Northern Caribbean University (NCU) conferred the honorary Doctor of Science degree on Caymanian Shirlene Henriques, MA, OCI, who graduated among the first NCU-degreed nurses in 1974.
The honorary doctorate was awarded during the institution’s historic 100th commencement exercise on Sunday (August 13, 2023). The “robing and hooding” ceremony took place in Grand Cayman at the George Town Seventh-day Adventist Church on Smith Road at 8 am on Sunday. This local aspect of the conferral was presided over by President of the Cayman Islands Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Ivor Harry, DMin, assisted by Livingston Smith, PhD, and Joan Latty, PhD.
Mrs Henriques retired as Chief Executive Officer of the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority in 2008. In 2021, she was made an Officer of the Order of the Cayman Islands (OCI) for distinguished services to nursing and the Cayman community.
At the 100th graduation ceremony, more than 700 graduands from 77 academic programs were offered across the institution’s four colleges, and one school became eligible for the conferral of certificates and degrees. The 100th graduation exercises were held in the gymnatorium on the Mandeville Campus of NCU.
The President of NCU, Prof. Lincoln Edwards, DDS, PhD, described the 2023 graduating class as “prestigious, not only because of the determination” that took graduates to where they were that day but because this was “the 100th graduation ceremony since the institution opened its doors on this hilltop.”
Mrs Henriques became the third Caymanian NCU graduate to be conferred with an honorary doctorate from NCU, with the first being Dr Wilton McDonald, who received the Honorary Doctor of Divinity in 2013. The second was Dr. the Hon. Linford Pierson, former Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Cabinet Minister, and long-serving Civil Servant, upon whom NCU conferred the Honorary Doctor of Public Service in 2021.
Among recognitions earned during Mrs Henriques’s nursing career, the 1995 award of the Cayman Islands Certificate and Badge of Honour (Cert. Hon.) highlighted her work with AIDS patients. Other contributions to the development of the nursing sector in the Cayman Islands included her role as In-Service Education Coordinator at the Islands’ then-only hospital, where she introduced the LPN (Licensed Practical Nurses) training. As a testament to the rigorous standards of the initiative, several of the first batch of graduates completed their BSN in Florida in two years, Mrs Henriques said. After 34 years of ground-breaking service, she retired in 2008 as Chief Executive Officer of the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority.
Mrs Henriques is well known in the Cayman community for her philanthropic initiatives, led by her Manna House Pantry. That agency has been collaborating with the Cayman Food Bank since 2018 in the distribution of food to families in need.
Others awarded honorary doctorates at the 100th graduation exercises included the Hon. Audrey Sewell, the recently appointed Cabinet Secretary of the Government of Jamaica, on whom NCU conferred the Honorary Doctor of Public Service. Jamaican-born hotelier and businessman Mr Dennis Morgan, also an alumnus of NCU, received the Honorary Doctor of Commerce degree.
Mrs Sewell delivered the keynote address at the second of two commencement ceremonies on Sunday (August 13), while United States-based telecommunication entrepreneur, Mr Freddie Figgers, addressed the morning ceremony.
In the special awards category, senior NCU administrator Georgette Baker was awarded the 2023 President’s Medallion, while the 2023 “Product Sample” was awarded to NCU alumna Dr Melva Spence, a counselling psychologist and advocate.