Support and build your own institutions, urges USM Business Management graduate Richards

Importance of time management lauded

"Very challenging" is how 2010 University of St. Martin (USM) graduate Deborah Richards describes working full time, raising a daughter, and going to school.

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She is one of seven students who will be receiving their Associates of Arts in Business at the USM Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, June 12, 2010 at the Westin Hotel. A total of 32 persons will be graduating with various degrees on that night.

According to Richards, a degree in Business Management was not her first choice. She added that when USM ceased its Computer Information Systems program, she transferred into the Business Management program and now she has experience in both fields.

Richards, affectionately known as Debbie, has been working at the Windward Islands Bank (WIB) for the past 11 years and is currently a FIAT (Administrative) Officer at WIB. She notes that her employer has been very supportive throughout her studies. She even lauded WIB for being perhaps the only employer on the island that gives employees, who are studying, several hours off before an exam.

She says that she contemplated studying abroad but saw what some of her friends, who did so and returned to the island, were going through, not being able to find employment on St. Maarten, and she decided to remain on St. Maarten.

"I already had a job and didn’t want to leave the island to come back looking for a job and then be with too much qualification and not get a job," says Richards.

The Associate in Business Management graduate notes that her loved ones and close friends were also very supportive in her endeavors. She laughs as she recalls an incident where she was in St. Thomas exploring possibilities of studying there and witnessed a drive by shooting and jumped on the phone and called her mother to tell her she was coming home. Being very family oriented, she smiles while noting that her sister Darleen is also proud of her. Darleen graduated from USM with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education last year.

"My favorite experience at USM is the time that I spent in the Business Communication class with Mrs. Laws," Richards notes, while adding "that experience of coffee making, writing letters and eating pastries was great."

The USM graduate stresses that time management is very important and also having one’s priorities in place while studying, working, and raising a child. She adds that her knowledge expanded while attending USM and she really liked the teaching styles of Mr. Maurice Lake and Ms. Jean Laws, in particular.

"In St. Maarten, especially the young people should support and help build their own institutions/ schools on the island," says Richards, while urging all high school graduates to go directly to college after high school. They have their whole future in front of them. Once they get caught up in the challenges of work-life and having a family, it becomes much more difficult.

Richards is still pursuing her dream of going into Computer Information Systems. She says that she is looking into options for a Bachelor degree in the field, while adding that most likely it will be done online since that affords her the possibility of remaining on St. Maarten. USM wishes Ms. Richards much success in her future endeavors and all the other graduates.