President Maxiene Cabo, back row from left, Secretary George Francis, Treasurer Nikiyah Gerson, and Vice President Jada Roberts, front row from left, Director of Special Affairs Kalyna Nielsen and Public Relations Officer Lana Cuffy are the founding members of the UVI Association of Black Journalists.

University of the Virgin Islands Communication Department’s students have founded the University of the Virgin Islands Association of Black Journalists student chapter. At its annual October meeting, the executive board of the National Association of Black Journalists made a unanimous decision to officially grant UVIABJ chapter status, making it the first student and only NABJ affiliate chapter in the Caribbean.

Founded on Dec. 12, 1975, by 44 men and women in Washington D.C., NABJ is an organization of journalists, students and media-related professionals that provide quality programs and services to and advocates on behalf of Black journalists worldwide.

The organization is committed to strengthening ties among Black journalists, sensitizing all media to the importance of fairness in the workplace for Black journalists and expanding job opportunities and recruiting activities for veteran, young and aspiring Black journalists. UVIABJ joins 883 professional and student journalists from 11 states and 33 student chapters.

“Congratulations to our students in the Communication Department,” said Dr. Kimarie Engerman, dean for the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. “Being granted membership exposes our students to careers in journalism, the chance to network with other Black journalists, as well as scholarship and internship opportunities,” added Engerman. “I encourage all students at UVI to take advantage of this opportunity.”

The UVIABJ student chapter consists of more than 20 active members on the St. Thomas and Albert A. Sheen campuses.

Founding members Maxiene Cabo, Jada Roberts, George Francis, Kalyna Nielsen, Lana Cuffy, Aja La-Fleur Scott and Nikiyah Gerson will serve as executive board members.

“We are proud to be affiliated with NABJ,” said George Francis, UVIABJ secretary. “We hope being granted chapter status encourages other professional and student journalists on neighboring islands to also establish NABJ chapters.”