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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The School of Veterinary Medicine, which has been a part of St. George’s University for 11 years, held its 23rd White Coat Ceremony on Tuesday, August 17 at the Bourne Lecture Hall. The 77 prospective veterinarians who were honored and welcomed in this ceremony came from ten countries: the US, UK, Canada, Guyana, Jamaica, Botswana, Mexico, France, Ireland and Sweden.
The Chancellor, Dr. Charles R. Modica officially welcomed and congratulated the students. “At St. George’s University, there is an environment of caring,” he said. “You are special to us. You are small in number… but your spirit is great and if you are anything like your predecessors, you will make us proud.” Mistress of Ceremonies, Dr. Emma Hage congratulated the students on their accomplishment. “I wish you tremendous success on your veterinary journey,” she said.
The Dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Raymond Sis, also addressed the incoming students. He said: “You belong to a profession that prides itself in serving society and you have joined a dynamic and exciting international university that will provide you with a unique environment to study modern global veterinary medicine.” He encouraged the students: “In addition to challenging yourself, challenge your classmates. This is your family for the next four years. Mentor each other, help them through the next four years and they will help you.”
Following the delivery of a splendid speech by Keynote Speaker, Bonnie V. Beaver, B.S.,D.V.M., M.S., the students donned their white coats and recited their Oath of Professional Commitment led by Dr. Kristin Chaney.
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On Monday August 16, 2010 over 400 students took the oath of Professional Commitment to mark their entry into the medical program at St. George’s University School of Medicine. This year’s bi-annual White Coat Ceremony was held at St. George’s University Taylor Hall, where an excited and emotional crowd—including family, faculty and special invited guests—filled the hall to maximum capacity to witness the ceremony.
During opening remarks, St. George’s University Chancellor Charles Modica reminded students that their journey has just begun, and is supported by dedicated and accomplished faculty members. Speaking to the enthusiastic crowd, Chancellor Modica said, “You’re here because we believe you can do it— and you believe you can do it.”
The Chancellor reassured students that St. George’s University is not an institution where you have to compete, but one in which students learn and succeed together. Chancellor Modica pointed out that at St. George’s, “Everybody has the potential to succeed together— no one has to be left behind.” He further stated that the fall 2010 class has the luxury of following a legacy of success, from the 1977 charter class to the successful graduation of over ten thousand doctors. “With this history of success, the outcome is inevitable as long as there is application.”
Chancellor Modica explained one of the best things at St. George’s University is that “there are a lot of important and individual stories, you get to meet important people, and each one of you has the opportunity to achieve your goals when you arrive in Grenada.”
Lord Walton of Detchant, the keynote speaker for the ceremony, sought to pass on lessons to the students, saying that classroom, laboratory and clinical experience “is crucial to the practice of medicine in the 21st century, all of which are part of a learning process which you are all beginning today.”
John Walton (Lord Walton of Detchant) Kt TD MA MD DSc FRCP FMedSci, qualified in 1945 with first class honors from the Newcastle Medical School of the University of Durham. He was a former consultant Neurologist to the Newcastle upon Tyne hospitals, Professor of Neurology in the University and Dean of Medicine from 1971-81.He became a Knight Bachelor in 1979 and was awarded a life Peerage as Lord Walton of Detchant in 1989.
Lord Walton of Detchant held the positions of President of the British Medical Association from 1980-82, of the Royal Society of Medicine from 1984-86, of the General Medical Council from 1982-89, and of the World Federation of Neurology from 1989-97. Adding to the list of accomplishments, Lord Walton has also chaired the House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics and was a member of its Select Committee on Science and technology for ten years. In 2006 he was presented with the Hewitt Award by the RSM Foundation Inc.
Relying on this expansive experience and qualification in the field of medicine and research, Lord Walton pointed out that in order to provide proper diagnosis and treatment “it is important to recognize that you need core knowledge- knowledge of human structure and function, of anatomy, physiology, bio-chemistry and genetics because it is very important for many, many reasons.”
