SGU Medical Student Represents Grenada at Jaycees Caribbean Queen Show

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Nakitta Noel, a student at St. George’s University, School of Medicine (SGUSOM) is representing Grenada at the 2011 Jaycees Caribbean Queen Show. She will join her fellow classmates at SGUSOM’s Fall 2011 White Coat Ceremony, in reciting the Oath of Professional Commitment and donning white coats that will symbolize their entry into the School of Medicine. When asked about her future as a physician, she stated, “My aim then is to dutifully perform my task as a general practitioner and provide the best health care in my capability. I seek to adjust the health sector in my country for the betterment of my Grenadian people because I love the country and its people…”

She went on the say, “I am committed to my 4 years in medical school and my career as a Medical Doctor (M.D.). My motivation, my hunger for success and my passion for the medical industry will carry me through.” She credits having the value of the importance of hard work being instilled in her at childhood with playing a role in her ambition and focus.

As the reigning Miss Grenada Carnival Queen 2010, Nakitta was given the opportunity to represent Grenada at this competition. The Jaycees Caribbean Queen Show is being held in Antigua and participants are expected from nine other countries across the Caribbean: Antigua & Barbuda, Anguilla, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Guyana, Montserrat, St. Kitts and St. Maarten.

We wish Nakitta best of luck and are certain that she will continue do herself and country proud.

SGU Honors Nearly 800 New Medical Doctors

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On Saturday, June 11, 2011 it was with a sense of pride and accomplishment that nearly 800 medical students, drawn from 30 different countries, graduated as part of St. George’s University School of Medicine Commencement Ceremony at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center in New York City, NY. This year’s commencement ceremony was particularly special as it marked the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program (KBTGSP) charter class graduation. The 54 charter class students started the program in January 2007 and completed the first year of basic sciences at Northumbria University in Newcastle, UK.

Distinguished guest and Assistant Dean of the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program, Dr. David Holmes, BSc (Hons), PhD, CSci, FIBMS, was honored with St. George’s University Medal of Merit by the Chancellor Modica during the ceremony. The medal was presented in recognition of Dr. Holmes’ contribution and tireless efforts towards the collaboration between St. George’s and Northumbria University and the development of the KBTGSP.

In his introductory remarks, Provost Dr. Allen Pensick, PhD provided wise and encouraging words, “You will be stretched in many different directions through your career and you must rely on your core values to guide you.” Chancellor Charles R. Modica, JD followed Dr. Pensick by asking the graduates to stand up and applaud their families and friends in order to demonstrate their appreciation for all the support offered by the guests in attending the day’s event as well as supporting their dream to become a physician. He also reminded the graduating class of the importance of the commencement ceremony. “This moment celebrates the commitment you have made to medicine. Your dedication is commendable, and we are confident you can make a positive impact in your local communities and in a global context.”

Her Excellency Dr. Dessima Williams, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Permanent Representative of Grenada to the United Nations, also extended her congratulations to the School of Medicine Class of 2011, which included seven Grenadian graduates. She challenged them to make health care strong with their entry into the professional world. Additionally, she highlighted efforts by the United Nations to eradicate AIDS by 2020 through “zero new infections, zero stigma and zero Aids-related deaths”—a goal revealed at the United Nations Aids Summit held the same week.

The 44th School of Medicine Commencement Ceremony concluded upon closing remarks from the Dean of the School of Medicine Dean Stephen Weitzman, MD. Graduates, along with their families and friends, took the opportunity to mingle with peers, faculty, and administration during an hour-long reception that followed.

St. George’s University is extremely proud of its newest alumni who will now join the ranks of the University’s more than 9,000 medical graduates licensed in all 50 states and practicing in more than 45 countries around the world. With a 98 percent residency placement rate, the graduates will continue their professional development in highly competitive residencies in surgery, radiology, orthopedics, emergency medicine, etc.

