Sunday, April 29, 2012

Carolyn O’Neal-Morton - 1985

Carolyn O'Neal-Morton
UVI, formerly called CVI, means a great deal to me. This was the place where I got my first taste of tertiary education. It was not just an academic adventure that I embarked upon. Rather, it was an opportunity that I seized to learn more about the different people that I met both in my classes and around campus. I vividly remember how values such as teamwork, camaraderie and acceptance of different people were all experienced during my college days.

CVI, as I fondly remember, was the place where we had intramural activities which taught us about playing hard and winning in academic, cultural and other extra-curricular activities. We also established that loosing a game did not break our spirit, but made us learn to accept that in life there will be disappointments, and one must take them all in stride. Hence, my experience as a “Rebel”, residing in the leading dormitory (South of course!), was an extra special one. Whenever we returned from the games, even when we were unsuccessful, several persons thought we had won! We demonstrated that our loss on the court often meant that we had gained togetherness and fellowship with our campus brothers and sisters and the bonds just grew from strength to strength!

My CVI/UVI experience afforded me the chance to study in California for a year on the National Student Exchange (NSE). That was an opportunity that I really enjoyed and benefitted greatly from. UVI’s classes were small and afforded me the privilege of direct and frequent interaction with my professors. The extra-curricular activities were many. I thoroughly enjoyed and profited from Ideas and Issues sessions and my Spanish Club membership. I made many friends at CVI/UVI who I have maintained contact with up to today. In fact, I met my husband, Dale Morton at UVI. My skills of management and organization which were partially shaped and enhanced at CVI have helped me to hold several administrative positions in the British Virgin Islands. The University of the Virgin Islands is really a very special place to me – Happy 50th Birthday! 

Carolyn O’Neal-Morton is currently employed as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Culture for the Government of the British Virgin Islands.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Curtis Gilpin - 1980

Curtis Gilpin
When I was a student, there were many social events that kept campus spirit very high. One of these was a talent show called “The Hardest”. The brainchild of the Harvey Student Center dorm block, this event showcased the most unsuspecting male student at UVI as the “Star” of the evening. He would be extremely shy, very unsociable and probably not the most handsome. This individual would be convinced (or brainwashed) into being featured as the biggest star on campus or as we termed it “The Hardest”. His identity would be kept under strict secrecy until his appearance on the night of the show. The show brought the entire university community together for weeks leading up to, during, and for weeks after the event. Major bets would be made on who “The Hardest” was. The hype would be huge and anticipation the night of the show was always immeasurable.

I view the event as a significant part of UVI’s history because of the spirit that existed then, and the ability to encompass the various cultures to become one. It was a time students that came from all areas of the globe enjoyed learning from each other and an unforgettable mark was left within you. The “melting pot” of different cultures was a trademark of UVI and it continued for a long time. I learned so much from my Caribbean neighbors and I am still friends with many of them to this day.

Another memorable event that made me a believer in the university and what it stood for was a volleyball match in the local league. During my freshman year, I was committed to playing volleyball for a non-UVI team in the local Power League. I came out of high school playing under UVI P.E. Instructor Bruce Wray. Unfortunately, Coach Eldridge Blake began a volleyball program at UVI which also entered the league that year. We had won the league the previous year and I was looking forward to playing against the UVI team. Bear in mind, I was living in the residence halls and there was a lot of talk about the meeting of the teams. Well, the teams met and UVI defeated us in a tough match. Needless to say, I had to catch a ride back to the dorms in the UVI van!!! I took a major verbal beating all of the way from the CAHS gym to the UVI campus!

Unidentified student, Joan Looby, Curtis Gilpin and
Noreen Michael at January 1978 CVI registration.
I remember feeling so alone for the next week on campus. The UVI team practiced hard and often and rumors of how tough Coach Blake was kept me away from joining the UVI team until the following year. Needless to say, I flourished under Blake and absorbed everything he taught. I developed as one of the best all-around players in the game and UVI won locally, throughout the Caribbean, on the mainland and in Canada. I eventually ended up coaching at CAHS and Antilles and now at UVI. Team sports at UVI have molded numerous individuals whom have gone on to develop and coach at various islands and on the mainland. The impact is tremendous in the Caribbean and includes places such as Tortola, St. Kitts, Antigua, Santo Domingo, St. Eustatius, Dominica, Anguilla and St. Maarten. 

Curtis Gilpin is now Associate Athletic Director at UVI.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Helen M. Dookhan – 1979, 1984, 1998

Helen Dookhan
Students are the cornerstone of any university and faculty and staff provide guidance and support so that the students can accomplish their goals. I was fortunate to serve as Student Records Assistant at the College of the Virgin Islands from 1975 to 1978. The records were not computerized in those days; grades and transcripts were compiled manually, yet productivity was prompt and efficient. Even our own Vice-Provost for Research and Public Service, Dr. Henry Smith, was a student when I worked in the Registrar’s office.

