and Orchestra as a standing fixture
- For the first time there is a self-sufficient institutional (USC) orchestra that plays all of the required music for marquee university occasions such as graduations and convocations
- There are multiple very active musical ensembles including, voice, a concert band and steel pan
- There is a decidedly entrepreneurial approach to music activities
Kerron Hislop’s first coming to Caribbean Union College was in the 1990s. He came as a seventeen-year-old Computer Science Major who dabbled informally in music. In his own words “music was the side-chick”. In his Tobago childhood, he had enduring piano lessons – as many middle-class Adventist children of that time did. He eventually prevailed upon his parents to free him of that drudgery – a decision he says he regrets to this day. With that liberation secured, he largely taught himself woodwind instruments – especially the clarinet, the saxophone and a few other things musical. At CUC, the music of the campus drew him in. Even without sound formal music training, he became instrumental in starting up the CUC Marching Band. His academic focus however was on computer science – “the main-chick”. But he was gradually becoming a young man of divided affections.
Even so, he did so well with his academic studies, that after his graduation he was employed at the college. In time he rose to the position of acting chair of the Computer Science Department in the School of Science and Technology at the University of the Southern Caribbean. Campus life constantly presented him though, with opportunities for musical expression, practise and growth. He emerged into a well appreciated and sought-after saxophonist. His leadership qualities prompted him to establish the band Purpose, which presented impressive covers of popular gospel and contemporary Christian songs to primarily church audiences. Kerron would later assume leadership of the Praise Team of the Caring University Church, contributing to ‘modernizing’ the sound of worship music at the church and negotiating and navigating through barriers to change. He felt the need to make an even greater contribution in the area of music, but was acutely aware of the limitations in his training and preparedness. He bargained with God, pledging to pursue music if he got the opportunity to study again.
In 2010, a combination of circumstances, that included the departure of his wife Tracy (in 2009) to further he studies in the US, the loss of his vehicle at gunpoint and God’s direction persuaded him to join his wife in Southern California and set about preparing himself for greater service in the area of music. He enrolled in La Sierra University, for the baccalaureate programme in Music Technology. Abetted by his previous training in computer science, he completed this four-year programme in two-and one-half years. While at La Sierra, University, he contributed to the curriculum development process for USC’s proposed baccalaureate programme in music, collaborating with then music chairpersons at USC Mr. Selwyn Noel and later Mrs. Jennifer Kharbteng.
After completing his studies at La Sierra University, Kerron enrolled in California Baptist University (CBU), where he successfully pursued two master’s degrees in the areas of Music Education and Saxophone Performance respectively. CBU as its name betrays, is a faith-based university. This was a point of comfort for Kerron. According to him, CBU has one of the largest music programmes in the Southern California area. The overall marketing strategy of CBU relies heavily on its music products and footprint. Students are exposed to a wide range of opportunities for musical performances in various ensembles with the University Choir and Orchestra is the biggest and most prestigious. Kerron was not only able to receive the training that he needed to later do miraculous work in miracle valley, but the structure and business-like approaches he was exposed to at CBU, were worth emulating.
While still a student in Southern California – and becoming a father there too – Kerron still found the energy, time and drive to spearhead the Build-a-Band Project. This was an aggressive campaign that pursued donations in cash and in kind to build the inventory of orchestral and classical instruments and other equipment necessary to re-create at USC, what he was experiencing at CBU. His passion was unquenchable. With the assistance of his wife Tracy, USC alumni in Southern California and elsewhere and countless others from whom he could persuade generosity, he collected instruments and equipment to the extent that a forty-foot container was required to ship them to Trinidad.
In 2016 Kerron, his wife Tracy and their young son Asaiah returned to USC. A vacancy for the chairmanship of a beleaguered Music Department that was threatened with closure and reduced to a skeletal staff, saw him immediately tossed into the position of Co-ordinator. Motivating his troops, finalizing the details of how to execute the curriculum, finding storage for the large stash of instruments and equipment he had mobilized and most importantly getting students and increasing the visibility of the department were time and energy-consuming priorities for him, even as he and his family re-acclimatized to the pace of life in Trinidad and Tobago.
