Education Minister graduates Suma Cum Laude from University of Puerto Rico

POSTED: 05/24/11 1:30 PM

GREAT BAY/SAN JUAN – Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Rhoda Arrindell, successfully defended her doctoral thesis in Linguistics at the University of Puerto Rico Saturday. She was informed shortly thereafter that she’d gotten the highest grading of Summa cum-laude with a doctorate in Philosophy, making her the first non-Spanish speaking student to complete a Ph. D course at UPR

Arrindell’s dissertation was titled “Language, Culture and Identity in St. Martin”. She gave the three member dissertation committee, each an expert in their respective fields, a brief historical background of the island and her motivation for embarking on a scientific description of St. Martin English. The dissertation director Professor Mervyn Alleyne, a pioneer Creole Language Studies specialist said Arrindell fulfilled the requirements for the course in record time.

Arrindell is the first UPR graduate with the “power to translate her thesis into praxis” rather than allow the dissertation to “gather dust on the shelves like so many others.” Arrindell’s writing skills were also praised and the professors said that it was not “dense” but an “easy read.” One professor called Arrindell “Wonder woman”.

“You did it with such grace and poise that I wonder if when you got home you had your moments,” Professor Alma Simounet said.

Arrindell’s defense took just over an hour and was reportedly “an eloquent presentation which had everyone in the hall spell-bound. Following her presentation, both Prof. Simounet and Prof. Nicholas Faraclas, the third Committee member and a specialist in Creole Studies, Syntax and Phonology, agreed that Dr. Arrindell’s thesis could have been three separate dissertations.

“Your work opens up a window to further studies and is a major contribution to scholarship in the Caribbean,” noted Prof. Simounet.

The hall was later emptied for the panel to deliberate and shortly after, the candidate was called in to find out her fate.

“I regret to inform you…” began Prof. Alleyne jokingly, before pronouncing: “You have been accepted into the family of Doctors in Philosophy with a grade of ‘sobresaliente’ (summa cum laude).”

An overjoyed Arrindell thanked the professors and promised to continue to work hard in the interest of academic excellence and of her people.


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