Volume 41 No. 4
April 2010



Incoming Freshmen to
Experience Lagniappe

The Cigar Man
Finds His Niche

Just call Him
Dr. Algernon Kelley

Three Picked for
Social Entrepreneurship

Alum Conducts Private
Tour of White House

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Phonathon 2010

1834 Basketball Update

MEN: The Gold Rush season came to a close with a 71-56 at Belhaven College in the quarterfinals of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC) postseason tournament. XU finished with an 18-13 record.

WOMEN: A very successful season for the Gold Nuggets ended abruptly with a 67-62 overtime loss to Cumberlands in the opening round of the NAIA national tournament. XU finished with a 28-6 record, which included winning both the GCAC regular season and tournament titles.

1834 Conference Adds
Three New Schools

The Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC) has announced the addition of three new members: Voorhees College in Denmark SC, Fisk University in Nashville TN and and Edward Waters College in Jacksonville FL.

They join Xavier, Dillard, SUNO and Tougaloo in the seven-team league for the 2010-2011 season.

Visit HERE for more details.

1834 Haitian Film Series
at XU Continues

The third of three offerings in the Haitian Film Series – The Agronomist – will be shown April 22 at 6:00 p.m. in the University Center, Room 205. Dr. Robin Vander (English) will provide additional commentary and discussion.

The program is free and open to the public. Visit HERE for more info or call Dr. Pamela Franco at 520-7462.

1834 Annual Festival of Scholars April 15-16

The Center for Undergraduate Research will present its seventh annual Festival of Scholars, a showcase of on-going undergraduate student research projects via oral, poster or performance presentations, on April 15-16 in the University Center.

Last year there were more than 100 student displays and presentations during the two-day event.

This year’s festival will be open from noon to 5:00 p.m. on April 15 and from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on April 16 in the UC second floor lobby. For more info contact the CUR office at 520-5066.

1834 Zulu Names Alum
Historian Emeritus

Clarence Becknell ’75, MA ’81, has been designated “Historian Emeritus” by the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club.

Becknell has worked tirelessly over the past two decades as the public face of the organization to educate the public about the history, significance and contributions of Zulu to Mardi Gras and the City of New Orleans.

Earlier the organization inducted him into the Zulu Hall of Fame and granted him a life-time membership.

His crowning achievement came in 2009 when a 100th Anniversary Exhibit “From Tramps to Kings” was displayed at the Louisiana State Museum for the entire year. The impressive display covered the history of Zulu from 1909 via a vast collection of photos, artifacts and costumes - many of which were on display to the public for the first time ever.

Read more HERE.

1834 Postseason Honors for XU Basketball

Three XU basketball standouts – Brittany Powell, Jasmine Grant and Michael Harvey – and women’s head coach Bo Browder have earned postseason honors.

Powell was chosen Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC) Women’s Player of the Year, while Grant and Harvey were named to the All-GCAC women's and men's teams, respectively.

Browder, who led Gold Nuggets to 28-5 record and two GCAC titles, was chosen GCAC Women’s Coach of the Year.

Visit HERE for more details.

1834 Xavier in the News

Renovations Needed at City's Second-Oldest Cemetery
1New Bern Sun Journal
Pupils Focus on the Future
- Capt. Terrance Reese '02


In the vernacular of New Orleans, the term "lagniappe" connotes "something extra" that you get when you purchase an item or services.

That’s the idea behind Xavier's Lagniappe Summer Orientation Weekend for new freshmen, which is scheduled for May 28-29. It’s the second year for the new initiative, which underscores the University's committment to easing the transition of high school graduates into a university environment and to better prepare them for academics at the college level.

Regional students (e.g. those from Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Texas, and Tennessee) who intend to enroll in the fall are required to attend the program. Students from further away are also encouraged to participate.

The Office of Admissions has indicated that applications for the 2010 freshman class are running 15 percent higher than last year, with some 750-800 students expected to enroll.

All participants will have the opportunity to meet current XU students and faculty in their prospective majors. Advance placement tests will be given in reading and math, while students requiring developmental courses or looking to pick up some early credit hours can scope out the city's most affordable summer tuition. - more -


Banners throughout the campus and neighboring roadways heralded the official kickoff of the University’s community-wide "Read Today, Lead Tomorrow" Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) initiative.
Where Are They Now?


Look as hard as you might, you won’t see this particular career option under engineering and physics in any college catalog: “sell cigars”.

