When you set goals and hold yourself accountable to them, great things can be achieved.
This is a belief expressed by Demion McTair, a Vincentian named among three valedictorians of the 2020 graduating class at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus.
“It’s quite an overwhelming feeling. It carries a level of nobility I would say, and venerableness because it feels like you’re the flagbearer of the excellence that the entire class worked together to achieve,” he told SEARCHLIGHT this week about being named valedictorian.
McTair, who completed a Bachelors of Arts in Integrated Marketing Communication (Hons), said while he has always tried to maintain a particular standard academically and be actively involved in extracurricular activities, he did not expect to achieve such high honours.
While at UWI, he was the recipient of the Dean’s Award of Excellence for the Most Outstanding Academic Performance for the 2018/2019 academic year.
He also founded the Campus Reporter, the lone independent student news initiative at the Mona Campus and later received a Certificate of Excellence for Leadership for the role the initiative played in raising awareness about the 2019 Guild of Students election candidates and other related issues.
Prior to pursuing studies, he was employed at We FM.
“While working on radio and doing some community work, I developed an affinity for public relations and crisis management and the only degree that would’ve exposed me to that, to crisis communication and public relations is IMC so that’s why I ended up venturing into IMC as opposed to studying journalism – which I wanted to study initially by the way,” McTair said.
The 29-year-old still plays a role in the media landscape in SVG, having co-founded the online blog ONE News SVG during the lockdown period in Jamaica due to COVID-19.
But he is very much ready to contribute meaningfully to youth development and his community.
In fact, McTair was among a group of youths who launched the ‘Voice Yo Choice’ campaign last October, in an effort to engage youths in the electoral process of the country.
He is currently employed at the St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College as a part-time Communication Studies lecturer, which he believes will also give him an opportunity to positively influence youth.
McTair’s valedictory speech was presented virtually in a ceremony held yesterday afternoon for the faculties of Humanities and Education, Science and Technology, Engineering and the Institute of Gender and Development Studies.
In his speech, he spoke about the resilience of the 2020 graduating class and its ability to adapt to the changes that had to be made in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
“And luckily for us, we have been given a light of knowledge from the University of the West Indies to go on. We must use this light to challenge poor tertiary education funding, eliminate the digital divide, and push for Cyber security, to craft the new infrastructure needed to respond to climate change, to push for gender equality issues, human and language rights, opportunities in the media and the Cultural and Creative Industries and to advance science, technology, and food security,” McTair said.
He said the spirit of resilience is needed to respond to the modern-day challenges and so both he and his colleagues should continue to rise and reposition the Caribbean to be more resilient.
Having pursued his first degree in his mid-20s, the valedictorian also encourages persons transitioning from the world of work to academia, to do so without fear.
He noted that it is something many have done and continue to do because “age is just a number”.
Offering some words of advice to persons currently pursuing a tertiary education, McTair said: “these are interesting times because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The privilege of having face to face school is not as profound as it was before. So, with the online environment, you have to be focused and you have to manage your time and your energies properly. You have to set goals, make sure that you hold yourself accountable to the goals that you set”.