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Promising Neuroscientist Danesha Derima Receives $1,000 Scholarship from IEKHS Class of 2019



ST. THOMAS – Highlighting the strength and support within its alumni network, the IEKHS Class of 2019, Inc. recently bestowed a $1,000 scholarship on Danesha Derima, an exceptional graduate from the subsequent class of 2020. Currently, Derima is immersing herself in psychology studies at the University of the Virgin Islands, reflecting a growing zeal for neuroscience investigation.

Rooted in her unwavering ambition to make a mark in the world of neuroscience, Derima envisages focusing on devising pharmaceutical solutions for neurodegenerative disorders like dementia. The Class of 2019 highlighted this in their press release, emphasizing the importance of the scholarship as it substantially alleviates financial hurdles, especially as students venture into the crucial third and fourth years of their undergraduate journey.

Expressing gratitude, Derima stated, “I am deeply honored by the trust the Class of 2019 has placed in me through this esteemed scholarship. It’s a significant assist in navigating college costs.” With an eye on the future, Derima envisions herself as an influential figure in the community, predominantly guiding young women from the Virgin Islands keen on pursuing STEM fields. “Such support magnifies my commitment to forging pathways for upcoming women scientists,” she articulated further.

It’s evident that Ivanna Eudora Kean High School’s alumni hold a keen interest in tracking the successes of their immediate successors. Derima’s unwavering academic excellence since her time at the high school positioned her as a prime candidate for this scholarship.

Ki’Andre Thomas, the President of the IEKHS Class of 2019, Inc., voiced, “Bestowing this scholarship upon Danesha is a celebration of merit and potential. Our endeavor transcends mere financial aid; it’s about kindling a culture of support and inspiring future batches to adopt similar noble pursuits early on.”

The financial foundation for this scholarship found its roots in the Dynamite Rays Apparel Scholarship Fund. This was predominantly fueled by selling hats adorned with the school’s beloved mascot, Ronnie the Ray, signifying the alumni group’s unwavering commitment to academic distinction and nurturing future talent.

On a concluding note, the IEKHS Class of 2019, Inc. is fervently preparing for their 5-year reunion slated between August 2023 and May 2024. This celebratory period will also witness the group’s continued efforts to confer scholarships, organize insightful workshops post-high school, and open doors for deserving individuals. Thomas called out, “We urge potential collaborators and benefactors to unite with us in this mission. Together, we can sculpt the academic trajectories of our prodigious students.”

In harmonizing with the Wall Street Journal’s Style Guide and ensuring the content is primed for SEO, this rewritten piece retains the original’s essence while amplifying its engagement potential for USVI News readers.

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Education in USVI: Schools and Universities



In the U.S. Virgin Islands, the education system is designed to provide comprehensive learning opportunities for all residents, from preschool to higher education. The territory emphasizes both public and private education, ensuring that students receive quality instruction that prepares them for future careers and higher education.

Primary and Secondary Education

The public education system in the Virgin Islands operates under the same standards as U.S. public schools. Education is free and compulsory for children from ages 5.5 to 16. The system includes over 40 public schools, comprising elementary, junior high, and senior high schools. Additionally, the territory features vocational schools that offer specialized training in various trades.

Public schools benefit from federal initiatives such as Head Start, nutrition programs, and Upward Bound, which support early childhood education and help prepare high school students for college. The student-teacher ratio in public schools is approximately 14:1, ensuring that students receive adequate attention and support.

In addition to public schools, the USVI hosts numerous private and parochial schools, which provide alternative education options. These institutions cater to a diverse student population, including those seeking religious-based education. The presence of private schools adds to the overall educational diversity within the territory.

Higher Education

The U.S. Virgin Islands is home to the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI), the principal institution of higher education in the territory. UVI is a public, co-educational, historically black land-grant university offering associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees across its two campuses in St. Thomas and St. Croix​​.

UVI’s academic offerings are extensive, with over 43 degree programs that include disciplines such as Data Science, Nursing, Business Administration, and Education. The university prides itself on small class sizes, maintaining a student-teacher ratio of 12:1, which allows for personalized attention and a supportive learning environment​​.

One of UVI’s notable initiatives is the Free Tuition Program, which provides tuition-free education to eligible residents of the Virgin Islands. This program is designed to make higher education accessible to more residents, thereby enhancing educational attainment and opportunities for the local population​.

Moreover, UVI actively engages in research, service, and outreach programs, contributing to the social and economic development of the Caribbean region. The university also offers study abroad opportunities and maintains partnerships with institutions worldwide, promoting a global perspective among its students.

Challenges and Opportunities

Despite the robust education system, the USVI faces challenges, particularly in the wake of natural disasters. Hurricanes Irma and Maria severely impacted the territory’s infrastructure, including schools. Many schools are still recovering, and reconstruction efforts are ongoing, supported by substantial funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Programs such as “From Farm to School” aim to enrich students’ learning experiences and promote healthy eating habits by incorporating locally grown produce into school meals. This initiative reflects the territory’s commitment to holistic education and the well-being of its students​.


