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Meet Our Valedictorian: Kensley Shay

Banner image of FSS 2021 Valedictorian Kensley Shay

As the only male in the quartet of valedictorians for the 2021 UWI graduation, Kensley Shay, has the spotlight shining brightly on him, which by all account is much deserved.

Kensley will represent the Faculty of Social Sciences graduating class of 2021 and was chosen based on academic performance, public speaking abilities, and involvement in extra and co-curricular activities. The Selection Committee looks for graduands who are creative and critical thinkers, good communicators, versed in technology, strong in their Caribbean identity, and guided by their ethics and values.

Kensley hails from the parish of St. Thomas where he attended St. Thomas Technical High School and left with 8 CSEC passes and 8 CAPE passes. Due to financial constraints, Kensley with his mother’s approval took the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) entrance test at the age of 16.  Although he had no real interest in becoming a police officer, he joined the JCF at 19. With thoughts of tertiary education lingering in his mind,   Kensley mentally battled the logistics of being in the workforce and doing a degree at the same time. This dilemma was resolved by him making the decision to attend the Faculty of Social Sciences’ Weekend Programme at the University of the West Indies Mona, which allowed  him to pursue a BSc in Management Studies by attending classes on Saturdays only in 2017 during his 5th year as a member of the JCFAs he excelled academically, he also continued to push forward professionally which led to him being promoted to the rank of Corporal in December 2018 after being successful in the JCF’s promotional exams. Work duties started to increase significantly and become more strenuous; however, failure was never an option for him as he continued to push forward.

He attributes his academic success to having a strong family support system with his mother and spouse at the helm, and a dedicated team of classmates that were determined for success, exceptional lecturers that became life coaches and mentors, loyal friends and co-workers. He intends to pursue a Master of Arts degree in Intelligence and International Security or a Master’s of Science in Computer-Based Management Information Systems. He also intends to continue serving and contributing to the development of his country through his service with the JCF and hopes to one day become an adjunct lecturer at The UWI Mona Campus.

Yolande Hylton, recalls, “Kensley Shay was one of my students in the FSS UWI Mona Weekend Programme. This is a programme which allows students to complete their undergraduate degree wholly on Saturdays as is designed for persons who may find it difficult to attend class during the week due to work or other obligations. Work and school is no easy feat. Giving up your Saturdays for 4 years is a real sacrifice. You can imagine that for a student from the Weekend Programme to rise to the top and become the valedictorian, it is serious business. It must be celebrated. Accomplishing this feat only happens through hard work and dedication. Big up, Kensley! I’m so happy for you. The world is truly your oyster. Can’t wait to see what you do next.”

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