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Youth Leaders Interact With President Obama At Historic UWI Town Hall Meeting

President Obama Addressing Young Leaders

Some 350 young leaders from Jamaica and the wider Caribbean attended an historic Town Hall meeting with President of the United States Barack Obama held at The University of the West Indies, (UWI) Mona Campus on Thursday, 

April 9, 2015.

President Obama used the opportunity to launch the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) to expand opportunities for emerging entrepreneurs and civil society activists. The YLAI will provide 250 fellowships each year to enable participants from the United States and the region to develop joint business and civil society initiatives. He later invited questions from the floor, noting that young people will shape the future of our countries, region, and the planet, and it was important to hear their views.

For President of the Guild of Students at The UWI, Mona, Lerone Laing, participation in the Town Hall meeting was an amazing experience which made a tremendous impression on him: “I’m motivated to promote the principles of transparency, integrity and respect for the rule of law as these are critical values for development as he pointed out”. 

President Obama’s emphasis on entrepreneurship resonated with budding entrepreneur, Romone Robinson, a second year student in the Faculty of Social Sciences. “I left the meeting determined to hone my entrepreneurial skills so that I can make a great impact on employment not only in the Jamaican society but in the world at large,” Robinson declared. These views were shared by postgraduate student Travis Atkinson, who supported the President’s focus on investment in the skills and training of youths, but was a little disappointed that matters such as energy and security were not thoroughly ventilated.

Professor Archibald McDonald, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal, and Dr. Camille Bell-Hutchinson, Campus Registrar, were among the dignitaries who met the President. According to Professor McDonald, “The Mona Campus is delighted to have been the host for the launch of President Obama’s Initiative.  We are also extremely proud of Aubrey Stewart, student of the Western Jamaica Campus, who was chosen to introduce the President at the event”.

The Principal must also have been delighted at President Obama’s expression of appreciation to the institution.  As the President said: “I want to thank The 

University of the West Indies for hosting us. Big up UWI!”

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