I arrived on St. Thomas in 1962, the same year that CVI was chartered. I was fresh out of college and excited to begin my family and career as a nurse in the U.S. Virgin Islands. At that time I could not have imagined what this institution would come to mean to me and the vital role it would have in my professional career. By the 1970s, I found myself restlessly seeking more knowledge to inform my psychiatric nursing practice and better serve the patients I encountered. This meant returning to school for a graduate degree. But entry into a graduate program in nursing in the 1970s required a basic course in statistics that had not previously been a Bachelor of Science in Nursing curricula requirement.
Thus my first formal contact with CVI began when I enrolled in Dr. Frank Mills’ statistics course. I can relate to part-time students who hold down full time jobs, leave work, and take evening classes. Dr. Mills was tough, but fair. It was a struggle that semester, having to deal with caring for young children and becoming ill. However, I passed the course and was accepted for graduate study at the University of Florida where I earned a Master of Nursing degree in Psychiatric Nursing. I returned home and resumed my nursing career at the hospital, but soon, eager to continue my academic pursuits, I returned to the University of Florida and earned a PhD in Medical Sociology.
On two occasions between 1988 and 1995, I taught psychiatric nursing while the primary professor was on leave. In 1995, I joined UVI as a full time faculty in nursing. Since that time, UVI has provided me the platform for expanding my professional horizon while simultaneously affording an incredible opportunity to positively influence students through my roles as instructor, Chair/Dean of Nursing, and now as Principal Investigator of the Caribbean Exploratory Research Center on Health Disparities.
My career trajectory on St Thomas would not have been possible if UVI did not exist. UVI made it possible for me to encounter Dr. Mills, to satisfy prerequisites for graduate school, and ultimately afforded me the privilege to be a part of this great institution.
Dr. Callwood is on the UVI nursing faculty and is Principal Investigator on the project Caribbean Exploratory Research Center on Health Disparities.