Remarks by Ambassador John L. Estrada at closing ceremony of Arthur Ashe Internship Program

Ambassador John L. Estrada greets Professor Inder Ramnarine, Acting Deputy Principal of the University of the West Indies. St. Augustine campus and Dr. Marilyn Fraser, Deputy Director of the Arthur Ashe Foundation for Urban Health and proud Fulbright Alumna

Good Morning!

It’s great to be here again at UWI; this is my third visit.  On Monday I had my courtesy call with the Principal and was very impressed by his vision for the University.  During our conversation two things stood out to me that are essential for the university that is going to help make this great country even better.

Entrepreneurship—encouraging economic development, innovation, and job creation.

And access—making education accessible to a wider range of people, so they can have greater opportunities and contribute more to society.

These are two crucial issues, and I believe Professor Copeland is absolutely right to focus on them.   During our visit, I expressed to him that he and UWI can continue to count on the support of the United States Embassy.

This program is one example of how my Embassy works together with UWI to help fulfill the mission which Professor Copeland described—one of economic development and social justice.

The U.S. Embassy has supported the Arthur Ashe Foundation for Urban Health in the past, and proudly does so again this year, because this is a program that gives students real-life experience working on issues that affect real people in their communities, and throughout the world.

It’s OK to think you might want to be a doctor and something else to observe cardiac surgery, as one of the interns did.

It’s OK to talk about climate change and something else to observe how it affects a rural community in Trinidad—and how people are trying to adapt.

Here at UWI is where study intersects with real life, and education becomes not only learning, but service to others—which is the highest calling in life.

Gandhi said “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

I have spent a lifetime of service to my country, the United States of America, first in the uniform of the United States Marines—an institution that is older than the nation itself—then in the private sector, and now certainly representing my country as Ambassador to the nation of my birth, Trinidad and Tobago…

From my experiences in life thus far, service to others is the greatest reward you can have in life.

My hope for all of you is that you continue to follow your dreams through higher education, and you continue the kind of work that you have learned during this internship.

For those of you who are thinking about studying in the U.S., my Embassy stands ready to assist.  There are great tertiary education institutions right here in Trinidad and Tobago (like UWI), but in some situations it might make sense for you to study abroad.

Please check out our FaceBook page — facebook.com/ttusa/ where you will also find photos from today’s event.

This year’s annual college fair is November 5 and 6 at the Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain.

Whatever you want to do in life, you need to work hard, stay focused, and never give up.  You will experience failure, mistakes, disappointments, frustrations.  Believe me, that will continue throughout your life.

I have experienced those peaks, valleys and ups and downs but kept pressing ahead and learning every time.

It’s all about leadership and perseverance, determination, commitment and focus.

One of the greatest aspirations of all free people is to live their lives to the fullest without limitations based on their ethnicity, class, race, gender, disability, or anything else.

I strongly believe this, because it is the story of my life.

It can also be your story.

You are the future leaders of this country—your country.  And maybe this program helped you see the impact you can have on other people’s lives.

True leaders give back.  They care about people, and they try to use their leadership to positively influence change in society.

That’s the kind of leader I know you can be.

That’s the kind of leader I want you to be.

Thank you.