There were other challenges too. USC’s new music programmes did not attract GATE funding. This challenge was converted into an advantage. According to Kerron, the optimistic mindset was and continues to be that “people are willing to pay for quality”. USC was constrained to work doubly hard at quality assurance. In order to provide students with financial aid, scholarships and opportunities to earn, USC mUSiC – the hip alternative moniker for the ‘Music Department’ – has developed entrepreneurial sophistication. The mUSiC Academy was established to offer and manage all non-academic music instruction (music lessons) to members of the public who have an interest. The mUSiC Academy is student driven and led. Music Majors offer the bulk of the instructional services and share in the profits which helps them to meet their own tuition obligations. The mUSiC Academy has also taken on the management and execution of music programmes for primary and secondary schools and church congregations.
Although USC’s music degree was originally designed to offer students the option of four emphases, namely Music Education, Church Music, Music Performance and Music Technology, accreditors and market conditions dictated that only Music Education emphasis could be started in 2016. Even with that limitation, the design of the curriculum is as such that students are required to participate in ensembles each semester with a rehearsal schedule of four to five hours each week per ensemble (plus performances). Students are also exposed to techniques in all of the major instrument families and apart from their primary instrument. They are required to achieve acceptable competence in two secondary instruments. A very busy public performance schedule and recitals also ensure that the USC programme is well-rounded – far more so than any of the rival GATE-funded programmes offered locally by competitors. Kerron also chooses to see USC Christian faith-tradition as offering it a niche market that other local competitors may not be able to readily access. Challenges have been converted into differential advantages.
The COVID 19 pandemic presented USC mUSiC with the alternative to roll over and die or to innovate, survive and grow stronger. Predictably, USC mUSiC chose the latter. But it was not easy. The difficulties of abruptly adapting a programme that is so reliant on in-person instruction and assessment, ensemble (group) rehearsals and performances to remote learning and interaction cannot be overstated. Yet USC mUSiC got it done, and actually experienced growth in the number of Music Majors enrolled in the programme during the lockdowns imposed by the pandemic.
Perhaps the most outstanding proof of life that USC mUSiC offered during the darkest days of the pandemic, was the much-acclaimed virtual University Choir and Orchestra product that published a world-class rendering of the hopeful song “A Day Will Come” With 11K views to date, this video has set a record for the viewership of USC content. This highly successful project was the brainchild of Anton Charles, a USC computer science graduate and now senior Music Major, who Kerron regards as “easily one of the most talented persons” on the campus. The success of this first virtual UCO production, has led to the production and release of at least six others – with others already completed and waiting for release at the launch of the forth-coming USC mUSiC album.
Prior to and after the lockdowns of the pandemic, USC mUSiC in collaboration with creative partners and sponsors offers what has now emerged to be the much-anticipated, yuletide season, production titled “The Greatest Story” (TGS). TGS is a gala fundraising concert production that features enthralling music and drama that spare no effort amaze. Also packaged for a pay-per-view audience, the proceeds of this classy annual production go primarily to funding scholarships for Music Majors.
Mr. Kerron Hislop, his wife Dr. Tracy Hislop and their son Asaiah are about to write a new chapter of their life journey in Southern California, USA. Kerron proceeds on leave to further his studies. For sure, this has a bitter-sweet taste for USC. His leadership, work-ethic and dauntlessness have come to be so valued here in miracle valley, that his departure will create a huge void. However, his personal and professional development can never be begrudged, and accordingly, the USC community wishes him the very best as he follows God’s leading.
Kerron is sure that the accomplishments in these seven years of plenty with him the helm of USC mUSiC would not have been possible without God’s providence, the love and boundless support of his family, his colleagues in and the students of USC mUSiC, the School of Education and Humanities in which the Department of Music resides, the support of USC’s administration USC alumni and friends and a supportive community. It has been a good run and he expects great things in the future for and from USC mUSiC.
