Volume 40 No. 05
May 09
From Storm to Stage:
Katrina Freshmen Graduate
Their senior class theme is "From the Storm to the Stage" and it aptly describes the experience of the 2009 XU graduating class. As freshmen in August 2005, many of these students not only experienced their first New Orleans hurricane ... [ more ]
Political Strategist
to Address '09 Graduates
Political strategist Donna Brazile will be the keynote speaker when Xavier holds its 82nd annual commencement Saturday, May 9, at 10:00 a.m. in the Lakefront Arena ... [ more ]
Summer School
at XU a Great Value
Summer is back in vogue at Xavier – summer classes that is! College students generally view the lazy months of summer as a time to pick up some much needed degree-credit hours ... [ more ]
XU Tennis Sweeps Titles,
Makes History at Tourney
Xavier claimed the men's and women's tennis championships at the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament – both earning automatic bids in this month's NAIA National Championships ... [ more ]
New Honors for Outstanding Faculty at Graduation

Six faculty members will be honored at Commencement. The faculty will receive the inaugural Norman C. Francis Faculty Excellence Awards,  designed to be the highest honors granted annually ... [ more ]



XU Student Named Kemper Scholar

Ariel Johnson, a freshman mass communications major from Baton Rouge LA (Baton Rouge High), has been selected for the prestigious Kemper Scholars Program’s Class of 2012.

Ariel Johnson

The scholarship-mentorship program, designed to preparestudents for leadership and service, promotes education in the liberal arts while providing opportunities for career exploration and practical experience through internships. The program has been sponsored by the James S. Kemper Foundation of Chicago since 1948.

Kemper Scholars receive annual scholarships of $3,000 to $8,000 – based on need – for three years, as well as $6,500 stipends while serving internships at major nonprofit organizations in Chicago and
at for-profit organizations of their choice anywhere in the world in the summer following their sophomore and junior years, respectively.

During the Chicago summer, scholars live in the same apartment residence hall and are placed in full-time administrative positions where they can learn about financial management, organizational strategy, fund-raising, and organizational administration.

1834 English Honor
Society Inducts 18

Eighteen new students have been inducted into Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honor Society.

Inducted into the XU Alpha Beta Eta chapter were: Nana-Aisha Adamu, Troy Baham, Jr., Jillana Cavalier, Keri Crump, Nisha La’Naye Davis, Brittany Demas, Jarnelle Jones, Tesslyn Land, Christopher Laynes, Kristine Mbadugha, Akia Nevills, Tyra Reece, Krista Richardson, Amber Robins, Raphaela Romero, Christyn Thibodeaux, Val Williams and Davida Yarbrough.

The society strives to confer distinction for high achievement in English language and literature in undergraduate, graduate, and professional studies, and promote interest in literature and the English language.

1834 Students Appear in Tulane Stage Play

Two XU students appeared in the Tulane University Department of Theatre and Dance production of "Soul of the City."

Kameron Moore-Mitchell, a senior mass communications major from Alameda CA (St. Joseph/Notre Dame High) and freshman Averis Anderson, a freshman biology/pre-med major from Franklin LA (Franklin High), performed in a number of roles as part of the ensemble cast.

"Soul of the City," written by Jim and John Fitzmorris Jr., is a chronicle of New Orleans politics from the 1950's through the 1980's, all set against the backdrop of the integration of the local school system and the story of youthful civil rights pioneer Ruby Bridges.

1834 Service Learning Group Cites Park

Dr. David Park, an assistant professor of communications, has received an Outstanding Faculty Award for his efforts to incorporate community service in the public relations curriculum.

Dr. David Park

Park received the award at the Gulf-South Summit on Service-Learning and Civic Engagement through Higher Education, held in Baton Rouge LA. The award is presented each year a member of the teaching faculty who has demonstrated excellence incorporating service-learning pedagogy in the college classroom.

