May 21, 2002 – College students from throughout the region and the U.S. mainland are gathered on the University of the Virgin Islands St. Thomas campus this week and next for the 8th annual Summer Institute for Future Global Leaders in the Caribbean.
A total of 48 students are taking part. Most are juniors and seniors at colleges in the Caribbean and in the States, but this year several graduate students and one law-school student signed on.
Many in the group are residents of or have roots in the Caribbean; others anticipate careers that will see them working in or in connection with the Caribbean. "The United Nations, World Bank, organizations like that," explained Solomon Sentongo-Kabuka, director of the institute.
Nine of the participants are UVI students. The others include students from mainland Historically Black Colleges and Universities and schools in the Caribbean. Applicants were recommended by the heads of their schools, with UVI making the final selections. "They have demonstrated leadership capabilities," Kabuka said of those accepted into the program.
The students are taking courses focusing on three areas — the global business environment, leadership for the future, and culture and communication. This year's theme is "Global Leadership in a Dynamic Environment."
Given the events of Sept. 11, the war on terrorism, turbulence in the world financial markets and innovations in medicine, among other things, "we believe that future leaders should be well equipped to deal with dynamic elements in our global environment," Kabuka said.
Specialists in their fields will team-teach the courses. The students also will participate in leadership laboratory work, field trips and extracurricular activities. At the end of the two weeks, each student must produce a customized leadership prospectus.
At the opening ceremony Tuesday morning in UVI's Chase Auditorium, the keynote speaker was Liston Abbott, a noted inventor who was born on St. Thomas and graduated in 1955 from Charlotte Amalie High School. He holds a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering form the College of the City of New York and holds six U.S. patents.
His credits include developing communications systems used by the U.S. military, developing a system that led to the delivery of satellite television to small Eskimo villages in Alaska, and solving space shuttle communications problems. After 44 years as a researcher at RCA, he is now retired and works as a consultant.
Other presenters at the Summer Institute include Patrick Lewis, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; Louis Henry, McDonald's entrepreneur; Patrick Liverpool, dean of the Delaware State University School of Management; Edward Davis, dean of the Clark-Atlanta University School of Business Administration; and Brenda Birkett, chancellor for academic affairs at Southern University at Baton Rouge. UVI faculty and staff and Virgin Islands business professionals also will share their expertise with the students.
In addition to UVI, Kabuka said, international, regional and local organizations and other universities fund the summer institute. This year The West Indian Co. is a major sponsor, he said, with Tropical Shipping contributing in-kind support.
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