The University College of the Cayman Islands celebrated the achievements of more than 200 graduates at a commencement ceremony Thursday evening at the Sir Vassel Johnson Hall.
Twenty-five students were awarded Bachelor’s degrees, two received postgraduate degrees, 118 received associate degrees, nine degrees were awarded for professional programs and 55 certificates were given out during the ceremony that highlighted the theme “Looking Beyond the Horizon to the New Dawn.”
The college authorities also handed out multiple awards to students who contributed to the development of Cayman’s society at the ceremony.
Honorary doctorates this year went to National Hero Sybil McLaughlin, lawyer Steve McField, Joy Merren for contributions to the fields of science and nursing, and Mary Lawrence, former Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.
According to the college, recipients of honorary doctorates must have made an indisputably positive, signal and lasting contribution to the improvement of Caymanian society. Areas of recognition for such contributions include scholarship, culture, public service, humanitarianism, science, art, or any other areas the University College authorities deem appropriate.
Sasha Rankin, who received a Bachelor of Science degree in social sciences, delivered the valedictorian’s address.
In the special awards category, graduate Shannon Williams was presented with the UCCI Board of Governors Award in recognition of contributions to campus life during studentship. Raymond Jones, chairman of technical, vocational and continuing education at UCCI, gave out the award.
Mr. Jones also presented graduate Shardon Nelson with the Mary Anne Cannon Award in recognition of acts demonstrating a sense of duty and service to others.
The commencement speaker was Dr. Neely Panton, clinical professor and head of the University of British Columbia Division of General Surgery, VA and UBC Hospitals, and the son of Cayman National Hero Ormond Panton and his wife Naomi Panton.
Dr. Panton encouraged students to do their best in whatever field they choose.
In his remarks, college president Roy Bodden highlighted the many programs available at UCCI and the connections the school has with other learning institutions worldwide.
He said students were showing major interest in science and technology, which is the way of the world today. He said students were learning to fly drones, program robots, and they also wanted to get into artificial intelligence at the college, because soon even Cayman will be affected by technology such as driverless cars and robots in the home.
“UCCI must keep up,” he said.
Mr. Bodden said he was proud of his students, and at the college he was “two Ps,” president and policeman.
“I make it my business because I myself am the product of a small college … my president knew every one of his students. We have 1,200 students at the College,” added Mr. Bodden, noting that he was not too familiar with his nocturnal students, but knew most of his day students.
Education Minister Tara Rivers congratulated the students on their achievements and encouraged them to press on in an ever changing world as they were not just competing in Cayman but with the whole world.
Reverend Rohan Forrester of the Webster Memorial United Church delivered the invocation and Raianna Evans sang the National Anthem.