The visionary behind the BPSSYA program
Ricardo P. Deveaux flunked out of a prestigious private school in 1983, but today he heads an organization that encourages and recognizes academic excellence. He also serves as a board member for the National Training Agency and chairman of the board for R.M. Bailey Senior High School, the public sector school that gave him his second chance.
Deveaux is on a campaign to educate people on recognizing that if they get knocked down once, they are not knocked out. Through speaking engagements at colleges, schools and churches, he encourages young people to realize that all is not lost.
“Failure is only a temporary setback for a glorious comeback,” said the founder of the Bahamas Primary School Student of the Year Awards Program (BPSSYA). Deveaux is committed to encouraging, motivating and inspiring students to accomplish academic greatness.
In 1996, he established the BPSSYA, as a national awards recognition for primary school students. Between 1997 and 2004, he served as co-committee chairman. In June 2004, the Bahamas Primary School Student of the Year Awards Foundation (BPSSYAF), a voluntary non-profit organization, was created to govern the affairs of the awards program; he served as its founding chairman. In 2005, he was elected as the foundation’s president and CEO, a position he continues to hold. Under his leadership, the foundation has recognized over 2,400 of the best and brightest primary school students, and presented over $1.5 million worth of scholarships and prizes.
It was in June 1983 that Deveaux’s world collapsed. His parents, Edward and Beverly Deveaux, received a letter from the institution he attended advising them that, due to their son’s failing grades, he had to leave the school. He had received three F grades and two D grades, and had already repeated the eighth grade.
His parents enrolled him in R.M. Bailey Senior High School.
At his new school, he made sure that none of friends knew that he was an academic failure and had flunked out of his previous school.
It was November 1993 that he first owned up to having flunked out of high school at a speaking engagement to students at the H.O. Nash Junior High School. In November 2008, he again spoke to having flunked out on the television show “Dare to be Great”, with Spence “Master Motivator” Finlayson. He recalled how freeing it felt to get rid of the belief that he was not good or smart enough.
The former flunkie also went on to graduate Bethune-Cookman University (BCU) with a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology, with honors. During his senior year at BCU, he was the third Bahamian elected to serve as student government association president. He had also been selected as the most outstanding student for each of his four years.
Deveaux earned a Master of Science degree in human services with a specialization in human resources management from Nova Southeastern University (NSU), where he was elected the resident student association president.
In April 1992 he was selected as one of seven finalists in the Florida College Student of the Year Awards Program. He was the lone male to make it to the final. He was also the first student from NSU to make it to the finals. He was recognized by NSU as the student with the most school spirit award and had an award established in his honor by the office of the residential life.
The BPSSYA and foundation program founder returned home in 1992 and commenced employment with the Ministry of Education. He currently serves as first assistant secretary with the Ministry of Labour.
In 1993, yearning to impact his community, Deveaux was appointed to the education committee of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Iota Epsilon Lambda Chapter. Between 1993 and 2007 he served as co-chair (1993, 1994, 1995); chairman (1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004—2007) and member (2008—2018), Honours Day Committee, producing the Fraternity’s Honours Day Convocation, which has recognized the top graduating high school males in the country since 1987.
In May 2009, at the age of 43, he became one of the youngest individuals and only the second Bahamian to deliver the coveted commencement address at BCU. He was awarded an honourary Doctorate of Humane Letters. In 2010 he was appointed a member of the BCU’s associate board of trustees.
In November 2013, Deveaux was inducted into the R.M. Bailey Senior High School’s Hall of Fame for his work with youth development. In July 2016 he was a finalist for the Bahamian Icon Awards in the area of youth development for his work with the BPSSYA program.