In addition to knowledge which is fundamental, Lord Walton highlighted the need for core medical skills, citing the importance of taking a complete medical history and carrying out comprehensive physical examinations. “History and physical examinations,” said Lord Walton, “are at the core of patient care.” Lord Walton also addressed issues such as the importance of doctor-patient communication and establishing a trusted relationship with patients. He further stressed the importance of research, saying, “Today’s research brings tomorrow’s medicine.
The esteemed doctor shared his experiences with the incoming medical class, reminding them that the practice of medicine deals with living, thinking beings and this should never be forgotten, and always taken into consideration, when treating patients.
Following the keynote address the students were robed in their white coats, took the oath of professional commitment, and were officially welcomed as “Medical Students” to the St. George’s University School of Medicine.
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Two students attending Vetsim and Medsim Workshop Conferences in Nottingham have won a place in St George’s University Summer Academy in Summer 2011. Nick Allcroft for Medsim and Jemma Dunkerley for Vetsim won the top prize which includes flights, accommodation, meals and attendance at the ten day camp next summer.
St. George’s University (SGU) was invited to attend the Medsim and Vetsim residential conference by Workshop Conferences where over 5,000 16-18 year old students studying science A Levels and interested in pursuing a career as a MD or a Veterinary Surgeon attend the workshops.
On winning the top prize, Jemma Dunkerley, an aspiring veterinarian, is thrilled at the prospect of attending the SGU Summer Academy in Grenada, saying, “Wow! I am simply stunned to have won. I’m very excited and looking forward to attending the academy next summer.”
Highlights of the Workshop Conference Medsim program included a lecture by Dr. Geoffrey Bosson from the SGU Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program in Newcastle and entitled “Zombies, Werewolves and Vampires”. Through a riveting discussion, Dr. Bosson demonstrated why the studies of subjects, such as biochemistry, in the early stages of a medical degree are essential. This fundamental knowledge, even which gained at A-level, is used to explore the genetic defects and underlying medical conditions that are the basis for these fairy stories and legends. An associated workshop provided an opportunity to translate a sequence of mRNA and determine the impact that a single base change will have on health.
Dr. Austin Kirwan, a veterinary surgeon and medical ethicist who is Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs for SGU, UK and Ireland, presented an interactive lecture on veterinary ethics for participants of the Vetsim program. Dr. Kirwan led a vibrant discussion on the role a veterinarian plays in determining the priorities of practice – from ensuring animal welfare while answering the financial responsibilities of a business to ensuring dignity for humans and their animal companions. A great debate ensued and is testament to the values and care with which these future vets will serve society.
Rounding out the program were demonstrations and practical sessions run by SGU first year medical students currently studying on the KBT Global Scholars programme at Northumbria University, Ryan Ismail and Dong Kim. Also assisting in the practical sessions were Daren Regis and Emma Lippitt, now a fourth-year medical student and a previous Summer Academy winner.
About The Med/Vet Summer Academy
The St. George’s University Med/Vet Summer Academy offers an opportunity of a lifetime for high school and undergraduate college students interested in the fields of medicine or veterinary medicine to get a hands-on, real-world look at the life of a medical/veterinary student and practitioner. Each program offers a ten-day program that combines didactic lectures, small-group problem solving sessions, practical lab work in state-of-the art facilities, as well as hands-on training through simulated and real-life situations. The students’ experience is further enhanced through several adventurous and educational off-campus excursions including snorkeling, hiking and island touring. Participants are eligible to receive college credit through the School of Arts and Sciences from participation in lectures and clinical practical’s. For more information, please visit the SGU Med/Vet website.
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On June 12, 2010, St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine (SGUSVM) welcomed 109 new graduates from 10 countries to the profession of veterinary medicine at its commencement exercises held at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, New York.