Since his 2004 arrival at XU, Park has steadily transformed the Public Relations curriculum to reflect a social justice philosophy. Working closely with grassroots organizations such as Common Ground Relief, he has taught students to consider how their public relations training might serve ethical ends.

His collaboration with Common Ground Relief resulted in a national campaign to recruit 5,000 hurricane relief volunteers and more than $500,000 in free labor for residents struggling to gut flooded homes.

Other projects include voter registration drives, raising funds for a computer resource center and alternative crime prevention program at a housing community, and a national alternative spring break program, “Second Freedom Rides” for HBCU students.

1834 XU Alumni Chapters
Plan Local Events

Two far-flung XU alumni chapters have announced some upcoming special activities and invite all local alums to attend.

The Chicago Summer Boat Cruise is scheduled for June 28 from 12:30 to 3:00 p.m. Tickets are $65 if purchased before April 28. For more info
e-mail contact chapter president Danyale Ellis '96.

The Dallas/Ft. Worth Chapter Summer Boat Cruise is schedule for May 24 from 12:00 noon to 3:00 p.m. For more info e-mail chapter vice-president Demetria George Caston.

1834 Career Assistance
Offered to Alumni

The Office of Alumni Affairs and the Office of Career Services are pleased to announce a partnership to assist alumni currently in the job search process.

Whether you are a recent graduate, seeking a career change after many years, or feeling the pinch of these difficult economic times; Career Services has extended resources to alumni that can assist with every aspect of the job search process. After perfecting your resume and brushing up on your interview skills, XU’s new on-line job bank and web-based recruiting system, Gold Rush Express, can aid you in landing the perfect job. 

All Xavier University alumni are eligible to use the services listed below; simply follow the instructions provided. 

Check out NACE's resources. You will find helpful information on every aspect of the job search from writing your resume through interviewing.  

Visit Gold Rush Express [username: your email address; password: xavier (all lowercase letters)]

1834 XU Writing Center
Not Just for Students

Excellent written communication skills required

If this common want ad phrase is causing you anxiety, perhaps you’ve overlooked a valuable resource: Xavier’s Writing Center.  Located in Admin Annex, Room 105, the Writing Center is prepared to help both students and alumni alike polish their written communication skills.

Summer is an especially good time for the staff of the Writing Center to assist you with resumes, cover letters, personal statements, etc .  Summer hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., starting May 25.

Call 520-6282 for more info.

1834 Deadline Nears for New Alumni Directory

Time is running out to have your information included in the upcoming alumni directory.

Due for publication in August 2009, the directory offers an
up-to-date reference on the University's more than 20,000 living alumni. The directory will include current street and e-mail addresses, phone numbers and career info.

The Harris Publishing Company has been collecting information for the directory from alumni through a series of e-mailings and postal inquiries. If you have not yet been contacted, please get in touch with the company directly at 1-800-659-8027.

The last day for entries is May 25, 2009.

1834 Francis Anniversary Art Tribute on Sale

A limited number of the original art prints celebrating Dr. Norman Francis’ 40th Anniversary as president are still available through the National Alumni Association.

Entitled “Honoring an Icon”, the artwork is an artistic rendering of Francis’s life and varied accomplishments. It was designed and created by alumnus Steve Prince ’91.

The 22" x 30" artwork [VIEW] is available both as a signed limited-edition lithograph ($500 to $1,000) and as a full-color silk-screen poster ($60). Proceeds will support establishment of an alumni scholarship.

Click HERE to download an order form, or contact Kim Reese at 1-877-WE LUV XU.

1834 Xavier in the News

1Inside Higher Ed
Battle to Control
Catholic Commencements
Cancer Research Center
Finally Gets Off Ground
2Huntsville Item
The Changing Face of Historically Black Universities
1Diverse Issues
College Officials Strategizing
to Ensure Fall Enrollment


Biology professor Dr. Peter Barrett and five of his student researchers - (from left) Allan Augillard, Jenna Hill, Barrett, Rebekah Sadaiappen, Lynez Preyan and Candice Lightbourne - proudly display their poster presenations at the annual Festival of Scholars, a campus-wide showcase of the scholarly student research sponsored by the Center for Undergraduate Research.

photo by Irving Johnson III



Their senior class theme is "From the Storm to the Stage" and it aptly describes the experience of the 2009 XU graduating class.

