News Releases

The UWI St Augustine Announces Valedictorians for Its 2022 Graduation Ceremonies

For Release Upon Receipt - October 21, 2022

St. Augustine



ST. AUGUSTINE, Trinidad and Tobago. Friday, October 21, 2022 Six students who have excelled in their studies will represent their faculties as valedictorians for The University of the West Indies (The UWI) St Augustine’s graduating class of 2022. The valedictorians - who will share their stories of perseverance, achievement and UWI pride - will speak at the university’s first in-person graduation ceremony in two years.  The ceremonies are carded for next Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, October 27 to 29, 2022 at the Centre of Excellence, Macoya.

Valedictorians of the class of 2022 include  Ashleigh Lai for the Faculties of Science & Technology and Food & Agriculture; Reyshard Anthony Deokiesingh for the Faculties of Engineering and Law; Portia Naomi Gopaul and Kobe Sandy for the Faculty of Social Sciences; Kiana Gajadhar for the Faculty of Medical Sciences; and Patti-Anne Ali for the Faculties of Humanities & Education and Sport. 

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. They also undergo interviews prior to final selection. The 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.  

The UWI St Augustine congratulates the entire graduating class of 2022 and wishes them continued success and to their making a positive impact on society. 

To read more about The UWI, St. Augustine Graduation Ceremonies click here:  



Ashleigh Lai

Bachelor of Science Human Nutrition and Dietetics (Special)

Faculties of Food and Agriculture and Science and Technology

First Class Honours


Ever since she was a child, Ashleigh knew that a career in nutrition was her life goal. Nutrition had always been at the forefront of her mind, and for as long as she could remember, she has been fascinated by the interaction between nutrition, mood, weight and overall health. However, the journey towards her BSc in Human Nutrition and Dietetics started off a little bumpy as science subjects were always very challenging for her, causing her parents to employ the support of the best lessons teachers available. But this was a challenge that Ashleigh was ready to take on, and she had her sights set on her goal. Inspired by her personal life, her struggles with her own health, as well as those of her parents, Ashleigh pushed on.


Ashleigh attributes her success to the unwavering support of her parents throughout her life – from their constant presence at her extracurricular activities, academic and educational functions, and even her social life, to their lack of hesitancy whenever she needed additional academic help.  Ashleigh notes her mother as her major inspiration and influence: “I will forever be appreciative for the sacrifices she makes for her family without hesitation or desire for praise.” Her father also holds a special place in her heart as the backbone of the family, his constant presence acting as the strength that she and her mother needed through the tough times. Their dedication continues influence her motivation towards dedicating her adult life to repaying them for their sacrifice, and to making them proud.


After sixth form, Ashleigh made the decision to embark on a career in Nutrition and Dietetics and was fortunate The UWI met all her needs. UWI offered the diverse and holistic programme that she sought, while being thankfully in the neighbourhood, so she did not have to give up her mother’s amazing homecooked food. Of course, learning about the vibrant campus life described to her by a recruitment officer was enough to get her to feel as if her place was indeed at the UWI campus, and she did not hesitate to register, and soon felt right at home.

When reflecting on her experience at The UWI, Ashleigh often relies on a quote by Demosthenes to describe her true feelings: “Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises.” Stepping out of her comfort zone at as a student allowed her to seize opportunities when they came, thus ensuring life lessons were learnt.

Ashleigh looks toward the future while paying homage to the past, and continues to contribute to her country and the Caribbean region. Using the tools she has been given to the benefit of others – to her, this is what it means to Be UWI.

Reyshard Anthony Deokiesingh

Faculties of Engineering and Law

BSc Industrial Engineering

First Class Honours


One of the biggest lessons Reyshard has learnt through his UWI experience is that the more you selflessly put others first, the more you gain as an individual. This life lesson has helped him navigate his UWI experience in a positive way, and has encouraged him to become a more progressive and productive individual. Reyshard’s success can also be attributed to his support system, combined with his perseverance and recognition that his only competition is himself. He has found joy and strength in spending time with his friends and family who continuously encouraged him to be his best.


A resident of Siparia, Reyshard is one of four boys, and has had the blessing of parents who have supported him from day one. Reyshard attended Palo Seco Secondary School, and then moved to Iere High School where his love for Engineering developed. His plans to pursue science subjects were frustrated by inadequate grades, so instead, he pursued and attained distinctions in business and mathematics subjects at the CSEC level. His love for science and his intention to pursue Engineering as a career, however, were indomitable. Reyshard studied the science subjects privately, and he successfully earned passes in them.


Building on his momentum, he continued on to a National Engineering Technician’s Diploma in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from the University of Trinidad and Tobago. After its completion, he entered The UWI to pursue a degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering, but soon realised that Industrial Engineering was where his true passion lay. Pursuing this area of engineering ignited in Reyshard a feeling of excitement and purpose, and the UWI experience allowed him the opportunity to grow academically, and as an individual. The skills that he developed at The UWI stands out for Reyshard as they were skills that he recognised he may not have gained at any place other than The UWI.

