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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One June 13, 2010, St. George’s University bestowed its prestigious Order of the Mace Award on Mr. Andy Belford, whose 33-year career at the University has had immeasurable impact on its evolution and success.
Having been with the University since its inception, Mr. Belford took on his first challenge as Director of Admission with passion and creativity, vision and honesty, communicating the University’s vision with conviction, and assembling the School of Medicine’s Charter Class. This was no easy feat since the whole concept of this medical school was totally new. It had never existed before, but Andy managed to talk students into joining a dream. Many classes followed the Charter Class, and at the graduation exercises at which Mr. Belford received this award, the University graduated its 8,925th doctor.
By the time of the second phase of the University’s development, Mr. Belford had become an architectural designer and led the University in the transformation of the True Blue campus in Grenada. According to Margaret Lambert, Dean of Enrolment Planning, who presented her longtime colleague and friend with the Order of the Mace, “He (Andy) is the visionary who saw from the beginning what we mortals have only seen little by little as, one by one, each beautiful building came into structural being and was finally adorned with its signature coral color.”
Dean Lambert eloquently defined Andy Belford’s innate talent as stretching well beyond designing a campus and erecting 50 plus buildings. “His keen understanding of the human psyche and of all the St. George’s University players (opinionated academics, administrators, trustees), and their wants, needs, changing perceptions, and world views frequently required the insight of a Machiavelli to give us what we didn’t even know we need.”
Mr. Belford was recognized during the School of Medicine Commencement Ceremony in New York City, an appropriate venue considering his role in expanding the University from an initial graduating class of a handful of students, to its current state which is now marked by its almost 9,000th graduate of the School of Medicine.
St. George’s University created the Order of the Mace four years ago, coinciding with its 30th Anniversary. This award is symbolic of the unique spirit of our University and is granted to those rare individuals who embody and drive that spirit forward into the community, the region and the world. Andy Belford joins Chancellor Charles R. Modica , Sir Kenneth Stuart, and Sir Paul Scoon as the fourth recipient of this symbolic award and the University’s highest honor.
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St. George’s University Students Embark on Academic and Cultural Adventure
St. George’s University Department of Pathology launched a new selective for qualifying fourth term medical students. Beginning in July, 2010, the two-week India Medical Experience Selective will offer hands-on clinical experience in a state-of-the-art teaching hospital in rural Western India.
The Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences University Karad (KIMS) is one of the most regarded medical colleges in India. Set amidst 60 acres of picturesque mountains and valleys, KIMS will provide our medical students exposure to a new health care delivery system and a rich cultural exchange with students from all over India. Its 25 year history of innovative teaching methods, highly technical campus and facilities, experienced faculty, and robust academic curriculum which emphasizes community service and research will compliment and enhance St. George’s University students’ globally focus medical education and skill set.
Students who participate in the India Medical Experience Selective will benefit from first-hand patient experience in a region that has a high incidence of oral and breast cancers. Students will be exposed to patient history taking, physical examination, treatment for outpatient and inpatient practices of medicine including alternative health care delivery, and KIMS community outreach projects designed to educate, prevent, and manage disease.
India Selective Course Director Dr. Bharti Bhusnurmath
St. George’s University’s Dr. Bharti Bhusnurmath is the Course Director for the Selective, and has high hopes for the clinical experiences to be gained by the students who will be participating. Dr. Bhusnurmath explains, “This (Selective) will put them at a great advantage when they start their formal clinical training in year three in the US or UK because this extensive hands-on experience is less freely available in the western world. SGU students will gain a life-time perspective of the cancers they witness, rather than a one-time image from books or hospitals.” The students participating in the Selective have already finished the pathology course, providing them with a solid foundation in the basis and evolution of the various disease processes and preparing them well for actual patient interaction.
The KIMS was specially chosen not just because of the facilities but because it has faculty and administration committed to helping the poor patients of India, even if they are unable to pay for health care services. This mindset demonstrate a philanthropic attitude towards the art of healing, unlike that displayed in many other commercially run health care facilities. Dr. Bhusnurmath expressed that a large proportion of St. George’s University medical students from Indian extraction would love to return to their roots and gain an additional perspective of India’s health care model.
