Fourteen students of the Institute of Legal Training were cheered by families and friends Saturday night when they received their certificates for completing the Paralegal Vocational Level Two course.
In the words of ILT director Ms Carron-Ann Russell, they persisted in attending classes, doing their assignments and taking their exams while holding down full-time jobs and dealing with the effects of Hurricane Ivan.
In the words of Permanent Secretary for Education Angela Martins, they pursued a dream.
Continuing education was the theme for all speakers, including Mr. William Ebanks, who gave the students address.
Mr. Ebanks, who passed with distinction, observed that continuing education has always been the key to the lives of successful people.
He urged classmates to stop thinking about where they could get a better job, but think instead of which law firm they would like to be a partner in. They could even aspire to be the Attorney General or Chief Justice, he commented.
Educational opportunities in Cayman are greater than they have ever been, Mr. Ebanks noted, echoing Mrs. Martins’ remarks.
‘I come from a generation when there was nothing more than primary and secondary education in Cayman,’ Mrs. Martins told the gathering. She had to leave the island to continue her education and when she returned she was one of the first few Caymanians to have earned a college degree.
‘It is wonderful to see the range of advanced education we have now,’ she continued. Mrs. Martins thanked Ms Russell for her work in establishing the Institute of Legal Training and giving adults more options.
She congratulated the students for their perseverance: the course that should have taken a year to complete took 18 months because of the disruptions brought by Ivan.
Mrs. Martins acknowledged not knowing much about the legal world, but she did know about challenge and adversity. The persistence shown by students was the same quality that will help make a better Cayman, she said.
Mrs. Vivienne Henry, who received her certificate with merit, emphasised the roles of helpful teachers and supportive family members in students’ success.
Later, when she was called to the podium to receive a special award for academic excellence, she called her son Michael to accept it with her. She explained that Michael had helped her with her studies when it came to conquering the complexities of computer graphics.
The special awards were presented by Mr. Andrew Hulse on behalf of their sponsor, Bank of Butterfield.
Although all of the awards were greeted enthusiastically, one for the Most Determined student received extra applause. Melissa Rankine continued her studies while pregnant, gave birth the week before the final exam, then brought her baby to the exam and ended up passing with merit.
The successful students were: Patricia Burke, with distinction; Tamara Butler, with merit; Denise DeMercado; Margery Doman; William Ebanks, with distinction; Katrina Forbes; Vivienne Henry, with merit; Tracy Hylton, with merit; Dwayne Jones: Hilda McDonald; Ann-Marie Moiten; Melissa Rankine, with merit; Portia Robinson; Melanie Seymour.
Ms Russell noted that the students came from both the government and private sectors, holding jobs that range from police officer to banking and trust company work, from business owner to working in a pharmacy.
The award ceremony was held at the Wharf Restaurant, seaside. ILT public relations officer Ms Linda Applequist served as mistress of ceremonies. The programme was organised by ILT office administrator Ms Latoya Stewart.
A paralegal is a person with legal skills, but who is not an attorney, and who works under the supervision of a lawyer in performing various tasks related to the practice of law or who is otherwise authorised by law to use those legal skills.
Paralegal courses leading to a law degree are now afforded by the ILT through the University of London or the University of Huddersfield.