News Releases

UWI St. Augustine Announces Valedictorians for first ever Virtual Graduation

For Release Upon Receipt - January 7, 2021

St. Augustine

Five high-achieving students will represent their faculties as valedictorians for The UWI St Augustine’s graduating class of 2020. The valedictorians - who will share messages of perseverance, achievement and UWI pride - will speak at the first ever virtual graduation in the history of the campus. The ceremonies are carded for next Monday and Tuesday, January 11 and 12 and will be broadcast live via UWITV.  

The class of 2020 valedictorians are: Chikara Mitchell for the Faculty of Social Sciences, Richard Ali for the Faculties of Food and Agriculture and Science and Technology, Suraj Sakal for the Faculty of Law, Keitjé Greaves for the Faculty of Humanities and Education, and Shaquille Trotman from the Faculty of Medical Sciences.

Valedictorians represent the best of UWI St Augustine’s graduating class. Nominees are selected on academic performance, public speaking skills, and their involvement in extra and co-curricular activities. When selecting valedictorians, UWI looks for graduates who are creative and critical thinkers, good communicators, versed in technology, strong in their Caribbean identity, and guided by their ethics and values.

UWI St Augustine wishes to congratulate our valedictorians as well as the entire graduating class of 2020. We wish them all success and look forward to them making a positive impact on society.


About Our Valedictorians

Ms Chikara Nailah Bernadette Mitchell

Bachelor of Science in Psychology (Special) and Human Resource Management (Minor)

First Class Honours

Faculty of Social Sciences


Chikara’s general goal is to help people. With this in mind, she decided to pursue Psychology at The UWI St Augustine, opting to do Human Resource Management as her minor in addition to her specialisation. Her goal: to become a clinical psychologist and to help reform how mental health is viewed and cared for in Trinidad and Tobago and the wider Caribbean. She is especially concerned with the way the regional health providers address trauma and provide guidance and mentorship. 

Attending The UWI St Augustine was the best choice for Chikara as it allowed her to have both the opportunity to enjoy a world class university experience while remaining immersed in her own culture and history. Far from an echo chamber, there she found herself surrounded by people from different countries, cultures, and contexts, and felt proud to be able to take part in such an inclusive space.  Growing up, Chikara was passionate about learning. She recalls rushing home to do homework and making mental mathematics into a game when she was in primary school.

From seven years old, she was involved in the Trinity All Generation School of the Arts (TAGS), learning music theory and playing the steelpan. As a student at St Joseph’s Convent, Port-of-Spain, she discovered a few new passions in art, rugby, and debate, and had the opportunity to serve in leadership roles. Behind her as support and motivation were her parents, extended family from both Trinidad and Grenada, and her entire Laventille community. On every step of her way, she works to do them proud—especially her mom.

At the St Augustine campus, Chikara continued to be an involved student, trying new sports, and growing her artistic portfolio. She held positions on the Faculty of Social Sciences Guild Committee, the Guild National Affairs Committee, and the Student and Professional Organisation of Trinidad and Tobago, and became an active member of the UWI Afrikan Society. Along with a group of friends she had made on campus, she began hiking to waterfalls, cleaning the trails as they went along.

When she needed a break from all that kept her busy, Chikara would return to art, making use of the sketchbook she carried amongst her academic texts. Between the power of prayer, family, friends, time management, and her dream, nothing has ever been able to slow her down. She continues to work assiduously to be part of creating a great West Indian future. 


Mr Richard Ronald Benedict Ali

Bachelor of Science in Human Ecology (Special)

Nutritional Sciences (Major)

First Class Honours

Faculties of Food and Agriculture and Science and Technology


Known fondly by many as Mr Benedict, Richard is a husband and the proud father of an eight-year-old girl who serves as one of his biggest inspirations. UWI, he says, has always been his destiny as several family members before him matriculated through its Faculty of Medical Sciences and its Law School. Having attained his Bachelor of Science in Biology in the United States in 2001, he applied to The UWI St Augustine to pursue a Master’s degree to follow in the legacy of his family. 

