For the more than 200 freshman, 69 transfer students and 20 exchange students taking part, the New and Transfer Student Orientation was more than a tour of the St. Thomas campus and advice on classes. The program was designed to inspire them to succeed in college and in life.
The third annual Convocation Ceremony and Buccaneer Welcome Reception, held Thursday morning in the Sports and Fitness Center, was the pinnacle of the week-long orientation. This year’s theme was “Set Sail for Success.”
Motivational speaker Keith L. Brown, who is also known as “Mr. I’m Possible,” hyped up the crowd, letting the young scholars know they will conquer and earn their degrees as long as they “don’t give away focus of their goal.” To demonstrate the point, he handed his glasses to a convocation participant and could no longer see clearly.
“I want to thank all the faculty and team members who made this convocation possible. Notice, I call them ‘team members’ and not ‘staff’ because Moses carried a staff, but we don’t carry them, they carry us,” Brown said as he encouraged the crowd to join him in chanting, “G. Double O. D. J. O. B. Good job, good job!”
Brown had all of the employees of the school who were in attendance, including orientation leaders and professors in traditional academic regalia, come to the front of the stage and dance in front of the new scholars as a way to demonstrate that these leaders are approachable.
“You are all now in a scholar-ship setting sail for success, but you can’t make it without the support of those sitting around you today,” Brown said.
Brown called up about 10 male students to demonstrate the importance of teamwork and support. He had the group pick up their fellow student, Kenique Liburd, and collectively carry him above their heads across the gym and then gently place him back on the ground.
Liburd was nervous for this journey, letting out an, “Oh God,” as the other young men lifted him into the air, but he demonstrated his trust for his peers by following through until the end.
Brown’s inspirational speech was full of helpful tips for college success. He told the students to always sit in the front row so the teacher quickly learns who they are and develops a connection with them.
Other speakers included UVI President David Hall, Dean of Students Verna Rivers, UVI Student Government President Dewein Pelle, and Vice President of the UVI Student Government Kaunda Williams. Che[Raina Warner, Miss UVI 2016-2017, was mistress of ceremonies.
“If you remember nothing else from today,” Warner said, "please remember to become involved in creative leadership in your classroom, creative leadership on your campus, and creative leadership in your community.”
A surprise duet of Adele’s “Hello” was performed by Ka’Reema Moses, a junior criminal justice major, and Leon Lafond, director of Student Activities for the St. Thomas campus.
“I left convocation feeling good about myself,” said Jacob Hayes, a new transfer student from Illinois. “When I moved here, I felt a sort of separation anxiety, but orientation, and especially convocation, was pretty welcoming, warm and friendly. It made me feel like I could make a home again.”
Fall orientation consisted of much smaller crowds and shorter lines for advisement, registration, and financial aid, as it followed the first early summer orientation in July that catered to 180 new students from the territory.
“Honestly, this orientation was better than previous ones,”said Adeola Adelekan, who has been an orientation leader for the last two years and is senior biology major. “With less people, the team of orientation leaders was more efficient.”
Orientation activities included campus tours, a resource fair for both on and off-campus organizations, an island sightseeing tour, and a free screening of “Batman vs. Superman” on the Herman E. Moore Golf Course.
Orientation concludes Aug. 21 with the “BucNic,” or Buccaneer Picnic, at John Brewer’s Bay Beach. This event is open to all students and UVI faculty.