SGU Hosts 43rd International Seminar on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention

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Photo (L- R) Professors Labarthe, Khaw, Reddy and Poulter, Dr. Macpherson and Brendon LaGrenade, Coordinator of Support Services, SGU

St. George’s University welcomed 31 of the world’s leading cardiovascular and epidemiology specialists to the 43rd International seminar on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention. The Ten-Day Teaching seminar will run for the period June 26- July 8 and participants, who include two members of faculty at St. George’s University, Drs. Johansen Sylvester and Dolland Noel, represent twenty-four (24) different countries.

In addressing the physicians during the opening session, Dr. Calum Macpherson, Director of WINDREF (Windward Islands Research Facility), stated, “We are delighted to have the faculty and participants here at St. George’s University. We regard ourselves as an international institution and this seminar links very closely to our philosophy as a University.”

Facilitators include experts in the field of hypertension, aging and cardiovascular diseases, stroke epidemiology and disease prevention and control. Among the diverse group of participants are also bio-statisticians, nurses, behavioral scientists and nutritionists.

According to Professor Darwin Labarthe, one of the Coordinators, the seminar is designed to introduce and educate young professionals without substantial experience in research or teaching in the science of preventions, on various methods of prevention as it relates to heart diseases, stroke, hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes. He says the primary objective of the seminar is “to introduce young professionals to the current knowledge and methods of research in heart disease and stroke. The goal is for them, after this experience, to be able to work more effectively in their home-based organizations, agencies and institutions.”

Dr. Labarthe further explained that, over the past twenty years emphasis has been placed on developing countries, having recognized the burden placed on these economies by an increase in cardiovascular and other chronic diseases. It is because of this that the seminar has been strategically located. He says, “This has been a very successful approach and has greatly increased representation from developing countries.”

The annual seminar retains a general format from year to year, and includes both lectures and group activities about the latest science in cardiovascular diseases and epidemiology, as well as an introduction to the methods of research within the field.The International Ten Day Teaching seminar on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention began in 1968 by what is now known as the World Heart Federation, out of a recognized need for training throughout the world and physicians and other persons interested in research, teaching and practice in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. Since 1968 the seminar has been held in twenty-four different countries, with Grenada being the first English speaking Caribbean to play host.

WINDREF Hosts the Caribbean-Canada Emerging Leaders’ Dialogue (CCELD)

Attended by Dialogue President, Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, Princess Anne

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Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, Princess Anne with members of the CCELD

On Saturday, June 4, 2011, Grenada welcomed members of the Caribbean-Canada Emerging Leader’s Dialogue. The conference lasted four days at the Windward Islands Research & Educations Foundation (WINDREF) and was part of an intensive two-week program. The program initially began in Ottawa, Canada where 80 participants of the Caribbean, along with 40 participants from Canada, engaged in two days of presentations, discussions, and networking. They then divided into study groups of 12 participants each, travelling to different locations in Canada and the Caribbean to visit communities and workplaces from both public and private sectors and civil society.

Grenada was one of 10 Caribbean countries hosting a study tour before the full dialogue reconvenes in Barbados for the final three days. This year’s conference was held under the theme “Growth Through Connections: Enabling Sustainable Progress.” During the study tour in Grenada, the participants visited local businesses and industries as well as met with several stakeholders including government, the police, and community leaders. These visits provided an opportunity for the team to be exposed to the diverse challenges being faced by these leaders.

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As Dialogue President, Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, Princess Anne attended a number of CCELD visits and events. On Tuesday, June 7, 2011 she visited the participants at WINDREF where the day’s session included a panel discussion with Deputy Commissioner of Police Franklyn Redhead, Mr. Nigel John, and Mr. Robert Frederick as well as a culture and history presentation by Mr. Richardo Keens-Douglas—renowned story teller, playwright and author. Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, Princess Anne and attendees were also joined by Dr. Nicole Phillip, author and Dean of the School of Arts, Sciences and Professional Studies at the T.A. Marryshow Community College.

Margaret A. Lambert, St. George’s University Dean of Enrolment Planning and WINDREF board member, stated “WINDREF through its research has been able to contribute to advances in health and environmental development through multidisciplinary research and education programs. We see hosting this conference as another opportunity to bring intellectual talent together to address challenges and issues of international importance.”

