31 graduates since programme’s inception
Seventeen Tourism Apprenticeship Training Programme scholars graduated last Saturday, bringing the total number of graduates to 31 since the programme’s inception in 2007.
The ceremony took place at The Westin Casuarina Resort and Spa, solidifying the government’s commitment to creating a cadre of Caymanian hospitality professionals in occupations traditionally under-represented by Caymanians.
Graduating apprentices in front-office operations were Morgan Barnes, Kari Bush, Vanessa Clare, El-Linda McField-Bryan, Joadian Powell, Annis Powery-McPherson, Letanya Thompson, Lesleta Whittaker and Jodie Yates.
Levon Bodden, Megan Bush, Damian McField, Treasan Myles and Kaycha Reid graduated in food and beverage operations, while Danya Ebanks, Marteka Tibbetts and Megan Thompson graduated in food preparation operations.
Each graduating apprentice received a Ministry of Tourism Recognition Certificate for successful completion of the programme from Minister of Health, Environment, Youth, Sports and Culture Mark Scotland.
They also received Caribcert certificates, in a number of hospitality occupations, from Trina Christian of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association and a motivational book, which was presented by Dan Szydlowski, general manager at the Westin, on behalf of the Tourism Apprenticeship Training Advisory Council.
Chef Keith Griffin, executive chef of Bacchus restaurant and vice-president of the Cayman Islands Culinary Society, presented the society’s prize for the highest achiever in food preparation operations to Megan Thompson, who gained the highest marks in the classroom as well as the highest marks in the Caribcert exams.
Lesleta Whittaker received the 2009 Honourable W. Norman Bodden Award for the Top Apprentice for excellence for her achievements.
Master of Ceremonies for the evening Deputy Director of Tourism responible for product development at the Department of Tourism, Sharon Banfield-Bovell, said that Ms Whittaker’s achievements had far surpassed the expectations of her tutors and her performance on the job had impressed her mentors, as well as her workmates. The award was presented by Mr. Norman Bodden himself.
In her acceptance speech, Ms Whittaker said that she was honoured to have been chosen as Top Apprentice and recipient of the award.
‘To receive such a prestigious award from one of the founding fathers of the Cayman Islands tourism industry is more than I ever imagined gaining from the apprenticeship programme. The Cayman Islands is blessed with a dynamic and resilient tourism industry because of the strong foundations that pioneers like Mr. Norman Bodden laid many years ago,’ she said.
‘In his role responsible for tourism development, Mr. Norman Bodden showed a strategic vision that today allows me to be a part of, and make a contribution to, our tourism industry. Thank you, Mr. Bodden.’
Mr. Scotland closed the ceremony with a keynote address delivered on behalf of Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush.
He said the government firmly believed that the key to success was human capital and the newly graduated apprentices needed to be prepared for a bigger role in this industry.
He said: ‘These 17 ladies and gentlemen with whom we celebrate today and whom we are happy to have join the cadre of local professionals who are being developed in our industry, must become our spokesmen and spokeswomen.
‘They must become the role models for other Caymanians who either are not fully aware of tourism and how important it is to the different aspects of Caymanian life or who may believe that they do not possess the skills and the knowledge to make a worthwhile contribution to this industry.
‘Graduates, we ask you to be part of the crusade to promote tourism and to engage our community members.’