As freshmen in August 2005, many of these students not only experienced their first New Orleans hurricane, a yearly natural threat to the Gulf Coast, but the worst natural disaster in New Orleans’ recent history.

What makes these seniors stand out is that, whether a New Orleans native or first time resident, they were intent on returning to Xavier following the devastation of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, which had most of the city underwater and impacted the entire region.

Following the storm, XU President Dr. Norman C. Francis corralled his administrative staff to work on Xavier’s recovery. The staff worked to meet the president’s demand that Xavier re-open as soon as possible. They succeeded and the University re-opened in January 2006. That spring the majority of students returned to the campus. Xavier, with its campus buildings lit up at night, served as a beacon of hope to returning residents in the city.

The new fall ’05 freshman class had only been on campus for a few weeks before the hurricane hit and displaced them. What made these students want to return even after enrolling in other universities that fall semesters? Most say that they had already established a bond for the campus and their new friends. Some said even after attending XU for only a few weeks, their experience at other campuses did not compare to the warm family feeling, the sense of belonging and camaraderie they felt at Xavier. Some of their classmates did not return for various reasons, but more than 74% did. And they are now facing the euphoria of graduation day.

“Xavier is more of a family for me than when I was at another school after the storm,” said senior business major Traylon Williams of New Orleans. “The friends I’ve met at XU, I see us being friends forever.” 

“There are other reasons, like the faculty,” said Williams. “They really work with all of the students and even the staff, like Career Services. They introduced me to the recruiter for the position I have now.”

Williams currently works with the FBI. He plans to pursue a master’s degree in public administration.

“After the storm, when I attended another school, sure I had fun at the parties and the football games, but that wasn’t college for me,” said Williams. “I’m glad I had the opportunity to come back,” he said.
According to Psychology major Blake Clark attended a Texas college after the storm. “It was different learning environment, a different social environment. I love Xavier’s
atmosphere and environment. I was ready to come back and I’m very happy I came back.”

"Initially I wasn’t going to come to Xavier as a freshman,” said Clark, who will attend Tulane’s PhD program in social psychology on a full fellowship. “But I attended a summer program here and fell in love with Xavier and the city.” 

Pharmacy student Takena Reese was newly accepted into the XU College of Pharmacy in 2005.

“There is absolutely no place in the whole wide world that is like Xavier or New Orleans!” said Reese. “It was a long road for me to get to pharmacy school, a lot of challenges, but I considered it an honor and a privilege, everyone doesn’t get this opportunity. I felt like I had made a covenant with Xavier when I signed up.”

“The mission, the goals of the university, I live my life that way. I identify with everything Xavier stands for and that’s where I needed to be,” she added. I didn’t even try to get into another pharmacy school, or like some of my classmates, take courses elsewhere. I was intent on finding a place to live and getting back to Xavier.” 

Reese is currently employed with Slidell Memorial Hospital and plans to continue to work there and in the Tenet Health System. 

All of the students agree that returning to New Orleans and Xavier was a given.

“I wanted to be a part of the rebuilding of my city,” said Williams. “Not coming back or giving back through community service wouldn’t benefit the city. The more people that come back and give back, the better our city will become.”

The 440 graduating seniors are looking forward to becoming alumni of Xavier University and pursuing careers and advanced degrees. Fifty-two have already been accepted to medical school with more expected. 

When Xavier holds its commencement, classmates Takena, Traylon and Blake will move ‘From the Storm to the Stage,” to a bright future.


National political strategist Donna Brazile will deliver the keynote address and receive an honorary degree, and award winning actor-director-producer Forest Whitaker will receive another honorary degree, when Xavier holds its 82nd annual Commencement Saturday, May 9, 10:00 a.m. in the Kiefer Lakefront Arena.