WINDREF is an independent nonprofit organization located on the True Blue campus of St. George’s University in Grenada, West Indies. WINDREF is registered in the United States with the Internal Revenue Service 501(C) (3) as an educational non-profit foundation. It is also registered in Grenada as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in compliance with section 328 of the Companies Act 1994, and in 1999 it was registered in the United Kingdom as a charitable Trust, Charity in compliance with UK Charities Act 1993.

Several Firsts for SGU 2011 Graduating Class

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On Saturday, May 14, St. George’s University held its annual Commencement Ceremony for the School of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate Studies Program. More than 300 students took to the stage to receive their diplomas at Patrick Adams Hall, the University’s newest and largest auditorium. This year’s Commencement Day also marked several firsts for the University. The commencement included the first cohort sponsored by the University of Botswana to earn their Bachelor of Preveterinary Medical Sciences; the first class to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN); and the charter class graduation of the Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Multi-Sector Health Management.

Renowned Grenadian writer and poet, Dr. Merle Collins, OBE, PhD, was the keynote speaker, taking center stage to address all students and their families. Along with Dr. Collins, honored guests included Deputy Chair of the Conference of Churches in Grenada, Reverend Osbert James, PhD, and 2011 Distinguished Service Honoree Gloria Payne-Banfield, OBE, MSc. Ms. Payne-Banfield received St. George’s Distinguished Service Award in recognition of her outstanding service to the University; in acknowledgement of her long friendship with the University and leadership in forwarding its progress; and in gratitude for her advocacy and commitment to the evolution of graduate studies, research programs, and to the creation and development of the School of Arts and Sciences. Additionally, the University’s Undergraduate Student Government Association (USGA) presented the George B. Daniel Undergraduate Award to Ejaz Ramsingh, BS for his outstanding contribution to student life.

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In the School of Arts and Sciences, more than 250 undergraduate degrees were conferred and included Bachelors of Arts (BA), of Education (BEd), of Science (BS), or of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees. Grenadian students made up the majority of the graduates and were addressed by Class Valedictorian, Alana Praimdass of Trinidad and Tobago. “It is important for us to realize that final examinations and graduation does not mark our end to the relationship we have with St. George’s University,” she emphasized during her speech. On behalf of the graduating class, Ms. Praimdass also expressed her gratitude for the support offered by the University staff and faculty. She reminded her fellow classmates, “We are the force that will drive this institution towards future success. We should wish to contribute in whichever manner possible to the enrichment and enhancement of the quality of education being received by the current and future students.”

The commence ceremony included a group of Batswana students—sponsored by the University of Botswana— to earn their BS in Preveterinary Medical Sciences in Grenada. Similarly, a handful of students who completed their first two years at Stony Brook University in New York also had their Bachelor’s degree conferred. Each of these students will continue onto the four-year veterinary medical program at St. George’s. Their graduation, and promotion into the School of Veterinary Medicine, speaks to the success of St. George’s collaboration with the University of Botswana and Stony Brook University.

The second half of the Commencement Day was dedicated to St. George’s graduate students. In the Graduate Studies Program, approximately 70 students earned their Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Public Health (MPH), or Master of Science (MSc) degrees. While four MBA graduates were members of the MBA in Multi-Sector Health Management charter class, the remaining MBA students specialized in the International Business.

MPH graduate, St. Lucian born Lydia Atkins, represented the graduate students during the ceremony as Class Speaker. Ms. Atkins joined St. George’s in 2010, excelling throughout her years in Grenada. She was selected as Class Speaker due to her unique combination of technical expertise and administrative experience in the health sector as well as community and youth development.

St. George’s University is proud of all its graduating students and confident its alumni will positively impact the world in each respective field.

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Sport for Health launched in Grenada

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Sports for Health committee members with Secondary school principals and sporting ambassadors

Principals and sporting ambassadors from each of Grenada’s 22 secondary schools attended the launch of the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation’s (WINDREF) Sport for Health Program. A collaborative program between WINDREF, St. George’s University, the Ministries of Sport and Health, and the Grenada National Olympic Committee, the goal is to help reduce the public health problem of chronic disease by increasing awareness and educating the public about delaying or preventing the onset of chronic disease by leading a healthier lifestyle.