And yet an odd combination of a personal passion and the global recession has led Billie King ’98, holder of both a BA in physics and a BS in mechanical engineering, to follow both his heart and his instincts into the competitive world of cigar retailing.

King is the founder and owner of the Bow Tie Cigar Company, a private label cigar company headquartered in Belleville IL (near St. Louis MO). - more -

Billie King


Algernon Kelley arrived at Xavier as a freshman in 1999 with a lot more baggage than the two duffle bags he had filled with clothes. Possessing scant financial resources and a life-long learning disability, he was – from all appearances – a pretty unlikely candidate to graduate.

But by the time he walked across the stage to receive his baccalaureate degree five years later, he was practically an institutional icon. Not only did he graduate with academic honors, but he also earned the University’s highest individual student service award (the St. Katharine Drexel Award). 

It’s a story worth retelling, especially in light of the fact that this real-life fairy tale just continues to get better. - more -

Algernon Kelley & Amanda
Jannelle Ervin Photography


hree juniors have been selected for the initial class of Xavier/United Negro College Fund’s Social Entrepreneurship Fellow program.

Social entrepreneurship refers to the employment of business principles to address a social mission or problem. The UNCF grant allows the University to encourage and mentor African-American students to become more involved in social entrepreneurship.
- more -


Jade Young, a junior chemistry/pre-pharmacy major from New Orleans (Ben Franklin High) has been elected Miss Xavier 2010-11.

Danielle Jones, a junior biology/pre-med major from Baton Rouge LA (Episcopal High) has been named a 2009-2010 Daktronics-NAIA Scholar Athlete. A member of the Gold Nugget basketball squad, she averaged 4.8 points and 4.2 rebounds a game last season.

Devin Sasser, a junior biology/pre-med major from DeSoto TX (Mesquite High), has been elected president of the Student Government Association (SGA) for 2010. Other new officers include: Terrika Jones of Columbus MS, vice president; Lauren Cooper of Los Angeles CA, treasurer; and Ashley Conoway of Greenwood MS, secretary.

Courtney Thomas, a senior psychology/premed major from New Orleans (Ursuline Academy) has been accepted into graduate programs at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Tulane University School of Public Health and Vanderbilt University, where she has accepted a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Fellowship to pursue a PhD. in medical sociolgy and health policy.




Rear Admiral Stephen Rochon ’84, Director of the Executive Residence and Chief Usher, gives more than 50 College of Pharmacy students and XU faculty and staff members a private tour of the White House. The XU contingent was in Washington DC for the annual American Pharmacists Association meeting. [click here for more photos

photo by Sheryl Rodriguez


It was a Saturday afternoon in mid-March and the nation’s capitol was a very dreary place dealing with record-breaking weekend rain totals. That hardly mattered to a group of more than fifty Xavier students from the College of Pharmacy plus a contingent of faculty and staff who had traveled to Washington, DC to attend the American Pharmacy Association 2010 annual convention.

This group was happy to brave the inclement weather for a very special private tour of The White House – home of the President of the Unites States – conducted by none other than Rear Admiral Stephen Rochon (XU Class of ’84) whose formal title at The White House is “Director of the Executive Residence and Chief Usher.” - click here for the full story -


lagniappe cont

The new freshmen are encouraged to stay in the campus residence halls over the two-day affair to get a taste of student life at Xavier.

The program isn’t just for the students, however. Parents can also take advantage of the weekend to meet with representatives from administrative areas like financial aid, student health services and student accounts.

king cont

Operating under his “What color is your Bow Tie?” slogan, the new business enterprise focuses on “providing customers with quality brand cigars, cigar packages and accessories at reasonable prices.”

His entrance into entrepreneurship began in 2006 when he was still a full-time quality control engineer at the Chrysler Corporation. At the time it was just a passion: a love for the fine cigars he had enjoyed for nearly a decade and the desire to have a small side business of his own.

“I wanted to be in the business, but I knew I didn’t want to be a distributor of other people’s products,” said King, who said his idea for a new concept for marketing cigars came to him like an epiphany while buying his personal smokes in a local St. Louis shop. “I wanted something fresh, something original, something that was a reflection of who I was.”

The rather unusual company name comes from another of his loves: bow-ties.

“I’m exclusively a bow-tie guy, its part of my charm and demeanor,” said King. “What makes bow-ties so unique is that two people can have the same color and make, but the way they tie it is a function of their personality.”

And it’s that label or band on each cigar – his trademark colored bow tie – which helps to make his brand unique.

