Sunday, June 3, 2012

Samuel H. Hall, Jr. - 1968

Sam Hall
It was 1964. I remember sitting in class in high school (CAHS), bored to death, looking out the classroom door at a bright sunny day. Like so many young men in high school I was in danger of dropping out. I came real close. On several occasions I imagined myself getting up from my desk and walking out the door and never coming back. All I could see was how education was getting in the way of my present, preventing me from going to the beach, or to the movies, playing basketball, riding my motorcycle, etc.

Fortunately, someone—I don’t remember who—suggested I give education another chance and take a course at the newly created College of the Virgin Islands. And so I did. While still a high school student, I took first one and then more courses in the evening over a period of three years. There I interacted with hardworking adults who taught me by their example the value of getting an education. After completing a full day’s work at a full-time job, and after attending to their families, they traveled to what was then the “country” in St. Thomas to go to CVI at night. They did it to better themselves and their families. Their hard work and sacrifice taught me how easy my life as a bored high school student was compared to theirs; they taught me that even at (what seemed to me at the time) their advanced stage in life, despite how much they had achieved and had experienced, they still saw the value of education and worked hard to get it in order to improve their present and to perfect their lives. By extension, they showed me that education could be a doorway to a better future, not an obstacle to my present. Without realizing it, these adults were my mentors.

As a result, from 1964-66, I took evening courses in math, accounting and business law. By the time I became a full-time student, I already had a half-year’s worth of credits under my belt. This was long before there was an early admissions program at CVI.

First CVI fund raising campaign in the late 1970's. From the left 
are Orville Kean, Robert Moss, Enid Baa, Sam Hall, Olivia Stanford, 
Alexander Farrelly, Rehenia Gabriel, Ivan Williams and Desmond Maynard. 
Farrelly and Hall were co-chairs.
When I later became a full-time student at CVI in 1966, I had never even been to St. Croix or to any other island in the Caribbean outside of Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and St. John. LIAT was in its infancy. The seaplane shuttle did not yet exist. I learned about other islands from my fellow students. As we played dominoes or cards or interacted in the dorms, we argued incessantly about which island was better. The fact that most of us only really knew our own home island did not stop us from expressing our unequivocal opinion that our island was best. But in doing so, we learned about islands and life in places to which we had never been. This was how I (we) came to meet and know some of the brightest minds of the Caribbean and, in the process, made friendships that have lasted to this day.

As we celebrate UVI’s Golden Jubilee, all alumni must be mindful of the fact that we are the ones to whom much has been given, and from whom much is required. I encourage all to give back to UVI by donating to it. This can be done online by clicking on the Support UVI/Donate Now button. Maybe we can help ensure that the doorway to a better future remains open for others just as it was open for us.

Atty. Sam Hall is now Legal Counsel to UVI’s Board of Trustees.

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