Participants from all secondary schools in the tri-island nation of Grenada, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique participated with Sport for Health Program committee members in the launch of this ambitious, long term program. At the Grenada launch ceremony, principals representing 22 schools received a cheque for $2,000 (EC) to support sporting activities at their schools. They also received wrist bands with the inscription, “Sport for Health, Grenada. I Am the Future of My Country.” to be distributed to athletes participating in Intercol on April 6 and 7. Grenada’s record-breaking athlete, Kirani James, will act as a role model for the Sport for Health Program and is its first sporting ambassador.

The initiative for the Sport for Health Program followed an inaugural successful fundraising function at the House of Lords in London, sponsored by Baroness Howells of St Davids – the only Grenadian in the House of Lords – and Lord Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, the President of WINDREF. The function was addressed by Lord (Seb) Coe, the Olympic double-gold medallist and Chairman of the London Organising Committee for the 2012 Olympic Games, who praised the program for “inspiring a healthier generation of youth. Your campaign,” he said, “to work with sporting ambassadors across your schools shows what imaginative thinking can do.”

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(on the right) Mr. Dorani Marshall (Sport for Health Program committee member and father of Kirani James) presenting the $2,000 ECD to one of the principals, (on the left) Mr. Victor Ashby (Chair of the Principals Association of Grenada)

Speaking at the ceremony, Trevor Noël, Assistant Director of WINDREF, and a member of the Sport for Health Program committee said that there was “overwhelming scientific evidence of the positive effects of sport on a healthy lifestyle, which helps to prevent chronic diseases including cardio-vascular disease, diabetes, hypertension and obesity.”

George McGuire, Director of Athletics, Sports and Recreations at St George’s University, and also a member of the Sport for Health Program committee, pointed out that a recent study conducted by the world renowned cardiovascular disease expert, Dr. Fuster and his research group at Mt. Sinai working in collaboration with the Grenada Heart Project and the Ministry of Health had recently presented their findings which showed that approximately 80 percent of Grenadian women over the age of 25 were obese.”

Marlon Glean, Sport for Health Program Chairperson said that the sporting ambassadors identified from all of the secondary schools had a key role to play. “They will be the catalyst for maximizing the benefits which our schools and local communities can achieve through the program. Not only will they be responsible for developing, implementing and coordinating health programs and activities in their schools – one will be selected to go to London to attend part of the Olympic games to be held in the UK in Summer 2012.”. We also hope that with additional sponsorships, sports scholarships will be given for some of our outstanding athletes to attend St George’s University and other universities in the UK, US and Canada.”

Marlon Glean added that the second phase of the program would be targeted at “ students who do not participate in sporting activities who may be at a greater risk of developing chronic diseases.” It is hoped that the lessons learned from the programme will be lifelong.

Other members of the Sport for Health Program committee include Baroness Howells of St. Davids, former Governor General of Grenada, Sir Paul Scoon, prominent business person, Denis Noël, President of the Grenada Olympic Committee, Royston LaHee, , father of Kirani James, Mr. Dorani Marshall, and the WINDREF board members.

The Worldwide Challenge of Cardiovascular Disease

Top Cardiologist Dr. Valetin Fuster Presents at Joint K.B. Taylor Memorial and Annual WINDREF Research Lecture Series.

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L to R: Dr. Macpherson, Dr. Beaubrun, Dr. Fuster (WINDREF speaker), and Dr. Modica

St. George’s University Charter Hall on the True Blue campus was recently filled with more than 650 attendees of the joint K.B. Taylor Memorial-WINDREF Research Lecture. Delivered by renowned cardiologist Dr. Valetin Fuster, this year’s topic “The Worldwide Challenge of Cardiovascular Disease” provided attendees with an insightful analysis of this global health problem.