Kerron passes on the baton of leadership of USC mUSiC to the very accomplished and experienced Mr. Boyd Gibson. USC will always be grateful for the fulsome contributions Kerron and his family have made to the beautiful sound of miracle valley. We look forward to jamming together again in the valley, on this side of heaven. Farewell for now.
See USC mUSiC content here:
Going “beyond excellence” and transforming “ordinary people into extraordinary servants of God to humanity” are the aspirations that are central vision and mission of the University of the Southern Caribbean. These aspirations are embodied in the motto and mission statement of our university. Beyond rhetoric, these words and the values they reference, confer upon USCians a duty to ceaselessly pursue excellence, not as an instrument of personal and financial aggrandizement but rather, as vital preparation for meaningful service, to real people with names and faces and needs.
Consonant with this, the University of the Southern Caribbean salutes members of its alumni, who are now offering themselves for public service as candidates aspiring to become local government practitioners in the LGE 2023 cycle in Trinidad. Electoral politics is by no means new to the smorgasbord of service-oriented careers that USCians have put their valuable education, professional experience and good characters to. USCians can be found in the municipal and parliamentary chambers of several countries across the Caribbean region. A USCian mayor, prime minister or president may not be too far off – who knows?
USCians can also be found giving quality service in other areas of the government superstructure and the public service, that do not require elections for entry. They are in this nation’s senate, the foreign service, officers of the court, and in a wide range of civil service positions. A USCian currently presides over the parliamentary chamber of the Tobago House of Assembly. This is a matter of extant fact!
In the present LGE cycle, there are five USCians who have offered themselves as candidates. They are: Ms. Aviea Isaac, (Class of 2018), Mr. Emmanuel Pierre, (Class of 2017), Ms. Karina Nanan (Class of 2016), Mr. Kadeem Graham, (Class of 2013) and Pastor Courtney Francois, (Class of 2005).
We had the opportunity to directly interact with two of the five USC alumni (one male and one female) whose names will appear on the ballot on next Monday. The two belong to opposing political parties and are contesting electoral districts in different municipalities.
When asked about what attracted them to electoral politics one candidate said, “I have always been a believer in service over self, I would have spent the last 7 years as a public servant in local government and found myself just always trying to find better solutions to everyday issues. So, with my love for service and appreciation for the local government fraternity, politics was a natural flow… it is an outlet to help the people from a different perspective.”
The other candidate indicated a deep love for active community service and has a successful track record of over two decades of interventions to improve the quality of life of particularly the underprivileged. Entry into electoral politics was seen as a means of upscaling the capacity to improve the lives of people.
When confronted with the question of resource scarcity and the seemingly unlimited demands that are made on councillors by their burgesses, both respondents spoke of finding creative ways to grow the resource pool available to councillors and to more efficiently manage what is available. One of the candidates emphasized the importance of educating the public on the true roles and functions of local government, their rights, privileges and obligations and knowing how to de-conflate local issues from national issues, so that the legitimate demand for public goods is rightly placed.
When asked about the enabling role studying at USC played in developing their public spiritedness, leadership confidence and service orientation, both candidates testified that they benefitted enormously. One candidate recalls participating in student government. She served a one-year term on the executive of the Associated Student Body as Director of Social and Cultural Activities. She also assisted in the design of “Club Soc Sci” – an academic and social club for students of the School of Social Sciences. She was also selected by the university as one of its representatives for the 13th National Youth Parliament. At the youth parliament, she was given the portfolio of Prime Minister and Member for Tobago West. She also regards with high value the spiritual ethos of the university and said that “it has really helped in times of difficulty… as a young person when you are trying to be more grounded and more stable putting that centre focus on God really helps get you through difficult things in life…Your faith is a really big part in public life so I am thankful for my USC experience for that.”
The other candidate shared that his Caribbean Union College/University of the Southern Caribbean experience contributed invaluably to preparing him for the hard work of campaigning and the even harder work of representation if elected. He shared that he entered CUC in the days when the work-study programme and working an industrial year were normative. He confessed that it taught him discipline, sharpened his goal-orientation and built habits of multi-tasking, industriousness and hard work. Recalling our previous institutional motto “A Light to the Caribbean”, he said that “politics can be a very dark place…you have to bring your light into that arena so that people could have a clearer vision of where to walk”. He advised fellow USCians that “whether you are in the police service, nursing service, fire service, teaching service, wherever you are – and politics is not exempted – we need to find more of ourselves in there so that when we sit down at the table, we can bring light to the discussion.”