The KIMS is an 845 bed modern hospital with facilities for critical care, joint replacement, endoscopic surgeries, dialysis and more. Students will have access to all state-of-the-art equipment at the Institute including radio-diagnosis investigations including MRI, CT scans, mammograms, and color Doppler. In addition to the professional experience, St. George’s University students will join medical and dental students from diverse Indian backgrounds as well as students from other countries, working together in a hospital setting and living side by side on campus.
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Dr. Macpherson has served the BSEC as Vice-President since its inception in May of 2006 when the BSEC was established to create and support a consensus of ethics and professionalism in health care throughout the Caribbean region.
The need to increase knowledge and understanding about bioethical issues in the region is reinforced by ensuing social and economic implications within the English-speaking Caribbean community-at-large. The BSEC’s mission is to facilitate this understanding by serving as a valuable and informed resource. Its growing membership of over 100 experts from 12 countries includes physicians, medical educators, public health specialists and researchers; each play an integral role in fostering a dialogue about bioethical issues between professionals and the general public.
The BSEC has positioned itself to offer guidance and support through discussions, consultations, publications, and workshops that address regional concerns regarding ethics and professionalism. It has established several avenues to help promote its mission. Through its web site, various forums and events, a newsletter titled “Bioethics Caribe” and a public relations effort, progress is being made.
The BSEC’s fourth annual forum held in May, 2010, at the University of Guyana is one of the organization’s most high profile and successful events. Over 100 students and professionals attended, gaining knowledge and insight on the topic “An Ethical Pathway to Universal Access to Health: The Role of Rights, Citizens, and Science.” In addition to the many stimulating presentations, a workshop was held on standard-setting across the Caribbean. It focused on implementing a health care ethics committee at Guyana’s Georgetown Hospital and a research ethics committee (IRB) at the University of Guyana.
Dr. Macpherson joined St. George’s University in 1993. She has served as Professor and Chair of the Bioethics Department at St. George’s University School of Medicine since 2003. Dr. Macpherson teaches bioethics to first year medical students, a selective course in research ethics, and contributes to a course at Uppsala University that deals with human rights, gender, and culture in medicine.
In 1994 Dr. Macpherson was a co-founder of the first Institutional Review Board (IRB) in Grenada based in the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF). It expanded into the SGU IRB in 2002. The SGU IRB is registered with the Office for Human Research Protections of the US Department of Health and Human Services. Its members ensure that all human research proposed under the auspices of SGU or referred for our review is conducted according to the highest ethical standards. Professor Macpherson is widely published in the field of bioethics but has a special interest in Caribbean perspectives on palliative care, pain relief, and the health impacts of climate change.
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School of Medicine students David Polizzi and Jaskaran Sawhney have developed a popular free application to give medical professionals quick and accurate information about lab test values from their iPhone or iPod Touch.
David and Jaskaran started MD Ezlabs a year ago. According to co-creator Polizzi, “We got our inspiration from widely published science-fiction author and professor of bio-chemistry Isaac Asimov. His theory states that to truly understand a subject you need to break it down into the lowest levels and write about it. The two innovators invested numerous hours developing the program and conducting market research to ensure that their program would be both practical and useful. Having recognized that understanding and proper interpretation of lab results is a necessary skill for medical professionals in all specialties, their goal is “…to make MD ezLabs the standard for quick lab reference around the globe for all medical professionals.” They are in the process of having the current application translated into German and French.
Version 1.0 was released on March 19, 2010 and a planned release of Version 2.0 is expected in August, 2010. MD ezLabs is presently receiving between 500 and 1,000 downloads per day and is listed among the top 18 free medical applications on iTunes. Polizzi and Sawhney are already thinking of further improvements and intend to add sensitivity, specificity, likelihood ratio, SI units, pediatric valves and many more lab tests.
