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‘My children inspired me,’ Mr Vegas says of graduating from university

Excited about FIU commencement ceremony today

Published:Sunday | December 11, 2022 | 9:07 AMYasmine Peru - Sunday Gleaner Writer
‘It’s like mi can’t even explain the feeling,’ said Mr Vegas of his impending Florida International University commencement ceremony.
‘It’s like mi can’t even explain the feeling,’ said Mr Vegas of his impending Florida International University commencement ceremony.
Having completed his bachelor’s degree, a higher degree could very well be on the horizon for Mr Vegas.
Having completed his bachelor’s degree, a higher degree could very well be on the horizon for Mr Vegas.

Dancehall artiste Mr Vegas is fully bright and loving it.

Having performed on numerous stages across the globe in his 30-plus year career, today, Clifford Smith’s journey takes him to a different stage, one on which there is no mic in his hand and no adoring fans screaming out his name and gyrating to his hit songs. He will make that all-important walk across the stage to receive his bachelor’s degree in sociology/anthropology from the Florida International University (FIU). It is a walk that Mr Vegas simply can’t wait to experience.

“I have never walked across that stage, and someone handed me a diploma and say, you have graduated, or congratulations. Just walking across that stage at my age... yuh don’t even understand. It’s like mi can’t even explain the feeling. It’s one of the great moments of my life and maybe even the greatest moments of my life and perhaps will forever be the greatest moment of my life,” Mr Vegas said.

He shared that when he graduated from Broward College, it was during the pandemic, so the ceremony was online. However, although he had done the photo shoot and had given them his picture when his name was called during the live, his picture did not appear on the screen.

Frantically, he called his professor to find out what could possibly have gone wrong, after all, his friends and family were watching on Facebook. His professor assured him that everything was fine and he would get to walk across the stage when he did his master’s.

“That is something that stayed in my mind during this whole process at FIU when I was doing my bachelor’s. ‘Dr Sammy said you are going to walk across the stage.’ So even when the work get a way, mi tell myself, ‘Mi haffi walk across tha stage deh.’ I have witnessed my children walking across that stage, but I have never gone across that stage, never ever,” Vegas said.

Mr Vegas shared that his children played a major role in his journey to this new level of self-actualisation, which started in 2019 when “he took on the task to re-educate [himself]” and earned his GED (General Education Diploma).

“I want to be the father who is able to assist them with school work when they call upon me. And I want to be able to inspire them that ‘Look, your daddy is doing it at this age. I set the rules down. Look, if anybody nah go university, anybody nah go further dem education after high school, then yuh going to get a job.’ I lay down those rules, so it’s only right that I show them that it can be done. And, of course, you have the naysayers who will say that artistes are just illiterate and we can’t hold a conversation. We are just supposed to just shut up and sing or shut up and deejay. And I want to do more than that. I want to be able to speak on social issues,” he stated.

Vegas then registered at Broward Community College and graduated with a degree in mass communication. That taste of college life had him yearning for more knowledge, and he subsequently enrolled at FIU to pursue a major in sociology/anthropology and a minor in hospitality management.

“For 18 months, I applied myself to the fullest, even when the pandemic and difficult assignments threatened to thwart my mission. Today, I am proud to say that I did it! Graduating with a 3.9 GPA is a testament that if you work diligently, your rewards will be great,” a proud Mr Vegas shared.

In a magnanimous gesture, he thanked all the people who helped him along the way and even managed to poke a little bit of fun at himself.

“Jay, my nephew, showed no signs of frustration when I kept making the same errors on basic mathematics problems. He chuckled when I cussed myself out for not remembering that two negatives make a positive. After Jay went off to university, I was fortunate to have Tracey, Imhotep, Stacey, Vanessa, Obondo, and Sherette, who prepared me for college and university studies. To them, I say thanks! To my teachers, especially Dr Sammy, you are making a major difference in this world. I am a product of your patience, knowledge, and commitment to make your students succeed,” Vegas wrote.

Ecstatic that this part of the journey has come to an end, Mr Vegas admitted, however, that school is still on his mind and a higher degree could very well be on the horizon.

“It’s very addictive. I miss reading, and I miss my peers. Right now, I have a little buzz in the music, but I am not ruling it out. I am definitely not ruling it out. I would love to get my master’s,” he stated.