Even as she urged her fellow graduates to exceed expectations, the University of Guyana’s best graduating student Loria–Mae Heywood said that they will only remain if they can find well-paying jobs and this issue had to be addressed.
Heywood in her valedictorian address with much support from her batch mates, called for an enabling environment cultivated by a responsive and responsible government thus bringing about a sense of hopefulness among graduates.
The International Relations major who won the President’s medal for the most outstanding student was adorned with it by President Bharrat Jagdeo who graced the convocation for the country’s premier institution for the first time in many years.
Adrian Bassier, a graduate in the Public Management degree programme was awarded the Prime Minister’s medal for the best graduating student in the field and he also received the Chancellor’s medal for the second best graduating student.
Bibi Alladin was the best graduating student in medicine, while Delina Best was the best graduating law student and received the Pro-Chancellor’s medal.
Encouraging her fellow students to “dream to change the world“, she noted that there needs to be a beneficial and ongoing relationship between students – qualified, eager and rearing to go – on the one hand, and private enterprises and international and other organizations on the other. This relationship she said must be supported by government to ensure the provision of internships and jobs.
“The past has been strewn with intelligent and qualified graduates emigrating to greener pastures merely to earn a decent living. This brain drain is one which Guyana could ill afford especially given the daunting reality that in a world marked by the survival of the fittest human capital is integral to our development,” she asserted.
The 23-year-old woman noted that despite the many challenges posed during her four-year sojourn she was diligent and dedicated to assigned tasks and so her dreams which seemed unattainable were brought to fruition. For this she extended thanks to God, her family, friends and lecturers. She challenged her fellow graduates to strive to be the best they could be, “defy the odds but also ensure that our successes do not in any way cause us to neglect or alienate those who are less endowed.”
She said she was elated yet humbled to be the valedictorian and the title was one which she accepted with much gratitude and one she intends to uphold with dignity and respect long after the event would have ended.
Coming on the heels of his calls for much more support to be given to the institution, newly appointed Chancellor Dr. Compton Bourne in remarks expressed optimism as he noted that there is much indication that it was readying itself for a new phase of development.
He pointed to the Strategic Plan which has been put together by Vice-Chancellor, Professor Lawrence Carrington. Bourne revealed that it was only on Friday that the University’s Council approved the plan which has acknowledged its strengths and weaknesses, considered opportunities and identified goals.
These he said included the improvement of the institution’s governance, administration and management, the expansion of the university’s financial base and an improved ability to recruit and retain highly qualified staff.
He said he was confident that the goals had merit and noted too that they would be discussed with the different sectors of society.
He said that for there to be successful implementation of the plan the business community, government and all well-wishers of the institution had to come on board.
He urged the graduates to take pride in their achievement, but to also be humble and recognize their support base which helped to make their success possible.
He told them too to, “think big“ and move on to greater possibilities.
Meanwhile, Bourne also called on the graduates to “put something back” into their alma mater. He conceded that much taxpayer dollars were also put into the university and told the students that they can help to improve the institution no matter how small their contributions were. He pointed out that in many countries the Alumni of universities have gone a far way in assisting. In this vein too he urged the now former students to support fund raising efforts by the university.
During the convocation Dr. Winston McGowan, Dr. Mary Noel Menezes and Professor Doris Rogers, in absentia, were conferred with the title of Professor Emeritus by the university.
Dean of the School of Education and Humanities, Al Creighton who conducted this part of the proceedings pointed to the achievements of the trio. McGowan gave over 38 years of service to the institution contributing immensely in the area of history. He concluded his service to the institution as the second and most recent occupant of the Walter Rodney Chair in History in the School of Education and Humanities. Menezes’s service extends to 24 years and her association with it has been universally acknowledged as a shining example of scholarship, dedication and commitment to the achievement of excellence. Rogers’ service covered the period from 1988 until her retirement in 2008 and was unique to the development of the University particularly her role in the design of the Bachelor of Arts degree programme in Fine Arts and the establishment of the art education component on both the Turkeyen and Tain campuses.