Brazile, one of the best known and most influential women in modern American politics, will address more than 450 graduates of the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Pharmacy and Graduate programs and their families at the ceremony.

The university's annual Baccalaureate Mass will be held the preceding evening, Friday, May 8, at 7:00 p.m. in the Gymnasium.

Brazile, a native of New Orleans, is chair of the Democratic National Committee’s Voting Rights Institute (VRI), established in 2001 to help protect and promote the rights of all Americans to participate in the political process. She is the author of “Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics,” a memoir about her life in the political arena.

She made history as the first African American women to lead a major presidential campaign when she served as campaign manager for Gore-Lieberman 2000.

Founder and managing director of Brazile and Associates, she is a political consulting and grassroots advocacy firm based in Washington DC. She is a weekly contributor and political commentator for CNN, a political consultant for ABC News, and a contributor to NPR’s Political Corner. She is also a syndicated columnist. In addition she serves as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University.

Brazile, who earned her undergraduate degree from LSU-Baton Rouge in 1981, served on the board of directors of the Louisiana Recovery Authority at the bequest of former La. Governor Kathleen Blanco.

Whitaker is one of Hollywood’s most accomplished actors/director/producers who has showcased his talents in a multitude of demanding and diverse roles. He is the fourth African American male to win an Academy Award for Best Actor, and he has also received a Golden Globe and other honors.

Whitaker has done extensive humanitarian work for organizations like Penny Lane, providing assistance to abused teenagers. During the last few years, he has also become a spokesperson for Hope North Ugandan orphanage and Human Rights Watch.



Chanel D. Perry, a sophomore biology/pre-med major from Memphis TN (East High School), has been accepted as a Fogarty Minority Health Disparity International Research Training (MHIRT) scholar and will spend 10 weeks this summer at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana taking part in an ethno-pharmacology research study examining the use of plants and herbs to treat diabetes and hypertension. The program is offered through San Diego State University and funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Meghan Bias, a senior biology/pre-med major from Grand Coteau LA (Academy of the Sacred Heart), has been accepted into Meharry Medical College.

Nikkia Edwards, a senior biology/pre-med major from Garland TX (Naaman Forest High), has been accepted into medical school at the University of Texas-Southwestern.

Maya Hills, a senior biology/pre-med major from Bunkie LA (Louisiana Math/Science High), has been accepted into Meharry Medical College.

Shaurita Hutchins, a junior biology/pre-med major from West Point MS (West Point High), has been elected Student Government Association (SGA) President for the 2009-2010 school year.

Ayana Johnson, a senior chemistry/pre-med major from Dunwoody GA (Dunwoody High), has been accepted into Meharry Medical College.

Kayla Nixon, a senior biology/pre-med major from Jacksonville FL (Stanton Prep), has been accepted into medical school at the University of Florida and Mayo Medical College.

Adrienne Noble, a senior biology/pre-med major from Bridgeton MO (Pattonville High), has been accepted into veterinary school at Purdue University.

Brittney Richardson, a senior biology/pre-med major from Independence LA (Independence High), has been accepted into medical school at the University of Louisville and Howard University.

Amber Robins, a junior biology/pre-med major from Baton Rouge LA (Baton Rouge High), has been elected Miss Xavier for the 2009-2010 school year.

Lauren Williamson, a senior biology/pre-med major from New Orleans (Ben Franklin High), has been accepted into medical school at LSU-Shreveport.

Davida Yarbrough, a senior biology/pre-med major from Madison AL (Sparkman High), has been accepted into the University of South Alabama Medical School.

Four trained peer educators - Adrienne Glover, a sophomore psychology major from Garland TX (Garland High); Whitney Danielle Miller, a sophomore psychology from St. Louis MO (Cardinal Ritter High); Keishondra Ashley Sampson, a freshman chemistry major from Baton Rouge LA (McKinley High); and Daphanie Taylor, a sophomore biology/pre-med major from Garland TX (Garland High) –participated in the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Training Policy Academy in Arlington VA.