Our university salutes these USCian candidates and wishes them and USCians everywhere success in their aspirations and lived endeavours to improve communities, nations and a world that is desperately crying out for positive redirection. You can hear those cries if you are truly attuned. Listen.
You hardly ever encounter a commencement address at a graduation ceremony that is data rich, but moving, scholarly yet practical, perfect in its rhythm with national regional and global conversations, honest about dark challenges but brilliant in its offer of solutions, motivational, engaging and highly entertaining and complete with a galvanizing appeal to positive action and personal responsibility. These boxes are seldom ever checked together – especially these days, when public speakers have to struggle with the conflict between meaningfulness and reel-worthiness. Harvard University Professor, Dr. David Williams – a compatriot of luminaries of the Nobel ilk like the late Derek Walcott and the late Sir Arthur Lewis – gave the perfect commencement address at the main auditorium of the University of the Southern Caribbean last Sunday. Invited by his alma mater to deliver valedictory counsel to the 445 members of the Class of 2023, the St. Lucian born professor began his address by declaring that “I am proud to be an alumnus of the University of the Southern Caribbean…it is USC/CUC that has made me who I am today.”
Dr. Williams pointed out that the graduands were now part of the 7 percent of the world’s population that has achieved the minimum of a bachelor’s degree. He further stated that the Class of 2023 was graduating at an unprecedented time when the Caribbean region and the world is faced with great challenges and enormous opportunities to make a difference. It is here that this renown sociologist, public health expert and black studies scholar went to crime obesity and the consumption of alcohol as ‘for-instances’ to concretize some of the challenges that confront us and to recruit conscious change agents to face them with courage passion and perseverance.
Describing homicide and violent crime as a serious public health crisis in the Caribbean region and a problem that attracts a none-trivial spend of the limited financial resources our governments have, Williams pointed to a 2023 study that revealed that the rate of violent death in CARICOM member states is almost 3 times higher than the average for the rest of the world. Professor Williams also shared that research indicates that children of the incarcerated and those who are struggling in elementary school and devoid of positive role models are likely to commit more than 50 percent of future crimes according to some estimates by criminologists. He pointed to a successful long term prevention strategy that has shown promising results in the US. The US Dream Academy, established 25 years ago by Trinidad-born pastor and musician Dr. Wintley Phipps, focusses on inspiring and investing in children of the incarcerated and those struggling academically in elementary school. Believing that “a child with a dream is a child with a future”, the US Dream Academy has developed a robust curriculum of academics, social values enrichment and mentoring to at risk children in underserved communities in 10 cities in the US.
Turning to the epidemic of overweight and obesity, professor Williams revealed that the rates of overweight and obesity ranged in our region from 19 percent in the population of Antigua and Barbuda to a high of 32 percent in the Bahamas. More alarmingly, our region also grapples with increasing rates of childhood obesity. In the population of children aged 5 to 9, the overweight and obese ranged from 26 percent in St. Lucia to 40 percent in the Bahamas. Referring to what he called the “obesogenic environment” in which we live, Williams averred that merely going with the flow puts us at risk for gaining weight in an environment where unhealthy choices easier to make than healthy ones.
Like he did when he discussed crime, professor Williams also identified innovative solutions that are available to fight overweight and obesity and encouraged the Class of 2023 to use their resolve and creativity to join the fight.
Alcoholism is another global public health challenge that confronts us. Professor Williams shared that alcohol consumption is strongly associated with more than 200 diseases and injury conditions. In 2016, 2,8 million deaths (an average of almost 8000 per day) were related to alcohol consumption. Drawing on 2020 consumption patterns in Latin America and the Caribbean, Williams showed that Uruguay, St. Lucia, Argentina and Barbados were the nations with the highest rates of consumption, with Trinidad and Tobago showing a 25 percent increase in per capita use in recent years. Professor Williams also presented numbers and percentages that showed that frequent heavy or binge drinking was very far from uncommon and there was a very high correlation between alcohol consumption and road accidents (1:3 for men and 1:5 for women).