Dr. Allen Pensick, Provost of St. George’s University, welcomed the Class of 2010 graduates and reminded them that they were at the beginning of their journey and not the end, encouraging them to continue the life-long process of learning.“Today is about recognizing your ability to embrace the opportunities ahead of you and we join with your family and friends in applauding you,” he said. Dr. Pensick recognized the Honorable Manniram Prashad, Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Guyana who was among the faculty, parents, friends, and well-wishers present to witness the ceremony.
In addressing the graduating class Dr. Charles Modica, Chancellor, St. George’s University stated, “I have the utmost respect for you and what you are about to do with your lives.” He acknowledged that through their actions, the School of Veterinary Medicine students have taught him of the powerful connection between humans and animals. The Chancellor congratulated them on their achievement and expressed confidence in their ability to make a difference in the world.
During his remarks, Dr. Raymond Sis, Dean, School of Veterinary Medicine congratulated the graduates on reaching their goal. He also made a special presentation to a faculty member and a graduate. Dr. Rhonda Pinckney, Associate Dean of Students, School of Veterinary Medicine, was recognized for her outstanding contribution to the profession and to St. George’s University and was presented with a medal as a symbol of appreciation. Brittany King, a member of the graduating class, received a medal in recognition for her contributions to global one health medicine.
As a former class representative for the Student Affiliate of the American Veterinary Medical Association (SAAVMA), Brittany King was integral in the launch and continued success of the One Health One Medicine clinics held throughout Grenada. The One Health One Medicine concept focuses on the convergence of animal, human, and ecosystem health; addressing them collectively is critical to improved health care worldwide.
St. George’s University established the School of Veterinary Medicine in 1999, offering a broad range of opportunities in the veterinary medical field. The SGUSVM is listed with the AVMA and offers a superior global veterinary medical program which focuses on community service, hands-on training, and clinical research. Upon graduation from the four-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree program students are licensed to practice in 42 States in the USA and other countries, including Canada, Ireland, and Australia.
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On Sunday, June 13th, 698 students representing 58 countries graduated from St. George’s University School of Medicine at its 43rd annual Commencement Ceremony held at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center, New York. This year’s graduating class marked the 8,925th Doctor of Medicine degree conferred by the University.
Provost Allen H. Pensick opened the ceremony with an introduction of the SGU faculty including Chancellor Charles R. Modica, and gave a special welcome to Her Excellency Dr. Dessima Williams, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Permanent Representative of Grenada to the United Nations. On behalf of the people and the Government of Grenada, Dr. Williams congratulated the graduating class, which included five Grenada nationals, on their accomplishments. Dr. Williams drew a poignant comparison between the cultural diversity and number of countries represented at the United Nations (UN) and at St. George’s University (SGU).
Her Excellency spoke to them on earning the title ‘Doctor of the People’ in honor of Dr. David Lambert who was commonly referred to by that title. Dr. Lambert was a member of the SGU Basic Medical Sciences Faculty who died on January 27th, 2010. Ambassador Williams conveyed, “You are not just a doctor, you are a healer,” and urged them take their passion and love for medicine into their new careers.
Dr. Charles Modica, Chancellor of St. George’s University, acknowledged the importance the graduates had placed on their degree. He expressed, “I recognise the love and care and devotion a physician has … (and) look towards you as having those same qualities.” He took the opportunity to present Dr. Joseph Feldman, a graduate of the St. George’s University School of Medicine (’89), with the St. George’s University Medal of Merit for his exemplary service to the University community. Dr. Feldman is the Vice President of the SGUSOM Alumni Association and over the years had repeatedly demonstrated his care and concern through his continuous involvement with the University, Grenada, and the medical community.
Another special presentation, the Order of the Mace Award was bestowed upon Mr. Andy Belford, Director of Design and Project Management at St. George’s University. He is the 4th recipient of this prestigious award which is symbolic of the unique spirit of the University.
