By Hayden McKenna
This is the first of a series of feature articles that will focus on matters of leadership. The series coincides with the recent establishment USC Leadership Academy (USCLA).
Leadership is one of those buzz-words in the jargon of management, governance and political studies that never gets old or goes out of fashion, despite its quality of occasionally being fodder for trite cliché and worse even, spectacular mal-practice. From Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince with its schizophrenic motif of the fox and the lion, to the pessimistic literary offerings of George Orwell in Animal Farm, or William Golding in Lord of the Flies, to the brighter more hopeful contemporary works of a long list of other mostly Caucasian males like Peter Drucker, Sidney Finklestein, John C. Maxwell and Simon Sinek, leadership remains a global preoccupation of the well-read and the ambitious. The narrow cultural immanence in the literature on leadership is obvious to the conscious and critical eye. So too is what is perhaps a misogynistic skepticism about the true potency of feminine leadership, if one reckons it by the loudest voices in the room and among the proclaimed pundits and gurus – pardon the non-western monikers for the experts. The case for a richer democratization and more cultural diversity and gender inclusivity in the epistemology that supports how we learn about, practice, present and represent leadership is not difficult to make. Think deeply about what is commonly accepted and available to you on the subject of leadership and you most likely would agree.
As the University of the Southern Caribbean approaches its centennial, there is, or should be, a collective consciousness that our remarkable progress and our missed opportunities too, cannot be disentangled from our leadership culture and praxis. This claim does not have a selective adhesive that attaches solely to the 2 women and 27 men that have been our Presidents. Good and progressive organizational leadership must percolate to and be fed-back from every capillary and cell of the organizational anatomy if the organs, limbs and systems are to resist atrophy and necrosis. Leadership and conscious leaders exist and must be recognized, equipped and empowered to exist, thrive and multiply throughout the University. The success of the second 100 years depends on it.
On November 10, 2023, the USC Leadership Academy (USCLA) was launched. The keynote address for the opening of the USCLA was delivered by Dr. Leon Wilson, an illustrious alumnus of CUC/USC’s Class of 1974. Dr. Wilson has had a long and distinguished career that has included positions of leadership in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, where in his native Guyana he served as a Pastor and District Leader, an Associate and full Departmental Director and rose to the position of Executive Secretary of the Guyana Conference. After migrating to the United States, he continued to practice ministerial leadership pro-bono as a volunteer pastor of two churches for almost four years.
As a career academic, Dr. Wilson has served in various leadership roles in several universities in the United States of America, including Wayne State University, East Carolina University, Alabama State University, Tugaloo College and Morgan State University. His varied roles have included positions as Teaching Faculty, Departmental Chairperson, Vice Presidencies in several portfolios, Provostships, and an Interim Presidency. Dr. Wilson also has the permanent distinction of being the first person to be designated as Provost of the University of the Southern Caribbean. Dr. Wilson has also served on several committees and boards and was President of the North America Alumni Association of the University of the Southern Caribbean for three years. In his own words, he carries a “heavy bag of leadership experiences.”
I recently had the privilege of having an extensive conversation with Dr. Wilson on matters of leadership. We explored leadership in the field of academics, in the church, in Caribbean society and how its practice continues to evolve in the face of 21st century needs and challenges.
Good leadership for Dr Wilson, “inspires people, good leadership encourages followship, good leadership is also being a follower… Good leadership develops others…if you are simply leading, at some point what happens is when you are gone the influence disappears. A good leader is a person who develops a legacy. That legacy involves moving people along and making them better than when you found them…The legacy of good leadership is that there are people who can carry on what you have started but more so, they innovate because you have taught them to do that.”
In recalling his preparation for leadership, Dr. Wilson hailed the example of leadership displayed by his mother and aunt in his formative years. His mother was up to the challenge of managing what he described as a household of “plenty boys, one girl and grandfather”. Later in his childhood, he lived with an aunt who served as a midwife for an expansive district in Guyana, in an age in the Caribbean where the rite of ‘cutting the navel-string’ was a very highly esteemed badge of honour. Dr. Wilson said that observing how these two women managed their responsibilities, offered him early preparation for his future role as a leader.
Church work was another valuable source of Dr. Wilson’s personal preparation for leadership. For Dr. Wilson, some of the lessons learnt and skills honed as a young Pastor, Director and Administrator in the Guyana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, were valuable and transferable to other challenging leadership contexts he encountered in his accomplished academic leadership career.
Important too in building his leadership aptitude and confidence was his fortune of having good mentors. As a young post-graduate student at Andrews University in Berrien Springs Michigan, USA, he came under the influence of Dr. Sakae Kubo and Dr. Walter Douglas. The latter – perhaps because of his Grenadian Caribbean heritage and iconic CTC/CUC/USC status as one of our most distinguished alumni, Dr. Wilson fondly referred to as “our man there” and said, “We watched him operate in an environment where he was very singular as a black person…We learnt a lot from him. The way he related to people inspired me. The way he conducted his classes, built leadership capacity… He was a champion in his own right and a good example to many of us younger people.”
