Future Nurses Welcomed into Profession at SAS Nursing Induction Ceremony

 

Hailing from the tiny island of Petite Martinique, Khalid Benjamin traveled to Grenada to begin his nursing education at St. George’s University School of Arts and Sciences Nursing Program. As one of only five male nursing students enrolled in the program, Mr. Benjamin was proud to be inducted into the noble profession. 

“I was so excited to attend my Nursing Induction Ceremony because it meant I was one step closer to achieving my dream,” shared Mr. Benjamin. “In high school I found out that by 2025 there would be a global shortage of nurses and since there aren’t many male nurses out there, I decided to become one. I applied and was accepted to SGU.” 

Mr. Benjamin admitted he did face some questions about joining the female-dominated field. For instance, why not just become a doctor instead? His response, “this is my life and my future, and I chose this for myself.” 

 

 

Dr. Jennifer Solomon, chair and director of Nursing Department (left) and Nurse Tasera Fletcher, keynote speaker (right)

He joined 120 aspiring nurses who took to the stage on August 27 at Bourne Lecture Hall on SGU’s True Blue campus to mark their entry into the field of nursing. The group was presented with The Arnold P. Gold Foundation’s golden Mobius loop pin, which serves as a visual reminder to students that in order to deliver the best care to their patients, compassion and empathy must be the hallmark of their clinical practice. The last nursing induction ceremony was held in February 2020. This is the first one back in person since the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with being presented with the pins, the future nurses recited the International Council of Nurses pledge during the ceremony.   

Nurse Tasera Fletcher, BSc ’21, the ceremony’s keynote speaker, shared words of wisdom to the new class of nurses.  

“You cannot do it alone; at some point, you will have to look out for each other,” advised Nurse Fletcher. “So, share information and help each other, have small discussion groups, or have a study buddy. Nursing is an honorable and noble profession, and it is centered on effective teamwork and collaboration.” 

 

 

 

Along with her Class of 2026 brethren, Hescintia Wigley also agreed with Nurse Fletcher’s sage words. Encouraged by her family to pursue a degree in nursing, Ms. Wigley left her St. Martin home and moved to Grenada to attend SGU. As someone who considers herself a natural nurturer, she believes that empathy is one of the best qualities to have as a nurse.  

“I was thrilled to get my pin today,” said Ms. Wigley. “It made me even more excited to continue this journey toward helping others. This is the main reason why I wanted to become a nurse—knowing that I could be an advocate for people who needed help and couldn’t speak up for themselves.” 

 

 

– Ray-Donna Peters      

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From the Office of the Dean of Students: Check in with Dean Lucy Clunes

Passionate about providing students with the support they need to succeed and thrive while at St. George’s University, the Office of the Dean of Students is constantly working to ensure an enhanced student experience each term.

“Our mission is to create a dynamic and inclusive campus community that supports students’ personal, social, and academic growth,” said Dr. Lucy Clunes, dean of students. “Our goal is to provide each student with a strong infrastructure that buoys their success.”

One of the major ways they provide this support is by acting as a liaison between students and other departments, including facilities, IT, housing, and academic departments. DOS also stays current with the student body and their needs by meeting regularly with the Student Government Association and overseeing all student organizations to ensure students get the most out of their university life experience.

SGU News sat down with Dr. Clunes to find out what’s new on campus to help students (regardless of their program) acclimate back to campus, and her advice for how all students can make the most of their experience in Grenada.

St. George’s University: This term, most of the student body is returning to in-person learning for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. How has your office prepared for this return and what are you most excited to share about the plans?

Dr. Clunes: We are thrilled to welcome students back to in-person learning and campus life. We understand that this is the first time some students have traveled since the beginning of the pandemic and that there are anxieties associated with this. DOS provided orientation sessions for all students this term (not just incoming Term 1 students) so that everyone had all the information that they needed for a safe and successful return to Grenada and campus.

We are most excited about the return of both on-campus and off-campus student events such as local health fairs, the School of Medicine College Olympics, and intermural sports. We are also looking forward to seeing students socialize and make those lifelong friendships with their peers that are so important to help support them through their academic journey.

Get in touch! 

Email: DOS@sgu.edu 

For SVM students, email: SVMDOS@sgu.edu

SGU: There are some very exciting new campus developments, including the new Global Student Lounge. What is the significance of this new area?  

Dr. Clunes: The Global Student Lounge contains the Offices of the International Student Services, Accommodation and Accessibility Services, Immigration Services, and the Student Government Association office.

