Top of the class: 2016 valedictorians share success tips

Gavin Campbell

Gavin Campbell is a firm believer in lifelong learning, a position he is quick to advance to students looking to get the most out of their university experience.
One should “never stop learning and gaining experience”, he told UWIMONA Now.

Campbell was one of four valedictorians who addressed this year’s graduation ceremonies at The UWI, Mona Campus. An aspiring entomologist, the 22-year-old recently completed his BSc in Environmental Biology (First Class Honours) and, taking his own advice on continuous learning, he is now pursuing an MPhil in Environmental Biology. He chose The UWI because of the “great work being done in various fields of research and the support for Caribbean researchers”. Campbell, who worked as a Peer Support Provider for two years, and was also a member of the Biology Students Association, said the key to his success was his ability to organise and prioritise through the use of tables. It also involved getting adequate rest and never accepting anything as an excuse to slow down, “be it a good grade, bad grade, finances or personal issues”.

“I also tried not to compare myself to others – I was my own rival and own role model,” he added.
Campbell, meanwhile, expressed gratitude to his support system of friends and family, especially his mother who had provided him with “unwavering support” throughout his university life.

Sheldon Henry

Sheldon Henry, 29, chose to attend The UWI because he “wanted the best university degree and experience”, and he knew The UWI would provide him with “the window to the world”. Now the holder of a First Class Honours degree in Accounting, with a minor in Political Science, this St Mary native sees political office in his future as he believes that this path will allow him to significantly influence the development of Jamaica and the Caribbean. With his leadership experience as past president of his Faculty’s Honours Society and his community group, along with serving as the Department of Government’s student representative, he is well on his way. Henry, who is pursuing an MSc in Accounting, credits his success to discipline, focus and setting achievable goals.

He had this to say to new students: “You have just started a journey that will be filled with challenges and rewarding experiences, but with hard work, dedication and discipline, you are well along your journey. Do not give up, do not settle for mediocrity. And pull up others who are around you as they fall, you all are here to better your lives.”

Marlon Reid

Marlon Reid, 24, who hails from the cool hills of Manchester, recently completed his Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree with First Class Honours. He chose this career path because he enjoys helping people, and medicine would allow him to do just that while affording him the opportunity of having a stable, secure career. Excellence and great accomplishments were always a part of Reid’s life, as he believes everyone is destined for greatness. He excelled not only in academics, but also in sports. An active member of The UWI Mona Volleyball Club team, he became captain in his final year and he also copped the coveted sporting title for his hall. “I lived on Chancellor Hall, I was on block X. I did a lot of sporting activities for the Block, even though I was in medicine I always made time because I always believe that you should be balanced. I got Sportsman of the Year for Chancellor [Hall] and Man of the Year for the block I was on,” he continued. His tip for helping new UWI students successfully navigate their UWI life, was to “go out and make connections”. He also encouraged them not to limit themselves because of their situation but to learn new activities and become a part of all that The University has to offer. This new medical doctor, now pursuing his internship at the May Pen Hospital, sees the career of interventional cardiologist in his future in hopes of bringing a different kind of health care to the Jamaican system.

Chelsi Ricketts

Chelsi Ricketts, the only woman in this year’s group of valedictorians, attained her First Class Honours degree in Psychology, with a minor in Gender and Development Studies, from The UWI, Mona, Western Jamaica Campus (WJC). A Westwood High alum, Ricketts aspired to become a part of the UWI Pelican family because of the “holistic experience offered by the institution”. Her decision was validated when the Marketing, Recruitment and Communications team visited her high school as part of their recruitment effort. This well-rounded 20-year- old was a member of the WJC Chorale and a part of a group of students who formed the WJC Association of Future Psychologists. Ricketts believes that her success was due to her ability to balance the things she enjoyed with studying and prayer. “I took the motto of my high school with me throughout UWI – ‘ora et labore’(by prayer and by work) – I prayed, I worked, I studied smart and I slept between study sessions to consolidate what I had studied into memory,” she said.

And as Ricketts looked forward to embarking on another phase in her life, she had some words of encouragement for current UWI students. “Find the appropriate balance between academics, co-curriculars and personal activities. Build your network and take every advantage of the opportunities that The UWI has to offer,” she said. Ricketts is now in the first semester of her MSc in Clinical Psychology programme at the Mona Campus and hopes to become a practising clinical psychologist and lecturer.