President Norman Francis drops in on the krewe of student callers contacting Xavierites and friends seeking their financial support of the University’s vital mission during the 2009 Annual Fund Drive phonathon. The phonathon is over, but the drive continues. Want to contribute? Call the Office of Development at 1-877-WE-LUV-XU.

Photo by Irving Johnson III


Summer is back in vogue at Xavier – summer classes that is!

College students generally view the lazy months of summer as a time to pick up some much needed degree-credit hours in a shorter period of time than it would take during a regular semester, as well as an opportunity to tackle some of the more challenging courses in their curriculum in a more relaxed and concentrated setting. 

They couldn’t be more right. What’s more, undergraduate courses and graduate level courses are being offered at $110 per credit hour.

“We are offering courses at the affordable cost, the lowest rate of any local university,” said Dr. Loren Blanchard, Xavier’s vice president for Academic Affairs. “Summer school is a great time to take a full semester course in just weeks.”  

This year’s summer schedule boasts two five-week sessions offering a rich assortment of courses running the gamut of academic disciplines from business, the sciences, mathematics, the liberal arts and the humanities. A complete list of courses is available on the University website.  

All sessions are open to currently enrolled, new and returning students, as well as students enrolled at other universities. Registration for the first five-week session begins May 22, with classes starting May 25. Registration for the second session is June 26.

For more info contact the Registrar’s Office at (504) 520-7583.


Xavier claimed the men's and women's tennis championships at the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament – both earning automatic bids in the NAIA National Championships May 12 in Mobile AL.

The Gold Rush, 16-6 and 18th in the NAIA coaches’ poll, defeated Mobile 6-0 to win the men's title for the third consecutive year and become the first Historically Black College and University (HBCU) to qualify for the men's national tournament since the event went to a dual-match format in 2000. They will meet No. 16 Oklahoma Christian in the opening round of the NAIA tournament.

The No. 15 Gold Nuggets (18-6) beat Mobile 7-1 to win their sixth title in eight years and earn their fourth bid to nationals and their second in a row. They will face unranked Union KY in the opening round of the NAIA tournament.

Terry Richardson, a grad student in community counseling from Stockbridge GA (Stockbridge High), and Anastesia Opata, a junior mass communications major from Lawrence GA (Central Gwinnett High), were named GCAC players of the year after rallying to win No. 1 singles matches in the finals. Richardson, who also won the men's award in 2007, defeated Ale Vial 3-6, 6-1, 6-0. Opata scored the final four points of her match to beat Claudia Borges 3-6, 6-0, 1-0 (10-8).

Freshman Steffen Giles-Osborn, a chemistry/pre-pharmacy major from Atlanta GA (Westlake High) was selected men's Newcomer of the Year, and Alan Green won the men's and women's Coach of the Year awards.

The team titles give Xavier a school-record four teams which qualified for NAIA National Championships in the same academic year. XU's men's and women's cross country teams qualified for nationals in November. During the past four seasons Xavier teams combined to win 17 GCAC team championships and qualify for 12 NAIA national tourneys.


For the first time, six faculty members will receive special honors at Commencement ceremonies.

The faculty will receive the inaugural "Norman C. Francis Faculty Excellence" Awards, designed to bestow the highest honors annually to faculty members who exemplify first rate performance in the areas of teaching, scholarship and service.

There will be six awards, three to "junior" faculty (those who have worked at the University for seven years or less) and three to "senior" faculty members (more than seven years of service.)

The awards of $5,000 each will be split evenly between the award recipient and his/her academic area for the following year.

During the commencement ceremony, the faculty members will receive a medallion specially designed and minted to convey this distinctive honor. The medal was created by art department faculty member Ron Bechet.

