‘It Lit A Fire In Me’

Meet Sam as she is referred to by most of her colleagues. She quietly goes about her work, helping students find the best reading material available in the library. If it happens that the reading material is not to be found at the library, she assists the student(s) in navigating the University’s Online Library Services - UWIlinC.  To the uninitiated student who has not yet appropriated the pronouncement made at every orientation, ‘you are reading for your degree’, surfing the online catalogues may be as tedious as it is pleasurable. Even with the advancements in technology which makes it easier for students to source materials to assist in their assignments, it is for reasons like these that Librarians have a place and are highly valued at institutions of higher learning.

Samantha Williams is the Library Assistant at The UWI Open Campus, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Her association with The University of the West Indies started in 2002 as a temporary Library Assistant.  However, years after in 2009 when the position became available she applied and once again took up this position which eventually blossomed into permanent employment with the University. What followed is an exciting journey of professional and academic excellence.

In 2012, Samantha was among a pioneering batch of students in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to enrol in a new Bachelor of Science programme in Youth Development Work offered by the Open Campus. On Friday February 24th 2017, Samantha along with five other students graduated with 1st Class Honours, out of a total of eight (8) students in this programme. What exactly accounted for this achievement?

Samantha, who was still basking in the excitement of her achievement, noted that she was deeply satisfied and moved by receiving an A for one of her very first courses. According to her, ‘it lit a fire in me’. This was more than a symbol to her. It was confirmation that, in pursuing academic endeavours, hard work does reap a sweet harvest. For Sam, this was both a moment of self-assurance and defiance. But while attributing her success to a desire for personal and professional growth, she also directs us to her children – Kayla and Isaiah - who motivated her to carry on even in the midst of personal and professional challenges; the least not being, joggling her time between caring for her children, serving on a number of committees at work, as secretary of the local Guild Charter, managing the stresses of full-time work and studying Online through the Open Campus.  In the most challenging moments of it all, Sam was constantly comforted by the letter of the Apostle Paul to the Philippians  ‘I can do all things through Him who gives me strength’ and hopes that her children will learn a valuable lesson of how the seeds of discipline and perseverance produces good fruits.

Samantha chooses her area of study strategically because, as she puts it, ‘I would like to help others’ in a more meaningful way. She notes that she has always had a passion for helping others especially vulnerable youths, since she had her own struggles and therefore appreciates and empathises with others who have gone through or experience similar situations like she did. In fact, she noted that she is a co-founder of a charitable organisation which from their own efforts and in collaboration with other organisations, continue to assist disadvantaged children and young people in various ways.  One of her immediate goals is to consolidate the skills and knowledge that she and her fellow Youth Development Work graduates have learnt by organising themselves into a professional body aimed at giving back to Vincentian young people.

Samantha expresses her appreciation to the Open Campus staff who initially welcomed her to the institution and those who subsequently encouraged and supported her throughout her studies. She pays special tribute to Dr. Adrian Fraser and current Head Mrs. Deborah Dalrymple for their guidance. She is grateful to the Government and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines for providing financing through the student loan without which this dream may not have become a reality. But it is to her family especially her children, whom she says are her biggest cheerleaders that we must look to as the source of her inspiration. The Head, Staff and Students of the Open Campus congratulate Samantha and all UWI students on their recent graduation.