It is a space that has many different functions and is there to support all our students. In the past, the International Student Services supported primarily our students that were non-US, non-Canadian, and non-Grenadian; however, we are aware that many of our students have immigration or other concerns that can be supported by this office. We are always looking for ways to expand our support throughout the entire student population.

SGU: What else is new in the Office of the DOS that those on campus, and/or online, can look forward to?

Dr. Clunes: We have a few new things I would like to point out.

  • The School of Medicine now has an Office of Career Guidance located in the library on campus that is here to support and guide students from the beginning of their medical school journey through officially becoming a physician. We encourage SOM students to reach out and speak with one of our OCG advisors so that they can optimize their path to a successful residency.
  • We also encourage all our SOM students to watch out for announcements on the new College Cup Competition that is being launched this semester!
  • For our SVM students, we have a new email address, SVMDOS@sgu.edu, so that all queries and concerns can be answered as quickly as possible.
  • Another exciting addition, I would like to welcome Dr. Ayesha Sultana to my office as assistant dean of students for the School of Medicine and Ms. Mercedes Velazquez de Zerpa as assistant dean of students for the School of Veterinary Medicine. SOM and SVM will now have two assistant deans, and the new appointees will join the existing assistant deans in strengthening the support of students in their respective schools.
  • We’re also incorporating as many virtual student organization events as possible and are excited to have those choosing an online or hybrid learning environment from SAS, and all students who are on campus, participate.

SGU: How can students make the most of their time in Grenada?

Dr. Clunes: For some students, the adjustment to campus life and Grenada can be challenging but I encourage all to try to utilize as many of the support services on campus as possible. We are here to not only ensure academic success but to make your time in Grenada memorable and enjoyable. We have many student organizations that provide the opportunity to get involved with community projects and allow you to see different parts of the island. Your time in Grenada will pass quickly so make sure that you experience all that it has to give.

SGU: What’s the best way for students to get in contact with the Office of the DOS?

Dr. Clunes: Students are encouraged to drop into the physical office on campus whenever they need as well as utilize our emails: DOS@SGU.EDU and SVMDOS@sgu.edu. Students, of course, can also email any of my team, including me, individually and can be assured of a timely response.

—Sarah Stoss

 

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Grenadian SOM Grad Continues Family Legacy in Medicine

 

Grenadian nationals Natalie Harford, MD ’22, and her older brother Nicholas Harford, MD ’20, have always been inseparable when it came to attending school. So, it came as no surprise when Dr. Natalie Harford made the decision to follow in her brother’s footsteps and attend St. George’s University two years after he enrolled.

“The fact that my brother went to SGU played a big part in my decision at the time,” said Dr. Harford, who graduated this past June. “What can I say—my brother has always been a successful role model throughout my life, and I don’t regret my decision to apply to SGU one bit.”

Indeed, the family had much to celebrate as the younger Dr. Harford walked across the stage to be hooded by her sibling at SGU’s 41st commencement ceremony at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY. Like her brother two years earlier, she and her fellow students from the Class of 2022 join a network of more than 19,000 alumni practicing in the United States and around the world.

“Hooding my sister was a great honor,” said Dr. Nicholas Harford, currently an internal medicine resident in Connecticut and the first doctor in their family.

“It was also extra special to be a part of the experience standing on stage since I wasn’t able to stand there at my own commencement ceremony in 2020 due to the pandemic. We owe that moment to our parents as they supported both of our dreams to become doctors. It would not have been possible without them.”

A Family Celebration

Having two children in medical school at the same time did provide a challenge for the Harford siblings’ parents—with both working full time jobs to make their children’s dream of becoming physicians possible. Their mother, Pratima Harford, also ran a successful international take-out food stall called Flavor House just outside of the True Blue campus. Over the years, she’s fed many SGU students and sometimes acted as a second mother while they were studying far from home.

Drs. Nicholas and Natalie Harford

“It was definitely a lot of sacrifice and a huge life challenge that we took on as a family,” shared Mrs. Harford. “The moment when our son hooded our daughter, we felt like we were witnessing our nine years of hard work come together in that one special moment. We couldn’t have been prouder of how happy and successful they both have become. It was truly a celebratory day for our entire family.”


A Doctor in the Making

Born in Guyana, and living in the Fiji Islands for five years, the Harford family eventually moved to Grenada.