“I learned in psychology 101 that while people don’t readily recall names, they remember shapes and colors,” said King. “I can’t tell you how many good cigars I’ve smoked that I never could find again because I lost the label on them. But people will remember they smoked a bow tie.”

In addition to offering only the best long-filtered, hand-rolled cigar blends personally selected for their taste and aroma from manufacturers in the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Honduras, Bow Tie Cigars also differentiates itself from the rest of the market by offering its cigars packaged in an all-inclusive format which includes the cigars, matches, mints, cutter and information about the cigars.

“When I travel I want to have everything I need to smoke at my fingertips – I don’t want to go hunting for matches or a cutter – and I suspect most other cigar smokers don’t want to either,” he said, noting that the concept has been very well received by his clientele and the industry in general.

Despite his original concepts, breaking into the business proved to be much harder than he imagined. He said he was turned down by no fewer than 50 companies before one company that had never previously been involved in the cigar business gave him a chance to test his marketing concept.   

The enterprise started off rather modestly with one cigar blend that he peddled at private parties and public gatherings. Now three years into the enterprise he has expanded his offerings to four different cigar blends and has been actively marketing his brand to stores in the Metro-East Illinois, St. Louis and surrounding areas.

He is just now beginning to make a push into the domestic regional and national markets through some personal one-on-one contact and through a slick, polished and extremely functional company website [www.bowtiecigar.com].

According to King, his persistence is starting to pay dividends – and that’s a good thing. Laid off in late 2008 along with thousands of other Chrysler workers, his small “side” business now represents much of his livelihood.

And yet King, who lives with his wife Barbara and three-year-old son Marcus in St. Louis, wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I’m working very hard to make the Bow Tie Cigar Company a respected and recognizable name within the cigar industry and the cigar smoking community alike.” he said. “I recognize that I’m in a very competitive business, but I think we’ve got the right product and the perfect niche.”

kelley cont

Kelley, who grew up surrounded by poverty and crime in a Stamford CT housing development with his mother and five brothers, arrived at Xavier with the before-mentioned duffle bags and barely $125 in his pocket. Despite being an honor student in high school, he was enrolled in remedial courses in math, reading, and English by school administrators concerned that his dyslexia –a language-based learning disability that impedes reading and spelling – would overwhelm him.

Instead of getting discouraged, Kelley attacked his studies with a diligence and focus forged by his mother’s admonishment to her sons to “always put Christ first in their lives” and to remember that “education is the key to success.” For five years, he dedicated himself to school work, sacrificing almost everything in favor of grades. There were occasional social activities, but mostly, he studied.

Throughout his time at Xavier, while majoring in chemistry, Kelley tutored other students partly because he wanted to help his classmates excel, but partly also to reinforce his own knowledge of the subject. He became a favorite of several professors who sought him out to work on their own research projects. He came to be known as the “go-to guy” for chemistry tutoring, recommended by professors and students alike.

It wasn’t all uphill, however. Kelley’s mom died just before the start of his senior year, and there were times afterward when he wondered if he could – or should – continue his studies. But to give himself the extra push he needed, he said that he simply recalled her devotion to her sons and the dreams she had for all of them.

Following his graduating from Xavier, Kelley moved on to LSU in Baton Rouge, LA in search of a graduate degree. There, as he did at Xavier, he has endeared himself to his fellow students and members of the faculty with his willingness to go the extra mile and to extend a helping hand.

“Algernon has impressed me with his interpersonal skills, dedication and maturity,” said Dr. Jayne Garno, an assistant professor of chemistry and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Distinguished Mentor at LSU. “He is making a difference in the lives of both undergraduate and graduate students at LSU, while performing exceptionally well in his graduate studies.” 

This past December, he reached a new level of academic excellence by earning a Ph.D. in Chemistry.

The first person in his entire family to earn a doctorate, Kelley now teaches three chemistry labs at LSU. Kelley, who interned at Eastman Kodak in 2008, is currently seeking full-time employment in either industry or academia. His long-term goal is to become a tenured research professor at a major university.

And lest you think all this studying has had a negative effect on his social life, think again. This June will see his marriage to fellow XU alum Amanda Martin ’06, who will be completing her own medical studies at Tulane University School of Medicine in May and has been accepted into the residency program at the University of Rochester in New York NY.

“Getting my Ph.D. was the best way I could think of to honor my mom’s legacy,” said Algernon,
who points with pride to the fact that all six sons of Ethel Kelley-Roach have earned college
degrees. “She laid the foundation for all of us.”