Professor Williams called out the wines and spirits industry – whose profits depend on alcohol consumption – for dishonestly highlighting research data that support their interests but being silent with the data that does not. He further pointed to a raging debate in the scientific literature on the apparent benefits to health of moderate alcohol consumption and showed that these benefits are more confounding than causal. Moreover, he revealed that current research now shows that alcohol consumption had no identifiable benefits to persons under the age of 40 – who make up a large proportion of the market for wines and spirits.
Professor Williams then counselled the graduating class and his wider audience to “treat each child of humanity with dignity and respect”. On this matter he courageously pronounced that Christians may need to apologize to the LGBT community. “They have not experienced the love of Jesus in the way we treat them” he said.
Conceding that making a positive difference is often expensive in financial terms, he submitted that money ought not to be an obstacle to pursuing purpose. Find out what God wants you to do and God would hold Himself responsible for your success he advised, with a quality of conviction that could only come from personal experience. He shared that he graduated from USC/CUC in 1976 and left for Canada with only US$15. He was determined to further his studies. With his mother’s wise words that “no honest work is degrading” encoded in his mind he worked hard in sometimes difficult conditions and God never let him down. He confidently declared that “what God has done for me; He is prepared to do for the Class of 2023!”
Finally, he encouraged the class to own, their world with the good and the bad in it. Learn lessons from it, understand, struggle, invest, improve, rectify, eradicate, heal, serve, love and preserve it. Do not be discouraged by naysayers or paralyzed by tradition, he warned.
Go Class of 2023… create solutions, meet the needs of suffering humanity, turn dark nights into bright tomorrows, transform communities of despair into new oases of hope. You can make a difference. You have an extraordinary future. May God bless each of you and may God bless USC.
View the full video of Professor David Williams’ address here:
Author: Hayden McKenna
At USC’s 90th Commencement Ceremony, Dr. Vernon E. Andrews, Ms. Norma Greaves and Mrs Shirley Baptiste were honoured for the stellar contributions they continue to make to the progress of the University of the Southern Caribbean. The Doctor of Arts honoris causa was conferred on Dr. Andrews, while the Spirit of USC Award, 2023 was bestowed on Ms. Greaves and Mrs Baptiste. All three are alumni of the University of the Southern Caribbean, and Dr Andrews and Ms Greaves have served the University in various academic and leadership positions for most of their adult lives. Today, in their retirement, they remain cherished repositories of institutional memory for the university and the wider Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Caribbean Union.
Commenting on receiving the honorary doctorate, Dr. Andrews said that given the choice, he would again devote his career to denominational service in the field of education. For him the true reward of a career so spent, was meeting and having the privilege to work with young people and to impact their lives in the classroom, in music and otherwise. As he reflected on his very long run as maestro on the campus and the many young people with whom he had the privilege to work, names like Len Archer, Colville St. Hilaire, the Forde and the Thorpe sisters were among those that he chose to mention. The double-doctor said that “if the Lord gives me time and space, I will still like to be of service wherever I am”. He confessed though, that he sometimes has to remind himself that he is no longer twenty-three years old. Dr. Andrews said that he was particularly delighted to have his sons and grandsons on the stage with him, when the honour was conferred.
Ms. Norma Greaves who resides in Barbados, was present on the main campus to receive the Spirit of USC Award, 2023. Commenting on receiving the award, Ms. Greaves said, “All through the years my aim was to work in God’s vineyard. I skipped other job opportunities, and vowed to remain at USC where I enjoyed working in various capacities as CTC/CUC progressed even with name changes… I thank God for His blessings, and for the strength given as He led me along through the years of work. I humbly accept this Spirit of USC Award 2023, in appreciation and recognition of what was deemed as my dedication to excellence at my alma mater. To God be the glory I give Him all the praise.”
