AFUWI to honor Antigua and Barbuda at Silver Anniversary Gala

Don Wehby, group chief executive, Grace Kennedy Group. AFUWI/Adrian Creary
Don Wehby, group chief executive, Grace Kennedy Group.
AFUWI/Adrian Creary

The leader of the Caribbean’s A&B islands will be front and center this week to accept the Legacy Award from the American Foundation for the University of the West Indies (AFUWI) when they celebrate 25 years of fundraising benefits to aid needy and worthy students.

Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston A. Browne is expected to travel north to collect the prestigious honor from the Caribbean’s most acclaimed learning institution reputed for its mission in advancing education throughout the region.

This year he will share the prize with neighbour and fellow twin-island Prime Minister Timothy J. Harris, of St. Kitts and Nevis.

Together the eastern Caribbean statesmen will claim the Legacy prize and also fulfil a promise AFUWI is committed in ensuring “the legacy continues.”

A separate presentation will also be made to Premiere Mark A. Brantley of Nevis who will be honoured with the Vice Chancellor’s Award.

Five more individuals will be regaled during the April 21 gala which from 6 pm will acknowledge excellence in politics, sports, culture, finance, business and entertainment.

In addition to the Legacy and Vice Chancellor’s award, the Caribbean Luminary award names Graham Robinson of Stanley Industrial.

The Chancellor’s Award for excellence in global business leadership will go to Don Wehby, group chief executive, Grace Kennedy Group. His affiliated company also snags the Corporate Award for global business excellence.

Ambassador Ralph S. Thomas will receive the Pelican Award and Wayne Berson, chief executive officer of, BDO USA — the Pinnacle Award for excellence in financial advisory services.

California’s Grammy winning songwriter Dawn Lewis will travel cross-country to accept the Bob Marley Award. Best known as an actress for her role on television’s “A Different World,” Lewis is an accomplished producer.

“The 2022 awardees are indeed a distinguished group deserving of acknowledgement at the 25th anniversary of the AFUWI Awards gala,” Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice Chancellor of UWI explained.

“This is a time too, when we must pay homage to the many sponsors of the event and the persons who annually attend the gala thus contributing to the raising of scholarship funds for hundreds of worthy students.”
A press release further emphasized:

‘The AFUWI Awards are conferred annually on notable individuals and companies which represent high levels of achievement within their respective fields of industry, enterprise and in service in their communities, by the US – based AFUWI which partners with UWI alumni, the Caribbean Community in the USA, American foundations and corporations to raise funds for projects, scholarships and academic programs on the university’s four physical and one virtual campuses.’

This year the anticipated fundraiser/award returns with live presentations following last year’s virtual celebration which was restricted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Although organizers plan to roll out a red carpet welcome to patrons and honorees this week, AFUWI spokesperson Ann Marie Grant said all COVID-19 protocols will be in place to safeguard guests attending the black tie affair at 583 Park Avenue.

Throughout the three-year pandemic crisis, Grant has been relentless in her efforts to inform the diaspora on issues pertinent to UWI and the Caribbean community. Through regular advisories she maintains “together through our resilience and determination, we can conquer any adversity.’

Preparations for next year’s milestone calendar are already underway, according to Sir Beckles, “the UWI is preparing to celebrate its 75th anniversary.”

In accordance with deadline dates he explained that his associates have “worked tirelessly to develop sustainable strategies in the face of many economic challenges that have caused many governments to reduce student support and of course, most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic,

which has made our situation even more difficult.”

The Vice-chancellor added that in addition to consistently adjusting to unexpected changes in education “the UWI is working to transform itself into a global university providing education to 100, 000 students all over the world, online. We have already forged partnerships with leading universities in Africa, Cuba, the USA, England, and China. Soon there will be a UWI in every continent.”

Reportedly, the world’s most reputable ranking agency, Times Higher Education, listed UWI among the top 600 universities in the world for 2019 and 2020, and the 40 best universities in Latin America and the Caribbean for 2018 and 2019.

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