Now, as Reyshard enters this new chapter in his life, he plans to find his place in the energy and manufacturing sectors to utilise his experience and knowledge to help the people of Trinidad and Tobago.

Portia Naomi Gopaul

Faculty of Social Sciences

BSc Psychology Special

 First Class Honours 

Hailing from the southland, Portia, at twenty-two years old, is the eldest girl in her family. Taking her inspiration from her parents, she’s developed a faith in God that has allowed her to have a foundation firm enough to be able to traverse any circumstance. Trying her best to walk in her parent’s footsteps has allowed her to listen to her passion for helping others. This passion led her to pursuing a degree in Psychology at The UWI. The act of helping others was something that came naturally to Portia, and through her choice of programme, she was able to learn that she can ensure that those who are suffering silently would be able to find their voice again and heal their wounds. Having benefited from the listening ears of her friends and family, who have always been willing to encourage her and support her, Portia knew that Psychology was the most obvious choice, and UWI’s programme shone brighter than the other options as it best aligned with her own personal goals.


When she got on to campus, she also found that the friendliness of staff and students continued to set UWI above the rest. Her experience on campus was a positive one, filled with kindness from landscaper and lecturer alike, and memories of long conversations with friends on rainy days over a cup of coffee. At UWI, she found her place seamlessly.

The St Joseph’s Convent San Fernando alumnus has always had a supportive village around her, whether it be her parents, grandparents, or members of her church, Faith Centre. She attributes much of her success to her faith and her village from which she has constantly drawn strength through prayer, sharing her fears with her parents, or having a relaxing time with her brother and friends.  Her persistence through her experience has made it possible for her to achieve greatness at such a young age. For her, UWI has cultivated in her the ability to keep persevering no matter the obstacle. She intends to keep fighting for her dreams.

Kobe Sandy

Faculty of Social Sciences

BSc Public Sector Management with Law for the Social Sciences (Special)

First Class Honours


When Kobe Sandy chose UWI, he decided that his experience was going to make him unapologetically expressive and opinionated, and allow him to channel his intellect to make his mark within the Caribbean region – an aspiration that may not be so farfetched for Kobe as he holds former Prime Minister, Patrick Manning, as one of his major inspirations. Mr Manning’s vision for the development of Trinidad and Tobago as well as his investment in youth have given Kobe enough incentive to plan his future to take on the duty of leadership.

For Kobe, his goal of making Trinidad and Tobago and the wider Caribbean region a better place through effective policy making and service to others has motivated him to succeed academically. Having an interest in politics since he was just ten years old, Kobe was able to see how his degree could be a direct pipeline to those goals, as his profound passions for representation and advocacy made a career in the public service the most sensible choice for him. As a result, when it came time to choose from a list of possible alternatives after his dream of getting into the LLB programme was denied, there emerged a clear winner. After extensive research, he realised the impact the knowledge to be gleaned from the Public Sector Management with Law programme would have on his future.


Born in Egypt Village, Point Fortin, Kobe was surrounded by his extended family who all played a crucial role in his development, and from Vessigny Secondary School to St Joseph High School in Georgetown, Guyana, Kobe had his village to rely on through the best and worst times. Adopting the selfless attitude, he’d seen among his community growing up and being able to put the interests of others above his own was something that became a part of who Kobe was as a person. His faith in God has given him the wisdom and grace to sacrifice and work hard toward his main objective.

Whenever he looks back on his UWI experience now, he sees the fruits of his years of labour and feels undiluted joy.

Kiana Gajadhar

Faculty of Medical Sciences

Bachelor of Science, Pharmacy

First Class Honours


A young lady with humblebeginnings from the island of St Lucia, Kiana often finds herself occupied in some venture, whether it is spending hours reading or delving into research of an obscure topic that has come to mind or creating something new and tasty in the kitchen. A graduate of the Faculty of Medical Sciences, Kiana had a keen interest in the sciences, mathematics, and accounting when she was younger, which made the choice of a future career challenging. She was thankfully blessed with having access to numerous internships, including the auspicious internship at Victoria Hospital that introduced her to the vast pharmaceutical field. It was this internship, which showed her how she could blend her passions for science, computation, and business, that guided her toward the Pharmacy programme – or, as she would say, it led her to where she could be chosen by the Pharmacy programme.


The next step after discovering her true passion was finding a reputable university that would have a comprehensive curriculum, as well as be internationally recognised. The UWI fit that bill perfectly.

