Sunday, October 7, 2012

Nanyamka Farrelly – 1999, 2006

Nanyamka Farrelly
As a high schooler I had no intention of staying in the Virgin Islands beyond twelfth grade. By tenth grade I would sit and stare at the glossy, colored brochures from colleges and universities across the nation that had already begun arriving in my mailbox. I imagined myself on their campuses, sitting in their classrooms and receiving their instruction. When I was in 11th grade, I got a packet that changed the course of my life – it was from the University of the Virgin Islands.

Enclosed in the packet was a letter that said I had successfully completed the admissions exam and that I was being offered an early-admissions scholarship. “What!” I thought to myself. I was only 16 at the time. I was surely too young to enter college. And of course if I entered college after my junior year in high school, I would miss what is supposed to be the most defining year of the whole experience – senior year. But what I also knew was that my parents didn’t have a whole lot of money and that a four-year scholarship was one well worth considering. But how could a 16-year-old be expected to do college-level work? My father reasoned that UVI would not offer me the opportunity if administrators did not feel I was ready for the challenge. He reasoned that college was no different from high school – I would be taught a lesson, tested on a lesson and expected to provide proof of learning the lesson. My mother, for the first time, allowed me to make the decision on my own.

Putting my fears aside, I accepted the offer – and changed the trajectory of my life. I grew up at UVI – learning as much as I could, joining clubs and organizations, and challenging the status quo. I was transformed by professors like Drs. Charles W. Turnbull and Gene Emanuel. I learned tenacity from President Orville Kean, who, without apology, re-opened UVI just a few weeks after Hurricane Marilyn had flattened most of the territory. My journalism professor, Noel Gordon, once made me cry – his expectations were so high; and as someone who never wanted to fail I had to rise up to meet them each time. But it was professors like Gordon who made it possible for me to become a full-time beat reporter at the Virgin Islands Daily News fresh out of college.

Nanyamka Farrelly with her East Hall 101 suite mates
1998-1999. From left are Farrelly, Raynise
Smith, now the
Executive Director for Curriculum
and Instruction for Atlanta
Public Schools, Tracey
Codrington, now a Clinical 
Nurse Specialist at a
Florida hospital, and Toya Seales, 
now a V.I.
Superior Court Deputy Marshall. 

 By the time I graduated with a BA in Humanities with a concentration in Journalism, I no longer wanted to leave the territory. Something happened during my four years at UVI that made me want to serve my territory.

So here I am still in the territory – and unexpectedly – working at UVI. My overall goal remains the same as it did when I earned my first degree – to use my talents to serve the territory. I didn’t just earn my degrees from UVI – I live its mission. I am UVI.

Nanyamka Farrelly is the Interim Public Relations Director at UVI.

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