Mrs. Shirley Baptiste, received the Spirit of USC Award, 2023 in absentia. Mrs. Baptiste who had a fruitful three-decade career with the United Nations, has been a consistent contributor to the success of her alma mater. She has served as President of the CUC Alumni Association and is the sponsor of the Harold Baptiste Lecture Series, held annually in the name of her late husband Pastor Harold W. Baptiste. Nested in the School of Theology and Religion, the Harold Baptiste Lecture Series, aims at exposing theology and religion majors and the wider university population, to interesting intersections between contemporary issues and Christian theology.
These three alumni, and former colleagues and leaders, exemplify the ethos of USC – beyond excellence, and encourage not just the Class of 2023, but all of us, to continue the work of Miracle Valley!
By Simone Augustus, Corporate Communications Officer & Hayden McKenna
The University of the Southern Caribbean hosted its 90th Graduation from June 30th – July 1st 2023. Buoyed by their chosen theme, “Fueled by Passion, Driven by Perseverance”, the 445 graduates of USC’s Class of 2023 crossed the stage to receive undergraduate and post-graduate diplomas in more than 30 academic disciplines.
Representing USC’s seven campuses in Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua, Barbados, Guyana and St. Lucia, these USCian Men and Women were charged as they left our halls to take up their mantles as extraordinary servants of God to humanity.
In testament to the lasting bonds of USC’s rich history, members of the Gold (1973) and Silver (1998) classes stood in solidarity and welcome as the Class of 2023 transitioned from student to proud alumni in USC’s legacy of service and excellence.
This weekend of celebration was glittered with featured addresses from some of USC’s distinguished alumni – Pastor Marvyn Smith, Director of Youth, Chaplaincy and Public Campus Ministries, Caribbean Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Dr. Curtis Fox, Senior Pastor, Conyers Seventh-day Adventist Church Atlanta Georgia, USA and Dr. David R. Williams, Chair, Department of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Cambridge Massachusetts USA.
Former USC President, Dr. Vernon E. Andrews was awarded the Doctor of Arts honouris causa, while Ms. Norma Greaves and Mrs. Shirley Baptiste were recipients of the Spirit of USC Award in recognition of their service and contributions going well “Beyond Excellence”.
The Class of 2023 joins a community of more than 30,000 globally dispersed alumni of USC, who productively populate a wide range of professions. Our 95-year legacy of holistic, transformative education rests firmly on pillars of excellence in Intellectual Curiousity, Cultural Diversity, Moral Integrity and Spiritual Nurture – all to build an institution that is indeed #USCSTRONG!
Click the links below to view our graduation photo albums:
Author: Hayden McKenna
On May 20th 2023, Elder George Ralph Thompson, finished with the troubles of this world, was called to rest. The administration, faculty and staff, students, alumni and friends of the University of the Southern Caribbean express our deepest condolences to the family, relatives, ministerial colleagues and many friends of Elder Thompson. We also join in the celebration of a life of one of our favourite alumni sons whose long, distinguished and praiseworthy tour of duty and service in this world, will long be remembered and brilliantly historicized by our church.
George Ralph Thompson, the son of George Gilbert and Edna Thompson, was born on March 20, 1929 on what was then the British colony of Barbados, (now the Republic of Barbados). His early life was nested in the hamlet of Connell Town in St. Lucy, Barbados’ rugged northernmost parish. His parents, members of the Pilgrim Holiness Church, raised G. Ralph as a protestant Christian. In his youth, G. Ralph displayed noble qualities and tremendous promise that did not go unnoticed by members of his community. Young G. Ralph apprenticed as a tailor in nearby Checker Hall with Mr. Fred Greaves who was a member of the Checker Hall Seventh-day Adventist Church. Fred Greaves gave a copy of The Great Controversy to the lad. The inquisitive young man read the book and was intrigued.
When A.R. Tucker the then principal of Caribbean Training College (CTC) – a Seventh-day Adventist boarding school in Maracas Valley on the island of Trinidad, visited Barbados on a recruiting expedition, he, abetted by Fred Greaves prevailed upon young G. Ralph Thompson’s parents to send the intellectually curious young man off to CTC.
