June 23, 2005 – LaVerne E. Ragster, president of the University of the Virgin Islands, said, "This will give support to young Virgin Islanders who are trying to attain a better way of life," as she accepted a $25,000 check from V.I. Rum Industries.
The presentation was made Thursday at the Cruzan Rum headquarters by Donald C. Nelthropp, president of V.I. Rum Industries Ltd.
He said, "It gives great pleasure to me to know this money will go to educate the youth of the Virgin Islands."
The money will be used for student scholarships. Ragster said the average scholarship is for $2,500, but they vary. She said, "We try to help as many students as we can."
She said this type of support was very important for UVI because over 50 percent of its students needed financial support. She said that 30 percent of the students came from households earning less than $30,000 a year.
Frank Schulterbrandt, chief executive officer of the Economic Development Authority, was also present at the ceremony.
He called Cruzan Rum, which receives EDA benefits, "a great corporate citizen" and said the Virgin Islands needs more corporations like it.
Nelthropp said Cruzan Rum has been making the donation for almost 20 years and the total contribution was $475,000.
He said when Cruzan Rum made its first $25,000 donation some community members were shocked. "They were not used to seeing donations that large."
Marvin Pickering, senior vice president and chief financial officer for the distillery, said he was a graduate of UVI and even a classmate of Ragster's "many, many moons ago." He said because of that he felt "very honored" to take part in the ceremony.
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