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Archive for September, 2009|Monthly archive page

Finding the Right Way to Go

In Uncategorized on September 28, 2009 at 11:33 pm

Derrion

Derrion Albert (Picture courtesy of CNN)

Words cannot express how saddened I am by Derrion Albert’s death. A senseless crime that truly did not have to happen. Derrion was an honor student at Christian Fenger Academy High School in Chicago. Derrion was his grandfather’s pride and joy, to which he said “we lost a really dear friend in my grandson. He was a blessed child.” Derrion was a kid who did not allow his environment to change him, but he sought to change it for the better. Derrion’s will to succeed and thirst for knowledge was matched by other young African American youths’ anger, loss of direction, and hopelessness.

Derrion’s murder has many calling for assistance, help to save those who have succumbed to a life of crime. In a Chicago Sun-Times interview, Charles Barkley, a graduate of Fenger echoed what many are feeling: “Our community needs to be saved…We need to reach out to our youth and let them know the right way to go…”

Finding a sense of community, unity, and peace will be difficult, yet we can no longer lose another Derrion to acts as this.

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No Stranger to Stern Discipline

In Uncategorized on September 28, 2009 at 8:59 am

As the 8th of 12 children, seemingly Command Sergeant Major Teresa King was groomed to be where she is today. As the daughter of sharecroppers, “stern discipline” is a friend of King. As a child, she learned to “give a hard day’s work for whatever I earned and take no short cuts.” This lesson, and many more, is passed along to others through King’s new job–the first female to head the school of drill sergeants at the largest Army installation. Lt. Colonel Dave Wood, King’s battalion commander, said of King: “She’s got this unique way of dealing with soldiers where she can be correcting them, but it’s in a manner that they’re wanting to please her and wanting to do the right thing. It’s not degrading to them.”

To read more about King, click here.

“A very important Result”

In Uncategorized on September 24, 2009 at 8:10 am

“I don’t want to use a word like ‘breakthrough,’ but I don’t think there’s any doubt that this is a very important result.” These are the words of Dr. Anthony Fauci, supporter of the AIDS vaccine and Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The AIDS vaccine, a combination of two vaccinations, showed signs of success in a trial conducted in Thailand–where 16,000 people participated in the program.

Over a three year period, partners–United States Army, Thailand’s Ministry of Health, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases–administered the RV 144 trial. The Army’s medical doctor, Colonel Dr. Jerome Kim in a New York Times interview said that half of the trial’s participants were given six doses of two genetically engineered vaccination and half were given placebos. The participants were tested regularly for HIV and AIDS over the three year period, and of those who received the placebos, 74 contracted the disease, while 51 of the participants who received the vaccine contracted the disease.

Though the vaccine was only 31.2 percent effective in the trial, Dr. Fauci noted that it is unlikely that the vaccine would be licensed at less than 70 or 80 percent success rate. But Fauci pointed out “if you have a product that’s even a little bit protective, you want to look at the blood samples and figure out what particular response was effective and direct research from there.” The RV 144 vaccine, although not a “breakthrough” in a traditional sense, has shown significant progress and given hope to many in combating the disease.

Not Your usual Bailout

In Uncategorized on September 22, 2009 at 10:35 am

The Council of Graduate Schools’ April report, Broadening Participation in Graduate Education, called for a “bailout” of another proportion–that of human capital. “In these challenging economic times, we might consider what economist Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor, has called a ‘bailout’ of America’s human capital, arguing that ‘the future competitiveness and standard of living of America depend on our people’s skills, their capacities to communicate and solve problems, and innovate.’ The time for action is now.”

This bailout would be applied toward cultivating more minority talent to pursue graduate education, particularly in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). As the Executive Summary points out, women are rapidly closing the gap with males in attaining a graduate degree, however, women are still underrepresented in many disciplines, largely STEM disciplines. One way many colleges and universities have invested in improving and encouraging more minority access to STEM fields is by participating in the National Science Foundation’s AGEP (Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate) program. The overall objectives of the program is to
• significantly increase the number of underrepresented minorities (i.e., African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders) obtaining graduate degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and
• enhance the preparation of underrepresented minorities for faculty positions in academia.