Upon graduating from secondary school in Grenada, Dr. Natalie Harford had the option to attend T. A. Marryshow Community College or apply to SGU’s premedical program. Passionate about science—particularly anatomy—she carefully considered her options before joining her brother at SGU.

“I was drawn to SGU because it offered me a continuous seven-year pathway to earn my medical degree,” stated Dr. Harford. “And who wouldn’t want to enjoy being in the comfort of their home country to complete a degree, especially when it happens to be a paradise island like Grenada.”

 

“The best advice I can give anyone considering applying to medical school is to go after your passions and don’t be afraid to encounter challenges on the journey, it makes the reward that much sweeter.”

 

During her time at SGU, Dr. Harford was a member of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) and the Indian Cultural Student Association (ICSA). She was also a teaching member of the Department of Educational Services (DES) and the Academic Enhancement Program (AEP).

“At SGU I grew both academically and personally,” said Dr. Harford. “In addition to pursing my medical degree, I had the pleasure of expanding my knowledge on the different cultural backgrounds of my peers and newly made friends. This was an invaluable experience, learning how to communicate and understand someone else’s belief system and how it impacts their lives—a skill I foresee utilizing to better the way I communicate in both my practice of medicine and in my everyday life.”

Dr. Harford will be entering the 2023 Match and hopes to secure a residency in pediatrics. The COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench in her clinical rotation timeline causing delays which prevented her from applying to this year’s Match.

“From day one of my pediatrics core rotation, I fell in love with the energy, the people, and the patients,” she said. “Being a part of a pediatric team of healthcare professionals feels like my niche, and I cannot wait to join this amazing specialty.”

For now, Dr. Harford’s current plans include giving back to her alma mater as a teaching fellow, while brushing up on her Spanish and sign language skills, along with completing her USMLE Step 2 examinations and her ERAS application.

“The best advice I can give anyone considering applying to medical school is to go after your passions and don’t be afraid to encounter challenges on the journey, it makes the reward that much sweeter,” she said.

Drs. Nicholas Harford, Joanna Rayner, Natalie Harford & Mrs. Pratima Harford (from left to right)

– Ray-Donna Peters

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Celebrating Pride Month: How to be an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community

SGU students celebrate Pride Month.

Each year, the LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer and/or Questioning, and Asexual and/or Ally, plus) community celebrates its liberation movement throughout the month of June.

Named “Pride Month,” it is a chance for people who identify as LGBTQIA+ and others, such as allies—heterosexual and cisgender people who support equal civil rights, gender equality, and LGBTQIA+ inclusion movements/efforts—to gather and commemorate both the struggle and challenges faced as well as the positive changes made to acknowledge and support this group.

But what does it mean to be an ally to underrepresented groups like the LGBTQIA+ community, and how can we all support these members of the St. George’s University community in our day-to-day lives?

To offer perspective, meet Gabrielle Rivera (she/her), the incoming fall term president of Pride & Equality SGU student club and a Term 5 School of Veterinary Medicine student, shared tips on how we can all become allies to underrepresented groups such as LGBTQIA+ people, and why observances like Pride Month can elevate the importance of diversity and inclusion and create a community of mutual respect and support.

St. George’s University: What does Pride Month mean to you? 

Ms. Rivera: Pride Month means representation for the marginalized LGBTQIA+ community by promoting equal rights and self-affirmation. It allows our community to celebrate, be visible, and stand up for the fundamental right to love. Our ability to celebrate Pride Month would not have been possible without our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans minority groups of color in the 1960s. Their courage to stand up for equal rights paved the way for LGBTQIA+ folks to be included. I am thankful for their determination, and I hope our community can keep taking steps forward so one day we won’t have to “come out” anymore.

 

 

SGU: How can students, faculty, and staff in the SGU community be an ally to all? 

Ms. Rivera: Allyship is such a pivotal part of our community, and we encourage our allies to join us as we continue to create a safe space for our community at SGU. Allowing yourself to be an ally helps the LGBTQIA+ community feel safe and seen within your presence.

  • One way to be an ally can include integrating inclusive language in your everyday life. Asking someone their pronouns when you first meet them shows you are open-minded and inclusive.
  • Another great way to be an ally is becoming involved in the events/opportunities for the LGBTQIA+ community by the Pride and Equality club or the other clubs/events on campus.
  • Denouncing anti-LGBTQIA+ comments or jokes during your everyday life helps the fight against the discrimination that is still present. All of your allyship efforts help build up our community as we continue to push for acceptance and understanding.

