Jamaican Prime Minister addresses Delaware State graduates, recognizing the school’s hundreds of Jamaican students

The visit from Prime Minister Andrew Holness was the first time a sitting head of government delivered a commencement address at DSU.

Andrew Holness speaking at a podium at the graduation

Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness traveled to Delaware State University to deliver the keynote address at the afternoon graduate commencement. (Johnny Perez-Gonzalez/WHYY)

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The largest graduating class in Delaware State University got their diplomas in ceremonies at the Dover campus Friday. For the graduates, the day marks the culmination of years of hard work and dedication — a moment they’ve long awaited, walking proudly across the stage draped in stoles to accept their diplomas.

The graduates heard from Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness, the first time a sitting head of government delivered a commencement address at DSU.

Holness warmly greeted the students at the ceremony for graduate students by speaking in Patois, translating to “Hello” or “What’s going on?”

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“Wah gwaan, wah gwaan DSU,” he began his speech. “Hundreds of Jamaican students are accessing post-graduate studies through Delaware State University. And as you have just heard, 38 students are now a part of this 2024 graduating cohort.”

Amid the pandemic in the fall of 2020, DSU launched an educational collaboration to allow  Jamaican students to pursue higher education through the Caribbean Ed.D. program. These students attend classes asynchronously from Jamaica and can choose from various disciplines offered through the university’s associates program, including biological science, psychology, social work, and liberal studies.

“We feel very accomplished,” said Kingston resident Orville Plummer, who is part of the Caribbean Ed.D. Program and traveled to Delaware to receive his Doctorate in Educational leadership. “It was a very hard three and a half years, and we have worked collaboratively together and we are very proud to be represented for Jamaica.”

“I think it’s very fitting that Prime Minister Holness come to represent Jamaica,” he added. “We are going back to impact our country.”

Orville Plummer at the graduation
On the right, Orville Plummer, a Jamaican graduate student residing in Kingston, traveled to Delaware to receive his Doctorate in Educational Leadership as part of the Caribbean EdD Program. (Johnny Perez-Gonzalez/WHYY)

As graduates receive their degrees, Holness shared some wisdom with the Class of 2024, offering young and older graduates advice based on lessons he would tell his younger self.

“First, perspective is important. Life always throws up challenges, obstacles and struggles … However, obstacles are sometimes stepping stones, challenges are usually opportunities to be discovered, our struggles are oftentimes exercises to make us stronger,” he said. “We can benefit immensely by approaching our problems from a different point of view. To achieve this, we must accept, regardless of how much knowledge we believe we possess – there is still more to learn.”

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His second piece of advice was to be conscious and aware.

“Embrace your struggles and grasp your opportunities. In navigating life, not every struggle is worth fighting, not every opportunity should be taken,” he added.

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