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Kirby delivers address at Mona

Kirby delivers address at Mona

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The evening of the 51st graduation ceremony of the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Jamaica was especially significant for Vincentians studying at the institution, with valedictorian Shermalon Kirby basking in glory.

On Friday, November 5, Kirby, a journalist at the Agency for Public Information (API), had her name placed in the annals of history when she became the first Vincentian valedictorian at the premiere regional educational institution. She received the coveted award for claiming First Class Honours in the Faculty of Humanities and Education. {{more}}

Kirby, who pursued a degree in Media and Communication, delivered a brilliant valedictory address, having to pause on several occasions for the many bouts of applause and standing ovations she received. In her introduction, Kirby reminded the audience that the University of the West Indies and cricket are the only two institutions that draw Caribbean people together, “elicit their deepest emotions, highlight their resilience, showcase their determination and foster their belief in each other’s ability”.

Speaking on behalf of the other graduates, she said that throughout their sojourn for higher education there were many times when they thought that they would not make it to the end. “But here we are today, celebrating our victory, as the entire region did on September 25 when the West Indies won the ICC Championship for the first time.”

Like the calypso cricket she spoke of, Kirby momentarily reflected on the hardships experienced by the graduating class. She said: “Our presence here today is indicative of the fact that we have survived the fast bowling of sleepless nights, the leg spins of endless reading, the short pitch deliveries of fast food when our stomachs ached for home cooked meals, and the medium pace of having to beat the books when some persons would have preferred to be easing the tension at a block party, Students’ Union or asylum.”

Kirby admitted that the “innings” at the University of the West Indies” did not only test and sharpen students’ scholastic aptitude “but nurture a cadre of intellectual, proactive, well-disciplined, assertive leaders and managers who are cognizant of their responsibility to the development of self, community and by extension country.”

Unlike others who get carried away with their accomplishments, Kirby did not fail to mention the role God played in her successes along with her colleagues’. She said, with firm conviction, that most students did not leave to chance their spiritual enlistment. “The different religious groups and activities provided that avenue for solace, spiritual expression and worship of the supreme being from which we gathered inner strength.” In short, Kirby described the Class of 2004 as a team of all-rounders -“persons who can survive under any condition, no matter how adverse, and persons who can make meaningful contribution to any sector, career, situation or issue – no matter how complicated or controversial”. Kirby challenged her colleagues to help rid the islands of insularity and mendicancy. “The dependency syndrome should not be part of our psyche,” she stated.

Kirby was amongst the batch of over 2,730 students who met the University of the West Indies’ criteria for graduation. Females again dominated this years outgoing class, with a total of 2, 051, while the male figure stood at 679. One hundred and eighty three students received First Class Honours. Of that total, 146 were females and 37 were males. At present the Mona Campus’ student population stands at 13, 400.

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