 

“Allowing yourself to be an ally helps the LGBTQIA+ community feel safe and seen within your presence.”

 

SGU: What does it mean to be supportive of all different walks of life? 

Ms. Rivera: When you are supportive of all different walks of life you are open to all people despite their gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, etc. You create a safe space for someone to be their authentic self without judgement.

SGU: How can we create a community of mutual respect and support? 

Ms. Rivera: We create a community of mutual respect and support by the acknowledgment that not everyone is the same. Even though you may not understand someone’s identity or sexual orientation, you still hold mutual respect and support for that person. This will bring togetherness within a community.

SGU: How do observances like Pride Month elevate the importance of diversity and inclusion in healthcare? 

Ms. Rivera: Observances like Pride Month elevate the importance of diversity and inclusion in healthcare by bringing awareness to the essential need for embracement towards all different people no matter their identity or sexual orientation. Having acknowledgements that promote diversity allow healthcare professionals to live their lives freely and with integrity as we give back to our human or animal patients. Creating a more accepting environment for medical workers will only help people feel safe and comfortable in their work environment amongst colleagues.

SGU: How can the SGU community get involved with P&E SGU?

Ms. Rivera: All members of the University are eligible for membership within P&E SGU including faculty, students, and staff. You can join by filling out our form. Also follow us on Instagram @PrideandEqualitySGU and Facebook Pride & Equality SGU.

 

 

 

–Jessica Epps and Laurie Chartorynsky

 

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SAS Alumna Finds New Purpose in Life

As a part-time student and full-time employee at St. George’s University, Samanta Johnson, BSc ’22, always knew that if she obtained her bachelor’s degree, more doors would open for her professionally, allowing her to create more purpose in her life.

This month, Ms. Johnson graduated with honors, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in management. The grad is about to embark on the next step in her professional career.

On July 1, she begins her new role at the University, as coordinator of campus life within the Office of the Dean of Students. Ms. Johnson has worked for the past 13 years within the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pharmacology—where she started off as a secretary and was later promoted to executive secretary within the same department.

She shared with SGU News that completing her degree at SGU has been the greatest accomplishment of her career so far and how it has boosted her desire to grow both personally and professionally.

St. George’s University: What are you most looking forward to accomplishing in your new role?

Ms. Johnson: As I transition into my new position, I will have the opportunity to assist within the areas of planning and oversight of new student orientation, Family Weekend, White Coat Ceremonies, student organizations, and SOM College events. Also, with everyone being back on campus next term, I’m looking forward to having more in-person interactions and cultivating an even more collaborative environment as I support with the recruitment, training, and supervision of various student assistance teams.

SGU: Share what your student experience was like at SGU and its impact on your life. 

Ms. Johnson: Being a student at SGU has been one of the defining moments of my life—one that has brought me many opportunities. The University is extremely student centric and there is a breadth of support services that students have at their disposal, for both new and seasoned students. From inception, students can learn all that SGU has to offer in the Introduction to University life presentation, which provides vital information to first-year students to ensure their success.

I believe that regardless of your current position, there is always more to learn and once you invest in your professional growth it creates self-awareness, tenacity, humility, and the like. Being a student at St. George’s has pushed me out of my comfort zone and inspired me to think differently—in a positive way.

 

“I believe that regardless of your current position, there is always more to learn and once you invest in your professional growth it creates self-awareness, tenacity, humility, and the like. Being a student at St. George’s has pushed me out of my comfort zone and inspired me to think differently—in a positive way.”

 

SGU: How did it feel to walk across the stage at commencement?

Ms. Johnson: For me, graduation signified that I completed a certain period in my life. Not having to consistently attend classes anymore, I felt as if I was leaving behind an organized set of routines, and it was a bittersweet occasion for me. Yet, on the day itself I felt honored and accomplished. The chance to walk across the stage and become an SGU alumna brought feelings of happiness, excitement, and pride.

Throughout the years, there was always a goal in my mind to earn my bachelor’s degree. Completing that degree and graduating with honors, whilst being a full-time employee has been my greatest accomplishment in my career thus far. My goal in the future is to continue to improve myself, continue reaching for greatness, and becoming an expert in my field.

SGU: How well do you feel that SGU prepared you for the next step in your journey?

Ms. Johnson: SGU has aided me in developing my confidence and assertiveness. I am much surer of myself, and I believe I can accomplish everything I set my mind to. The University also instilled in me a sense of wanting to achieve more and not settling for less.

