Another Saint Lucian excels at University of the Southern Caribbean

Another Saint Lucian excels at University of the Southern Caribbean

(SNO) – On the same day four members of one family from Saint Lucia were graduating from the University of the Southern Caribbean (USC), another Saint Lucian was creating her own history – at the same institution.

Shanelle Octave, the daughter of John Octave and Irene Maximillien of Vieux-Fort, was this year’s valedictorian, who graduated with a grade point average (GPA) of 3.98 in accounting.

The USC held its 85th graduation ceremony on Sunday, July 1 in Maracas Valley, St. Joseph, Trinidad. USC is arguably the top faith-based institution in the eastern and southern Caribbean.

In an interview with St. Lucia News Online (SNO) on Thursday, July 5, the 23-year-old future accountant spoke of the challenges, triumphs and support that enabled her success.

She said it was not easy and the “greatest challenge” was maintaining the grade.

“I remember every night I called on God,” she said. “Truth is I couldn’t have done it without God.

“I remember doing taxation and my lecturer was tough. I remember telling him I will get a 100 percent in that final exam. He said he will go over my paper five times if he has to, to spot errors…. When the exam was over only I had a different answer and I thought I failed cause the entire class had the same thing. But guess what? I did get that 100 percent which means I was the correct one,” Octave explained.

The former Vieux Fort Comprehensive Secondary School (VFCSS) and VFCSS ‘A’ Level student said this success required “lots of late nights, lots of hard work, balancing a social life, student worker life, and a student life”.

She credited her success as well, to a supportive friend and family network.

“But friends helped made it easy. I had awesome friends. The one who inspires though: [I] am self-motivated. They were awesome.

“I come from a big family [and the] first to attend university, and I am just so glad God allowed me to make my parents proud,” she concluded.

Below is her valedictorian speech. 

We made it! Greeting class of 2018. I am Shanelle Octave – your unemployed valedictorian.

I stand before you today with joy and gratitude to represent this class. This is an end, a beginning, a continuation, an intermission – we all view this day from a different perspective. What this ceremony truly encapsulates is a great accomplishment enclosed by the walls of true identity and well-founded principles, where our growth, development and maturity were fostered for the last four years.

Permit me to take you through this journey we endured. Like many persons who seek to start a business would require a steady capital, we too began this journey with a great need of capital.

You see, many individuals use their capital for building restaurants, hotels and industries, but we have invested our capital in education – a service that brought about great interest.

Our interest goes far beyond than just acquiring a hotel, today, our interest will qualify us to be doctors, nurses, chefs, lawyers, managers, accountants, and economists. I dare say we now stand as better versions of ourselves, but refinery was not an easy process. Along the way, we had many losses-Losses that probably would have discouraged us. But here’s what, when we sit and we read about Oprah, who lost her identity and self-confidence as result of brutal rape but today she stands as one of the greatest Black Powerful richest women in the world.

And what about Bill Gates, his first attempt at business, he failed miserably- that was his lost. Wasn’t it students? But today 76Billion dollars net worth placed him probably as one of the richest man in the world. And we have Thomas Edison, we all know the story- one who failed may be not 900, a 1000 probably 10000 times. But he rose to the occasion and today we have light bulbs.

Don’t Lose hope. Don’t because our loses can be our stepping stone to greatness. Like yes, we have made bad partnership agreement, we would have lost friends, persons who kept us back. We lost our social life, some of us lost our minds, we lost sleep. Today, we no longer have those bags on our backs, instead, they’re under our eyes, showing that we were indeed created to conquer, molded to endure.

Now that we have reached the end, don’t get me wrong, the end of USC, our energy levels significantly taxed, nevertheless, we have earned substantial profit margins. We gained greater knowledge and wisdom, we now have a degree, not just an ordinary degree, but one that encapsulates God, one that is centered around every aspect of this life.

As we reflect on all that we have achieved and who we have become and the investments made in us, we must recognise our investors, those who we are indebted to, for without those projections we wouldn’t be who we are today-We have our holistic investor- God the Almighty who kept us wholesome, our significant shareholders-like our parents who ensured that we never went bankrupt along with our financial contributors who kept the cashflow injections running.

Mom-Irene Maximillien and Dad John Octave I love you guys. Thank you! We also had other key stakeholders that contributed socially to who we are, and for me, this includes my supportive sister Jasmine Kisna, my godparents- Donavan and Joyce Eugene, My first friend from USC Khadija Hamilton, my fellow dorm mates including my roommates especially Pretoria Hamilton, my accounting buddies especially Shinece Barrow, my lecturers especially Mrs. Stacey Simmons Roberts who saw the fruits of my labours and invested in me- you have greatly impacted my life. My best friend Kaysia Verneuil and my community the persons who encouraged me or supported me in one form or fashion.

In all of this, as I approached the completion of those financial affairs, I realized something wasn’t balancing- it wasn’t completed, I missed one of my most valuable assets, the one who made this final year memorable, my beloved Quincy De Velde. I thank you!

