Renaissance Vol. 2 No. 3
The collaboration between the Office of the Vice-Chancellor and the Centre for Communication Studies (CCS) of The University of Guyana brings to you this Volume 2: No. 3 edition of Renaissance, a monthly newsletter. Renaissance is the Vice-Chancellor’s medium of sharing with you our University’s developments.
The month of March was filled with activities held in observance of International Women’s Day. Ms Audrey Benn, Lecturer in the Women Studies Unit has written an important message on the importance of celebrating women and our own Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic Engagement), Dr Michael Scott shared an impacting poem, both of which we hope you will reflect on.
In this edition you will also read about a number of lecture series hosted by UG: Turkeyen and Tain Talks VI and the VC’s Renaissance Lecture Series II.
UG recently launched its very own press as a publishing arm in collaboration with Ian Randle of Jamaica’s Ian Randle Publishers. This is truly an historic move by our University. The Renaissance team had an opportunity to profile the new Director of the Centre for Biodiversity, Dr Gyanpriya Maharaj.
Additionally, in March the winners of the Turkeyen campus’ Open/Career Day were announced. We congratulate the Faculty of Earth and Environmental Sciences on winning the first place, Vice-Chancellor’s Cup in this event.
Our alumni around the world have certainly made us proud. We feature in this edition of Renaissance the story of Ms Sonnel David-Longe’s 2017 Ridding Reading Prize from the Girton College of the University of Cambridge in the UK.
As you read, be inspired to join us as we celebrate UG’s Renaissance!
Click here to download the PDF file.
Empowering others through ICT – Eldon Marks is living his dream
“LIVE YOUR dream. Be as crazy as you possibly can be, ignore the status quo, set your goals and go after them with blind determination,” Social Entrepreneur, Eldon Marks said as he addressed a room full of entrepreneurs and software developers in a collaborative work space he had developed with his business partner, Chitra Dwarka.
Marks, who ever so often describes himself as a dreamer, is no stranger to Guyana, having won the Ministry of Public Telecommunication’s first Hackathon along with his team from Version75 Solutions (V75) in November, 2016. But long before he had risen to stardom, Marks had been quietly working behind the scenes, molding the nation’s youths to be the best version of themselves.
For 12 years, he lectured and mentored hundreds of students at the Department of Computer Science at the University of Guyana. It was at that university that the former Bishops’ High School student had acquired his undergraduate Degree in Computer Science before pursuing a Master’s Degree in Computer Science at Howard University, Washington D.C. At Howard he specialized in Artificial Intelligence and completed the programme in three semesters with a 4.0 GPA.
“I owe much of academic and professional development to the University of Guyana, more specifically to my former lecturers in the Department of Computer Science who later became my colleagues and mentors. The environment that I was afforded as a student and subsequently as a young lecturer gave me the opportunity to discover my true potential and reach further than I had ever conceived.”
Although being exposed to what many describe as the “world of opportunities,” Marks opted to return home to contribute to the development of his country in the fields of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and Entrepreneurship.
“Looking out from a developing economy, it is easy to see what we don’t have and it is easy to be consumed with studying our problems instead of solving them. ICT Entrepreneurs are much needed in Guyana for two reasons: (1) it is widely accepted that digital industries where an individual can electronically provide services and products regardless of geographic location are significant drivers for economic growth – simply put, a trained web designer with a laptop and Internet access can quickly and readily earn a decent living, even in Guyana. (2) The entrepreneur mindset is concerned with assessing problems to quickly and effectively solve them – taking action over talking about it.”
Further, driven by his personal philosophy drawn from spiritual teachings and his innate desire to empower others while empowering himself, the husband and father of one made one of his many dreams a reality developing his own company – Version75 Solutions.
Marks explained that V75 is a community disguised as a company uniting user interface design specialists, graphics designers, marketers, web developers, mobile application developers, database developers and software engineers to deliver the most effective, comprehensive and unified solutions.
As a ‘dreamer,’ he told the budding entrepreneurs and software developers that there were risks that he had to take but it was important for his dream to materialize.