Other key moments of the ceremony included the conferral of the degrees on the graduates and the recital of the Hippocratic Oath – a universal rite of passage for all doctors, which was led by Dr. Stephen Weitzman, Dean, School of Medicine. Dr. Weitzman explained the significance of the oath and highlighted the key themes it contained. He reminded the graduates that medicine is as much an art as it is a science and they would be called upon to display professionalism, competence, knowledge, humanism, and sensitivity. “Medicine like all sciences changes rapidly and your real learning begins after this.”
Another highlight of the event was the induction of 24 SGUSOM graduates into the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS). The GHHS was established in 2002 by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation to foster and acknowledge humanism among medical students. The GHHS has been established at 47 US medical schools and three international medical schools since its inception. St. George’s University became one of the three in 2005.
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On Saturday, May 15th St. George’s University (SGU) hosted its 2010 Commencement Ceremony in Charter Hall on the True Blue campus. The commencement was a combined ceremony of over 250 undergraduate and graduate students, 139 of whom are Grenada nationals.
Students and their families were honored by guest speaker Sir George Alleyne, Chancellor of the University of the West Indies and UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean. His poignant speech, “The Price of Privilege” emphasized each student’s responsibility as a privileged graduate of higher education and subsequent vessel of information; information that is to be shared for a greater good.
Having visited the University 30 years prior, Sir George Alleyne reflected upon how much the University has changed, and how its commitment to providing a superior, service-minded education to its student body now applies across many disciplines. As he addressed the graduates he expressed, “the great majority (of you) are from families in which a university graduate represents the exception rather than the rule.” He informed the graduates that “a university education provides benefits that goes beyond the individual graduate,” and challenged them to play an active and positive role in instituting societal change; change that addresses discrimination in all its existing forms.
“The currency in which you will pay this price of privilege has compassion, engagement, and commitment among its highest denominations,” said Sir George Alleyne. With the understanding that many of the graduates will likely occupy positions of influence and power in their countries, he charged them to apply the skills they acquired and the talents they possess to “sharing information for the creation of a better society.”
Dr. Allen Pensick, Provost of St. George’s University, reminded the graduates that “the term ‘commencement’ means the beginning of a journey rather than its end. You leave us equipped with the basic knowledge and skills for you to continue learning. This continued learning is absolutely necessary for all of us to keep pace with the ever-changing world in which we live.”
Chancellor of St. George’s University, Dr. Charles Modica, joined in extending his congratulations to the graduates and expressed pride at their accomplishments. He reminded the audience of the genesis of the University, stating “ …this University has its most important purpose – to educate Grenadians. We do give educational opportunities to people in other countries, and we educate many Grenadians. We are so proud of that.”
The valedictory address was delivered by Ms. Sharmaine Shallow of St. Vincent & the Grenadines who pursued her BSc in Life Sciences with a Marine Biology specialization. In her delivery she declared that “It is our time to leave SGU, but SGU shall not leave us. SGU is not merely a learning center. It is a diverse community that has shaped us and made it easier to enter into the world, small fish in a big pond. Small, but prepared! SGU has not only given us the knowledge for our respective careers but has opened our eyes to different ways of thinking and interacting with people. It truly has allowed us to ‘Think beyond’!”
Mr. Nicholas Cheronis, the graduate class speaker, was selected by his peers from a number of students with a grade point average of 4.0 in the Graduate Studies Program (GSP) and completed a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Environmental and Occupational Health. Like the valedictorian and other speakers, he acknowledge the impact of attending St. George’s University and he too challenged his peers not to be complacent with their achievement, but rather to continue in their pursuit of higher education, achieving rewarding careers and a maintaining the desire to positively impact their immediate surroundings.
The University was also pleased to have in attendance special guests Prime Minister Honourable Tillman Thomas; Minister for Education & Human Resource Development, Senator the Honourable Franka Bernadine and Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Senator the Honourable Michael Lett.
Sir George Alleyne has had a remarkable career in academic medicine, administration, and as a global leader in health policy whose vision has served this region so well for many decades. Sir George has received numerous honorary degrees and awards in recognition of his work, including prestigious decorations and national honors from many countries. Of these Sir George is most proud of being awarded in 2001 the Order of the Caribbean Community, the highest honor that can be conferred on a Caribbean national.