Receiving the Norman C. Francis Faculty Excellence Award in Teaching – given to faculty members who exhibit the highest qualities of instruction and pedagogy – are: (junior faculty) Dr. Renee Akbar in the Division of Education and (senior faculty) Dr. Karen Becnel Moore in languages.

Receiving the Norman C. Francis Faculty Excellence Award in Service – given to faculty who with a sustained and consistent record of service to various institutional efforts, and who exemplify a spirit of volunteerism – are: (junior faculty) Dr. Ross Louis in communications and (senior faculty) Sr. Grace Mary Flickinger, S.B.S., in biology

Receiving the Norman C. Francis Faculty Excellence Award in Scholarship – given to those whose scholarship and research distinguish the University, and who make a substantial contribution to their discipline – are: (junior faculty) Dr. Bryan Bilyeu in chemistry and (senior faculty) Dr. Cheryl Stevens in chemistry.

The 2009 Commencement will be held at 10:00 a.m. at the Kiefer Lakefront Arena

Preregistration is underway for one of the more unique 2009 summer sessions available anywhere; namely, the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier.  

The IBCS was founded in 1980. The goal of the Institute is to prepare lay men and women, religious and clergy from all racial-cultural backgrounds to engage in a more meaningful and effective Catholic ministry within the Black community. 

Continuing education and enrichment programs include Catechist Formation in the Black Community, Youth and Young Adult Ministry, and the Leadership in Faith
Community program.

The master’s degree program summer sessions begin June 21, while the one-week, Certificate and Enrichment (C&E) programs will be held June 6-10, June 13-17 and
June 29-July 3.

The degree program offers students an intensive three-week summer session focusing on assisting participants to engage in a highly effective ministry in Black Catholic or multicultural and multi racial parishes. 

“Given the fact that most Black Catholic and multicultural parishes are staffed by European American or other cross cultural priests from African and Asian cultures, our one-week seminar Pastoral Leadership in Black Catholic and Multi-Cultural Parishes is offered to assist these priest in their understanding of the Church in the U.S. as it finds expression in the Black Catholic Community,” said Sr. Jamie Phelps, O.P, director of the Institute.

“Our students have opportunities for intellectual, cultural and spiritual growth that integrates the teachings and traditions of the Catholic Church and the Black religious experience,” said Phelps. “In addition we have a dynamic, outstanding faculty from across the country who come to New Orleans for the Institute to share their knowledge and passion for ministry in the African American community.”

These non-degree continuing education programs offer assistance in the areas of Catechesis (Religious Education) and Youth Ministry and Leadership.  

Two new seminars will enrich the C& E Curriculum this summer. The Seminar for Pastoral Musicians is led by Mr. Rawn Harbor, is one of the preeminent African American Catholic liturgists and musicians in the U.S. today. He is a gifted pianist and composer, and a sought-after workshop facilitator, speaker and liturgist. It focuses on helping liturgical musicians understand more profoundly the theological foundations and guidelines for Catholic liturgy and the appropriate role of music in our liturgical celebrations.

The Seminar for Campus Ministers, “Black Perspectives on the Gospel on Campus,” is led by Fr. Dr. Edward Branch, who is the Director of Catholic Campus Ministry for the Atlanta University Complex (Morehouse, Spellman etc.), focuses on those desiring or currently engaged Catholic campus ministry on both Catholic and State Universities. 

“There is a definite need for more Black Catholic campus ministers and cross-cultural campus ministers who are knowledgeable about and supportive of Black Catholic students’ particular cultural world view and experiences,” said Phelps.

For more information on the IBCS 2009 summer session, including a check list for newcomers, visit the website or call 504-520-7691.


Winners [ see photo ] were announced for first campus-wide business plan competition co-sponsored by Xavier’s Entrepreneurship Institute in the Division of Business and Scott Management Team (doing business as McDonald's Restaurant).   