“There are realists and then there are dreamers. A realist would understand certain parameters and these parameters would be based on what they can see, what they can touch, what they can feel,” he posited while explaining his perspective.
A dreamer, on the other hand he explains, pushes beyond the limits set by society. “So being a dreamer really means constantly challenging those social norms, the status quo, pushing the limits and eventually discovering what more we can actually do and how much more we can deliver,” he explained.
For him there is no harm in taking risks. “There is really no harm in taking that risk of setting an objective, however, crazy it might be. You set the objective as high as possible and whether you achieve it or not, you learn from it. Be as crazy as you possibly can be, ignore the status quo, set your goals and go after it with blind determination,” he posited.
Though there will be challenges, there are meant to be overcome, Social Entrepreneur emphasized.
Here in Guyana, Marks and his team at V75 were faced with the sad reality that acquiring local support from businesses in the field of ICT was a difficult one. But instead of ‘packing up shop’ and opting to do something else, they decided to target foreign markets. “Locally we are faced with this stigma with respect to our own local developers…. We have this diminished image of our own skills as Guyanese,” he explained. Its first client was a Canadian company.
“Through networking, we were fortunate enough to secure an offshore client – a Canadian Insurance Company,” he added. Today, 64 per cent of its projects are for clients outside of Guyana.
There was another challenge V75 had faced during its initial phase – the team had difficulties finding a common work space. It was out of that challenge that WeOwn Space was established approximately seven months ago.
The collaborative work space, situated at Lot 3 David Rose Street and Aubrey Barker Road, South Ruimveldt Gardens, Georgetown, in the words of Marks, “gives local startups a fighting chance,” on a daily basis. It was further explained that WeOwn Space provides a unique environment for co-working, leaning, collaborating and networking to support Guyanese on their professional journey.
Though Marks is the founder of V75 and the Co-founder of WeOwn Space, he said for both entities there is no boss, noting that the input of all team members is important and valued deeply.
Outside of the world of ICT, Marks said he is a husband and father one. He said while pursuing one’s dreams is important, family is important too.
“It is no easy task to be a full-time professional and have a family. The constant context switching and collection of responsibilities can often force you to choose one or the other. In my case, my family is the reason that I became a social entrepreneur who lives up to delivering value. I can better provide for them today while leaving behind a slightly better world, tomorrow.”
Best Guyanese Law Student receives Guyana Prize
Best Guyanese graduating student at the Hugh Wooding Law School, Latoya Roberts, received her Guyana Government Prize for 2016.
The Guyana Government Prize is a mark of distinction awarded to the best graduating Guyanese law student.
During the handing over ceremony yesterday , at the Ministry of Legal Affairs, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, Senior Counsel (SC), applauded Roberts for her consistent excellence throughout her school years.
Minister Williams highlighted government’s commitment to promoting and encouraging academic excellence among all Guyanese students.
Attorney-at law Roberts, is currently employed in private practice. She said that she is still deciding what areas of law she would like to specialise in.
Roberts said that having a law school in Guyana is the way to go because having gone through the system, she now understands the hardship that law students face while studying at the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad.
“There is also the talk of having too many lawyers, but I believe that Guyana is on the verge, once guided correctly, and in the right direction for so much development, we will need lawyers if we learn to specialise and diversify,” Roberts said.
The attorney said that lawyers can contribute significantly to Guyana’s development hence, a local law school will be a plus for the country.
Roberts attended the Sand Hills Nursery and Primary Schools in Vreed-en-Rust, West Bank Demerara, where she grew up. She also attended the North Georgetown Secondary School where she wrote the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) graduating as valedictorian of her class, receiving passes in nine subjects.
She then attended President’s College as a Sixth Form student and successfully graduated from that intuition as the valedictorian also.
In 2006, she entered the University of Guyana to read for the LLB degree, and in 2010, she graduated. In 2014, with the help of relatives and friends she was able to attend the Hugh Wooding Law School and graduated in 2016 as Best Graduating Guyanese student. (GINA)
University of Guyana
- University of Guyana, Turkeyen Campus