submitted by UVI VOICE 2.0 staff
(St. Croix, VI. December 10). There are 300 University of the Virgin Islands graduates in the Class of 2020 but six students stand out from the crowd.
Six exceptional students will graduate with majors and minors in the discipline of mass communication from UVI
Six exceptional students will graduate with majors and minors in the discipline of mass communication as UVI hosts a virtual commencement on 11 December at 1:00 p.m.
Dr. Sharon Albert Honore, Associate Professor of Communication and faculty advisor coined the group, the ‘sensational six.’ “Notwithstanding the obstacles and challenges they faced due to the pandemic and two category 5 hurricanes, these student graduates have demonstrated ferocious tenacity, and resilience,'”stated Honore. “They are exceptional examples of modern-day journalists- ready to take on the world.”
Honore maintains that the popular buzz terms, “communication specialists” and “convergence journalists” appertain to new graduates- Maxiene Cabo, Leandra Kent, Damalia Simmonds, Lana Cuffy, Christopher McDonald and Lawrence Thomas-Lewis.
The Communication division in the Department of Communication and Performing Arts boast an employment placement record of 98 percent with this 2020 class that completed degree requirements in December 2019 and May 2020, respectively.
Almost immediately after her 2020 May graduation date, Leandra Kent was hired as communication specialist in the UVI School of Agriculture, Communications and Technology/Distance Learning division. Her official title is Public relations’ specialist.
As president of the 2020 graduating class on the STX campus, Kent, also a 2018 delegate to the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) says her coursework and internships at UVI prepared her for the media workplace. Kent stated, “The beginning of my journey was not an easy road but my story [undergrad] ended beautifully. I am proud to be from this prestigious, generous, challenging university…and am grateful and forever thankful to my advisor, professors, staff, and of-course my family for supporting me throughout the years.
She adds, “I’ve been pushed to and past my limit…I’ve gotten the experience to be a part of an HBCU and yet been grounded in my Virgin Islands roots…I encourage others especially locals to attend UVI!”
“I’ve gotten the experience to be a part of an HBCU and yet been grounded in my Virgin Islands roots.” -Leandra Kent
Several of the 2020 graduates are founding members of the newest chapter of the NABJ, a community of Black journalists and media professionals and the largest organization for journalists of color in the nation. UVI com students recently formed the student affiliation, University of the Virgin Islands Association of Black Journalists (UVIABJ). Their application received unanimous approval and garnered several distinctions:
- the first and only student chapter at the only HBCU in the Caribbean
- the first and only student chapter in the USVI territory
- the first and only NABJ chapter in the USVI territory
- the first and only NABJ chapter in the Caribbean
Lana Cuffy, UVIABJ secretary, and communication minor is also a founding member. She will graduate with Magna cum laude honors. Cuffy said, “We did it, no matter the circumstances.” She has advice to pass on to her classmates and said, “Right now, I need you to look at yourself in the mirror and know that you beat the odds that were stacked against you. Congratulations UVI Class of 2020!”
“I need you to look at yourself in the mirror and know that you beat the odds that were stacked against you.” -Lana Cuffy
Because of physical restrictions associated with the COVID 19 pandemic UVI decided to convene an online commencement ceremony.
Christopher Mcdonald, contributing writer for UVIVoice 2.0 and member of UVIABJ, former president of SGA and president of the class on STT, weighed-in on the decision to hold a virtual celebration. He said in a speech to his classmates, “Our journey did not envision a virtual ceremony or virtual gathering, but this is still a celebration…”Our class became resilient and determined to succeed academically. I have confidence that the Class of 2020 will be successful and make an impact on this world. We are leaders, scholars, business owners but most importantly. we are [UVI]buccaneers.”
We are leaders, scholars, business owners but most importantly. we are [UVI] buccaneers.” – Christopher McDonald
Last Spring, the University decided to postpone the May 2020 Commencement ceremonies until December. A joint ceremony between campuses on St Thomas and St Croix will be held at 1 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 11.
UVI President David Hall stated, “The Class of 2020 is worthy of this university’s sincere admiration and respect… “Though students already received their degrees, they are still deserving of a ceremony that recognizes their outstanding achievements.”
Maxiene Cabo, 2019 December graduate, echos the sentiment of Dr. Hall. She has waited a year, patiently, for this celebratory ceremony when she will formally receive her Bachelor of Arts degree. Cabo, founding member of UVIABJ, was a delegate to the national convention hosted by NABJ in Miami. She co-produced the UVI student video, Discover which aired on Black News Channel in February. The video premiered nationwide as part of the inaugural production of HBCU Showcase.
Cabo emphasized,”Even though it took a couple of months to have a formal celebration, I am honored to be graduating from such a prestigious institution. I intend to make UVI proud of all of my future endeavors, both locally and abroad. “
Friends and family from throughout the nation, and abroad may have initially planned to visit the USVI and watch with pride as their college graduate marched across the stage. Instead, they will view the ceremony online via phones and computers. They will watch, however, with the same degree of pride. And, indeed, a more intense feeling of love.
Friends and family from throughout the nation, and abroad may have, initially, planned to visit the USVI and watch with pride as their college graduate marched across the stage. Instead, they will view the ceremony online via phones and computers. They will watch, however, with the same degree of pride. And a more intense feeling of love.
‘The sensational six‘ are eager to engage in this virtual activity that Hall noted as “a gathering to convey a powerful and compelling message of achievement, celebration, and undying gratitude.”
More important. they are ready, capable and willing to change the world.
“I intend to make UVI proud of all of my future endeavors, both locally and abroad.” – Maxiene Cabo