The University of the West Indies Five Islands Campus hosted its first graduation with six women, all receiving their post graduate diplomas in education.
The ceremony was streamed live on UWITV on Sunday from Antigua and Barbuda.
Valedictorian Launée Richards referred to the 2020 cohort as the fab six. “We are a part of history,” she said in her address. “We are all teachers, and all women. Before you are six educators…specialising in business, education, mathematics and science.”
Richards said the journey to graduation took a turn with the presence of the covid19 virus. “No one could expect a pandemic towards the end of our journey which put us in the unique situation to adapting to uncertain times as both students and teachers; yet still we persevered.”
Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne gave the feature address at the ceremony. He referred to the first presentation of UWI graduates in 1953 where there were only 11 graduates, none of whom were women.
“Today I say to our women graduates congratulations and I trust the males will emulate your success.” He added, the graduating class is taking their rightful place as equals in society.
Campus Chancellor Robert Bermudez also delivered an address to the graduates who highlighted events across the region which took place despite the presence of the covid19 virus.
He expressed pride in students last year who kept the spirit of student activism alive on UWI campuses across the region by supporting and participating in Black Lives Matter protests.
He also commended countries such as TT, St Kitts and Nevis and Guyana, where there were free and fair elections. “2020 was a year we celebrated our democracy…Keeping those democratic traditions strong and vibrant rests on your shoulders now,” he said to the graduating class.
Bermudez said even with the progress made in the past year, there is still much to be done. “Look towards the future, past covid19,” he said, adding students should continue to build on the social solidarity demonstrated by regional communities in the face of the pandemic.