Hundreds of students in their caps and gowns made their way to the Centre of Excellence in Macoya, on March 25, 2023, for
the annual graduation exercises of the College of Science, Technology & Applied Arts of Trinidad & Tobago (COSTAATT). The
theme for this year’s ceremony was “Triumphantly Forward”, a fitting motto for the more than 750 students who were about
to receive post-graduate diplomas, diplomas, certificates, associate and bachelor’s degrees from the community-centric
The atmosphere was one of excitement and anticipation as the graduates filed into the hall. Family members and friends
cheered as each graduand was called to cross the stage and receive their hard-earned diplomas. The pride and joy on the
faces of the graduates were palpable as they basked in the achievement of a significant milestone in their academic journey.
As the ceremony progressed, the keynote speaker, Ms. Carina Cockburn, Inter-American Development Bank Group Country
Representative to Trinidad and Tobago, took to the stage. Cockburn, the valedictorian of her own graduating class, shared
some insights from her university experience. She emphasized the importance of studying hard, seizing opportunities,
volunteering, being multifaceted, and the value of teamwork.
Cockburn explained that these traits are known as Power Skills, which entail going beyond basic technical and academic
abilities. She said these skills are derived from McKinsey & Company and fall into four categories: cognitive skills like critical
thinking and communication, interpersonal skills like relationship building and conflict resolution, self-leadership skills like goal
setting and accountability, and digital skills like data analysis and online learning.
She challenged the graduates to go beyond their current qualifications and actively seek opportunities to develop these
Power Skills. She encouraged them to take advantage of the many free online courses in negotiations, conflict resolution,
public speaking, time management, coding, and project management. She reminded them that these skills were crucial to
succeed in the modern world, whether as an employee or a business owner.
As the ceremony concluded, the graduates left the auditorium with a sense of accomplishment and a newfound appreciation
for the importance of Power Skills. Armed with their academic qualifications and a commitment to lifelong learning, they were
ready to take on the world and triumphantly move forward.