My relationship with CVI/UVI spans some 43 years. As a freshman in 1969-1970, I was crowned Miss College of the Virgin Islands within months of being on campus. I still see that massive crowd in what was then, the gym. It was one of the biggest community events at that time. I fondly remember accompanying the then Acting President Dr. Arthur Richards (R.I.P.) to St. Croix Central High School (my alma mater) to recruit students for the college. Later, I represented CVI in the inaugural parade for the first elected Governor of the Virgin Islands, Dr. Melvin H. Evans (R.I.P.). Naturally, I was in the carnival parade as well and was called on to participate in other activities throughout my reign.
I recall with fondest memories how, as students, we would don our finest to attend dinner with faculty on that one special Sunday every month in the cafeteria. It was an indescribable feeling. Even now when I go the Administration and Conference Center, then the Harvey Student Center, I feel a sense of nostalgia because I lived on the third floor overlooking the beach and the President's residence throughout my years at CVI. I also remember when Dr. Orville Kean, now a UVI president emeritus, was a brand new professor and taught me math for elementary teachers in CA 101.
I remember most vividly, the high expectations, the drive for excellence and the academic rigor that pervaded this academic community. It was endemic to the culture. Faculty cared, but they made you responsible for producing quality work. When you didn't, you got the grade you earned. You had to earn your way. Ideas and Issues was an event that you had to attend. The debates and discussions were often times riveting. I was always proud to say, and willing to volunteer that "I am a graduate of the College of the Virgin Islands."
|Rita Howard - Crowned Miss CVI 1969-1970|
Those positive experiences and memories are permanently etched in my mind. As I joined the faculty in 1984, I enjoyed a similar fulfilling experience contributing to the building of this institution. I was fortunate to be mentored by Pearl Varlack, Maxine Nunez, Simon Jones-Hendrickson and Frank Mills, to name a few. UVI, for me, was not a place of employment; it was so much more. I will always love UVI. If you ever sit next to me at commencement, you will hear me singing lustily our Alma Mater with a deep sense of conviction, joy and appreciation.
May God steer our beloved UVI in the right path moving on to another 50 years.
Dr. Rita J. Howard is a Professor of Education at the University of the Virgin Islands.