For more information regarding STEM participating colleges and universities, click here.

Rising Enrollment, still missing Faces

In The Black Man on September 21, 2009 at 8:44 am

Enrollment is up at Mississippi’s community and junior colleges by roughly 14,500 students. According to Kristin Mamrack, “attendance has increased across Mississippi’s university system, with Mississippi State University reporting record fall enrollment and Mississippi University for Women boasting one of the largest percentage increases.” Though the release was the list of combined figures, it will be interesting to see the breakdown of those figures–what is male-to-female ratio and what is the racial/ethnic ratio of those enrolled?

While enrollment increases, African American males continue to lag behind in enrollment and attainment of baccalaureate degrees. Marianne Hill of Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) noted that “nationally, there is a 2 to 1 of African American females to males enrolled in higher education.” According to the 2009 African American Males in College Report, there were 8,452 African American males to 17,597 African American females enrolled in colleges and universities in Mississippi. To address this disparity, IHL formed a task force to study and provide recommendations to “increase African American male enrollment, retention, and graduation rates at Mississippi’s eight public universities.”

Mixed Blessings

In Uncategorized on September 16, 2009 at 4:13 pm

Despite declining revenues and budget cuts, Mississippi’s community and junior colleges report record enrollment. Eric Clark, Director of the state’s board on community and junior colleges, said that typically during recessions there is a spike in enrollment at the community and junior colleges. Hinds Community College has seen a 21.8 percent increase in enrollment since Fall 2008. The 5 percent budget cuts have yet to come down, but the state’s community and junior colleges will have to be a little innovative in addressing increasing enrollment and a decreasing budget. Clark referred to this as a “mixed blessing.” Said Clark, “It’s a strain. Our leaders in Mississippi have to understand the stress this puts on our community colleges.”

From DC to Alligator

In Uncategorized on September 15, 2009 at 8:56 am

President Obama was largely elected because of the spirited campaign mantra concerning change. This message of change resulted in America electing its first African American President. If you travel down to the Mississippi Delta, tiny Alligator, Mississippi, its 2009 mayoral election was filled with similar rhetoric. Change. Tommie Brown used the spirit of change to become the first African American mayor elected in the rural town. Brown was the first African American to campaign and actively run for the seat, to which he credits President Obama for being “a major influence on everybody. He inspired me…”

Alligator was once a “thriving town whose population swelled to more than 1,000. Its economic backbone was provided by European immigrants, especially Italians, who came to work on the plantations in the Deep South’s fertile Mississippi delta at the start of the 20th Century,” this according to Toby Harnden of the UK’s The Daily Telegraph. Brown faces significant economic challenges. Most of the labor force is employed on farms. But Alligator also has some racial wounds that have yet to be healed. Brown defeated a white, 30 year incumbent, Robert Fava, who also was unopposed in those elections. In the Telegraph’s interview with Brown, Brown alluded to unresolved racial tensions that have severely slowed the progress in the town.

Alligator is a town fighting to save its youth, it’s fighting to provide adequate services, it’s fighting for life. Survival is a word that comes to mind. Addressing the problems the town faces requires collaboration, it requires a commitment to one vision, one mission.

Conquering both Fields of Dreams

In Uncategorized on September 14, 2009 at 12:51 am

The college football season is taking form, rounding into shape, with many analysts projecting this year’s national champion. Will Florida repeat? Will USC win with a freshman quarterback? But before we crown a champion on the field, let’s take a glimpse into a champion of life.