Sir George joins a list of internationally recognized Caribbean luminaries whose lives and words have inspired St. George’s University Commencement Classes. Past speakers include the former Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr. the Right Hon. Keith Mitchell; the Governor General of St. Lucia, Dame Pearlette Louisy; the Prime Minister of St. Vincent & Grenadines, Dr. The Hon. Ralph Gonsalves; the Hon. Mr. Justice Adrian Saunders of the Caribbean Court of Justice; Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, Professor E. Nigel Harris and Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, Sir K. Dwight Venner.
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First let me thank Chancellor Modica for his gracious invitation to deliver this address and the warmth with which he and his colleagues have received me. Next, let me congratulate the new graduates on having reached this milestone. It is a great relief to have achieved this, but I say milestone advisedly as I hope that many of you will continue to follow in one way or another the intellectual pursuits that you began here.
It is always a pleasure to come to Grenada and there must be few more beautiful sites in the island than the True Blue campus of your University. This is not my first visit to the University, I came here 32 years ago when it was only a medical school, and I recall the temporary facilities on Grand Anse and wondering if the students would find the almost idyllic surroundings conducive to study. I also commented then on the relevance of the school to the health care needs of the Caribbean and if it would ever become grounded in the Caribbean. It is refreshing to note how you have grown, the number of disciplines you now embrace beside medicine and the number of Caribbean students who are enrolled in your programs. But perhaps the students in arts and sciences have better powers of concentration and are less distracted than the medical students-at least those of thirty years ago. Or indeed, all students here have heeded Alfred Toynbee’s dictum that “The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.” I really do hope you have benefitted from the beauty of the physical surroundings as a complement to the excellent courses of instruction that have been offered.
As is the case with all good universities, you have been protected and almost cosseted during your stay here and are now ready to face a world which to every fresh set of graduates is brave and new. All of you will have heard and read of the difficulties faced by Caribbean countries-some of them intrinsic to their own situation and some as a result of external conditions, particularly the financial ones.
If it is any comfort to you, let me recall an address given by a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies some thirty years ago which could have been written today. He described the University of the West Indies as being located in a region of the world that is “passing through an economic crisis, revealed by multiple symptoms-unemployment, inflation, falling growth rates, energy shortages etc.” But he went on to say: “these symptoms are not new to us in the West Indies, excepting perhaps in their intensity and we are in the habit of looking beyond them to their causes to see the whole as a challenge of development.” You all remember the old saw, “The more things change, the more they remain the same.” He would analyze the role of the University in responding to those challenges. It is in the same vein that I wish to explore with you the role you can play in responding to some of these development challenges, as students before you from other universities in our region and certainly those from my own university have done and continue to do.
I begin by affirming that you are and will continue to be in a privileged position. You represent only a fraction of the cohort of persons who can benefit from higher education and this applies to Caribbean students as well as those from other parts of the world. I believe that there is a responsibility that comes with this privilege –there is a price for this privilege, although in this transaction I expect you to pay this price not only for the benefits you have received until now, but particularly for the continuing benefits that will accrue to you as a result of having studied and been trained here.
I discovered after I had chosen this theme that the “Price of Privilege” is the title of a book by an American psychologist who explores why wealth in the family can produce anxious, depressed teenagers. They are so taken up with objects that they never concentrate on deeper issues and never build the character necessary to take them through life. But I intend to think of the issue as it relates to universities, rather than families.
The currency in which you will pay this price of privilege has compassion, engagement and commitment among its highest denominations. As you pay in the coin of compassion, remember never to take lightly the fact that for most of you, as it was for most of my generation, the great majority are from families in which a university graduate represents the exception rather than the rule. That clearly is changing, but the change could be much more rapid.