Dr. Fuster spoke at length about the various issues of cardiovascular disease, including the disparity between developed and developing nations both in terms of the cost of health care as well as the allocation of spending towards preventative care versus treatment. He stated, “We talk about treating disease rather than talking about promoting health. Educating the public about cardiovascular health is one of the most important and difficult things to accomplish,” said Fuster. “You need passion and you need funding.” Not surprisingly Dr. Fuster is actively involved with several projects aimed at effecting change through behavior modification, including the Grenada Heart Project and an awareness campaign in Bogota that works with Sesame Street to bring the message of heart health to children.

Dr. Fuster’s ability to present highly technical material in language that all in the audience were able to relate to resulted in a presentation that was well received and appreciated by the students, medical practioners/professionals, and members of the general public who were in attendance. Commenting on Dr. Fuster’s unique blend of passion and dedication to his work, St. George’s University Chancellor, Charles Modica said, “He has that idealism that many of our students have today, that you get at the age of 18, 19, or 20. There are some people {like Dr. Fuster} on this earth that never lose it and there are some people on this earth that make a difference.”

Dr. Fuster serves The Mount Sinai Medical Center as Director of Mount Sinai Heart, the Zena and Michael A. Wiener Cardiovascular Institute and the Maire-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Center for Cardiovascular Health. He is the Richard Gorlin, MD/Heart Research Foundation Professor, Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Dr. Fuster was the President of Science and is not the General Director of the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares Carlos III (CNIC) in Madrid, Spain.

Among the seemingly countless positions of distinction that he holds are Past President of the American Heart Association, Past President of the World Heart Federation, Member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences where he serves as Chair of the committee on Preventing the Global Epidemic of Cardiovascular Disease, former member of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Advisory Council, and former Chairman of the Fellowship Training Directors Program of the American College of Cardiology. Twenty-six distinguished universities throughout the world have granted him Honorary Doctorate Degrees.

St. George’s University is honored to have had this rare privilege and we thank Dr. Fuster for his insightful presentation.

University Student Groups Provide Free Medical Services to Grenada Community

free medical grenada communityStudent clubs and organizations at St. George’s University, along with Grenada’s Ministry of Health and the Town of St. George’s Constituency Organizing Committee, organize multiple health fairs throughout the academic year. The fairs provide free medical services to attendees from the local community.

The most recent health fair, “One Health One Medicine”, took place on November 13. Volunteers provided basic eye and ear screenings and blood pressure and diabetes testing to members of the community at no cost. The student organization, Women in Medicine, conducted breast exams and spoke with participants on the importance of conducting self-exams.  In cases where patients have been advised to seek further medical care, students are tasked with following up with patients to ensure they have seen their personal physician. The Ministry of Health also follows up on patient care using referral data collected from the event.

Additionally, St. George’s veterinarian students were on hand to see four-legged patients at the health fair.    President of the Student Affiliate of the American Veterinary Medical Associate (SAAVMA), Brendan Moulder, proudly announced, “We were extremely pleased to see over 90 feline and canine patients at this clinic on the beach at Grand Mal.  In addition to physical examinations, students provided vaccinations, deworming medications for intestinal parasites, and various other field veterinary services for the animals.”

Because veterinary students only have 3 years in Grenada and medical students only 2 years before they go abroad for their clinical studies, it is important to the students to seize the opportunity to give back. In fact, every semester so many students volunteer that SAAVMA has to create a waitlist. “The events serve as a way for the local population to benefit directly from having a well established human and veterinary medical university right on their island,” said Moulder.

The semesters first health fair was held in early September at the Anglican Church Yard in downtown St. George’s —just in time for children’s back-to-school check-ups. Nearly a dozen physicians as well as several American Medical Student Association (AMSA) members, led by AMSA President Jessica Lennon, attended to over 200 patients. Lennon explains, “The goal of this event was to increase general public health awareness, to ensure a patient’s personal health, and to guide patients in the right direction on how to follow up.” The second health fair on September 23 in Mt. Caramel proved to have an equally successful turnout.

With the primary purpose of the health fair to serve the local community, St. George’s University students benefit as well. Lennon explains, “The health fairs give students the opportunity to see the different parts of the island and to interact with members of the community. Moulder agrees, “As students, the process of hands-on learning and practice is priceless. We are extremely grateful to have a faculty and staff that are so willing to join us during their free time to learn, educate and give back to the community.”

