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Haitian students to graduate in special convocation at U of W

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Four of five students who arrived at the University of Winnipeg in September 2010 following a devastating earthquake in Haiti will be graduating on Friday in a special convocation ceremony.

The ceremony will be held at Convocation Hall at 10 a..m.

Jaquet Duval, Jean Widny Pervil and Samy Archille will be presented three-year Bachelor of Business Administration degrees by president and vice-chancellor Dr. Lloyd Axworthy and chancellor Bob Silver. Helena Vickaina Lafleur will receive a three-year Bachelor of Arts (Politics) degree. A fifth student, Vanessa Laurent, continues her studies at the U of W and is expecting to graduate in the coming months.

On Jan. 12, 2010, a catastrophic earthquake shook Haiti, killings tens of thousands of people and destroying the country’s educational infrastructure. When their schools collapsed, the five students were buried under rubble until rescue workers arrived. Many of their classmates and professors did not survive.

The Haitian Students Task Force was formed by Axworthy shortly after the earthquake, with the U of W resolving to cover significant costs to allow the five students, all in their twenties, to continue their studies including airfare, tuition, residence fees, meal plans and counselling.

"These are the leaders who will help rebuild Haiti," said Axworthy. "Our goal has been to strengthen the resiliency in these five young adults while providing a safe place to live and study. We are proud of their success and know that together we have created long term bonds of respect and friendship."

The graduating students say they are enormously grateful to hold Canadian university degrees and stress that Manitobans have been welcoming, kind and supportive. "The love and attention we have been given from every single person in the province has been so much help," said Widny Pervil, who hopes to become a university professor one day. "We will always be grateful."

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