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The Early Bird gets the UWI degree: Sacrifice pays off for John Soogrim of South Trinidad

For Release Upon Receipt - January 15, 2021

St. Augustine

UWI 2020 Grad Stories

What message would you give to your younger selves in the midst of their academic journey? For graduand John Soogrim The UWI St. Augustine Campus, it would undoubtedly be “keep going; success is just over the horizon”. 

Soogrim, who lives in South Trinidad, was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science at this year’s graduation ceremonies. During his four years at The UWI, he recalled waking  up at 4:00 am to travel to the St. Augustine Campus for his 8:00 am lab classes, often returning home under the cover of darkness. Although rewarding, the university experience for him was bittersweet, “There were many days that I felt suicidal. I grew up in a single parent household and always had to deal with noisy family members screaming at each other. My motivation to be educated was being poor. All I’ve wanted is to be educated and get a good job and take care of my mom and myself. My secondary school teachers always told me that education is a way out of poverty,” he said. 

Having spent several long days and nights to complete his studies, Soogrim is now proud to be a member of 2020 Graduating Class. “Sometimes I look back at the 19-year-old me and the doubts I had in my mind. If only I could go back to tell that teenager that I would make it someday. Just keep working hard and trusting in God. I invested four years of my life into this degree and there were times I wanted to give up and times I thought I might never graduate. But I did and I took time to also enjoy the journey,” said John as he reflected on his climb to success. 





Photo: UWI St. Augustine 2020 Graduate, John Soogrim. 


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”)