Paying the price means you must never take lightly the responsibility of transmitting relevant information to those who do not have it. The idea or practice of information transmission has seen many phases. Mankind has always been concerned with the dual problem of his physical transportation and the transmission of his ideas. We have seen progressive growth in the capacity to do both although to date we have not been successful, as in Star Trek, of beaming one person from one place to another. When we moved primarily on foot, we depended on the heralds and minstrels to carry the words and images of our deeds. But in addition we used signals of one sort or another to try to shackle distance. We read of the smoke signals of ancient tribes and some of us have heard the talking drums of our African ancestors-the gangan of the Yorubas and the kalangu of the Hausas.
The enhanced transportation of man and his goods is now almost without limits as the physical world is stitched together by ships of ever increasing size, some of which compete with the birds for their space. Of equal significance is the increasing sophistication in the transmission of ideas. The technology of communication changes with mind-numbing speed. Our computers talk to one another. The world is becoming ever more interconnected and that is the driving force behind the much discussed and analyzed phenomenon of globalization which is really not new. It is the speed at which we are being connected and the technology that makes this possible that bring up serious reflection on the roles you can play. A major issue for you in thus interconnected and plugged-in world is the role you play and the responsibility you exercise as you take part in transmitting information as undoubtedly many of you will occupy positions of influence and authority in your countries. One of your concerns is how do you protect the values and mores of our societies as you transmit information through the tried and true methods or though new means such as social networking?
The urge to transmit information to the young seems to be hard wired into most species. See the duck instructing her young as they follow in line behind her. The responsibility of transmitting the appropriate information to the young has been taken seriously by man throughout the ages. Socrates was put to death because he was deemed to be corrupting the young by the information he was transmitting to them. So as a privileged graduate I expect you to contribute to the body of information in your society-to use the skills you have acquired here and the talents you have honed here to participate in sharing information for the creation of a better society. You will not be diminished by sharing information, as in the words of Thomas Jefferson;
“He who receives an idea from me receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.”
Perhaps this is a responsibility of all good men and women, but I place a special charge on those of you who have had the benefit of higher education.
But the information you share is not value –free. It will have an impact on how you and your fellow human beings relate to one another. This country is fortunate that it is not subject to much of the racial disharmony that besets some others. There are however other forms of intolerance and discrimination that demean a society. I wear another hat as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean and have for years observed the state of the epidemic and tried to add my mite to the efforts to control it. There has been progress. The Caribbean governments have been good about providing for those persons who are HIV positive and need treatment as their disease progresses. But we have not done equally well in terms of prevention although as in all programs of prevention it is impossible to prove the counterfactual.
It is a belief shared by many of us that the stigma and discrimination attendant on homosexuality and the false notion that homosexual transmission is the dominant form are impeding the efforts to control the epidemic. We know that men who have sex with men represent a group with higher incidence of HIV positivity and the fear that such persons have about the stigma and discrimination that they suffer makes it difficult for them to come forward to be tested . It is an unfortunate fact that all but one of the Caribbean countries have laws on their books that make sex between consenting males a crime severely punishable by law. I would hope that within a university there would be a spirit and practice of tolerance that would be embraced and shared by its graduates so that surely, even if slowly we would see a change in the attitudes that lead to the discrimination against a group of persons with whose life style some do not agree. I hope some of you will accept the challenge of trying to engender the societal change needed to remove this phenomenon from our countries.
One of the questions that all graduates have to answer for themselves relates to the benefit of their higher education. There is the view that most of higher education represents a purely private as opposed to being a public good to the extent that its benefits accrue specifically to the individual. In that sense it makes the graduate more marketable and there is no need for him or her to consider anything else besides maximizing the returns from this good. As I am sure you know, a public good can be thought of as a good or service in which the benefit received by any one party does not diminish the availability of the benefits to others, and where access to the good cannot be restricted. Traffic lights are always cited as the classic example of a public good.
