Khadine 'Miss Kitty' Hylton leads graduating class as valedictorian
The journey to academic excellence is one that is fraught with challenges, sacrifice, dedication and discipline, with life-long memories, lessons learned, and unbreakable friendships made. It is a journey where oftentimes, those who traverse the ups and downs and winding paths, encounter self-discovery and develop character in an experience that is unparalleled by any other.
No stranger to this journey is Khadine Hylton, known by her fans and supporters far and wide as the 'Fluffy Diva', Miss Kitty.
One of the most popular and versatile media personalities locally and within the Caribbean, she has made her stamp and earned her place among the greats, breaking the glass ceiling in a male-dominated field.
In the midst of a 24/7 career which "chose me", the radio presenter, performer, columnist and philanthropist has pursued something that has always been her passion, law.
Today, Miss Kitty will graduate from the University of the West Indies, Mona, with First Class Honours in Law. She has also been conferred the honour of being named the valedictorian and will speak on behalf of the faculties of Law and Social Sciences.
In her delivery of her valedictory address, themed 'On the Cusp of Greatness', Miss Kitty will chronicle the academic journey of herself and her peers, and what comes next.
"I really want to give insight into the essence of school life - the impediments, the difficult times faced by student - not being able to pay fees and surviving on a meagre and modest budget; the sleeping in the library and the discipline and sacrifice it takes to cross the Rubicon," she said.
Working full-time and beyond, while pursuing a degree is no easy feat, as Miss Kitty recollects some of the most challenging occasions.
"I had to cut out most, if not all, of my leisure time," she explained. "I can remember that I had a show in Barbados on a Sunday and a criminal law exam the following Tuesday. I flew to Barbados on Saturday, did the show on Sunday, flew back to Jamaica on Monday and did the exam on Tuesday.
"I had to study on the plane, in my hotel room, and in a little corner on the floor of the airport. I had to pass my exams, and I had to earn to continue funding my education," she further elaborated.
Miss Kitty's impactful words from her address, 'Kings and queens are dying and clowns are rising', serves as a call to action for graduates to put their disciplines to work.
"The world needs leaders, thinkers and problem-solvers, and based on the education we have received - which is a privilege - we have to put ourselves squarely in the path to revolutionise the world, if we want a different world. Don't just allow your degree to be something upon which you sleep or rest, but something you use to champion causes and effect change," she said ahead of today's ceremony.
Miss Kitty also shared the importance of supporting peers along their academic journey as a driver of her balancing act between academics and earning a livelihood.
"While I was at UWI, I partnered with the CB Group UWI 5k to fund three scholarships for my classmates who were deregistered. It was distressing to me that their dreams would come to an end because of an inability to pay despite their potential. They are the first of their families to attend a tertiary institution and study law."
Two of the recipients are also graduating with First-Class Honours and the other with Upper Second-Class Honours.
Speaking of what is to come, Miss Kitty shared that she is continuing her pursuit of becoming an attorney-at-law at the Norman Manley Law School, but is keeping her options open in terms of an area of specialisation.
"I am a very expansive thinker, so there is no specific area I'm zoned in on yet. The most important thing, for me, is to always be the best version of myself, so as to inspire others to do the same. I inspire by doing. No matter what age you are, and no matter what is happening in your life, you can do it. It is possible, difficult though it may be. You are on the cusp of greatness, so push on."