Deanna Hunt’s degree from the University of the Virgin Islands will prominently bear her name, but the Computer Science major is quick to acknowledge that there are many individuals without whose help and support she would not have been able to achieve her goals.

In junior high school, the late Shirley Fleming inspired Hunt to learn the basics of coding as she spent her afterschool time working on the computer.

“That is what piqued my interest in the field,” said Hunt. “After she passed away in 2017, I was really down, and it took a little while to pull myself together. She laid the foundation for the passion I have, and I dedicate this degree to her and others who have been instrumental in my success.”

Hunt first expresses her gratitude to God for making it through her college years.

“Through the ups and downs of being a college student, I can really say that God molded me and guided me through the years,” she said. “I am really and truly a masterpiece of God’s creation.”

Deanna Hunt

Hunt also benefited from the strong guidance of her parents, Owen and Roslin Hodge-Hunt, who migrated to the U.S. Virgin Islands from Antigua and St. Kitts, respectively, and who she describes as her biggest cheerleaders. Older brothers Delano and Devar Hunt also get credit for their support.

“They are always there for me. They pushed me in my personal growth and development, and I am so grateful to them for all they have done,” said Hunt.

Grandmother Shirley Hodge and aunt Verlin Ivanna Hodge, who both recently passed away within the past two years, were also significant sources of support.

“My aunt homeschooled me before I got into a classroom. They always looked out for me and encouraged me to do my best. I am standing on the solid foundation they laid,” she recalls.

Deanna Hunt

Additionally, Hunt extends her gratitude to her friends and loved ones for the continuous support throughout the years.

Born in St. Thomas, Hunt applied to and was accepted by a few universities in the continental United States, but she chose to stay home and take advantage of the unique UVI experience.

“My main concern was being in a setting where classes were large. As a result of attending UVI, I was able to experience many one-to-one interactions with my professors and had the opportunity to connect with students and form lasting friendships,” she said.

“Dr. Marc Boumedine and Dr. Timothy Kentopp granted me many opportunities to partake in that helped develop my field of interest,” Hunt explained, while also crediting Dr. Michele Guannel, her first employer at the University, with seeing the determination and potential in Hunt.

“Dr. Guannel allowed me to explore service-learning and develop leadership skills,” Hunt recalled.

Living in a dorm prior to the pandemic for one-and-a-quarter semesters and then coming back on campus recently allowed Hunt to really relish the ambience on the UVI campus. “The clubs and organizations have so many activities here to participate in,” she said.

In April 2022, Hunt had the opportunity to present an undergraduate student perspective at the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine conference as well as the VI-EPSCoR Conference in October 2022. Additionally, Hunt took part in the Purdue University National Data Mine Network during the Spring 2023 semester.

While pursuing her computer science degree, Hunt held down two on-campus jobs at UVI. She served as the Web Assistant for UVI’s Public Relations Office and worked as Service-Learning Coordinator overseeing the freshman-level introductory science course. She was recently awarded the Student Employee of the Year.

The first college graduate in her family, Hunt plans to pursue job opportunities in the public and private sectors in the USVI.

“I am looking for something in relation to designing or content creation and migration,” she stated. “Cyber security also interests me as I think network security is something people should pay attention to and consider improving systems in home environments. With the increased use of technology, there is a risk of data breaches with hackers always attempting to infiltrate home and company environments.”

Deanna Hunt

Hunt’s goal is to set up a business, specializing in creating websites, enhancing network security systems for individuals and companies in the territory, and developing workshops for young people with an interest in computer science.

In her spare time, Hunt enjoys exploring recipes because of her love for cooking. The animal lover also enjoys volunteering at the Humane Society of St. Thomas, playing video games, reading, and watching shows online.