Customs Top Class Graduates17 March 2017, 8:00 AM
Politics & Government
Fourteen Customs Officers graduated after 16 weeks of rigorous training. They received congratulations all round for being one of the department's best graduating classes but especially for achieving a cumulative class average score of 83%.
The gathering at the graduation also learnt that in 2016, the department collected CI$161 million in revenue, which was $10 million more than projected.
At the graduation ceremony on Friday, 10 March 2017, receiving their certificates were Customs Officers Stephen Anderson, Vannasa Bailey, Prisilla Berry, Eddree Fisher, Leonard Hydes, George Jackson, Miguel McFarlane, Christopher McField, Colbert Miller, Marcia Myles, Jessie Peynado, Everett Smith, Teresa Watler and Kishana Whittaker.
Officer Stephen Anderson garnered top honours as the Best Overall Student, Best Academic Performance and who was also the class valedictorian. He was named best student for not just his academic performance but also his knowledge about business, political and social issues and for being able to face practical assignments with confidence, assurance and innovative thinking.
Mr. Anderson received the Best Academic Performance for achieving an individual average of 97% in the three assessments and four stage tests throughout the training course. The award also lauded his consistency and tenacity in his work and for displaying a harmonious and cooperative spirit.
Officer Prisilla Berry got the award for Best Academic Paper for communicating with credibility, confidence and clear analysis in her 3,000 word written paper and 20 minutes oral presentation.
Officer Marcia Myles received the Customer Service Award for demonstrating an excellent customer care spirit. Most Improved Student award went to Officer Colbert Miller and Officer Kishana Whittaker received the Class Captain award for being the best among all the trainees who took turns at being class captain whose conduct and performance won most peer accolades.
On hand to present the awards and certificates were His Excellency the Acting Governor, Mr. Franz Manderson, Financial Secretary and Chief Officer, Mr. Kenneth Jefferson, Assistant Financial Secretary Ms Anne Owens as well as Collector of Customs Mr. Charles Clifford, Deputy Collector Mr. Marlon Bodden and Assistant Collector Ms Lisa Kelly.
Lauding all the graduates for their exemplary performance, the top officials called for the graduates taking forward this high-level achievement to their work in the department that began Monday.
Mr. Manderson advised them to serve the government with passion, courtesy and consistently high-level customer service. Even facing great responsibilities at work, enormous opportunities will abound to give their best and display excellent professionalism.
Mr. Jefferson noted that in the line of duty, they would be tested by a whole gamut of behaviours from the arriving public. He exhorted them to master the principle behind the rules they will have to apply to the ever-changing situations they encounter daily on the job.
The Minister for Finance and Economic Development, Mr. Marco Archer, in his remarks which were delivered by Ms Owens, underscored that some 160 Customs officers collect and protect 20% of the Government's revenue and help protect the country's borders, which is no small task. He asked the 14 chosen from among 300 applicants to employ their already displayed resolve to the coming challenges and become exemplary personnel. The Minister added, "Remember that you serve a cause greater than yourself."
Collector Clifford attributed the success of the 14 trainees, who all graduated, to their fortitude as well as to their recruiters who selected them and their efficient trainers who moulded them. Another highlight is that six are former police officers including a former senior customs staffer. They bring in additional law enforcement experience into the department which continues to collaborate well with the other law enforcement agencies.
He asked them to put country before self and exercise their considerable authority with humility, good judgement, common sense and excellent customer service. He added that they share a responsibility to ensure Cayman's prime tourism and financial services industries not only survive but flourish.
Deputy Collector Bodden told the graduates that the only place 'success' comes before 'work' is in the dictionary. He instructed them to remain focused for more training in the "school of experience" and on their choice of a noble and worthy profession. "Don't be afraid to look back but try to look forward with the advantage of experience," he added.
Valedictorian Anderson acknowledged that their top-notch trainers focused on job training as well as personal development and overall welfare. He noted, "From day one you taught us the motto, 'No one left behind' and showed us what was expected of a leader by assigning weekly a class captain." To modify a saying, pressure makes diamonds, he quipped, adding they all are, shining for the department and the country.
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