Feb. 5, 2004 – Hovensa officials held an awards ceremony on Thursday to recognize the first group of University of the Virgin Islands students to complete the requirements for an associate of applied sciences degree in process technology, a new program that is a cooperative venture between UVI and the refinery.
The seven students each received full tuition reimbursement for the program from Hovensa, an average of $5,500 each. An eighth member of the class will similarly receive reimbursement upon graduation next fall.
The degree program was launched in the fall of 2002 and formally concludes for the first enrollees with commencement exercises in May 2004. (See "Hovensa, UVI commit to new degree program".)
However, Peter Barba, Hovensa vice president for refinery operations, said, this first class completed the requirements early by participating in an intensive summer program that included eight weeks of hands-on experience at the refinery designed to combine process technology theory and application.
The program prepares students to enter employment as operations technicians in the process industry, which includes petroleum production and refining, chemical manufacturing, pharmaceuticals manufacturing, power generation, other utility operations, wastewater treatment facilities management, and food processing. It was developed to meet the need for skilled operations technicians for Hovensa and other V.I. industrial enterprises.
Lawrence Kupfer, Hovensa president and chief operating officer, emphasized the importance of technology to the prospective graduates. And "education is the key to improvements in technology," he said.
Kupfer said he looks forward to the group beginning on-the-job training on Monday.
Peter Barba, vice president for refinery operations, said the process technology courses took into consideration both concerns of the students and the needs of the refinery. It was in this cooperative approach that the graduating class will come into the plant earlier to get hands-on training, he said.
"The class is well prepared," Barba said, noting that the students demonstrated the knowledge to shut down operations that were not safe during their summer internship.
UVI St. Croix Chancellor Jennifer Jackson told the group: "Hovensa has invested in you. UVI has invested in you. The success of the program is in your hands."
Jackson said the members of this first class will be "ambassadors of the program" and urged them to join the UVI/Hovensa recruiting team to tell others about the benefits of the program. "The University of the Virgin Islands is proud to sponsor this program," she said.
"Hovensa continues to engage in educational efforts in the community," Valdemar Hill Jr., the refinery's training and development manager, said.
The students recognized on Thursday are Nemiah Augustin, Janella Christian, Natalie Dick, Stephen Dujon, Linda Martinez, Andrew Mayapin and Trisha St. Jean. William Peter is to complete the program next fall.
The process technology program accepts students each semester. Applications are available at the UVI Admissions Office on the St. Croix campus or online at the UVI Web site. To qualify, applicants will need to submit a high school diploma and/or SAT scores, or pass an exam in math and reading skills. There are no age or gender restrictions.
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