To the graduating class of 2018, as we go forward into our various walks of life- some of you will go out into the world of work, and some may seek higher education. Some of you will meet new people, will make new friends, and learn new things. Some may be fearful of what is to come. Whatever you do, my colleagues, remember to be steadfast in the ways of the Lord and hold on to the positive values we learned from our Alma Mater, for we were created to conquer, molded to endure.

In closing, I leave you with this advice from my roommate Lilianna Hamilton. An advice which always aided me during difficult times. There are always two solutions to every situation:

You can fret and worry, and then realise you can pray or

You can just pray. The first option allows you to be bitter, depressed and be discouraged while the latter gives hope – choose wisely.

Congratulations Class of 2018! WE Did it! Go Beyond Excellence!

I thank you!


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  1. Hi sweetie.congrats don't pay no mind to these negative comments .we have to work hard to achieve anything we want in work hard you did it keep the focus always.forward ever backward never.dont pay no mind to these negative comments.may God direct your path .you work hard and God and you achieved your gold.keep on going.wish i had the support that you had when i was growing up .but i didn' dear go forward in Jesus name..Amen


  2. Congratulations! As a Vieux Fortian and product of VFCSS too, I am super proud of you. I admire your faith and reliance on God. There will always be negativity and naysayers. Soar above them all.


  3. James (dumbass) Baldwin. Do you ever take a look AT ABC, CBS, MSN, FOX FIVE. And all the other U.S.A news channel's when high school students get accepted in all IV LIGUE Collages. It's all over the news IDIOT so what are you talking about. Go sit down fool.


  4. Higher education ??? With no real knowledge of SELF. You called on GOD to enlighten u in the ways of man. Num feel no pain suffer them again.
    ? How u plan on paying back such investments?
    Call and hope on GOD... good luck


  5. Great, congratulations ! you graduated with a 4.0, all the best I hope you get a job! BUT THIS AIN'T NEWS !


  6. Only in saint Lucia, people have to come and flaunt their graduate achievement on news, man if people had to do this shit in other countries where attending and graduating university is a mile stone.

    There won't be any news coverage, because tons of people all over graduate cuma sum laude every figging may...WTF, am tired of this small island bullshit !! I don't see japan, Canada, New Zealand, England, Australia posting all their graduates on news...Frigging slow ass Saint Lucia, Ugh !!


    • Big her up still but I understand your point "Another St Lucian" as if to say. They can really make us feel even more smaller than we are. May, June, July, this is happening all over the Caribbean.


    • Why are you so angry tho.... It's a good thing when we can recognize our citizens who are out there making us proud and representing us well. Furthermore, bigger countries do recognize and praise their citizens for representing them well outside of their borders.
      Also, correction; she graduated Summa Cum Laude.


      • Not your fault you can't relate, much less see the point cause you stuck in a time capsule in Saint Lucia, where every ten years more things change more they stay the same.
        You people are a joke man... you guys make a big deal about Saint Mary's college, which by the way is not even a college not even close. And that place called A-level is two years at any community college anywhere in the world. Which is an undergraduate. BIG DEAL !!
        That's the level of BS you guys perpetrate on the regular, there is nothing to be angry about it's just REDIC !! THIS AIN'T NEWS. SORRY IF I HURT FEELINGS. Just saying it like it is.


    • Aaaaaaa James Baldwin you soumd jealous weee you dint get a degree weee!!! Congrats to the young lady.James jealous my girl!


    • James Baldwin because it is a small country we have to be proud of the few that make it to this milestone. It takes a lot of determination to rise above the average level of education in Saint Lucia. If we can recognized her why not do it.. we are not Japan, Us, or Canada. Saint Lucia is a small developing island. if anything you should be proud of the young 23 year old. She went ahead and further her education.. She raised the bar for other St.Lucians. she had other options, get pregnant and continue what seem to be the tradition of St. Lucia. Matter of Fact her story is a good damn story .. She was the only one in her mom’s kids to make it to university and graduated. She might be the only one in her family also. If you don’t have anything good to say.. Shut the F** Up.


      • You an idiot to say the least and imbecile at most, and that's the problem. Because after all the celebrating is done you idiots still can't find ways to provide jobs for your people DAMN SHAME, living in this time capsule you SOB !!

        which is why if any good can come out of this, the young lady is better off going abroad to find work. Because you all can't provide... a useless bunch of idiots that always complaining and expect their government to do everything for them.

        Backward idiots still kicking students out of school for being pregnant, in the past lower the kids morale by sending them to Rock-hall, selling a fake dream that St. Mary's College is an actual college -> A HOAX !! and hyping the A-Level College implementing mad red tape as to who can attend...and making silly statements that she was the first out of her parents kids to attend college. BIG DEAL !!

        Some of us had to pay our own college tuition sun, sleet or snow hustling..she ain't the only one that had to go through the struggle .. so MIDDLE FINGER !!


  7. Yes, my girl! Earning and at such a young age, I don't know you but I feel really proud. Excellent #St.Lucian


  8. Congratulations. May God be praised. Christian Education does not hurt, it propels us. With God's help the only result possible is success. Praise God from whom All Blessings flow. Amen. Keep up the good work.


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