A university education provides benefits that go beyond the individual graduate. I have always posited that that is one reason for alumni to support their university and I would propose that it is another part of the price you should pay for the privilege of having attended this university. Your university, to the extent that it is engaged in teaching as well as research produces information that is of societal value, is producing public goods. To the extent that it fosters the kind of inquiry and curiosity that is essential for societal health then it is providing a service that is within the category of public good. This is not to deny your commitment to the institution because you have an interest in ensuring that the currency of your own credential remains valid. The validity of that currency will be a determinant of the extent to which you reap rewards form your education here. You are all aware of the differential in earnings generally between those who have received tertiary education from those who have not.
The notion of university education being uniquely a private good has been in part responsible for the tremendous growth of institutions of higher education with out walls, whose sole function is credentialing. However, I still see immense value in having at least part of the training of the young involve interaction with each other and with teachers with whom they can interact to use a popular phrase ‘live and direct”. So I trust you will pay the price of the privilege of being educated here by being good alumni. You must support your university; you must be committed to seeing it continue and prosper.
There is one last charge I wish to leave with you and another rationale for supporting higher education in general and your university in particular. Mankind throughout the ages has had periods which in retrospect were a denial of our basic humanity. We can think of places in which there has been brutality that we here in the Caribbean find it hard to conceive and sometimes we are arrogant enough to believe that it cannot happen here. But as we see the escalation in violence in some of our societies we begin to wonder. We see increasing violence in our speech, our music and our dress. I saw recently a young man wearing a T-shirt with the words “Top Shotta” on the chest. Shotta is the jargon for a gunman-a killer.
A recent report on crime violence and development in the Caribbean, examined the trends, costs and policy options. There is no doubt that crime and violence represent a major drag on our development. The causes are many and varied and the report stressed the multiple entry points for engaging in the prevention of crime and violence. It stated:
“There is no one “ideal” approach. The common denominator is that successful interventions are evidence-based, starting with a clear diagnostic about types of violence and risk factors, and ending with a careful evaluation of the intervention’s impact which will inform future actions.”
Here obviously is a role for academic institutions and my own University is dedicating considerable effort in this direction.
There is the belief that we are inherently competitive and violent and there is a thin veneer of civility that keeps the world from descending into barbarism. I believe that it is education and the presence of institutions such as ours that have a critical role in maintaining and thickening that veneer. I do not mean to suggest that we diminish moral autonomy or shift moral responsibility away from the individual, but I do believe that it is in the multiple diversities in a university that we can find part of the solution.
Finally, let me say thanks to the parents and friends of the new graduates. I know that this must be a joyous day for you and some of you are breathing a sigh of relief that the fight appears to be over and the battle won. However, I ask that you continue to support your new graduates as they go out into the world. They will continue to need it. Perhaps not financial support, but the counsel that comes from a concerned friend or elder in moments of doubt can be of inestimable value.
I hope you will assure me that the privilege you have had through attending St.George’s University will not lead to the depression, anxiety and narcissistic behavior seen in the children of the affluent who pay the price of privilege as described in the book to which I referred.
Let me thank you again for the opportunity to be with you and I wish you much luck
*Presented at the School of Arts and Sciences and Graduate Studies Program Graduation Ceremony, St. George’s, Grenada, 15 May 2010
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On Tuesday, January 19th, 2010, St. George’s University’s School of Veterinary Medicine (SGUSVM) formally welcomed 51 new SVM students from the US, Canada, Barbados, Scotland, and Botswana to the True Blue campus. The class of 2014 was welcomed by Dr. Adria Rodriguez, Master of Ceremonies and recent SVM graduate; Dr. Raymond Sis, SVM Dean; and Dr. Charles R. Modica, Chancellor. Dr. Modica, in his address, commented that the School had come a long way since its inception just over 10 years ago and had proven itself a success. Dr. Sis encouraged the students to work as a team, mentoring and helping each other.
Dr. James Cook, immediate past president of the AVMA, served as an inspiring Keynote Speaker. He encouraged the class to never stop learning as he referenced a quote by American writer and futurist, Alvin Toffler, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” “Imagine yourself a sponge in a sea of knowledge,” said Dr. Cook, “and soak up all you can.”
