Family, friends and well-wishers applauded 32 of St. Croix’s best and brightest graduating seniors and college students Tuesday while the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands (CFVI) bestowed annual scholarships of $1,000 to $10,000 upon them to help defray the cost of college.
Each recipient took a moment at the podium to say what their college plans were, receive a certificate and shake the hand of Lt. Gov. Gregory Francis.
"I am honored they invited me to come and congratulate the students," Francis said before the awards. "It’s a great opportunity to give these students the recognition they deserve."
Students like Charnele Burton, who received the Artrelle M. Wheatley Scholarship, covering one full year of tuition at the University of the Virgin Islands. A rising junior, Burton is a biology major with plans to pursue a career as a primary care physician. She has been given early consideration for medical school at Boston University.
"If everything keeps going well this coming year, I will go to Boston University for senior year," she said. The BU credits would be applied toward a UVI undergraduate degree, then she would go straight into BU Medical School.
Aside from academic drive, Burton is active in sports, Rotaract Club, church activities and music. She has played alto saxophone since age 11 and plays today in the St. Croix Big Band.
Or there is Duvanté Vegas, a 2010 graduate of St. Joseph’s School who will attend Howard University to study economics. During his high school career he was a counselor at the Youth Rehabilitation Center for juvenile delinquents, senior class President, and a member of the student government.
"After I finish as an undergraduate, we’ll see about Yale Law School," Vegas said.
There were 30 more stories, each completely unique but each the story of a young man or woman driven by their parents and themselves to excel.
Roderick Moorehead, special assistant to Education Commissioner LaVerne Terry, gave the keynote address, pressing home the importance of a quality education for the future quality of one’s life.
"We want to see you return, but doing well is more important than hurrying home," said Moorehead.
Turning 20 this year, the CFVI has been evaluating applications and selecting scholarship recipients for the last 14 years, said CFVI President Dee Baecher-Brown. Each scholarship they give comes from a separate charitable fund, set up and paid for by individuals, families, estates, private companies and the V.I. Government Employee Retirement System. They have over 90 such funds now, said Baecher-Brown. "Most are donor funds, and we work with donors to help them meet their philanthropic goals," she said.
When CFVI was founded, it had just over $500,000 in assets, she said. "Today we have more than $6 million in assets and we’ve given away more than $9.8 million."
This past year alone it gave out more than $1.7 million in grants and scholarships, she said.
"This is the largest year to date for giving and our sixth consecutive year over $1 million," she said.
CFVI gave out scholarships for St. Thomas students earlier this month. Below is the complete list of this year’s CFVI scholarship recipients for both St. Thomas/St. John and St. Croix:
• A9 and V.I. Recycling Inc. Scholarships: Dylan Jobsis-Rossignol and Lynisha Farrell
• Alexander A. Farrelly Scholarship: Anika Rabsatt
• Anna Greene Walsh Scholar Awards: LaDia Carrington, Jahdel Jules, Leah Loving, Lisa Lucien, Bianca Matthew, Genecia Whyte, Tyler Rice and Angelo Galiber II
• Artrelle M. Wheatley Scholarship: Charnele Burton
• Barry Law Enforcement Scholarship: Delano Penha Jr.
• Charaf Family Scholarships: Sharee Miller and Bianca Moscia-Harley
• Coral World Scholarship: Jan-Alexis Barry
• Government Employees’ Retirement System Scholarship: Addis Elliot and Duvante Vegas
• Isaac and Rebecca Paiewonsky Scholarships: Jonte Samuel (2010); Nneka Byron (2009); Anishka Davis (2008); and Leana Callwood (2007)
• Lana Vento Fund Scholarship: Meihua Fang, Gemel Joseph, Haba Royer and Alexa Putnam
• McBride Family Scholarship: Akeema Edwards
• Heavy Materials Scholarships 2010: Geminie Callwood, Jherome Dias, Ashlee Douglas, Vincenzo Farchette, Nicholas Henry Jr., Deryk Joseph, Shelsa Marcel, Christin Marsh, Kala Moore, Anika Morris, Malcolm Stephen, Daniel Turbe, Malachi Thomas, Jelani Williams and Jennah-Li Jackson
• Nigel O. Hodge Foundation Fund Scholarship: Hannah Charles
• Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation Scholarship: Darnell Little
• Richard Noel Allen Scholarship: Haley Allick and Kandace Mitchell
• Standard Pacific Capital Holdings Scholarships: Quianna Christian
• Theodore E. Sharp Scholar Award: Emmanuel Horsford
• Tunick Family Fund Scholarship: Lola Pierre
• William Otto and Shari Decker Music Scholarship: Kai Richardson
• V.I. Association of Legal Assistants Scholarship: Asha Joseph
• CAHS Physician Alumni Scholarship Fund (graduate scholarship): Malori Callender
• Cynthia DeHaynes Health Science Graduate Scholarship: Ali Kareem
• Lana Vento Marine & Environmental Studies Scholarship (graduate): Kristen Maize and Lia Ortiz
• NSL Graduate Studies Scholarship: Re’Neesha Thomas
• Windward Capital Summer Scholarships: I-Dahila Babrow, Kyle Gonsalves, Nicole Joseph, Okeya Smith, Ashley Wilkinson, Richard Driscoll and Tabari Lake