Virgin Islands Scholars: Building a Pipeline for Future Leadership

“It is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest potential for doing good, both for oneself and others.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

Personification of Selflessness

If you want to imagine a person that personifies selflessness and giving back, look no further than to one of my best friends: Lincoln Liburd — Executive Director of VI Scholars,  an organization he founded that focuses on empowering today’s Virgin Island youth into tomorrow’s leaders.

Since our high school days, I knew Lincoln to be one of the biggest advocates for social progress, especially on his home island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Those that are close to Lincoln know there is a lot to like about him: He’s smart, driven and believes in himself. When he told me he was launching the VI Scholars this past summer I was thrilled.

Faulty Public School System

For far too long the Virgin Island’s government has ignored its obligation to its children, to their futures. The Virgin Islands is notorious for its high crime and poverty rates and, at times, the local government has been rattled by many high-profile corruption cases. Among the host of issues currently facing the Virgin Islands, the most glaring and dangerous is their faulty public school system. The public schools are severely understaffed and underfunded. They lacks the basic necessities a school needs in order to create a clean, safe and fun learning environment for kids. Lincoln, like all of us who grew up on St. John saw this, but it was Lincoln who decided to take a stand. A big one.

VI Scholars Wordle

Privileged, But Not Sheltered

Lincoln and I both had the privilege of attending a private school system that was created as a response, in part, to the lack of a high-quality public school system on St. John. Now a senior at the prestigious Stanford University, Lincoln could have easily turned his back on his hometown after he graduates and go out and make a boat load of money and take over the world. Instead he decided he couldn’t wait any longer for the slow, unwilling, bureaucratic Virgin Island government to change their ways.

Enough Was Enough

Lincoln created VI Scholars with a group of  his colleagues at Stanford to begin the long and trying task of building leaders out of our kids instead of letting them succumb to gang violence and poverty that is prevalent not just in the U.S. Virgin Islands, but everywhere in the Caribbean. VI Scholars’ vision is to  build a pipeline for leadership within the U.S. Virgin Islands that strengthens the territory’s infrastructure, emboldens the importance of education and community. By doing all this and more, Lincoln and his team are hoping to increase the quality of life for all Virgin Islanders.

A Bright Future

Presently, it looks like the VI Scholars are well on their way to transforming today’s VI youth into tomorrow’s leaders. I’m very proud of what Lincoln and the rest of his staff at VI Scholars have accomplished this summer and excited for the future as they try reverse decades of negligence.

I can say that I speak for all of us that live in the Virgin Islands and abroad: Thank you VI Scholars, keep fighting the good fight!

Click to learn more about this fantastic organization:

VI Scholars launched its first three-week program this past summer

VI Scholars — ‘We identify, develop, and support future Virgin Islands leaders, empowering them to effectuate positive change within their community.’


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2 thoughts on “Virgin Islands Scholars: Building a Pipeline for Future Leadership

  1. What a tremendous display of selflessness on Lincoln’s part to understand where he comes from and do something for his home country that could have a tremendous impact. It’s too bad the government doesn’t have much backing on V.I. childhood education. What an amazing way to keep these kids off the streets and build them towards promising lives.

    Joey, have you helped out with this in any way?

  2. Dan,

    I know, Lincoln is literally transforming lives of kids in the Virgin Islands and he isn’t even 21 yet! He’s a solid individual and a great friend, I can’t wait to see what else he brings. I havn’t helped Lincoln out with VI Scholars (consists of collegues from Stanford), but I wouldn’t rule it out for the future :).

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