Dr. Wilson also recalls that when he was elected as Executive Secretary of the Guyana Conference in the early 1980s, he was one of the youngest Conference Administrators in the world church. He considers the mentorship he received from seasoned Administrators like Pastors Samuel L. Gadsby and Peter J. Prime of Trinidad and Tobago, and his own Conference President, Pastor Gordon O. Martinborough as invaluable.
Receiving and offering mentorship is in Dr. Wilson’s view, an important aspect of the preparation for and practice of leadership. Dr. Wilson himself has been an inspirational mentor to many.
As a leader in academia, his passion to develop people has also made him a reagent in advancing the careers of many who he has served as leader. His collegial approach intentionally emphasises the value of people and the ideas and contributions can bring to the table when rightly exposed. His fidelity to valuing people, their ideas and their contributions even extends to when their views are at variance with his own. This orientation has allowed him to cultivate other successful leaders everywhere he has been.
Dr. Leon Wilson is persuaded that leaders in academia and elsewhere, blunder badly when they see themselves as bosses and suppressors of dissenting views. Academic leadership for Dr. Wilson is a position of privilege and not of power. “People who last, are not bosses” he says. Leaders should be humble enough to concede that they do not have to have all of the answers all of the time and they are not omnicompetent. Leaders must recognize their limitations. They are not gods. They must practice sincerity and be willing to admit responsibility when things do not turn out the way they are supposed to.
The perspective of the led and how they are evaluating the journey, is valued by the good leader, even when it is not pleasing to the ear. Good leaders are great listeners. For Dr. Wilson the great leader “intentionally orchestrates involvement” and is not intimidated by the sight, sound or smell of talent, abilities and expertise in others.
Dr. Wilson contends that leadership acumen in academia, is best developed through incremental climbing as opposed to leap-frogging. Leap-froggers are robbed of valuable learning experiences on their way up. They are typically impoverished of quality opportunities to build relationships and empathy with others they are responsible for. Leap-froggers often fall prey to insecurities when confronted with criticism and even constructive ideas, coming especially from persons they jumped over in their sudden flight. This insecurity sometimes manifests itself in rank-pulling. Academic institutions best develop leaders, by rewarding contributors with a path to incremental climbing.
For persons aspiring to be leaders, Dr. Wilson warns that being overly critical of their present leaders probably will not abet their ambitions well. Careful to draw a distinction between helpful critiquing and being unhelpfully critical, Dr. Wilson said “if you aspire to leadership, my counsel is always to take the best that everybody can give and create your own mosaic. There is nothing like a perfect leader”.
With respect to the challenges faced by higher educational institutions – particularly private Seventh-day Adventist institutions (like USC) in the so-called developing world), challenges that seem to have escalated in the wake of the COVID -19 pandemic and its aftermath, Dr. Wilson candidly argues that our present model requires re-examination and renovation. He expressed that if our church sincerely values all of the counsel of Ellen G. White on the matter of education, then the oft-repeated statement that “the work of redemption and education are one”, should trigger a sea-change in the way our church distributes its finite financial resources so that Mrs. White’s good counsel and the equivalency there embedded is truer than mere rhetorical elegance.
On the matter of the struggles our church is having with attracting and conserving young people and the leadership issues that arise therefrom, Dr. Wilson agrees that some of our approaches require change. A better theological balance needs to be struck between our sermonic preoccupation with apologetics on the one hand and contemporary pragmatism on the other. Greater attention is needed to addressing the needs of our young people in ways that connect organically and meaningfully with their present circumstances. He says that “a lot of our pastors do not recognize the time in which we are living” and argues that “there has to be a change in the leadership profile of the pastors”. Referencing Jeremiah 6:16 and its counsel to look for the old paths and walk therein, he opined that this passage and others like it, might be a possible basis for some pastors resisting the urgency to minister to our young people in the context of their time, Dr. Wilson says that he is giving mental attention to the traditionalist hermeneutic around such passages of scripture that may stand in the way of greater pragmatic perspicacity in how our church ministers to our endangered youthful population. Scripture also enjoins us to knowing the times he argues and a balanced blend of searching the old paths with knowing the times can result in “ministry that speaks to everybody”.
Our conversation then turned to the question of leadership in our post-colonial Caribbean reality. Most of what academic literature presents about leadership, is based on a quite narrow stream of knowledge that comes primarily from research and writing done in the United States of America and the United Kingdom over the last 120 years. In many ways our cultural realities in the region are quite different from those of the US and the UK. Short of a re-invention of the wheel, there is room for more indigenous epistemology, research and approaches to leadership, rooted in our unique historical and cultural contexts. For Dr. Wilson, an inversion of the plantation pyramid inherited from our colonial past is necessary. The master-servant binary which still influences how we view and practice leadership is a stubborn obstacle to our progress. According to Dr. Wilson, “We were trampled. We were nobodies… The leadership we have been exposed to is a model where there is some big-shot up there that we look up to… It’s a model that is top-down. It’s a model that everything flows from somewhere on-high and rains down on the lower mortals. You need to invert that concept.”
