I attended UVI from 1983 to 1986. Coming from Anguilla, I was intimidated to enter an American college. Immediately, I was put at ease by the supportive faculty and staff. While mesmerized by the credentials and teaching skills of Professors Ragster, Rinehart, Gjessing, MacLean and Pavlis, I found them to be easily approachable and generous with their time and mentorship. Also, although a science major, I found Rosary Harper’s speech class and Nan Elsasser’s comprehensive writing to be most challenging but extremely rewarding. A unique experience was SCUBA with Mark Sabino, which was mandatory for biology majors. This was both thrilling and educational. Imagine an underwater classroom!
UVI instilled a thirst for knowledge and provided a solid foundation for higher learning and a level of confidence which prepared me for graduate and medical school at Yale University. The small classes and experienced faculty at UVI ensured that the concepts were understood, and the individual attention encouraged research and further studies. The UVI curriculum was geared to the Virgin Islands, with practical application of the principles outlined in textbooks. The whole island and the surrounding ocean were our laboratory. I also appreciated the opportunity to attend evening classes with working adults who brought real-life perspectives into the classroom. My lasting friendships with faculty and former students bear testament to the impact of UVI on my life.
|Ellis Webster - 1986 CVI Graduation|
A lasting experience was the commencement address given by Dr. Ronald McNair, physicist and NASA astronaut, in May 1985. Entitled “You Are Better Than Enough,” Dr. McNair described his education using the analogy of a boxing match, where round-by-round he would be pushed up against the ropes by his courses, only to be knocked down by his advisors, who would question whether as a black student he was good enough. In his senior year, which he described as the fourth round, he finally conquered physics and excelled. He was accepted at the prestigious MIT and realized that he was “better than good enough!” Unfortunately, Dr. McNair perished in the space shuttle Challenger explosion in January 1986. I recall his words whenever I am faced with a challenging situation.
Best wishes UVI on your Golden Jubilee! You have stood the test of time. Your administration, faculty and staff have been top-notch, and the success of your former and current students is a testimony to your commitment to innovative higher learning and shaping productive citizens.
Dr. Ellis Webster is now an otolaryngologist in Anguilla.