Inspired by the sacrifice of her parents, and their ability to have a positive outlook during difficult times, Kiana learnt that her goals should be limitless. Their tenacity for achieving their own goals has allowed her to remain focused, work smart, and continue on despite challenges. Refusing to constraint herself to just her academics, she also invested her time at UWI’s St Lucian Students’ Association, where she occupied the role of PRO, and then Vice President. The association helped her experience a “home away from home”, interacting with her fellow Lucians, planning events, and celebrating cultural days. Kiana was also inspired to become a member of the Rotaract Club of Mt Hope and found the time to act as the Assistant Secretary of the Trinidad & Tobago Organisation of Pharmacy Students. Her service, curiosity, and desire to learn, as well as her trust in God, and a steady support system, have all paved the road to success on her academic journey.

For Kiana, the future looks bright as she intends to further her education in hopes of becoming an inspiration to younger generations. She plans to be part of the movement towards propelling pharmacists to maximise their full potential in the development of a more robust health system. In looking to her future goals, she plans to embrace the challenges and experiences, and use them to elevate herself and continue to inspire others.

Patti-Anne Ali

BA Literatures in English

Faculties of Humanities & Education and Sport

First Class Honours


Growing up was anything but boring for Patti-Anne as she hails from a family of creatives and big personalities. Being raised by her well-known father, Ian Ali – Master Artist and Cultural Activist, and the creator of television shows such as Rikki Tikki and Looking Around – and an equally brilliant mother, Carolyn Ali – who authored such books as Recipes from the Indian Dancer – Patti-Anne had everything she needed to be great. Attending St Augustine Girls’ High School, then the Creative Arts Centre, as well as the New York Conservatory for the Dramatic Arts, Patti-Anne created the foundation for her career in the creative field. She went on to build a successful career in both the arts and advertising as an actor, writer, director, and producer, forming the arts and advertising company Sugar House.


Ever ravenous for greater things, Patti-Anne continued to feel the urge building within her to deepen her knowledge and skillset. This led her to seek out The UWI’s Literatures in English and Theatre Arts programmes. Choosing UWI meant that she was going to be challenged by the rich and diverse courses, as well as achieving a respected and well-regarded degree.


Building on her early family life that was filled with opportunities to create and explore, Patti‑Anne knew that these programmes were exactly what she needed to connect with her childhood. Growing up in a home that was filled with art, stories, songs, performances, and the ability to uplift and enlighten, Patti-Anne is familiar with a life ‘unplugged’ as most of her humble childhood was spent without screen time. This allowed her and her three sisters to release their fears and limitations, and embrace the possibilities of growth and discovery.

However, embarking on her degree was not without life-changing events. With only one year of the face-to-face class experience, the COVID-19 the pandemic forced all lectures online. This adjustment was not without compromise, but her lecturers were able to go above and beyond to make the online UWI experience both enlightening and engaging.


Following the unexpected passing of her father in 2007, Patti-Anne was able to take solace in the strength of her mother who kept the family strong in the aftermath, and continues to find inspiration in the woman who lives each day with ambition and determination. Patti-Anne also credits her success to her sister, her friends, and Belinda Barnes of the National Theatre Arts Company of Trinidad and Tobago from whom she has received unending encouragement and motivation to engage in the struggle of juggling full-time work and classes.


Looking toward the future, Patti-Anne hopes to continue to create experiences for people and remind them of their own goodness and power. Through the page, stage, or screen, she will continue to embrace the philosophy of what she believes it means to “Be UWI”, a philosophy of academic excellence, Caribbean advancement, and critical thinking, with a heavy helping of creative inspiration.


About The University of the West Indies

The UWI has been and continues to be a pivotal force in every aspect of Caribbean development; residing at the centre of all efforts to improve the well-being of people across the region.


From a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948, The UWI is today an internationally respected, global university with near 50,000 students and five campuses: Mona<> in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hill<> in Barbados, Five Islands<> in<> Antigua and Barbuda and its<> Open Campus, and 10 global centres in partnership with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe.


The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Culture, Creative and Performing Arts, Food and Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities and Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology, Social Sciences, and Sport. As the Caribbean’s leading university, it possesses the largest pool of Caribbean intellect and expertise committed to confronting the critical issues of our region and wider world.


The UWI has been consistently ranked among the top universities globally by the most reputable ranking agency, Times Higher Education (THE). In the latest World University Rankings 2022, released in September 2021, The UWI moved up an impressive 94 places from last year. In the current global field of some 30,000 universities and elite research institutes, The UWI stands among the top 1.5%.


The UWI is the only Caribbean-based University to make the prestigious lists since its debut in the rankings in 2018. In addition to its leading position in the Caribbean, it is also in the top 20 for Latin America and the Caribbean and the top 100 global Golden Age universities (between 50 and 80 years old).  The UWI is also featured among the leading universities on THE’s Impact Rankings for its response to the world’s biggest concerns, outlined in the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including Good Health and Wellbeing; Gender Equality and Climate Action.


 For more, visit