Issues with the processing of his application proved an obstacle to this goal — and the catalyst which spurred Richard to do a second Bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Sciences instead. Serendipitously, Nutritional Sciences proved to be a solid direction for his future, as it not only built on the knowledge he’d earned from his first degree, but also provided accessible and practical ways to use that knowledge, such as how to calculate the viscosity of honey or bake a high protein lentil chocolate cake. Richard is passionate about giving back to his community. As Founder and Principal of a private school, for over 10 years, he has been providing quality learning and certification opportunities to those who are often classified by traditional institutions as being at high risk of failure. This, he declares, brings him “ineffable joy” and lights his way. 

Beyond this, he contributes to his alma mater, St Benedict’s College, by providing tuition-free classes to young student footballers to ensure their academic success, and by designing a meal plan for the for them, from which he provides them with breakfast and lunch on game days. Additionally, he sponsors water supplies, gear and equipment, dinners and certificates for the school’s sportsmen. Beyond St Benedict’s, Richard has offered free classes to other students, donated furniture to an orphanage, and become an annual sponsor of the turtle hatchling collection programme in Grande Riviere. He is actively involved in the Diabetes Association of Trinidad and Tobago, having assisted with the coordination of its summer camp. 

Richard is proud to be part of an institution that is second-to-none. He has already been accepted to pursue an MPhil at The UWI St Augustine and is aiming to earn a doctorate in Clinical Human Nutrition. He also wants to expand his community service reach by opening a centre focused on nutritional sciences to combat the spread of non-communicable diseases, starting a scholarship programme for technical vocational students – all ample material for the autobiography he hopes to publish one day. 


Mr Suraj Peter Sakal

Bachelor of Laws

First Class Honours

Faculty of Law


Suraj Sakal is not your stereotypical valedictorian, and his story is probably not the recipe for success you would expect from a bright young Law student. In fact, his path should probably come with a disclaimer – do not try this at home! Where others talk about strict time management, for Suraj, rigid timetables were his “mortal enemy”; against all the best advice, he treated classes as “optional”, letting his own interests and curiosities motivate him to read and study. Instead of filling his free time with clubs and organised activities, he chose a more freewheeling approach to exploring the world and the people around the Campus – learning about life and himself. 

Upon graduating from Shiva Boys’ Hindu College, Suraj admits, he came to The UWI St Augustine for his degree initially because it was convenient. He now sees it as one of the best decisions of his life because of the friendships and adventures that made the experience so memorable. For him, the parties, escapades, and fun—the living— were all as important as the work. 

It’s a philosophy that many would recognise, even if they might not be comfortable with the unstructured way he put it into practice, but considering himself a student of the world actually helped Suraj cope with being a student of the institution as it encouraged preparation, focus and, yes, even discipline. After all, he still knew what he had to do in order to achieve his academic goals!

Suraj intends to remain open to influences from myriad sources – books, movies, friends, or strangers off the street. “Any person whether dead or still alive who has lived or is living their lives in full pursuit of whatever they desire, be it peace, money, happiness and the lot” inspires him. 

Similarly, he is open to new goals that appear on the horizon, living in each moment and letting those collective moments propel him towards his future. When he considers what it means to #BeUWI, he says it boils down to having fun, making friends, working hard, and finding yourself. 


Mr Keitjé Le Jeurne Greaves

Bachelor of Arts in Musical Arts (Special)

First Class Honours

Faculty of Humanities and Education


Ketjè Greaves’ musical journey began during his time at St Mary’s College in his native St. Lucia where he played the six bass pan. In 2006, when his mother and friend encouraged him to join an after school programme at the St Lucia School of Music, Ketjè learned to play the trombone, his now primary instrument, and his passion for music bloomed. 

At The St Lucia School of Music, Ketjè became involved with the school’s Orchestra and Jazz Band as well as the Black Antz Jazz Combo, and it was there that he sought certification in Music Theory and Practical Trombone. Academically, Ketjè focused on Mathematics, Physics and Geography while music remained a hobby.

Eventually, his hobby put him on an exciting path that included membership in a short-lived band called ASAP, and Teddyson John’s band, the “TJ Project” from 2014- 2016. Both bands provided Ketjè with opportunities to perform at several of St Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival’s events and its main stage, as well as the Carnival event, U4RIA, where he backed up such regional artistes as Da Ville, Blaxx, and Kees Dieffenthaller. 

It was Ketjè’s practical and improvisation teacher, Lukas Hein, who encouraged him to study music at university, watering a seed already planted in his mind by his mentor, tutor and hero, jazz trombonist, Ryan Finn. By this time Ketjè was already working as a Music Education teacher at the Ave Maria Girls’ Primary School in Castries where he saw first-hand the potential impact music could have on children. That experience was the final push towards a degree in Musical Arts at The UWI St Augustine.