SGU: What would you say to an aspiring student considering going to SGU? 

Ms. Johnson: I believe prospective students will have a unique opportunity to study and learn in a multicultural setting that will benefit them both academically and personally. They will also be immersed in a professional environment from the very beginning of their journey.

– Ray-Donna Peters

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A Shared Resilience: SAS, SGS Class of 2022 Celebrates at Grenada Commencement Ceremony

It was a sight to remember. After facing uncertainty throughout their studies from the COVID-19 pandemic, the St. George’s University Schools of Arts and Sciences, and Graduate Studies Class of 2022 stood with pride and gratitude as they received their degrees on Saturday, May 14.

Held in-person for the first time since the pandemic began in 2020—and for the first time outside the True Blue campus—the event featured 1,400 attendees at the Grenada National Cricket Stadium, while more than 10,000 viewers tuned in online to watch the ceremony live.

“This is a significant ceremony because it is a post-pandemic ceremony,” said Dr. Charles R. Modica, chancellor and co-founder of SGU, and this year’s keynote speaker. “There were many hardships along the way, but you managed to find a way to succeed. I have the greatest admiration and respect for you as the first post-pandemic in-person graduating class.”

 

 

Among the 200 graduates from 40 countries were husband and wife duo, Clevon Noel, BSc ’11, MBA ’22, and Sallisha Noel, BSc ’22. Mrs. Noel received her undergraduate degree in business management while her husband, this year’s class speaker gave a rousing speech on behalf of his fellow graduands in the School of Graduate Studies. Proudly cheering them on in the stands were their two children and other members of their family.

“I feel ecstatic today not just as the wife of the class speaker but for also having earned my place upon that stage,” shared Mrs. Noel. “I’m elated that we get to share this moment together and with [our peers]. In the future, I look forward to pursuing my master’s in operations and logistics while also working with my husband in his company, Metarelic.”

Mr. Noel was selected as class speaker for his scholarly achievements and community participation. He has established himself as a respected digital expert and strategist in Grenada, and using his considerable talents as a techno entrepreneur, he has founded a number of award-winning digital companies, which today serve clients such as The World Bank.

 

“One of the greatest endowments of being SGU’s Class of 2022 is knowing how to discover and rediscover ourselves in the face of adversity. I commit this class to what I call the ‘how’ principle. How can my actions make a better world for my friends, family, community, country and beyond? If we keep these questions in mind, we will be impactful wherever we go.”

 

“One of the greatest endowments of being SGU’s Class of 2022 is knowing how to discover and rediscover ourselves in the face of adversity,” stated Mr. Noel. “I commit this class to what I call the ‘how’ principle. How can my actions make a better world for my friends, family, community, country and beyond? If we keep these questions in mind, we will be impactful wherever we go.”

Joining Mr. Noel as a commencement speaker was valedictorian for the School of Arts and Sciences, Jesse R. Becker. Ms. Becker completed her bachelor’s in medical sciences with a perfect 4.0 GPA and is currently a Term 2 student in the School of Medicine.

“Our shared experience is truly unprecedented,” said Ms. Becker. “Not many graduates from SGU can say they started classes in person, then studied from home, and returned to graduate in person. The amount of resilience I see in my peers before me is truly humbling and I’m glad to be among such incredible students. I want to remind all graduates that while one chapter closes, [another] one opens and is waiting for you. Your choices will continue to take you to great places, and you truly can achieve anything you dream of.”

Degrees were conferred on the classes of August and December 2021, and January and May 2022 in the Schools of Arts and Sciences and Graduate Studies, and Medicine. In addition, SGU hosts the Gamma Kappa chapter of the Delta Omega Honors Society and inducted the top 10 percent of this year’s MPH graduates into the chapter for demonstrating excellence in education and scholarship in research and service.

Ceremonies for the Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine will take place at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York on June 4-5.

– Ray-Donna Peters

 

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A friendly face in SOM and SAS: Faculty spotlight on Dr. Cristofre Martin

St. George’s University professor, Dr. Cristofre Martin, is often one of the first faculty members that new undergraduate general biology students and new MD students get to know.

Because many general biology students go on to be admitted to the School of Medicine—in his dual roles as chair of the Department of Biology, Ecology and Conservation in the School of Arts and Sciences and as a professor of biochemistry in the School of Medicine—Dr. Martin is a constant for them as they take the next step in their professional journeys.

