She is the first blind valedictorian of the Barbados Community College (BCC).
And Janeil Odle, who graduated tonight with a near perfect grade point average of 3.97, has appealed for a more inclusive Barbadian society.
In a speech before the 2014 graduating class of 1,361 students gathered at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex , as well as officials and scores of well wishers, she noted that “20 years ago it is highly probable that I would not have been given the chance to be anyone’s valedictorian”.
“As we look around our society the number of disabled people achieving their academic goals is very few. This is not only because of the social mentality that people are invalids and worth nothing, but it is because we are conditioned to think that disability has made us insignificant and incapable.”
“In a period in our history when the emphasis is on sustainable development and our society is becoming increasingly diversified, it is of utmost importance that we practice inclusion of all socio-economic and physically-abled groups in our society,” said Odle, who is a member of the Barbados Council For The Disabled.
“My dream is to have an all-inclusive Barbados. My vision is of an island where everyone is worth something, an island where in spite of one’s various challenges, or differences, their skills and talents are recognised,” said the English Literature and Law major, who was recently awarded a national exhibition.