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UVI, viNGN and DOE Partner to Create STEAM Academy

UVI President David Hall and VI Next Generation Network  President and CEO Dr. Tonjia Coverdale participate, along with others, in ribbon cutting ceremony on the Waterfront on St. Thomas.

 The University of the Virgin Islands, Virgin Islands Next Generation Network (viNGN) and the VI Department of Education (VI-DOE) have partnered to establish a K-16 STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) Academy. The academy, which is being designed to encourage technology and economic access, is a territory-wide initiative for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Students will attend STEAM-focused classes on UVI campuses, on each island, and connect in virtual classrooms with counterparts throughout the territory.  

In this planned dual-enrollment initiative, high school students will take part in their STEAM Academy curriculum and be enrolled in a two-year information technology certification track, where they will receive training in industry certifications or four-year STEAM-related degree programs. Students in the program will graduate from high school with either information technology industry certifications or University credits toward a bachelor’s degree. STEAM Academy students, upon either their 12th grade graduation, if they are in the certification track, or upon graduation from UVI, will receive guaranteed job placement in the local technology economy in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  

“UVI is thrilled about this partnership with viNGN and the Department of Education,” said UVI President David Hall. “The STEAM academy at UVI will empower us to inspire and prepare the next generation of technology leaders in the Virgin Islands. Through this partnership we can create a pipeline of talent that will fulfill the future needs for businesses who presently exist and those who will be attracted to the territory in the future.”

 “Students, regardless of socioeconomic background, will have access to STEAM education, on all three islands,” said Dr. Tonjia Coverdale, president and chief executive officer of viNGN. “This will be a school without walls, a territorial school.” She is also an assistant professor of computer information systems at UVI, currently serving in a part-time capacity.

Dr. Coverdale’s vision is to invest in the people of the Virgin Islands through the implementation of community technology education initiatives and through the development of a sustainable technology workforce with the creation of a K-16 pipeline designed to encourage technology and economic access, stimulate the economy through the redistribution of wealth within the Territory, and minimize external flow.  

In order for the next generation of technology to succeed, the development of a sustainable technology workforce is critical, she said.