“By being involved in both schools I am able to mentor undergraduate students who aspire to become doctors by guiding them in their program and defining the requirements and expectations they need to meet to be admitted into the medical program,” said Dr. Martin.

Dr. Martin believes that when students recognize him from their undergraduate studies during their first week of med school, it’s an equally proud moment for both professor and student.

“It’s kind of a ‘See Dr. Martin! I made it!’ moment for them,” he shared. “And for me, it’s a wonderful experience seeing students who start out in SAS still fresh from their high school studies, maturing as undergraduate students, then beginning their training as MDs, and often later receiving messages from them when they become practicing physicians.”

 

“I get excited about teaching in my field and try to transmit that enthusiasm to my students.”

 

A Proud Moment

Dr. Martin began his academic training in zoology at the University of Manitoba in Canada. His interests evolved as the new field of molecular biology emerged, and, as he stated, he “saw the future.” The rest of his training and early career research was then dedicated to molecular medicine, genetics, and developmental biology. This combination of training led him to SGU in 2005 and eventually to his dual role at the University.

Recently, Dr. Martin played a pivotal role in the accreditation for SGU’s BSc (Honors) in Marine, Wildlife and Conservation Biology by the Royal Society of Biology.

It wasn’t a simple, or short, process to receive the accreditation. According to Dr. Martin, it took two years of faculty working tirelessly to develop the evidence for the program. Most of the work took place during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the department not only working toward success in the effort to receive accreditation, but also adjusting to the transition to online teaching. But the hard work was well worth it.

“It was an incredible team-building experience and it helped faculty see the important contributions that each of them makes for our students,” Dr. Martin said. “It brought us all together with a single goal. All these challenges did not distract faculty from our accreditation mission, and I am so proud of them for their commitment to our students.”

When the department finally received word of its success, it triggered an incredible burst of energy throughout all those who worked hard to achieve the result.

“This accreditation established our department as a Center of Excellence in the field of conservation biology,” said Dr. Martin. “Equally rewarding was calling a meeting with our Marine, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology students to inform them their degree is now accredited. Our students can now be confident that the training they are getting is of the highest standard and will help them reach their career goals.”

 The department, of course, isn’t stopping there. They hope this accreditation will bring more students to the program, including international students seeking a degree in the fields of marine and conservation biology. Dr. Martin also said the department’s next big project is working to develop a MSc in Marine, Wildlife and Conservation Biology that will allow students to continue their education.

“It will give students the opportunity to utilize the skills they learned in their undergraduate training to conduct meaningful scientific research that aims to address questions that are so important for small island development nations such as climate change, natural resource management, and environmental conservation,” added Dr. Martin.

A Found Passion

While this administrative process led to immense pride for Dr. Martin, his true passion is teaching.

“I get excited about teaching in my field and try to transmit that enthusiasm to my students. I do this by expressing my passion in the classroom and holding the student’s attention by being fun in class, and sometimes a bit crazy,” he said.

This passion may come from witnessing what Dr. Martin described as the “transformative power of St. George’s University,” which lives within the students he teaches.

“For many of our undergraduate students, they are the first generation of their family to receive a university education,” said Dr. Martin. “Over the 16 years I have been at SGU, I have witnessed how this has transformed the landscape in Grenada.   Our graduates are now working in government ministries, regional NGOs, tourism industries, education, and various research groups. These graduates of SGU will be forming the decisions on the future of the region and especially Grenada.”

 

 

— Sarah Stoss

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Promoting Environmental Awareness Year-Round: Here’s Why You Should Join the ECO Student Club

 

Earth Day is an opportunity to reflect on the impact that all humans have on our planet, but the School of Arts and Sciences’ Education, Conservation, Outreach (ECO) student organization strives to do this year-round by raising awareness about the environment to the St. George’s University community and to the wider Grenadian population.

As one of SGU’s more than 60 student organizations, all students—regardless of school—are welcome to join the ECO club. The group’s main activities center on curating visiting lecturers and scientists to speak with students about issues affecting marine and terrestrial ecosystems. They also host movie nights, environmental cleanups, and collaborate on events with other student clubs. These and other activities organized by the group create a genuine connection between students and Grenada’s natural environment, leading to a greater appreciation of all the island has to offer.

There is also a strong tie to the Grenadian community as the group strives to highlight environmental issues, through methods like guest lectures, impacting the country, such as pollution, poaching, overharvesting of local species, and climate change.

