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Twenty Graduations: One Louverture Cleary
News item date:
Friday, June 5, 2015
By Kristin Soukup (THP Lead Volunteer)
LCS Head of Operations Esther Paul (left) and THP President Deacon Moynihan award Djeph Lesperance (LCS ’15) his diploma.
On June 20th, LCS graduated its 20th class of Louverturians. To mark this milestone, we asked alumni ranging from the first graduating class of 1995 to the most recent class of 2015 about their LCS experience and their graduation.
As LCS has grown – from fewer than 20, to 360 students today – the size of the graduating class has changed as well. Guertho Derival (’95), who graduated in LCS’s first group, remembers, “We had 13 that graduated: 7 boys and 6 girls.” Kismith Bissainthe (’05) recalled: “Our class was still only one section: 29 students, with 20 boys and 9 girls.” By the time Myrlande Aubourg graduated in 2010, the number of graduates increased to 40 comprised of two sections. This year, LCS graduated 45 students: 16 boys and 29 girls.
As the number of total students has grown, the number of girls at LCS has also increased greatly. Bissainthe, as one of only nine girls in her class, recounted the importance of the “Celebrate Women” program in helping to increase the number of female graduates. “In Celebrate Women, I learned about my responsibilities as a woman. Because of Celebrate Women, I know my responsibilities and I know my strengths. It helped make me the person I am today.” Now, the female students at LCS actually outnumber the male students in the school.
Lead Volunteer Kristin Soukup interviews LCS Alum Jules Alcenat (‘00) about the LCS experience, 15 years after his own memorable graduation day.
Another major change – and accomplishment – over the years has been the increase in scholarship opportunities for LCS graduates. Derival (’95) said there were no formal scholarships provided through LCS when he graduated. Jules Alcenat (’00) remembered the same: Graduates of that time had to work to pay for university, just as he did in order to complete his studies in Law.
Derival did not go to University immediately upon graduation, but later found help to support his continued education: “After LCS, I spent two years without doing anything. Then, one day I came to LCS to meet Mr. Moynihan, and I talked to him about my situation – that I would like to start at university. He gave me a job working in maintenance, and he promised to pay for university for me.” Through this work arrangement, Derival was able to complete his studies in agronomy.
The opportunity provided to Derival has now been formalized with the creation of the “Junior Staff Program.” Junior Staff are alumni of LCS who are chosen to live and work at the school while they study at university. In exchange, LCS funds their schooling throughout their years as Junior Staff. In a given year, five to eight alumni live and work at the school as part of the program while simultaneously completing their university education.
By 2005, LCS was able to provide scholarships for its alumni. Bissainthe was one of six exceptional students in her class to receive a scholarship from LCS: “This [scholarship] is why I studied administration. With the scholarship, I had the possibility to go to one of the best universities in Haiti, IHECE, where I studied administration,” she said.
Over the years, the number of scholarships has grown thanks in large part to the generous support of Voila (formerly part of U.S.-based Trilogy International Partners) in Haiti, and, more recently, the TripAdvisor Charitable Foundation. The current capital campaign, Rise, is also contributing to THP’s long-term capacity to provide university support to our graduates by establishing nine “named” endowed scholarships of $100,000 each that will support scholarship opportunities for our graduates in perpetuity.
This year, at least half of the graduating class of 2015 will receive scholarships from LCS. While this year’s scholarship recipients are still being selected, Edline Monclair (’15) is hopeful as she looks to the future as a graduate of LCS: “As an alumna of LCS, doors open for you, so graduating from LCS is very important.”
Each of these five alumni commented on the importance of the education they received at LCS, and each reflection had something in common – LCS taught them to live and work together with others. As the students live, study and work together, this is a unique, but essential, aspect of the LCS community.
“We had the idea to learn here at LCS and then to go out to help the country – help people for the progress of Haiti,” Derival said. “We learned to work together to protect the environment, to clean the area, to do go good things. LCS took off our selfish ideas and taught us that we have to give, to help.”
“I remember the day of graduation very well,” recalled Alcenat. “We were very sad, we knew we would be separated, so we tried to remember each moment we spent together. Living together at LCS, we had learned about what life really is,” he added.
Bissainthe said the LCS community was important and valuable beyond graduation: “LCS helped me to understand people, because we lived in community. We lived with people with different personalities; people that don’t have the same reaction to a situation. We learned how to talk to different people. We did that at LCS. That helped me to work with others where I live, where I work and at school.”
“From what I received at LCS, I know how to be responsible and a model where I am; I know how to treat others and live with them,” Aubourg reflected. “[LCS] helped me to be able to advise all my neighbors that our country and our community can succeed if they live together in love, peace and charity,” she said.
Monclair (’15) spoke from her recent experience of her Philo year: “We are always working with others, in class and in work. It is not easy, and we had to make sacrifices. Leading the younger students and having responsibilities – it is like being an adult, and it prepares us for the future.”