Somewhere up in heaven, there is a very proud Momma.

social cont

The students – Sierra Hall, a business-management major from New Orleans (McMain High); Andrea Hodge, an art education major from Mason MI (Okemos High); and Nile Lang, an art major from El Sobrante CA (Pinolde Valley High) – will receive assistance and training in leadership and business skills, participate in an eight-week summer internship, and be eligible for a two-year, $10,000 grant if they commit to working in some type of social entrepreneurship organization or business.

“So often we think of non-profits as the sole areas of social entrepreneurship,” said grant coordinator Dr. Pamela Franco. “However, corporate or other for-profit businesses can also can also foster social entrepreneurship. The goal of this program is to encourage African-American students to consider social entrepreneurship as a viable career objective.”    

The new program is funded through a $92,000 grant from the United Negro College Fund for
social entrepreneurship.


Meghan Bias ’09, has been accepted into medical school at LSU-New Orleans.

Dr. Ayanna Bucker ’97
, associate director of the Public Health and General Preventive Medicine Residency Program and assistant professor at the Morehouse School Medicine, has been selected by The German Marshall Fund of hte United states as a Marshall Memorial Fellow. She was one of 54 "emerging American leaders" to receive the prstigious international award.

Kenya Crocken ’95, has been named dean of ITT Technical Institute in St. Rose LA. She had previously served as assistant dean.

Danyale Ellis ’97, has been named Director of Development at Christian Community Health Center in Chicago IL. CCHC is a federally qualified Health Center with clinical sites and social service programs serving community residents by incorporting primary medical care into a comprehensive slate of supporting programs.

Dr. Earl Mitchell Jr. ’60, was been inducted into the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame. Oklahoma State University’s first tenured African American faculty member, he served at the college for nearly four decades as a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, assistant dean of the Graduate School and as associate vice president for multicultural affairs. He also served as state director for the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation.

Rosalie Nguyen ’08, has been accepted into the LSU School of Dentistry.

Ayana Smith ’09
, has been accepted into medical school at the University of Tennessee.


Dr. Janel Bailey Wheeler (pharmacy) and Dr. Kisha Gant ’09 (now a pharmacy resident) were one of 65 student/faculty pairs nationwide selected for the 2010 Wal-Mart Scholars Program. The goal of the program is to strengthen the recipient’s skills and commitment to a career in academic pharmacy through participation at the 2010 American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) Annual Meeting and Teachers Seminar in Seattle WA. 

Dr. Ronald Dorris '72 (AFAM & English) presented a paper, "Collective Memory as Repository of African American Cultural and Intellectual History," at the Southern Conference on African American Studies in Jackson MS.

Dr. Conchetta White Fulton, ’85,’98 (pharmacy) served as keynote speaker for the Founders’ Day Observance of the Tau Iota Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. The theme was Positive Role Models Encourage Positive Relationships.    

Dr. Leonard Jack (pharmacy) has been appointed to the Louisiana Cancer and Lung Trust Board by Governor Bobby Jindal. The Board serves to reduce the risk, incidence, morbidity, mortality and economic impact of cancer on citizens of the state by planning and monitoring statewide efforts in education, early detection, screening, research and surveillance.

Dr. Joseph M. LaRochelle
(pharmacy) has been appointed to the Faculty of LSU Health Sciences Center School of Medicine, Division of Pediatrics as Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics.

Dennis Sigur ’97 and Kenneth Kirk (Information Technology Center) made a presentation on “Campus-Wide Initiative for Tracking Attendance” at the Blackboard Transaction Conference.

Quo Vadis Webster ‘00 (premed) made a presentation, “Transforming Your Pre-Health Advising Office,” at the 2010 Pre-Health Advisors Conference held at Meharry Medical College in Nashville TN.

Six staffers and students – Shirley Labbe (counseling); Danielle Burrell (institutional advancement); Vernon Dunn, Jr., a senior psychology/pre-med major from Kenner LA (Country Day High); Latasha Tinson, a junior psychology pre-med major from New Orleans (West Jefferson); Lisa Randal, a graduate counseling student; and Ariana Stone, a junior sociology major from Redmond WA ( Mountainview) – represented Xavier at the Morehouse School of Medicine, HBCU Center for Excellence in Substance Abuse and Mental Health’s Dr. Lonnie E. Mitchell HBCU Behavioral Health Policy Academy in Orlando FL.
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