SGU News spoke with ECO’s current president, Rachael Steele, a third year Marine, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology student in the School of Arts and Sciences who is aspiring to be a marine biologist, to learn more about the organization’s mission and why students should get involved.

St. George’s University: What is the mission of ECO and what does it mean to you? 

Ms. Steele: ECO’s mission is to spread awareness of pressing environmental issues we are facing today caused by human activities. We hope this leads to a change in the values, morals, and, ideally, the behavior of society toward nature. Environmental awareness is so important because we all inhabit the same planet, so we want to encourage more environmentally friendly behaviors.

SGU: Why should students get involved? 

Ms. Steele: “Saving the Planet, Saves Lives.” ECO clubs are important at all levels of education because they foster more sustainable and environmentally friendly actions by their members—and communities at large.

Knowing more about the earth should be an essential part of our lives, just like how we learned to walk, write, speak, cook, etc.  That’s why it’s our mission to promote environmental awareness throughout the student body and general public. A healthy environment improves overall human health.

SGU: What are your goals for the organization as president?

Ms. Steele: My goal for ECO continues to be to increase the care and respect our members have for the environment. We’ll do this through education, outreach programs, and participating in conservation activities.

SGU: If you could convey one message surrounding Earth Day and environmental conservation, what would it be? 

Ms. Steele: We often think being healthy involves only taking care of our physical and mental health. However, living in an unhealthy environment will undo all the work you have done to stay healthy. Beginning in the industrial era, there have been more cases of cancer and reported sicknesses/diseases due to the degradation of our planet.

I wish to convey the overall message to “take care of mother nature and she will take care of you.” Planet earth is our home, the only known habitable planet to support life as we know it, and its health needs to be a priority for us all.

SGU: How can students become members of the club?

Ms. Steele: Students can join our organization through the University Portal.

When in the portal, they should follow the following steps:

    1. Hover your mouse over student resource
    2. In the drop-down menu, select student organizations.
    3. Find ECO listed under the School of Arts and Sciences.
    4. On the ECO page, there is a ‘join here’ button under the welcome section.
    5. Complete and submit the form.

 

—Sarah Stoss

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Marine, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology Degree Gains Accreditation from Royal Society of Biology

St. George’s University School of Arts and Sciences (SAS) is pleased to announce that the Bachelor of Science Honors (BSc Hons) in Marine, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology (MWC) has been accredited by the Royal Society of Biology (RSB). It becomes the first program in the Western Hemisphere to obtain this distinction, further establishing SAS as a premier higher learning institution in the Caribbean. 

The degree program is housed within the SAS’s Department of Biology, Ecology, and Conservation (BEC). It is only the 11th program outside of the United Kingdom to earn RSB accreditation, which will last through the end of 2026.  

“We are very enthusiastic not only about the breadth of opportunities available in this program but also about its potential for current and future students,” said Dr. Lucy Eugene, dean of the SAS. “There is nowhere quite like Grenada for studying marine and terrestrial biology, and we’re so proud of what this program has become, and of all the incredible faculty and staff members who helped us attain this accreditation.”  

This marks another accreditation by an international body joining other SGU programs: 

  • School of Medicine: Grenada Medical and Dental Council (GMDC) 
  • School of Veterinary Medicine: American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) 
  • SAS BSc Nursing degree: Grenada Nursing and Midwifery Council (GNMC) and the Caribbean’s Nursing Board
  • Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine Master of Public Health (MPH) degree: Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH)

“With this accreditation, our students can be confident that their program is consistent with internationally recognized standards and that they are prepared to undertake graduate programs,” said Dr. Cristofre Martin, chair of the Department of Biology, Ecology, and Conservation. “It also gives future employers and advisors confidence that their employees have been well trained in marine and terrestrial biology,” 

To graduate, students are required to complete 121 hours of coursework in lectures, the laboratory, and in the field, where they develop skills required to conduct ecological surveys, measure abiotic parameters, and manage and analyze data, while implementing a research design.  

“Grenada is ideal to study marine, wildlife, and conservation biology,” said Dr. Patricia Rosa, BEC deputy chair and MWC program director. “It offers a unique learning environment considering our classrooms are rainforest, dry forest, mangroves, estuaries, freshwater, and ocean ecosystems. This diversity of ecosystems is also readily accessible; one can go from the beach to a mountain peak in the same day.”  

