Alumni Association to become “legal body” Forty-three graduate in USM’s 18th commencement

POSTED: 06/18/12 1:09 PM

DAWN BEACH – Forty-three graduates crossed a platform at the Westin Dawn Beach Resort & Spa proudly on Saturday and commenced the next phase of their lives. The group will forever be remembered as the University of St. Martin’s class of 2012. Six members of the class graduated Cum Laude, five graduated Magna Cum Laude and three graduated Summa Cum Laude.
The theme for Saturday’s commencement – USM’s eighteenth – was realizing dreams through higher education. The extensive program included remarks by representatives of seven tertiary institutions that USM has or is pursuing a relationship with. There were also remarks from Jake Johnston of Caribbean International Academy – a local secondary institution.
Dr. Ronald Testa, who is Dean of the American University of the Caribbean, used the occasion to announce that the Tien scholarship has been renamed the AUC/USM Scholarship. Through this initiative AUC will provide $30, 000 in scholarships to “students who demonstrate a lived commitment to USM and AUC’s shared values.”
The University of St. Martin should also look forward to another partnership soon as the Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport has made contact with Rutgers University.
“That will happen soon, maybe sooner than you think,” the minister said.

Later she’d add, “We want to increase the number of connections to allow our students to study abroad and for more to come and enjoy like those at AUC have.”
Next to leading the opening processional the Generation New Status Drum Band also gave the graduating class a drum roll of congratulations. This before President of the Board Directors Valerie Giterson-Pantophlet presented “43 graduates who have worked so hard.”
Though 43 have worked hard several rose above and claimed awards. Charity Sam received the Board of Directors award for making the greatest contribution in service to the university, while Zola Maison received the president’s award for outstanding capacity in the classroom and extracurricular activities and Danissa Walker received the academic achievement award. This award goes to the student who has achieved the highest academic grade point average in the Associates Degree program and the recipient is recommended by the Dean of Academic Affairs.
This year the outstanding faculty award went to Dr. Alison Howard. This award is presented to an outstanding faculty member that is selected by the graduating class and the university’s leadership.

Several professors were also presented with tokens of appreciation. The graduates in the business program presented Erwin Wolthuis with a token of appreciation as thanks for working with them, while the graduates from the education program thanked Howard for continuing to teach and to grade even when she broke her collar bone.

“We thought of her pain, she thought of our success,” the graduate who presented the token said.

Claret Connor, Faye Arnell and Glen Yeung were praised by the four students for continuously pushing them.

The graduates took an active part in their commencement. Four of them danced Fantasia Barrino’s I believe, Courtney Wilson performed Yolanda Adam’s Don’t Give Up, Charity Sam led some of her counterparts in John Legend’s Out There and another student read a perform she’d written herself.

While it is hard for the class speaker Alain Roper to believe that the days of finals, essays and leaving the campus at late hours is over, he’s sure that he wants all the graduates in his class to find happiness and success.

“Working and going to school is a challenge, but it is well worth it. The dream never failed. We have done it and we have done it together,” Roper said.

Stuart Johnson – a USM alumnus – identified early on with the feeling of relief that the graduates must have that they will no longer have to deal with the anxiety that comes from dealing with instructors and submitting assignments. He also asserted that, like him, the graduates would never change their experience at USM for any other.

“USM belongs to St. Maarten and we must give it our all. I challenge you to speak out and express yourself. You can now give yourself a new mindset. If you graduate with an associates’ degree, get a bachelors. If you graduate with a bachelor’s degree, get a masters,” Johnson said.

The USM alumnus also called on the newly graduated class to assist in making the alumni association a legal body. Johnson, who is the President of the St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation, also gave away an all access pass to the 2013 Carnival celebrations.

Saturday’s 43 graduates bring the number of USM alumni to 586.

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