News Releases

UWI St Augustine Campus names six Valedictorians

For Release Upon Receipt - October 21, 2010

St. Augustine

The University of the West Indies (UWI) St Augustine Campus has named the six students to be Valedictorians at its Graduation Ceremonies to be held on October 28th, 29th and 30th, 2010.

Ms Nakita Noel will speak on the morning of Thursday 28th October at the Faculty of Science and Agriculture ceremony, the first of six ceremonies to be held at the St Augustine Campus this year. That afternoon, Mr Robert Shirley, will deliver the Valedictory Address at the Faculty of Engineering afternoon ceremony.

On Friday 29th October, two ceremonies will be held for the Faculty of Social Sciences, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Mr Nicholas Seemungal will speak at the first, while Ms Vandana Siew Sankar, will address her fellow graduands in the second.

Finally, on Saturday 30th October, Mr Erle Wright, Valedictorian from the Faculty of Humanities and Education, will deliver the prestigious address at the morning ceremony, while Ms Priya Sahadeo, from the Faculty of Medical Sciences, will do the honours in the afternoon ceremony later that day.

The Campus will also confer four honorary degrees at its ceremonies. The honorary LLD will be conferred on Mr Doddridge Alleyne, Mr Hans Hanoomansingh and Mrs Diana Mahabir Wyatt, and Mr Thomas Gatcliffe will receive the honorary Doctor of Sciences degree (DSc.).

A total of fifteen Honorary Graduands have been named by the regional university. Graduation ceremonies for the Open Campus take place on October 16th. Mrs Beverley Steele, CBE, MH and Professor Caryl Phillips will receive the honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD) and Doctor of Letters (DLitt) degrees respectively. On October 23rd, the celebrations move to the Cave Hill Campus in Barbados, where Rev. Dr. Donald Henry Kortright Davis, The Honourable Elliott Mottley, QC, Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang and Charles Straker will receive the honorary LLD. Finally, on November 5th and 6th, the Mona Campus in Jamaica will host the closing celebration, where Mr George Neville Ashenheim and the Honourable William Mc Connell, OJ, CD will receive the LLD, while Dr. Knox Hagley and Dr. Renn Holness will receive the DSc., and Professor Edward Alston Cecil Baugh the DLitt.


About the Valedictorians

Nakita Noel

If there is one word to describe Nakita Noel, it would be passionate. That is the way she tackles anything which she believes worth pursuing – be it friendships, singing or academia; she delves into all with intensity and enthusiasm. A graduate of the Bishop Anstey High School in Port-of-Spain, Nakita is no stranger to the idea of being able to achieve anything she sets her sights on. During her time at Bishop’s she was taught the importance of having a balanced life and, apart from her academic pursuits, she was heavily involved in the school choir which is renowned for their excellence. The choir was where she developed strong bonds of friendship as they travelled on their first visit to Wales to participate in the Llangollen Eisteddfod, an international music festival. Her love for singing has never waned and, to this day she continues to sing at various events.

Nakita has always appreciated a challenge and this is what pushed her to excel at UWI. Having always excelled in the areas of modern studies and language, she chose to pursue her studies in the physical sciences—an interest which grew into a passion. Her love for Physics and Chemistry led her to pursue a joint major in these disciplines. The rigour of this degree option did not stop her pursuit of what she believes is a true university experience – one that goes beyond getting a degree to encompass expanding boundaries and exploring horizons.

Doing her final year research projects helped Nakita to refine her ideas on the direction she would like her life to take. She is currently pursuing an MPhil in Chemistry, hoping to develop new materials which will help in the quest to produce “clean” energy.


Erle Wright

Erle Wright began his educational experience at the Arima Boys’ Government Primary School and Arima Government Secondary School, and continued when he decided to become a teacher and received training at Jamaica Bible College in preparation for Christian Ministry, and at Valsayn Teachers’ College.

A husband and a father of two children, Michelle and Stephen, who preceded him at UWI, Erle has been a teacher for more than 31 years. Despite his considerable experience, he still regards reading for the BEd-Educational Administration at UWI as invaluable to his professional development, drawing fresh inspiration from courses he describes as facilitated by lecturers with a demonstrable passion for education, well designed and relevant to 21st century pedagogical realities.

Apart from his love of educating and being educated, Erle has diverse interests: from weight training (he visits the gym at least three times each week) and playing the keyboard and guitar, to painting and dabbling in computer hardware and software related activities. He claims Mr. Francisco Terrega as his favorite composer, while classical and gospel music are his preferred genres of music. For him, life is never boring.

Erle is now pursuing the MEd with concentration in Youth Guidance at The UWI.


Nicholas Seemungal

Nicholas Seemungal’s educational career began at the Montrose Vedic Primary School and continued at the Presentation College, Chaguanas, where he gained a solid foundation in the Sciences. After graduating from high school, he worked for three years as a Project Coordinator in the construction sector before electing to pursue a BSc in Management Studies at The UWI.

