CHRISTIANSTED, USVI – A St. Croix business and the University of the Virgin Islands are teaming up to develop a progressive Computational Science and modeling curriculum. Students within the new curriculum would receive cutting-edge training in decision sciences, predictive analytics and econometrics.
“An enhanced Computational Science and modeling curriculum will help UVI students become more competitive in the increasingly important world of ‘big data’,” said Mitchell Neaves, UVI’s Director of Major Gift. “In addition, this represents a very beneficial cultivation of our community’s resources. We have tremendous, real-world educational opportunities existing today in our Virgin Islands business community.”
UVI is partnering with Christiansted-based Cane Bay Partners VI, LLLP financially and operationally to develop the curriculum. Since Cane Bay Partners’ began operations on St. Croix, they have employed seven interns from UVI. Three of which have been hired to work for the company after they finished college.
“Demand is high for ‘big data’ analytical resources – both in the USVI and globally,” said Kirk Chewning, a partner at the St. Croix-based analytics and management consulting firm. “Investing in this training for students here at our home University makes good sense on many levels.”
David Johnson, also a partner at Cane Bay Partners, added that more than 95% of Fortune 500 companies utilize the business analytics software, SAS. He is hoping that UVI can establish enhanced training in SAS similar to the training he helped set up at the University of West Georgia, Johnson’s alma mater.
“It is critically important for our UVI students to come out of school prepared to face today’s workplace demands. Kirk and I hope this partnership will help the University achieve that goal,” Johnson said. “My understanding is that this is a leading program among universities in the United States, and others will follow our lead. We need to continue to innovate and make it stronger for the benefit of the students.”
Anthea Francis graduated from UVI in May 2013 with a B.A. in Business Administration with a concentration in Computer Applications. Francis completed two internships at Cane Bay Partners and was hired by the company after graduation. She is a Reporting Specialist II and works with business analytics on a daily basis.
Francis was preparing to leave the island to find work when she received Cane Bay Partners’ job offer.
“I am happy I was able to stay on St. Croix and find work in my field,” Francis said. The internship was a good preparation for her “real-world” job as well. “Students get to experience what it is like to be in a professional environment.”
That experience is a big deal for graduating UVI students.
“We need more internship’s that provide hands-on experience instead of busy work like those offered at Cane Bay Partners,” said Luz Aguilera, a 2013 UVI graduate. Aguilera had a summer internship at Cane Bay Partners in 2011 and was hired post graduation. She is a Marketing Analyst and recently returned from a company-provided trip to Atlanta, GA. for SAS training.
Many of Aguilera’s friends had to leave island because “either they can’t find jobs in their field or simply aren’t qualified. Most of the jobs on island require three to four years’ experience and are reluctant to the fact that most of us are recent college graduates and will be trained either way,” she said.
The real world experience and the opportunity to get her foot in the door was very important to Ghadeer Taha, a 2014 UVI graduate who was recently hired by Cane Bay Partners after two internships. She is a Credit Risk Analyst.
“It’s not always easy to get a good job, so when you find a good internship, you stick to it,” Taha said, noting that she juggled a full class load and another job during her internship. “You’re not going to get many opportunities like this on St. Croix. You have the access to talk directly to the senior management and partners and learn from them. Many of my friends who have jobs here and in the states don’t have that kind of access. Cane Bay Partners has provided me with a great opportunity to gain experience that will help me excel in my career and become very successful in my life. It is a friendly learning environment and a wonderful place to get hands on learning experience.”
To date, Cane Bay Partners has contributed more than $70,000 toward the advancement effort and Chewning and Johnson plan to continue the partnership with UVI for years to come. The commitment said Chewning is a “win-win.”
For interviews with David Johnson and Kirk Chewning please contact Perry Sheraw at 340-692-5102 or firstname.lastname@example.org.