54 AUC Colleagues Receive Award for Work and Dedication during Hurricane Irma

February 7, 2018
five award recipients

When Hurricane Irma took a direct turn toward Sint Maarten last September, Melissa Harrison-Grinuva told her husband and mother-in-law to come shelter at American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC). The AUC Housing Supervisor knew that the medical school’s campus would be their safest option in the storm. She also wanted to be available to students who had never experienced or prepared for a hurricane before.
 Gerard Lake, Manager of Safety and Security at AUC, was also on campus during the hurricane but his pregnant partner and three-year-old son were back home in Simpson Bay. Leading up to Irma, Gerard worked tirelessly to organize hurricane preparedness meetings and to ready the school and his security team for the aftermath. As the storm barreled through the island, he led efforts on AUC’s campus to keep more than 700 students, colleagues, and family members safe.
Immediately following Irma, Emmanuel Basil—or “Africa” as he is better known at AUC—made the difficult journey to campus to check on everything. He has a particularly strong connection with AUC because he helped build it in the late 1990s. After arriving to the university, he threw himself into action, assessing the water tanks, moving brush and debris out of the way, and helping to make urgent repairs.   
Like Melissa, Gerard and Africa, so many AUC employees displayed extreme heroism and selflessness during Hurricane Irma. With their own homes damaged—in some instances destroyed—employees put their lives on hold to help the university and keep students safe. For some, that meant going a week or more before checking on their homes and extended family.
To thank and recognize employees for such dedication, AUC recently held a reception on campus. A total of 54 colleagues were surprised with Adtalem Global Education’s Ron Taylor Award, an honor given to employees for in-the-moment contributions that inspire service, build teamwork, and go the extra mile. In addition to a certificate, awardees received a monetary reward.
“AUC is extremely appreciative of our Sint Maarten colleagues for their help after Hurricane Irma,” said Hazarie Ramoutar, Senior Administrator for Campus Operations. “Seeing this community come together to face adversity has been moving. We are honored to recognize these colleagues for their selfless contributions."
The Ron Taylor awards are traditionally distributed to a handful of employees for a specific achievement. In light of Hurricane Irma, AUC decided to recognize a larger group of individuals who went beyond to support the school’s immediate recovery, including cleaning out the buildings and dormitories, gathering luggage, and helping with water and waste removal.
“It was a special day and I’m just so thankful,” said Melissa. “It’s been a lot of hard work but we did it together. We are all closer because of that and taking the time to celebrate our accomplishments was a really meaningful experience.”