Gonsalves blasts UWI at Monroe graduation

St Vincent PM Ralph Gonsalves spoke of the increased tertiary level institutions for Caribbean students.

One hundred and twenty students graduated from Monroe College’s St Lucia Campus on Sunday October 9 after completing their studies in previous semesters.  The fourth commencement ceremony was held at Gaiety in Gros Islet from 2:30pm.
St Lucia Campus Senior Vice President, Dr Alex Ephrem delivered a brief message from Monroe President Stephen Jerome.  Jerome wrote, “For the past few years, you have been active and respected members of Monroe’s family of over 7000 students from over 25 different countries.  Today you join the family of 3300 students who have successfully earned and been awarded their degrees during the year 2011. From this day forward you will be members of the much larger family of alumni which includes the tens of thousand of men and women who have graduated from Monroe College over the past 78 years.  We are immensely proud of what you have accomplished.  You are well prepared and attained a sense of personal confidence rooted in academic competence that will sustain you for the future.  Everyone at the college joins me in wishing you happiness, peace, and success in your future endeavors.  Congratulations to all!”
Ephrem then moved into his address which encouraged the graduants to explore their potential and take the world by storm.  “Within the next couple of months we’ll be entering 2012, a year that countless movies and TV specials purport to be the time of the end of the world apocalypse.  However, contrary to these entertaining, but somewhat ridiculous predictions, I see the upcoming times, as is the case with your graduation today, as a new and bright beginning.”
He pronounced, “Today you are celebrating your new entrance into a world which, although retaining many of its difficulties, you will be armed with a vast array of well and hard earned skills, a much broadened set of abilities, and credentials that set you apart from and above any obstacle that may appear. In whatever movies may be made of the future years, you will be the superheros!”
He asked the graduating class to take time to reflect on their lives-their trials and victories- and said, “You should approach everything in front of you with a solid self-confidence and belief in yourself. Know that there are no more obstacles, just opportunities to succeed and demonstrate your talents. There are no more barriers, but opportunities to use your newly gained skills to build doorways for yourself than those that will follow you. Be very proud of what you have earned and know that it is only the beginning of those things you will achieve from this point on.”
Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, was the commencement speaker.  He was charged to speak on the theme: Small Nations, Big Ideas: The Challenges of providing access to higher education for all Caribbean citizens.
Gonsalves began by extending congratulatory remarks to the graduating class, ensuring he implored them to make a contribution to their country. Gonsalves’ speech provided an overlay of the development and progress of higher education in the Caribbean from the establishment of the University College of the West Indies to the present day.
He lamented that there was a relatively “small number of persons enrolled in tertiary education,” just over 50,000, in a region with a population of five million.
“The UWI-centered approach has left our region woefully behind, Latin America, for example, in providing access to tertiary level education.  Fortunately, there has been a growth spurt of higher education offerings but universities and colleges outside of UWI.  It is remarkable that in an earlier anything outside the UWI system, in our region was considered heresay,” Gonsalves remarked.
Gonsalves expressed an interest in partnering with Monroe College through its Tourism and Hospitality Training Institute (THTI).
Earlier, Tourism Minister Allen Chastanet, who spoke ahead of Dr Gonsalves mentioned the institute as providing an avenue to international opportunities for unemployed young St Lucians.
The single largest employer of Vincentians is the Royal Caribbean cruise lines, he noted:  “So when the issue of training comes up it touches me, not only because of the social impact of an education but clearly but clearly it makes good sense from an economic standpoint and we would really like to partner with you in this regard.”

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