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Kingsborough Community College Valedictorian from Barbados Overcomes

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Brooklyn, N.Y.- Eusi Skeete came to Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn from his native Barbados with a long delayed dream of attending college in the United States. He had just graduated from high school in Barbados and was accepted at a number of private colleges in the northeast when tragedy struck suddenly.

Skeete was busily making travel arrangements and housing plans for his freshman year at college when he was hit by another car in an automobile accident and was nearly killed. Due to the accident, he lost the use of many of his motor functions along the right side of his body including the complete use of his right hand.

"I felt that I could never attend college after that. I couldn't write, I couldn't hold a pen or a pencil, I couldn't even type on a computer," said Skeete. "I had struggled long and hard to save for and get into college, and now all my savings were going towards medical bills."

After the accident, he struggled for many years learning how to gain use of the right side of his body. His hopes of attending college appeared dead to him. Skeete was frustrated repeatedly by the fact that his disability and financial hardships were holding him back from all that he had dreamed.

"After awhile I decided I was not going to let this disability beat me and keep me from continuing my education," Skeete said. "I was going to fight back and learn how to utilize whatever mobility I still had and could regain through therapy. I would find a college in the U.S. that I could afford and would get my degree."

Skeete was determined to continue his studies. Through considerable pain and physical therapy, he gradually worked his way back to a point where he felt he could go to college. He went through intense rehabilitation and although he has little or no use of his right hand he can manage some movement and is able to use his other hand for many of the things he could not do before.

"It is still a struggle everyday but I've made it because I set goals for myself and kept to them. I have also have had the support of some of the greatest people who never let me give up," said Skeete.

According to Angelo Pappagallo, Dean of Students at Kingsborough, "Eusi is everything Kingsborough and CUNY represent to the world. He is an immigrant to the United States who struggled long and hard to get here overcoming all kinds of adversity. He is a tremendous human being with a drive and determination that still astounds me. I know he will take what he has learned from us, to not only better himself and New York City but the people of his native country as well."

Eusi, encouraged by his two sisters, his family and his friends, would not allow the dream of going to college and gaining a degree die. He wanted to go to the U.S. and gain the skills and education to return and help his native country. He struggled to overcome the pain and succeeded in learning how to function with a disability.

Eusi changed his plans of what college to attend due to financial hardship and instead of attending a private college, he found Kingsborough Community College and CUNY on the World Wide Web. He decided that Kingsborough reminded him of home in Barbados because of its location on the water and because of the beach surrounding the college.

"I'm not sure who made out better by Eusi deciding to coming here - Kingsborough or Eusi? I think in the end we both made out extremely well," said Fred B. Malamet, Interim President of Kingsborough. "Eusi Skeete is a phenomenal student, individual and leader of people. Speaking for both myself and the entire Kingsborough Community, I could not be prouder of any one of our students than I am of him."

Eusi came to Kingsborough in 2002 and has become one of its most successful and visible students. He has succeeded not only academically but also by participating in dozens of extra-curricular activities at the college.

He is one of the leaders of the Department of Tourism and Hospitality at Kingsborough and has strengthened the ties between the college and the nation of Barbados's Tourism Department.

He is the winner of the Leon M. Goldstein Award for Public Service, The My Hero Award at the college for student mentoring and he is also the 2004 Valedictorian. Eusi holds a perfect 4.0 GPA while balancing a 25-hour per week job and more than 25-hours a week volunteering for a variety of groups.

He is among other things, a peer advisor, Chairperson of the Black History Month Committee, President of the International Student Union, Head of the Virtual Enterprise Leadership Program, a school mentor, a member of the KCC Christian Club and the Pan-African Student Association. He is also a member of or involved in at least a dozen other college organizations. He holds down a job for 25 hours a week in the Career Services Office and lives on his own in an apartment in East Flatbush.

Eusi feels that Kingsborough has equipped him for what it takes to be successful in life. He has developed a passion for tourism and wants to return to Barbados and one day become the head of the country's Department of Tourism.

He also credits the Office of Special Services at Kingsborough under the direction of Professor Anthony Colarossi, which assists students with disabilities at the college. Many of Kingsborough's students who have disabilities find that the college is highly accessible and provides the support necessary for students with disabilities to succeed.

"I have gained so much at Kingsborough from the faculty and staff here," he said. "What I have learned from the Travel and Tourism Department at the college is just my first step towards bringing New Yorkers to one of the most beautiful islands in the world – my Barbados."

He feels that Kingsborough has given him a true college experience and through his involvement in extra-curricular activities, he has learned leadership and interpersonal skills that will serve him well back in Barbados.

"Kingsborough and CUNY have changed my life forever. They believed in my potential and gave me the tools to reach it. I will forever be grateful to the faculty and administration of Kingsborough for these two years. I will miss the college and all the people who supported me."

By: Michael Goldstein

Sources:

Kingsborough Community College Valedictorian from Barbados Overcomes Numerous Hardships and Obstacles

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Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource . factcouraud. (2007, May 22). Kingsborough Community College Valedictorian from Barbados Overcomes. Retrieved January 08, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: http://ocw.usu.edu/English/introduction-to-writing-academic-prose/kingsborough-community-college-valedictorian-from-barbados-overcomes.html. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License