The change of disciplines shone a new light on his experiences and UWI ignited in him a newfound passion for learning. Nicholas believes that everyone should walk the path that brings out their best, which would lead to success. Having completed his BSc Management Studies with First Class Honours, he now looks toward pursuing an MBA in the near future.

Nicholas has a passion for physical fitness and believes in using the ideal of constantly competing against oneself as a guiding principle in life.


Priya Sahadeo

Priya Sahadeo spent seven years at St Augustine Girl’s High School in pursuit of academic excellence that continued when she gained acceptance into The UWI to read for her Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy. Excellence for her came as the result of hard work and a deep interest in the area of Pharmacology. Unraveling the mysteries behind how each pill works fueled her inquisitive nature and passion.

Pharmacology isn’t her only interest though. While at UWI she gave her time and energy to student organizations, most notably the Trinidad and Tobago Organisation of Pharmacy Students, for which she was the Public Relations Officer. This experience presented the opportunity to work alongside various charitable organizations. Priya also played an active role in the Las Lomas #2 Women’s Group which seeks to foster the development of individuals within the community via various projects and events.

She also took advantage of the many supplementary learning opportunities offered at UWI, such as a Certificate in Interior Decorating and the Leadership and Service extra-curricular course.

On why she chose the area of Pharmacology, Priya says, “Pharmacy excites me, I love its evolution. I love how it is constantly evolving, how discovery is such a key feature in this field. It is never stagnant and it has that dual nature composed of the research aspect of it, as well as the humanistic core of the practice which allows one to display true altruism.”

Her passion is for clinical pharmacy in the institutional setting. She aspires to be part of a healthcare team working alongside doctors, offering professional advice and tailoring therapy and medication regimens based on each patient’s specific medical conditions and needs, in order to effect the best possible outcome. Even at this stage in her life Priya has realized that when you love what you do, the word ‘work’ just does not seem right and she has loved her experience at UWI, which she describes as an environment of growth.

Priya plans to pursue a PharmD (Doctor of Pharmacy) degree and then achieve her PhD in a specialized field.


Robert Shirley

On Thursday 28th October 2010, Robert Shirley will proudly graduate with a BSc in Chemical and Process Engineering. Admittedly, it was difficult at times, but Robert professes that he thoroughly enjoyed doing his degree at The UWI.

He is currently employed at PCS Nitrogen, using all of the tools that were taught by the “dedicated, first-rate lecturers at the Faculty of Engineering” and is excited to take on the world of work as an Engineer – anxious to see many of the principles and techniques that he has learnt applied to real life situations. 

But learning for him did not only take place in the classroom. While at UWI he was a class representative, participated in different activities and assisted with different clubs and organizations, such as the Engineering Student Society (ESS), the Student Guild, the Chess Club, the Rugby team and the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF). Through all of these activities, in and out of the classroom, he has learnt many lessons about teamwork, leadership and how to have fun while still being productive.  Robert has built many valuable relationships and had several memorable experiences and looks forward to giving back to the University and the Caribbean so that future students can have even better opportunities at The UWI.


Vandana Siew Sankar

A National Scholar with a passion for life and a hunger for success, Vandana Siew Sankar believes in the holistic development of an individual, and strives to achieve this in both her educational and extra-curricular pursuits.

The 22 year old, originally from Chaguanas, attended the Charlieville ASJA Primary School, followed by the St. Augustine Girls’ High School. The foundation established at these institutions led her to pursue a BSc in Psychology (Special) degree at the University of the West Indies where she will be graduating with First Class Honours.

While at UWI, Vandana participated in the RBTT Young Leaders Youth Parliamentary Debate, Peer Counselling Programmes, various religious organizations, outreach programmes at the St. Mary’s Children’s Home and the Wendy Fitzwilliam Pediatric Hospital, as well as a plethora of community projects. These have undoubtedly contributed to her growth, and have nurtured in her a drive towards individual empowerment and social responsibility.

Vandana continually strives to be the change she wishes to see in the world and to encourage others with her enthusiasm. Her personal credos are “to give service to a single heart by a single act is better than a thousand heads bowing in prayer,” and, “no aspiration is too lofty to achieve, for with God as my driver, all things are possible!”

Vandana is currently enrolled in the MSc Clinical Psychology Programme at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mt. Hope.


About UWI

Over the last six decades, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged University with over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest and most longstanding higher education provider in the English-speaking Caribbean, with main campuses in Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, and Centres in Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Christopher (St Kitts) & Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent & the Grenadines. UWI recently launched its Open Campus, a virtual campus with over 50 physical site locations across the region, serving over 20 countries in the English-speaking Caribbean. UWI is an international university with faculty and students from over 40 countries and collaborative links with over 60 universities around the world. Through its seven Faculties, UWI offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Pure & Applied Sciences, Science and Agriculture, and Social Sciences. For more information, please visit