There was thunderous applause and cheerful shouts from the floor of the UWI SPEC, St Augustine yesterday as blind student Anil Waithe graduated with a BSc in Information Technology (IT).
Waithe, 25, who deemed himself the first ever visually impaired person to start and complete a BSc in IT at UWI, St Augustine, and has already started his Masters in Computer Science, told the Express in an interview he did the programme just to pave the way for other visually impaired persons who will now follow in his footsteps.
"Being the first to do IT, I could have picked up a normal reading subject but I actually took up a course to help pave the way for others. So I knew it would be a challenge but with me having graduated, and the university now being aware of the challenges, I believe that if any visually impaired student picks up the subject in the future they should be able to graduate with First Class Honours."
Waithe, who lives in Tacarigua, said although he could have taken up a reading programme in literature or law, like other visually impaired students he wanted to do something unique because he also hoped to motivate other visually impaired students to break new ground academically.
The challenge, he said, was having to repeat a few courses in the beginning but having completed the programme with Upper Second Class Honours he believes the sky is the limit.
"I would like to tell parents that not because their child has a disability that they should hold them back, because I believe that success is within us all," he said.
Truly grateful for all the support he got while pursuing his first degree, Waithe said:
"I would like to thank my parents because my mummy takes me to class and brings me back. Ms Janet Reyes at the Disability Unit, she actually advocated to get some rules changed to assist me in pulling through."
Addressing the graduands at the graduation ceremony of the Faculty of Science and Agriculture yesterday UWI Chancellor George Alleyne said he desperately hoped that more funds would be pumped into the area of research and development because the current 0.1 per cent of GDP was not enough.
He added that universities must become entrepreneurial institutions and congratulated National Entrepreneurship Development Co Ltd (NEDCO) on partnering with UWI.
The Chancellor also pointed to the importance of diversification of the academic course of study at the university which he said.