On March 22nd 1946 George Ralph Thompson entered CTC . It was in this fertile valley, that lifts its eyes on the south-face of El Tucuche that his preparation for a historic, five-decade long career with the Seventh-day Adventist Church germinated. It was on the CTC campus that G. Ralph Thompson was baptized by A.R. Tucker and became a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It was at CTC that he was exposed to a fourteenth-grade curriculum that prepared him for entry into the gospel ministry. In Elder Thompson’s own words, “It is here that my educational horizons were opened up, and apparent impossibilities became challenging and intriguing realities… I can say today with absolute conviction, all that I am, and whatever I might have been able to achieve, I owe to that school in the Maracas Valley in Trinidad.”
It is at CTC too that a youthful G. Ralph Thompson also found the time to dabble in constructive extra-curricular activities that deepened his affection for Adventist culture and contributed valuable addenda to his preparation for ministerial service. For instance, he was a member and one of three first tenors in an outstanding male vocal ensemble called the College Heralds. Their debut performance was held in the College Auditorium in January 1950. Donned in impressive livery, they opened with a memorable rendition of Where are the Boys of the Old Brigade.
G. Ralph Thompson had two graduations from Caribbean Training College. He graduated from the twelfth-grade – the equivalent of secondary school completion – in 1948. Two years later, with advanced schooling, he graduated again having completed a two-year diploma course in Theology ,which qualified him, by the standards of the time, for entry into the gospel ministry.
Elder G. Ralph Thompson began his long and fruitful career as a minister of the gospel in the La Brea and Point Fortin areas of southwestern Trinidad as an intern pastor under the supervision of Pastor Samuel L. Gadsby. His devotion to God, teachability, genuine love for people, giftedness as an evangelist, and staunch commitment to the mission and unique message of the church quickly attracted pastoral success. Throughout G. Ralph Thompson’s remarkable denominational career, he remained steadfastly loyal to these helpful character traits and aptitudes.
In the 1953 to 1954 academic year, Elder G. Ralph Thompson briefly joined the faculty of CUC as a teacher in the secondary school division of the college. This may have been an institutionally organized pre-requisite to availing an opportunity for him to study abroad at Atlantic Union College (AUC) in South Lancaster, Massachusetts, USA. In 1954, he left for AUC, where he completed his Bachelor’s degree in 1956. After his graduation, he was employed as a pastor and teacher in the Lake Region Conference in the United States.
In 1959, he returned to CUC as a member of the faculty. In August of that very year, he was ordained to the gospel ministry in the College Chapel. On June 14 1961, Elder Thompson left for Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, USA to complete a Bachelor of Divinity degree at the seminary. He returned to CUC in 1962 and between 1962 and 1964, he rose to the status of the Head of the Theology Department and Pastor of the College Church. As head of the Theology Department, he was careful to ensure that the Ministerial Association (the fraternal society for ministerial students) was always vibrant, keenly engaged in public evangelism and spiritual formation activities. One memorable public evangelism campaign of the period, was a series Elder Thompson conducted on Jackson Street in Curepe, Trinidad. In this effort he was supported by his eager students.
Elder Thompson also taught a famous history class of the campus titled “European Survey” which had an elegantly paginated tome for a textbook. This class was famous for its demanding intellectual rigour and its fine tutelage.
Elder Thompson was also a cherished mentor to his students and members of his pastorate.
He would succinctly, yet eloquently share ways of seeing and being that would inspire his students to be accomplished but humble. One of the many students he taught, led to Christ and baptized, recalls him advising that when one receives a promotion one should “step up humbly” and at its end, one should “step down graciously”.
The prodigious progress of Elder Thompson as an extraordinary evangelist, pastor and teacher was carefully followed by the Adventist constituency in Barbados and by extension the eastern Caribbean. In 1964, the thirty-five-year-old Elder Thompson, was asked to serve as the President of the East Caribbean Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, headquartered in Barbados. Permitting no one to despise his youth, Elder Thompson stepped up humbly to this important assignment. He served the East Caribbean Conference as its president for two consecutive triennia.
