Following the completion of the academic year 2020/2021, Donelle Roberts from the north-eastern community of Marigot, Dominica, was named Valedictorian of the Grambling State University (GSU). Roberts majored in Mathematics and Physics with a concentration in Actuarial Science and sealed her studies with the award of first class honors.
Upon interview with Emonews, Roberts expressed, “I feel happy for the recognition. My hard work has paid off. Late nights of studying and waking up early to attend classes was worth it. It was tough.”
Nonetheless, she reminds herself that with success always comes the struggle. Roberts noted that she faced numerous challenges during her seven semesters at GSU. “Financial challenges were the main challenges faced. It was also difficult to keep motivated since I was far away from home or family and the whole situation with the covid-19 virus,” she articulated.
Furthermore, she considered herself an individual determined to succeed no matter the external or internal circumstances. Accordingly, she sought ways to overcome her challenges through prayer. “I thank God for the scholarship I received that covered my tuition and rooming. I also worked two part-time jobs on campus. That way I was able to cover my basic necessities and travel costs without having to burden my parents back home too much,” she stated.
Moreover, Roberts added, “Being away from home and the culture can be difficult. I got homesick a lot but I came to the USA to better myself and make my family proud, so I always kept that goal in mind and found strength in that whenever I felt discouraged.” With that mindset, she was able to do more than just succeed. Rather, she provided a first-place performance
Additionally, Roberts used the opportunity to encourage other Dominican students to pursue their dreams. “For any Dominican who wish to further their education abroad, don’t give up on that dream. There may be barriers, especially financial barriers, but there is a silver lining at the end of every tunnel. Some may receive scholarships and others may have to work and then go to study but no matter what, don’t give up. Dominica is highly in need of skilled individuals,” she voiced.
Notably, when asked if she sees herself pursing other things in the future, Roberts responded, “Good question! This isn’t it for me. There is always room to grow and be better. While I won’t be pursuing a Master’s degree, I will begin studying to sit the Professional Actuarial Examinations.” Further, she expressed deepest gratitude to those who were instrumental to her success, that being, God, her parents and siblings.
It is noteworthy that Roberts joins the list of Dominican students who have captured the position of Valedictorian for the 2020/2021 academic year, across various universities regionally and internationally. While the future may be uncertain, one hopes that the trend may continue and other Dominicans may follow suit.