“We can be the impact!” This is Xuxa Garroden’s charge. Her calling to serve others came at a young age. Long before planning her own career and enrolling at the University of the Virgin Islands, Xuxa was driven to serve.
While growing up in St. Kitts, Xuxa recognized that many people didn’t have access to the healthcare they needed. She was especially moved by a neighbor who became a quadriplegic as a teenager after a diving accident.
“I raised funds for him to obtain a medical visa to travel for specialized care,” she recalled. Despite her efforts, however, she soon realized off-island healthcare would be unaffordable. That problem sparked Xuxa’s mission to position herself to help people.
This May, Xuxa will earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and plans to enroll in medical school at St. George University in Grenada in the Fall. Reflecting on her time at UVI, she said, “Being mentored by my UVI advisor Dr. Yakini Brandy helped me to gain tenacity and stir discipline. She encouraged me to persevere and reminded me ‘you have what it takes’.” Xuxa also highly credits her success to her aunts and uncles in St. Thomas as well as her family and mentors in St. Kitts for their unwavering support throughout her journey.
As a chemistry major preparing for a future in medicine, Xuxa was very committed to her studies. She moved on campus during her junior year for an easier commute to her classes and her on-campus job as a tutor at the Center for Student Success. She took advantage of opportunities for summer programs at UVI, including participating in research with Dr. Stanley Latesky, chair of UVI’s Chemistry and Physical Sciences Department. “Being able to do research every summer was the catapult for being academically well rounded in my view,” said Xuxa. “It helped broaden my scope of critical thinking and reasoning through independent and group research.”
Xuxa also participated in an exchange program at the University of Michigan in her sophomore year. “It was truly a memorable experience,” she said, recounting the time her anatomy professor took her and a group of students on an overnight camping trip in the snow in Northern Michigan.
Xuxa equates her experience at UVI with opportunity. “UVI’s plethora of programs and academic counseling continues to create a platform for Caribbean students to attain a higher education in an affordable, familiar environment,” she said. “I would encourage others to enroll. It’s a small door with many experiences.”
Prepared for the challenges of the world, Xuxa urges her peers, “Although the degree belongs to us, our mandate now is to contribute and serve others.” And that is exactly what she intends to continue doing.
Xuxa is active in her community and founded a charity known as “We Drive Foundation” in 2015. For her efforts, she received the Queens Young Leader Award St. Kitts and Nevis for Community Involvement by the Queen Elizabeth Trust in 2017. She was also named an Associate Fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society in 2018 for her work to improve the lives of Commonwealth citizens.
Xuxa earned an associates degree in general studies at the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College in St. Kitts, and worked to save money to continue her education abroad. “My quest to aquire higher education came from my love for my country and the desire to do more for people unable to attain that because of barriers of language and poverty,” she said.
She was granted a scholarship to begin her studies at UVI in January 2018 and received another from Sandy Point Benevolent Society later than year. Xuxa was chosen to be the Class Speaker at this year’s Virtual Commencement Ceremony.