The demands of the presidency did not attenuate Elder Thompson’s passion for the public proclamation of the gospel. In April of 1967, he established the Faith for Today Radio Broadcast. It aired locally in Barbados and to the islands of the eastern and southern Caribbean.
A flight of denominational elevations would pursue Elder Thompson’s outstanding work and preternatural devotion to service. In 1970, he was elected to the presidency of the Caribbean Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Among the many duties that came with this new role was the chairmanship of the Board of Trustees of his alma mater, dear old CUC. Through his steadfast obedience to God’s leading, he acquitted himself well at Rookery Nook.
In 1975, Elder Thompson was asked to serve as one of the general vice-presidents of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. In 1980, in the midst of theological commotions in the world church, Elder George Ralph Thompson was elevated to the position of Secretary of the General Conference. In this position, he served for four consecutive quinquennia, and towards the end of his tenure, briefly acted as President of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. His two decades as Secretary of the General Conference, spanned the presidencies of Elders Neal C. Wilson, Robert S. Folkenberg and part of that of Elder Jan Paulsen. Elder Thompson’s twenty unbroken years in this office, makes him the longest serving Secretary of the General Conference in the history of the organized Seventh-day Adventist Church. He was also the first person of colour and undiluted subaltern heritage to serve in this esteemed position.
Early in his tenure as Secretary of the General Conference, Andrews University conferred the honourary Doctor of Divinity degree on this worthy recipient in 1983.
The world church experienced institutional development and tremendous membership growth during Elder Thompson’s long stewardship as Secretary of the General Conference. In his report to the 57th General Conference Session in Toronto, Canada in 2000, (his last report as secretary of the world church) he shared that in 1999, an average 2,989 persons joined the church each day or 2.08 each minute of that year.
As high as God elevated his trusted Barbadian servant, he never lost the common touch, his love for people, and his distinct Caribbean personality. There are countless stories of his official and unofficial visits to the Caribbean especially to Barbados and Trinidad and his stubborn habits of visiting and conducting devotions at the major Adventist institutions there, and making house calls to old friends and colleagues. He manifested none of the trappings of pride and power distance that high office could easily summon.
Elder Thompson retired in 2000 after five decades of exemplary denominational service. Even after his retirement, he remained an asset to the church, serving as a field representative for the Ellen G. White Estate and delighting and inspiring congregations with the word, on the special occasions he took to the pulpit.
Elder G. Ralph Thompson was also the devoted husband and father. He married Imogene Clotilde Barker (also a Barbadian) on July 19th 1959 in New York, USA. Imogene Thompson was an alumna of CTC and studied at the college from 1948 to 1951. She is remembered as a “strong singer” on the campus. Imogene Thompson, had an accomplished career as a graduate nurse who worked in Barbados, Trinidad, New York and Washington D.C.
He and his Imogene were partners in long life, ministry and in parenthood. Together they lovingly raised three children: Carol Jean, Gerald Randolph, and Linda Mae. They were also grandparents to four girls. Imogene preceded Elder Thompson in 2018.
On July 10th 2023 Elder G. Ralph Thompson’s body was laid to rest in Naples, Florida, USA. Heaven has marked the spot of his interment for disturbance on that great day. May the long life and rich legacy of this extraordinary servant of God to humanity, inspire us to go beyond excellence like Elder George Ralph Thompson managed to do in his lifetime.
Written by: Hayden McKenna
Special thanks to: Dr. Glenn O.I. Phillips, Dr. Vernon E Andrews, Ms. Norma Greaves, Mr. Ian Green, Mr. E. Lennard McKenna & Mrs. Anastacia Mulraine-Campbell, Forde Library, USC.
The University of the Southern Caribbean invites Members of the Class of 1973 and Class of 1998 to the 90th Graduation Celebrations June 30 to July 2, 2023.
Reconnect with old friends, reminisce, and rediscover the spaces that hold cherished memories. Participate in the Consecration, Baccalaureate, and Commencement services, and share your
experiences with the USC family.
Queries and Information: email@example.com
Honouring the achievements and contributions of the Silver and Gold Alumni!