Having completed an Associate Degree in Accounting in 1979, I applied for a position in the Human Resources Department. There, I was responsible for all the benefits programs and interacted with the staff and faculty on both campuses. As with the Registrar’s office, the records and forms in Human Resources were not computerized and the bulk of the work was done manually.
In 1984, I was transferred to the Caribbean Research Institute, now the Eastern Caribbean Center. CRI was the research arm of the University, and many publications were produced that addressed the environment, water resources, social issues and other areas of relevance for the Virgin Islands and the wider Caribbean. Fairly substantial funding was obtained from federal sources, the local government and private entities. I worked with the researchers and provided budget updates and assistance with procurement matters in my capacity as office manager, accountant and purchasing agent. At CRI, I was introduced to the personal computer and learned by trial and error. While at CRI, I also worked with the Cooperative Extension Service (CES) selling books and participating in agricultural fairs and conferences.

Ms. Helen Dookhan, Dr. Isaac Dookhan and their five
daughters taken in 1979
In 1994, I became a full-fledged member of the CES staff and served in many capacities. In September 1998, I attended a grant writing workshop in Indianapolis for the CYFAR (Children Youth and Families at Risk) program. It was a new initiative under USDA to help youth and adults in the housing community. Administrators from the Cooperative Extension Service took advantage of this opportunity, and to date the CYFAR program continues to serve the residents in the Virgin Islands housing communities and positively impacts the lives of the youth and families. In the words of the late Senator Edward Kennedy “… the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.” 

Ms. Helen Dookhan still works with the Cooperative Extension Service, now part of Research and Public Service, at UVI.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Laurent (Jav) D. Javois - 1976

Laurent Javois
In February 1974, during my sophomore year at the College of the Virgin Islands, I had the privilege of participating in a week-long journey to Jamaica that was educational and enjoyable. Coach Gene Werts, who is best known for his accomplishments as head basketball coach at CVI, somehow managed to arrange a trip to the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies. Interestingly, the group that traveled with Coach Werts was not the hoops team but the soccer team comprised of students from the Virgin Islands and several other Caribbean islands.

The players and coaching staff alike were thrilled to learn that we were traveling to Jamaica, the land of Reggae music and the birthplace of the Rastafarian movement. The competition to make the final cut was earnest. After the team was selected, the players continued to train hard knowing that Jamaica was among the top two or three Caribbean countries in the sport of soccer. The intense preparation resulted in a close-knit team that enjoyed playing together on the pitch as well as socializing off the field.

Fortunately for us, Patrick Anthony, who had attended school in Jamaica, was a member of the team. Patrick briefed the group on Jamaican culture, music, food, language and other customs. Armed with this information and the security of having a knowledgeable “tour guide” we were ready to take Jamaica by storm.

The flights between St Thomas and Kingston were uneventful. However, we were unprepared for the number of young men in Jamaica who wore dreadlocks, a relatively new development in the Virgin Islands at the time. Equally surprising was the size of the country and the noticeable poverty in some areas contrasted by the obvious affluence in others. On the university campus, both the staff and students were courteous but not as friendly as some of us expected. We were, however, greeted warmly by Dr. Simon Jones-Hendrickson, a CVI alumnus and economics professor at UWI.

On the playing field we were routed in the first match. We could not have anticipated the relentless pressure and high level of skill that our opponents unleashed. Following the match, we licked our wounds and committed ourselves to display CVI pride with our play the following day. The consensus was that although UWI’s team was more skilled, we could have a good outing the next day by outworking our opponents. And we did. The entire CVI team gave maximum effort for 90 minutes. The final score of the second match was nil-nil (0-0). Naturally, we celebrated as though CVI had won the Caribbean championship.

The remainder of my time was spent mostly learning about the degree programs at UWI, speaking with faculty and students, and attending various activities on campus. The greatest personal thrill on the visit came when I attended a professional cricket match between England and the West Indies. It was incredibly exciting to see Clive Lloyd, the great captain of the West Indies’ team and players like Alvin Kallicharran, Roy Fredericks and Lawrence Rowe in action.
Unfortunately, my stay in Jamaica was cut short because I contracted chicken pox. I was advised to leave the day after being diagnosed or face the prospect of remaining in Jamaica for 10 days without my teammates. The great CVI defender Stanley Chalon accompanied me on the trip back to St. Thomas the following day.

Laurent Javois – UVI 1976 Yearbook
Although it was not clear back in 1974, that trip to Jamaica was an example of the role CVI has played in the growth of individuals and the Caribbean as a region. The college provided opportunities for intellectual and social growth that facilitated the political and economic development of the region. The exposure to other islands, and more importantly the people of the greater Caribbean was invaluable. The opportunities to experience and exhibit CVI pride and to learn the importance of giving maximum personal effort were invaluable. The bonds formed with teammates and coaches transcend time. Finally, the lessons learned about benefits of teamwork continue to shape my views about leadership and organizational success. Although those lessons were learned away from the CVI campus, they are to my mind intimately connected to that great institution. 

Laurent D. Javois is Regional Executive Officer with the Missouri Department of Mental Health. He is responsible for the operation of three psychiatric hospitals and state funded community mental health and alcohol and drug abuse services for eastern Missouri.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Gloria Callwood

Gloria Callwood
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.