 

“We’re so proud of what this program has become, and of all the incredible faculty and staff members who helped us attain this accreditation.”

 

All students must also complete an independent research project and a capstone thesis in their final year to graduate. Upon doing so, graduates receive an accredited honors degree and a certificate outlining the mastery of 75 technical skills related to marine biology, as well as transferrable job skills such as leadership, communications, and project management. 

“This accreditation will lead to more opportunities and recognition for our students and graduates,” said Dr. Rosa. “It will also enable our department to enhance research capacity and train more highly qualified personnel for conservation in the Caribbean.” 

What graduates are saying about the MWC program

Farihah Khan (Trinidad and Tobago), Class of 2019: 

“I can confidently say that my time at SGU as a MWC student was well spent.  The program’s high academic standards allowed me to develop a solid foundation in science and instilled in me a strong work ethic and sense of professionalism. Its Environment Conservation Outreach (ECO) student organization also encouraged me to balance academic work with extracurricular club activities. The rapport between students and educators was excellent and the teaching is unparalleled. It sets you on a positive trajectory as you enter the working world or continued studies.” 

Saiyana Baksh (Guyana), Class of 2021: 

“My experience at SGU has been no less than exceptional and enlightening. The University overall is challenging, and being an international student had additional challenges. SGU’s commitment to providing students with high academic and professional skills is constant and reliable. It has made me capable of handling anything that’s thrown my way. Their commitment to quality education allowed me to reach a level of maturity and wisdom that may not have been possible under different circumstances.” 

SAS grad becomes Grenada board’s first female CEO

Leadership has always been a strength for St. George’s University graduate Afia Joseph, from her time as a Grenada Junior Achiever to her current role—chief executive officer of the Grenada Marketing & National Importing Board (MNIB).

As the organization’s first-ever woman CEO, Ms. Joseph, BSc ’08, MBA ’14, heads up the leading purchaser, retailer, and exporter of traditional and local agro-products on the island. She is responsible for the marketing and national export of agricultural produce, and management of the importation and supply of specified commodities to Grenada. She also plays a supporting role in the development and expansion of the country’s agricultural sector.

Nine months into her new role, Ms. Joseph opens up about what she hopes to accomplish at MNIB, the characteristics of a good leader, and offers advice to those seeking higher education.

St. George’s University: How does it feel to be the MNIB’s first-ever female CEO?

Afia Joseph: I feel very privileged to secure this role yet humbled by this responsibility. With great power comes great responsibility. I hope that my appointment sends a signal to the youth in Grenada to get involved in the development of our country. My appointment also confirms to women that there is a clear path to their goals once there is determination and commitment.

 

“My role has the ability to influence change and improve the agriculture sector. My aim is to facilitate further development of the agro-processing industry in Grenada and play a key role in the expansion of national exports, which will benefit many Grenadians. “

 

SGU: What excites you most about your new job? 

AJ: My role has the ability to influence change and improve the agriculture sector. My aim is to facilitate further development of the agro-processing industry in Grenada and play a key role in the expansion of national exports, which will benefit many Grenadians.

SGU: What makes you a good leader?

AJ: My capacity to manage challenging and otherwise difficult environments with a sense of calm resolve while producing results. Also, critical for leadership is the ability to manage ego, maintain humility, see the value in others, and understand that in order to lead others one must first learn to lead oneself.

SGU: How well do you feel that SGU prepared you for the next step in your journey?

AJ: I felt thoroughly prepared by SGU to enter the workforce—equipped with the soft skills, confidence, tenacity, and emotional intelligence necessary to succeed. The business management program promoted success through teamwork, which is critical to becoming a leader worth following.

Overall, my experience at SGU has had a profoundly positive impact on my career development. Along with the experience attained, both my Master of Business Administration and Bachelor of Arts in accounting have positioned me for many opportunities and will continue to do so. The principles and knowledge I acquired have supported all my leadership roles and allowed me to excel.

SGU: Was a career in business something you always wanted to pursue?

AJ: Fortunately, I did not choose my field; my field chose me. I was nurtured and nudged into the direction where I can truly give of myself by making a meaningful contribution to the world through my work.

SGU: What advice would you give someone on a similar journey?

AJ: For anyone contemplating whether it is the right time to pursue higher education, I would say that it’s better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than to have an opportunity and not be prepared. It is with this in mind that I continue to grow and learn while expecting greater things for myself and others.

 

– Ray-Donna Peters