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UVI Grads Urged to Cultivate an 'Attitude of Gratitude'

May 15, 2007 — The University of the Virgin Islands' St. Croix campus conferred 125 degrees to graduates at the 43rd annual commencement ceremonies Tuesday evening.
Hundreds of proud family members gathered under a giant-sized tent on UVI's front lawn to honor and congratulate this year's crop of graduates. The honorees were happy and anxious, knowing that years of hard work had finally paid off.
They called themselves the "Determined Dignified and Diversified" class of 2007, shouting their slogan at every pause in the proceedings.
Keynote speaker Thelma B. Thompson, president of the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, told the graduates she wanted her address to "motivate them to take their place in society."
She said kindness and appreciation should be the traits that carry them through life. "Say thanks to your family and ancestors who have helped you along the way," she said. "Cultivate an attitude of gratitude."
"You did not make this journey alone," Thompson said. "Friends, family and the faculty at UVI assisted you. You are the fruits of their labor." She continued to urge the graduates to "make life-long learning their goal" and to value the "stamp of approval" that UVI has given them.
A native of Jamaica born to "working-class parents," Thompson said her parents, teachers and church members always had high expectations of her. "My father always would tell me 'study your book,' she said. Thompson said she never expected to become the first Caribbean woman to head an American University, but hard work and personal excellence made her a sought-after candidate for the position.
Thompson advised the class to concentrate on what they have, and not to mourn for what they don't. "Your time at UVI will be forever engraved on your life, when you die, it will be mentioned you were a UVI graduate," she said.
Representing their class, spokespersons Tionee D. C. Veira and Trevor S. Joseph regaled their classmates with lively remembrances of college life and urged them to continue to overcome life's obstacles.
"Your departure from this university opens up a universe of possibilities," said Senate President Usie R. Richards. "Continue to elevate your minds."
"It's a competitive world you are entering into," said Gov. John deJongh Jr. in his message to the students. "We are proud of you, and we know you will make us proud."
UVI Provost Al Hassan I. Musah and UVI President LaVerne Ragster then conveyed the degrees on the graduates, congratulating each of them as they accepted their diplomas.
The St Croix campus awarded 11 Masters of Arts in Education degrees, one Master of Business Administration degree, three degrees in Public Administration, eight Bachelor of Science degrees, 59 Bachelor of Arts degrees, seven degrees in Applied Science, 14 Associate of Science degrees and 22 Associate of Arts degrees.
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