Ketjè played active roles at The UWI St Augustine in the St Lucian Student Association of Trinidad and Tobago (LuSATT) and the Catholic Student Movement (CSM), as well as the UWI Arts Wind Ensemble, the UWI Arts Jazz Ensemble, and the UWI Arts Chorale. Throughout his journey, he received support from his communities at Freedom Hall, the Department of Creative & Festival Arts (DCFA) and the CSM. Financial support provided through scholarships and grants offered by The UWI helped him move closer to his dream of making Music Education a tool for the social transformation and development of Caribbean youth. 

Ketjè is now a Music Teacher and part-time Brass Tutor back in St. Lucia, and continues to draw inspiration from his mother, and musical mentors such as Maestro Abreru of El Sistema, trombonist J.J Johnson, Trombone Shorty, and Saints John Bosco and Oscar Romero, as he works towards making his dream into reality.


Dr Shaquille O’Neal Trotman

Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS)

Faculty of Medical Sciences


When he was just four years old, Shaquille suddenly proclaimed to his mother, a homemaker, that he would become a doctor one day. The idea left his mind as quickly as it came until the memory of that day returned to his teenaged self and, from Form 3, it became his major goal. Inspiration, he said, comes from his father who works unceasingly, driving his taxi to support their family, motivating his oldest son to be just as dedicated and committed.

Although the family moved around a bit during his early school years, resulting in Shaquille attending three different primary schools, when he did write the Secondary Entrance Assessment Exam he earned the Principal’s Award for General Proficiency and earned a place at Queen’s Royal College. There began what would become an admirable record of involvement in various activities, including basketball, pan, and student government. Even so, he continued to be a devoted student, earning awards for his contribution to the school as well as his academic performance.

Shaquille has been just as active in his community. He volunteered to teach lessons at the Arouca Youth Club to those deemed underprivileged and vulnerable youth, and is still an involved member of the Youth Club, Community Council, Carnival Committee and Youth League.

From QRC, The UWI St Augustine was the obvious choice for Shaquille as it allowed him to pursue a top-class medical degree while remaining close to the Youth Club and community groups he continued to serve. The Faculty of Medical Sciences had provided him with even more opportunities to give back to the wider community through the Concert for Charity, the Leadership Council’s ‘Need to Feed Initiative’ that delivered meals and various necessities to the socially displaced, and the Rotaract Club of Mt Hope’s Christmas gift distribution to children warded at the Eric Williams’ Medical Sciences Complex. He also played active roles in the Trinidad & Tobago Medical Students’ Association, the Medical Sciences’ Student Council, Junior Chamber International, and Inter- Varsity Christian Fellowship at the Mt Hope Campus.

Shaquille says that giving back is in his blood, so as he seeks to become a world-renowned cardiothoracic surgeon, he also plans to establish a foundation that provides services and access to medical care to those in need. When he considers what it means to #BeUWI, he sums it up as being unique, welcoming and inclusive to all. That was his experience as the first of his family to attend university, with support from his family, friends, lecturers, and God.





About The UWI

For more than 70 years The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has provided service and leadership to the Caribbean region and wider world. The UWI evolved from a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948 to an internationally respected, regional university with near 50,000 students across five campuses: Cave Hill in Barbados; Five Islands in Antigua and Barbuda; Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago; and an Open Campus. Times Higher Education has ranked The UWI among the top 1,258 universities in world for 2019, and the 40 best universities in its Latin America Rankings for 2018 and 2019. The UWI is the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists.

As part of its robust globalization agenda, The UWI has established partnering centres with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, and Africa including the State University of New York (SUNY)-UWI Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development; the Canada-Caribbean Studies Institute with Brock University; the Strategic Alliance for Hemispheric Development with Universidad de los Andes (UNIANDES); The UWI-China Institute of Information Technology, the University of Lagos (UNILAG)-UWI Institute of African and Diaspora Studies and the Institute for Global African Affairs with the University of Johannesburg (UJ). The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science & Technology, Social Sciences and Sport. As the region’s premier research academy, The UWI’s foremost objective is driving the growth and development of the regional economy. For more, visit


(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of “The”)