The Keynote Speaker encouraged the incoming class to seize every opportunity to learn, to ask many questions and to join the student arm of the AVMA, and later its professional branch, which he said would be their “lifeline and network.” Dr. Cook then welcomed the students to the profession and congratulated them on their success. The fifty-one students then proudly mounted the stage where they were helped into their white coats by Dr. James Cook, Dr. Raymond Sis and Dr. Francesca Ivaldi, SGUSVM Assistant Professor, Clinical Skills and SGUSVM graduate, and thereafter took their oath of professional commitment.
Dr. James Cook has owned a mixed animal practice in his home town of Lebanon, Kentucky since 1977. He has served as chair of the Kentucky Practice Act Revision Committee and represented Kentucky in the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA’s) House of Delegates from 1996 to 2001. In 2001, he was elected to represent Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia in District V while he served on the AVMA Executive Board. In his term as Chairman, Dr. Cook launched the One Health Initiative Task Force. In addition to his membership in the AVMA, Dr. Cook is a member in the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). Dr. Cook received the Distinguished Service Award in 2002 as Past President of the Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association and was named Kentucky Veterinarian of the Year in 1988.
Dr. Adria I. Rodriguez received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from St. George’s University in January 2008. She is currently an Instructor in the Small Animal Medicine and Surgery Academic Program at St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine, and is finishing her Master of Science degree in Marine Medicine/Microbiology.
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St. George’s University was proud to host the 58th International Veterinary Students Association Symposium (IVSA) from January 3rd to the 12th.. The Grand Anse campus was home to over 60 international student delegates and IVSA Executive Committee delegates from 19 countries, including Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, Finland, as well as next summer’s congress host country, Denmark.
Given the nature and environment of the 2010 Symposium’s host country, “Tropical Medicine” was voted as the theme by the Executive Board of the Organizing Committee. Many of the lectures, workshops, and wet labs during this nine-day conference were centered on this theme as SGU professors investigated diseases, and dermatological and parasitic conditions commonly encountered in this type of climate.
On Day Four of the Symposium, SGU speakers communicated the University’s commitment to the “One World, One Health, One Medicine” philosophy at a clinic held in the northern part of the island. IVSA delegates were given a unique opportunity to participate in a hands-on event which provided valuable information and experience to bring back home.
St. George’s University’s IVSA Chapter President Kristin Kry, a sixth-term veterinary medical student from Calgary, Canada, explained that the rigorous preparation for the IVSA Symposium dates back more than two years. Grenada was first presented as a suggested host by SGUSVM delegates at the IVSA Symposium 2007 in Malaysia, the same year SGUSVM became an official IVSA chapter. Since that time an official Organizing Committee (OC) was elected to solidify a dynamic itinerary that, according to Kristin, “shares equally between an intellectual focus of veterinary medicine and cultural exposure to Grenada.”
This was a tremendous opportunity for St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine (SGUSVM) to showcase its facilities, curriculum, faculty, students, and staff to an international community during an influential and high profile event.
Throughout their stay, delegates were exposed to the splendor of Grenada as they explored the island and participated in many engaging activities that gave a true sense of its offerings.
The success of this event was truly a result of collaboration between St. George’s University students, faculty, and staff. A special thanks is extended to St. George’s University faculty members Catherine Wybern, Director of Development; Dr. Raymond Sis, Dean, School of Veterinary Medicine; Dr. Calum Macpherson, Vice Provost for International Program Development and Faculty Advisor for IVSA Grenada Chapter; and the numerous professors and staff who donated their time and expertise throughout the Symposium.
The IVSA is a global organization driven to raise the overall standard of veterinary medical education by increasing the international and intercultural exchange of ideas and knowledge, and to promote opportunities for veterinary medical students to undertake education in nontraditional arenas, which include exchange programs, international congresses, and symposiums.
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