To see more pictures from the Fall 2010 health fairs, please visit the Facebook photo album.

Fall 2010 ICSA Culture Show: “Taal, a Beat of Passion”

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This November, the Indian Cultural Student Association (ICSA) held its semi-annual cultural show, “Taal, a Beat of Passion.” The collaboration and camaraderie between students of different nationalities and backgrounds to produce such a show speaks to the multicultural environment at St. George’s University. It was an event that brought a taste of India to all faculty, staff, students, as well as to the local community.

The show began with an introduction of the ICSA Fall 2010 board members Neha Rana, Priti Dave, Johnny Wu, Rushabh Shah, Simran Nahal, Satjit Sanghera, Prashanth Boddeti, and Kyrie Kanhai. President of ICSA, Neha Rana explained the importance of the event. “We are normally consumed by class and studying. The show allows students to share something beyond medical school that they enjoy with the SGU community.” One of the emcees of the cultural show, Ayanna Rocke agreed, “It is important to the Indian Student body as well as SGU to have a cultural show as it helps in a way to give the students a voice.”

Dances of the night ranged from classical to bhangra to hip hop. A semi-classical dance was followed by fusion hip-hop, bhangra, and Bollywood dance performances. Neha describes the audience and recalled, “Charter Hall was completely packed with people standing in the aisles to catch a glimpse of the performers. Members from the entire SGU community were in attendance, ranging from professors and their families to students and local vendors.”

Overall, the ICSA was successful in showcasing the talents of the entire student body as well as bringing traditional Indian culture to share with the St. George’s University community. As fifth term medical student, Satjit Sanghera explains, “ Not only was it a night of tradition, entertainment, culture and rhythm, but also a night in which the SGU community came together under one roof to watch students showcase talent that is often buried deep in the blur of medical school.”

ICSA is one of the largest student organizations at St. George’s University. It was founded in 1996 to share the Indian culture with the entire University and Grenada. ICSA hosts several events throughout the year including Holi, Diwali, dance classes, semiannual theme-based parties, and the ICSA Cultural Show.

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St. George’s University Welcomes Families to True Blue Campus

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Running from October 23rd to the 24th St. George’s University is hosting Beyond Spice, a weekend event where family members of enrolled students from the School of Medicine and School of Veterinary Medicine are invited to visit St. George’s campus. A truly international weekend, families from the Caribbean, North America and Europe will converge on St. George’s picturesque True Blue Campus to learn about the University, spend time on campus and experience island life.

Only since 2008 has St. George’s hosted a family weekend and attendance has more than doubled over prior years. With this year as the largest yet, the event is expected to draw more than 200 hundred visitors to St. George’s and its surrounding communities.

Commenting on the growth of this event, Margaret Lambert, Dean of Enrolment Planning, said, “We look forward to this weekend because it gives us the opportunity to host student families from around the world. Many of our attendees stay at local hotels, visit areas merchants and dine in local restaurants. Our goal is to provide a wide range of activities, including opportunities for unstructured time where families can explore all Grenada and the University has to offer and hopefully make plans to visit again.”

Attendees at the event have the opportunity to tour the St. George’s campus, meet administrators and experience he beautiful island of Grenada with island tours, cultural performances and free time for exploring local venues. Visitors will get a taste of local culture with visits to local markets, restaurants and stays at some of the areas most beautiful hotels.

Russ Fielden, President of the Grenada Hotel and Tourism Association and Owner/Operator of True Blue Bay Resort is looking forward to hosting several St. George’s family members at his resort this weekend. “We’re looking forward to providing a relaxing environment for family members to vacation while visiting their St. George’s student. I also encourage them to take in the surrounding areas – as well as the north side of the island during their stay.” While known for its beautiful beaches, Grenada is also home to historic forts, impressive waterfalls and rum and nutmeg production facilities – all of which are accessible to tourists.

“Many families come back to the island at other times,” says Fielden, “and we look forward to developing lasting relationships with them and other members of the St. George’s University family.”

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