Dr. Wilson, the Sociologist, argues that we need – now that we have the opportunity – to craft leadership approaches that better serve our collective good. The urgency of doing so, found cogent inflection in two rhetorical questions he posed: “Who is getting the bigger share of the oil in Guyana? Who is getting the biggest share of the oil (resources) anywhere in the Caribbean?”
On the highly topical matter of some of the unique challenges confronting 21st century human civilization, such as the rapid growth of AI, a gilded democratization of the power to publish and consume content in cyberspace (accompanied by the conspicuously undemocratic control of ICT by huge, rich trans-national private entities), the planned obsolescence of the universe in the service of the metaverse and multiverse and the inability of philosophers and ethicists to keep up with it all, Dr. Wilson, while conceding the redoubtable threats, prefers to focus on the wealth of opportunities. He argues that our young people – as natives of this age must be entrusted with greater leadership responsibilities to help us navigate through these dizzying times and find the answers we need, if we are not to be left behind. On this matter he expressed a special concern for our church institutions and their capacity and will to rightly harness the leadership value our young people can bring – especially now.
Finally on the matter of the establishment of the USC leadership Academy (USCLA), Dr. Wilson thinks that “it is a fantastic idea”. He expressed that the USCLA will help to grow talent internally. It will help to keep good people employed at USC and in the region. Young people can now see a path to rising to top positions of leadership at the University without necessarily leaving the institution and the region in search of opportunities for personal and career growth. “I believe it is a very very good step in the right direction… The Leadership Academy is a good thing. I hope it is sustained …and we get some solid leaders out of it”.
Stay tuned for part two of our series – Leadership matters!
Leadership Advancements at the University of Southern Caribbean: Introducing the USC Leadership Academy (USCLA)
By Kadan Esson, Nadira Mohammed
On Friday, November 10, 2023, the University of the Southern Caribbean (USC) launched its Leadership Academy (USCLA) with the tagline “Leadership Matters”. This initiative is set to reshape the future of leadership within our beloved USC and resonate far beyond.
USCLA’s inaugural session kicked off with welcoming remarks from USC’s Director of Human Resources, Mrs. Marsha Harris, and President, Dr. Colwick Wilson. Dr. Wilson closed with words of empowerment by commending all the student leaders who carry the mantle of perseverance and applauding their passionate drive.
The launch’s keynote speaker was quite a familiar face to the USC community, Dr. Leon Wilson, Professor and Chair, Morgan State University, formerly served USC as Provost in 2018. Dr. Wilson’s keynote topic of “So You Want To Be An Academic Leader! Why Bother!” captivated the audience as he shared insights from his impressive academic career on what not to do as an academic leader.
Dr. Wilson shared that, “The value of academic leaders lies in the recognition of unique contributions each one can make, celebrate, and avoid shutting it down but letting it flourish and grow.” He stated that one of the world’s biggest problems is that there are people who do not harbor the skills and have not been exposed to anything but themselves, yet want to be leaders in the academy and leap to the top while ignoring the values of experiences. He left us with a reminder that “Leadership is centered on the idea of building and maintaining relationships.”
Specially invited guest, Mr. Dexter Riley, CEO of Unipet and USC alum shared observations and anecdotes from his decades of leadership that provided motivation and inspiration to USCLA attendees.
Drawing from his personal life, Mr. Riley described himself as a family oriented man who continues to be guided by values instilled by his mother. Referencing the story of Noah and the Ark, Mr. Riley highlighted the value of trust, planning, preparation, and building for the future. Mr. Riley attributed trust as the bedrock that kept UNIPET together, he further expanded that, “…leadership is not about being in charge but taking care of those in your charge.”
USCLA is designed to foster the growth of ethical, visionary, and transformational leaders from all backgrounds who can make a positive impact at the University and by extension society. USCLA aims at targeting Administrators, Deans, Chairs, Directors, and Coordinators who are pivotal to USC’s success. It seeks to inspire, educate, and empower individuals to become ethical, visionary, and transformational leaders. USCLA combines theoretical foundations with experiential learning to ensure that participants not only acquire knowledge but also develop the skills and attitudes necessary for effective leadership; that align with the university’s mission, vision and overarching objectives.
USCLA’s Mission and Objectives
USCLA’s mission is to inspire, educate, and empower individuals to become leaders driving positive change. We envision leaders guided by integrity, empathy, and commitment, leading with purpose, inspiring innovation, and fostering sustainable progress.
The academy seeks to upskill leaders through comprehensive training, provide real-world experiences, and foster a culture of ethical leadership. Our goal is to cultivate leaders embodying the highest standards of excellence, representing principles like authenticity, continuous learning, collaboration, and more.
With a mix of local and foreign facilitators/practitioners boasting extensive leadership experience, USCLA promises an enriching learning journey. Our diverse training programs cover Leadership Essentials, Organizational Impact, Development, Relational Leadership, Emotional Intelligence, and more. Tailored to address various leadership facets, these programs aim to enhance USC’s leadership potential.
USCLA is not just an academy; it’s a commitment to shaping leaders who will inspire, innovate, and drive progress. Leadership matters, and at USC, we’re investing in ours.
By 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 & 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.
View Flickr Album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/usctt/albums/72177720311686802
View Livestream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mikz5hPYLU0
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.