Sawhney, from New York, appreciates new challenges. He selected medicine as a career in large part because of the opportunity it gives him to help society. Prior to attending medical school at SGU, he worked with the UN-affiliated, international non-profit, non-governmental humanitarian organization UNITED SIKHS and looks forward to continuing with humanitarian mission work there part-time. Polizzi, a native of Houston, Texas, developed a love for patient care while serving as a Medic in the army. Among his goals, he intends to create technology that merges with medicine to create efficiencies, reduce medical errors, and enhance the patient care environment. Although they each arrived at their chosen career from different paths, both find it very rewarding and share a passion for the profession they have selected. “We are very proud of the opportunities that SGU has given us and are determined to make an impact in global medicine. We hope that other hardworking SGU students who share our vision will join us in our success,” said Polizzi. Interested persons can download the free application as well as contribute to its further development by visiting their website.
David and Jaskaran met after their first-term finals at St. George’s University while getting their advanced scuba diver certification on the Island.
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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 Friday, April 16th, St. George’s University launched the first edition of University Corner, a weekly column published in Grenada’s largest reaching newspaper The New Today. The New Today provides us with a powerful and timely vehicle to communicate the many successes and endeavors of St. George’s University’s staff, faculty, students, and alumni, as well as express opinion on topical issues that affect our well being.
Each week will feature a new topic written by one of St. George’s University’s key administrators or special guest contributors. By definition, a “University” exists to promote and share knowledge and St. George’s University’s international community of educators, researchers, and business professionals welcome this opportunity to share their expertise.
The Grenada community plays an integral role in the University’s growth, development and ultimate success, and the opportunity to reach this audience is embraced with much enthusiasm. We look forward to University Corner being a valuable resource and welcome addition to your week.
For a complete version of the inaugural University Corner column…
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Pamela Youssef, a Foundation of Medicine student at St. George’s University and native of Lebanon, saved the life of a 61-year old American tourist involved in a traffic accident in Grand Anse, Grenada.
Walking home from her daily swim at Grand Anse beach on Sunday February 27 at around 7 p.m., Pamela heard a crash involving two vehicles near the Flamboyant Hotel. She immediately rushed to the scene where her medical training kicked into gear. Pamela says, “I was a bit hesitant at first but it was like something pushed me there.” Her actions are the reason one man is alive today.
The accident was exacerbated by the fact that the victim was holding a glass bottle between his legs which shattered in the accident, severing his femoral artery. Pamela found the injured man bleeding heavily and half conscious and immediately knew that the situation was very serious. “That is the moment when you think that you have nothing to lose so you need to act—by any means,” she recalls.
Pamela tried to stem the bleeding with a shirt, but when this failed she used her thumb to stop the flow of blood while she waited for the ambulance. Pamela spoke to the victim and asked him questions about himself to help keep him conscious. Some well-intentioned bystanders attempted to assist by giving the man water and moving him from his vehicle, but Pamela dissuaded them, as she knew that those were both very bad ideas. Instead, she suggested they help by calming and assisting the victim’s wife and the driver of the other vehicle involved in the collision, who were both physically unharmed.
Pamela leaned on the first aid training she received during the two years she volunteered with the Red Cross in Lebanon and credits her training in the Foundation of Medicine program at SGU for giving her the skills needed to assess the situation and react quickly. The basic sciences courses at St. George’s provide instruction on anatomy and the regular emphasis on medical and emergency cases helped her to remain calm and confident during the incident.
The experience has reminded Pamela of the very reason she chose to pursue a career in medicine and has given her new motivation. “Nothing feels like saving a life… and I feel just lucky. I was lucky enough to be there to do it.”
Pamela has since spoken to the wife of the victim who informed her that he is doing well. The couple flew home on March 3 to the US where he continues his recovery.
St. George’s University is very proud of Pamela Youssef and commends her on her heroic action. We look forward to the day when she will join nearly 10,000 alumni and become a great St. George’s University-trained doctor.
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