University of the West Indies Chancellor Robert Bermudez yesterday hailed Dominican student Dahryn Augustine as an inspiration.
Addressing graduates of the Faculty of the Humanities and Education at the UWI Sports and Physical Education Centre, St Augustine, Bermudez used Augustine’s story of adversity to drive the point that one could overcome obstacles.
Augustine, who is graduating this year with a first class honours degree from the Faculty of Science and Technology, discovered, at the beginning of her final year, that her sister had been diagnosed with cancer.
“Dahryn dropped everything to be with her. One year later, Dahryn was so devastated that she considered not completing her degree,” Bermudez said, adding she managed to pick herself up.
“Dahryn.....cannot be with us today as she has been dealt another blow (passage of Hurricane Irma) but we can be certain that she has the strength and resilience to rise to the challenge. She is an inspiration to all of us.”
In his address, Bermudez also urged the graduates to spare a thought for those who had been affected throughout the region by hurricanes Irma and Maria as well as the recent flooding in Trinidad.
“It reminds us of how susceptible we are to climate change and natural disasters. The responses to these cries have reassured us that we are a caring people.”
Bermudez revealed, though, that in Grenada, after the graduation ceremony for the open campus, he was asked to sign a booklet for St Lucian graduate Tessa Flavien, who could not have attended the exercise. He said Flavien, who graduated with a first class honours degree in social sciences, donated the money she had set aside to come to her graduation to the relief effort in Dominica.
“Tessa has set an example for all of us, of selfless leadership and we congratulate her today,” he said.
“We know the rebuilding process will be long and hard, but acts like these keep us strong.”
Bermudez, who was appointed as the sixth UWI Chancellor in April, said the university had, this year, recorded its highest number of PhD graduates to date–38.
Bermudez said he had been told that graduation ceremonies at the campus had grown steadily over the last decade.
He said, in the last academic year, some 18, 327 students were enrolled.