SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) – Management and staff of The National Institute for Professional Advancement (NIPA) closed off the academic year on a high note, as they celebrated the accomplishments of their graduates earlier this month. Sixty-five students graduated with certificates and diplomas. The evening began with the procession of graduating students ushered in by Master of Ceremony Eudoxia Williams-James, NIPA’s new Internal Supervisor.
Heartfelt words were given, first by NIPA Director Sergio Blomont who just completed his first year working at the institution. Blomont, who has been working diligently to restructure NIPA and make it student centered, expressed his joy and pride for his students.
Among the other speakers were Zoya Arrendell, Oldine Bryson-Pantophlet, and Education Minister Wycliffe Smith.
Arrendell, former NIPA student and keynote speaker for the evening, spoke to the graduates from the heart and her message was truly inspiring. She spoke about her struggles and how NIPA helped her to grow as a person and became her steppingstone to greatness. Arrendell’s exemplary transformation was the reason that she was chosen to address the graduates. She graduated against all odds as Valedictorian of the Hospitality class in 2017. Her success did not end there; she was selected out of 100 applicants and was trained by the White and Yellow Cross in collaboration with the St. Maarten Medical Center to become a Care Assistant. This was funded by the first Dutch recovery funds. Arrendell now works in the St. Maarten Medical Center. She encouraged the graduates to use this achievement as a steppingstone, and not to ever give up, as there are great opportunities out there.
The words of NIPA board member Oldine Bryson-Pantophlet, a seasoned educator for over 40 years, were equally inspiring. She encouraged the graduates to use their skills to give back to St. Maarten, while living out their dreams and sharing their pride for NIPA wherever they go. Bryson’s message coincides with NIPA’s Vision and Mission Statement, that focuses on Professionalism, Inclusiveness, and contribution to the community.
Although attending the graduation meant he had to leave the Parliament Meeting in the midst of heated budget discussions, the Honorable Minister of Education, Culture, Youth, and Sports, Wycliffe Smith, chose to grace the graduation with his presence. In his speech, he complimented NIPA on all its accomplishments and commended the school for being “The Vocational Institute of St. Maarten” and providing future opportunities for students.
Each program also recognized the academic excellence of outstanding students. Students awarded as valedictorians were Eddy Masson and Kadiem van Heyningen from Culinary 1, George Mardenborough from Hospitality Level 1, Davess Alec Mc Lean-Ogle from Maritime Level 1, Akeam Rhoden from Automotive Level 2, Judeiska Milton from Social Pedagogical Work Level 2 and Luisa Anthony Hernandez from Social Pedagogical Work Level 3.
The Management Team of NIPA would like to congratulate all students and their parents on this milestone. Congratulations are in place to the entire NIPA team, who guided and supported the students throughout their school journey. Your hard work is much appreciated.
Special thanks to Andrea Gibson-Paul and support staff, who not only did a fantastic job in organizing a memorable graduation for the students, but also played a big role as a job coach in the students’ school career. Many of these graduates have already secured a job through their internship or by recommendation from NIPA instructors.
Although saying goodbye can be emotional at times, it is a wonderful thing to see these students go out into the community and thrive. For 23% of the Graduating Class, the goodbye is only temporary, as these students have plans to return to NIPA for further education. Some will enroll in a different program to the one they just completed, while others will move on to do a higher level of the program they just completed. Congratulations, Class of 2019!