Myron Rolle spurned the NFL. What? Yes, Myron Rolle, former standout safety at Florida State decided to forgeo the NFL for the 2009-10 season. Myron was a recipient of the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship and is currently working toward an MA degree in Medical Anthropology. While at Florida State, Rolle took his jobs as student-athlete very seriously. On the field, Rolle was a three year starter, off the field, he graduated Magna Cum Laude in less than 3 years with a degree in Exercise Science. Ultimate goal for Rolle is to become a doctor, with an eye on improving the health care system in Bahamas, his parents home country.

Rolle has established a foundation, but perhaps most telling of his mission and vision to serve, Rolle has secured 5 acres of land in Exuma Island, Bahamas for a medical clinic and sportsplex. In a telephone interview, Rolle stated that “It’s really pertinent, because the people of Exuma, if there is something really serious happening to them, medically, at night especially, and they have to catch a flight to Nassau, the main island, it’s very inconvenient, and a lot of people can’t afford that flight. A lot of times that may be the difference between their life being saved or not, that time gap. So I think this is going to be a special project.” Click here to read more on the medical clinic and sportsplex.

“Sometimes I Dream…”

In Uncategorized on September 11, 2009 at 9:09 am

“That he is me. You’ve got to see that’s how I dream to be.” The famous lyrics to the Gatorade commercial “If I could be like Mike.” Michael Jordan, whom many credit as being the best basketball player of all time, will be inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame today in Springfield, Massachusetts. Among this year’s class includes David Robinson, John Stockton, C. Vivian Stringer, and Jerry Sloan.

Michael Jordan revolutionized the game; his imprints are ever present today. But is it possible that Mike had a larger impact on society than on the game? To be considered the greatest ever, how can you be bigger than that? Well for Mike, he reign supreme in both arenas. He also revolutionized the sneaker. Nike and Mike formed a partnership that not allowed Nike to become the brand it is today, but also elevated Mike to iconic status off the court. So in 1984, according to Yahoo Sports Dan Wetzel, “With most of the NBA’s top players already locked up to Converse, Nike officials thought they should gamble on a rookie, a fresh new face for the league. Even more daring than that, Nike was considering creating and marketing a signature shoe around the player, and selling not just a piece of footwear, but an entire package of performance and personality.” Michael became that player. A 1998 JET article reported that Mike had a $10 billion impact on the U.S. economy. “With some help from outside economists, Fortune estimates the Jordan persona and product line has been worth $5.2 billion to Nike Inc. His worth to other companies he endorses was estimated at $408 million.” Michael Jordan’s impact today is still felt. In 2007 Jordan was tied for third place with Phil Mickelson as the top earning male athlete. Jordan’s royalties from the Air Nike brand is estimated at $800 million. “I dream I move, I dream I groove, LIKE MIKE.”

Returning to Ordinary

In Uncategorized on September 10, 2009 at 6:00 am

Eight years ago today, I was rushing to classes, basketball practice, thinking about how far behind I was in my class work, and preparing to call my toddler cousin to wish him a happy, happy, birthday. Life was wonderful; the world was at my fingertips. That Monday was the beginning of a long week, but that Tuesday was the beginning of a new America.

Late that Monday night, I stayed up to write a reaction paper for my American Foreign Policy class–only to awake Tuesday morning feeling terrible (allergy season). That Tuesday was rather cold in Jackson; very early that morning I walked to my professor’s office, dropped the paper off, and returned to bed, while my roommate (who was also on the basketball team) went to pre-dawn practice. Yet, when I awoke after my roommate’s return from practice, I awoke to a very different America. September 11, 2001, just another day, yet this ordinary day led to Homeland Security, wiretaps, wars, let’s not forget, loss of lives for those who went about that day in a very ordinary way.

9/11. Eight years ago tomorrow. I continue to remember my steps of the day before and after. Life for those who lost loved ones will never be the same, but life for us all was forever changed. But on this day, I still battle with my allergies, still wonder how I will ever catch up with school work, and yes, I can’t wait to wish my not-so toddler cousin a wonderful birthday.