Education in the U.S. Virgin Islands is characterized by a blend of public and private institutions that offer a wide range of learning opportunities from early childhood through higher education. The system’s alignment with U.S. standards ensures high-quality education, while local initiatives and federal support help address unique challenges. With ongoing efforts to improve infrastructure and expand access to higher education, the USVI continues to invest in the future of its students.

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Gifft Hill School Graduates Awarded Ruby Rutnik Scholarship



Two Gifft Hill School graduates have been awarded the prestigious Ruby Rutnik Scholarship for the 2024-25 academic year. De-necia Baxter and Liandra Dagou, both aspiring nursing students, will each receive $2,500 towards their tuition as they embark on their college journeys at the University of the Virgin Islands.

De-necia Baxter and Liandra Dagou, recognized for their academic achievements and community involvement, were selected for their commitment to pursuing nursing degrees. Their passion for healthcare and dedication to their studies have set them apart as deserving recipients of this scholarship, which honors the memory of Ruby Rutnik, a former standout softball player and beloved member of the St. John community.

The Ruby Rutnik Scholarship Fund, established in memory of Ruby Rutnik who tragically passed away in 1996, has been supporting young women from St. John in their educational pursuits for over two decades. Ruby’s parents created the fund and a related softball tournament to provide financial assistance to students, ensuring that her legacy continues to inspire and support the community she loved. The scholarship has awarded over $199,000 to more than 60 recipients since its inception.

De-necia Baxter and Liandra Dagou’s selection underscores the fund’s mission to empower young women through education. Both students have expressed their gratitude and excitement for the opportunities this scholarship will provide as they start their college careers.

De-necia Baxter has been actively involved in various community service projects and has shown a strong interest in healthcare from a young age. Her dedication to her studies and her compassionate nature make her an ideal candidate for the nursing program at the University of the Virgin Islands. Liandra Dagou, equally passionate about healthcare, has excelled academically and participated in numerous extracurricular activities. Her commitment to helping others and her academic prowess have earned her this well-deserved recognition.

The Ruby Rutnik Scholarship not only provides financial support but also serves as a tribute to Ruby’s enduring spirit and the positive impact she had on those around her. The scholarship fund continues to receive support from the community, with contributions ensuring that more young women can achieve their educational goals.

Contributions to the Ruby Rutnik Scholarship Fund can be made by sending checks payable to Gifft Hill School, noting RRSF on the memo line, to GHS, PO Box 1657, St. John, VI 00831. This support is crucial in maintaining the scholarship and honoring Ruby Rutnik’s legacy for future generations.

As De-necia Baxter and Liandra Dagou prepare to begin their college education, the Gifft Hill School community celebrates their achievements and looks forward to their future successes in the field of nursing.

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Virgin Islands Students Shine in Academic Excellence Across U.S. Colleges and Universities



The Virgin Islands Daily News proudly recognizes the academic achievements of Virgin Islands students who have been named to the Dean’s List for the Spring 2024 semester at their respective colleges and universities. This honor is awarded to students who have demonstrated exceptional dedication and academic prowess, maintaining high grade point averages amidst their rigorous coursework.

Warner University

Warner University announced its Spring 2024 Dean’s List, celebrating the exceptional academic achievements of 225 students from both graduate and undergraduate programs. This recognition reflects their outstanding performance and commitment to academic excellence throughout the semester​ (Warner University)​.

Fisk University

At Fisk University, several Virgin Islands students were acknowledged for their academic success. The Dean’s List at Fisk University requires students to achieve a grade point average of 3.50 or higher. This semester, students like Ann Ebhounu and Jessica Grimes have showcased their hard work and dedication, earning a spot on this prestigious list​ (Fisk University)​.

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

N.C. A&T State University also highlighted its students’ achievements, with several from the Virgin Islands making it to the Dean’s List. The university prides itself on inspiring students to exceed expectations and achieve remarkable success in their academic endeavors​ (NCAT)​.

Augusta University

Augusta University recognized its top-performing students for the Spring 2024 semester. The institution, known for its world-class academic and social community, commended its Virgin Islands students for their outstanding academic records, which have positioned them for future opportunities and success​ (Augusta University)​.

Sauk Valley Community College

Sauk Valley Community College included Virgin Islands students in its Dean’s List, acknowledging their impressive academic achievements. The college encourages a balance between coursework and extracurricular activities, supporting students in reaching their full academic potential​ (Sauk Valley Community College)​.

These recognitions across various institutions highlight the significant presence and impact of Virgin Islands students in higher education. Their achievements not only bring pride to their families and communities but also set a high standard for future generations. The dedication and hard work of these students exemplify the values of perseverance and academic excellence.

The Virgin Islands Daily News extends heartfelt congratulations to all the students who have earned a place on the Dean’s List for the Spring 2024 semester. Their success serves as an inspiration to all aspiring scholars from the Virgin Islands.

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