First place went to Challenge My Style, an internet business providing opportunities for social networking and more, presented by the student team of Aaron Burgess, a senior mass communications major from Lancaster CA (Murreita Valley High; Kory Twaites, a junior computer science junior from Kent WA (Kentridge High); and Alexandra Broussard, a senior chemistry major from Columbus OH (Bishop Watterson High).   

Second place went to Room 247, a community providing services, supplies, food, tutoring and computer access, created by junior psychology major Vernia Walker of Mobile, AL (Murphy High); and Bretton LeFlore, a senior biology major from Mobile AL (John LeFlore High); while the third place finisher was RSVP, LLC Cay Spa and Salon, offering various massage styles and sports treatment, created by Lawrence Chambers, a junior business administration major from Temple Hill MD (Thurgood Marshall High); Dominique Payne, a senior accounting major from Philadelphia PA (Mastbaum High); and Jarroid Warner, a sophomore marketing major from Baton Rouge LA (Woodlawn High).

Beverly Andry, director of the XU Entrepreneurship Institute, said the competition is open to teams of full-time students from any department. Student teams were required to submit a brief description of their idea for review by the business faculty in order to get early feedback and direction on preparing the business plan. Final business plans were then submitted and evaluated and the top four semi-finalists were invited to present their plan to a panel of judges composed of the Division of Business faculty members.

This is the first year that the Institute has offered the competition. Scott Management Team (DBA McDonald's Restaurant) sponsored this year's business plan competition by providing $5,000 in scholarship awards to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place teams. CEO Terry Scott has agreed to sponsor the competition yearly.

“Participating in this type of competition helps students learn from and get exposure to experienced professionals on their business plan ideas,” said Andry.

The Entrepreneurship Institute of Xavier University of Louisiana purpose is to infuse the spirit of entrepreneurship into Xavier’s curriculum, conduct seminars, plan community outreach initiatives, and develop a program in entrepreneurial studies. For more info visit the website at or call 504-520-7505.


Olayinka Afolabi ’06, has been accepted into medical school at Indiana University.

Darlene Allen ’97, is one of the lead actors in the national touring company production of Shelly Garrett's "Beauty Shop 2009-All Hell Breaks Loose."

Dr. Regina Benjamin ’79, founder and CEO of Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic in Bayou La Batre AL, will deliver the keynote address and be awarded an honorary degree at Spring Hill College’s May commencement.

Youshea Berry ’98, has accepted a staff position in Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu’s Washington DC office.

Carissa Campos ’08, has been accepted into the Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry.

Joshua Coney ’08, has been accepted into medical school at the University of Texas-Galveston and the University of Texas-Houston.

Tiffany Hill ’06, has been accepted into American University of the Caribbean Medical School.

Gabrielle Jackson ’08, has been accepted into medical school at the University of Texas-San Antonio.

Tyrrell Jenkins ’07, has been accepted into the Howard University College of Medicine.

Terin Lewis ’08, has been accepted into medical school at the University of Kansas.

Jenais Miller ’06, has been accepted into medical school at Wayne State University.

Chi-Chi Obih ’08, has been accepted into LSU-New Orleans Medical School.

Thao-Nguyen Tran ’08, has been accepted into LSU-New Orleans Medical School.

Teresa Spikes Terry ‘63
, Harris County assistant chief appraiser for Harris County (Houston TX), has been honored for her decades of public service by the Houston CPA Society, cited as an outstanding example of public service among city leaders.

Valerie Wilson ’70, has been named associate provost and director of institutional diversity at Brown University. She previously served as the college’s associate dean of the Graduate School and clinical professor of community health.


Dr. Augustine Aruna (pharmacy) had a article, “Lithium Toxicity Secondary to Lithium – Losartan Interaction,” published in the March/April ’09 issue of the Journal of Pharmacy Technology.

Winston Brown (dean of admissions) has been named to the Task Force on Admissions in the 21st Century by The College Board, a non-profit association whose mission is to connect students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the association is composed of more than 5,400 schools, colleges, universities, and other educational organizations.

Joseph Byrd (VP for Student Services) was the keynote speaker for the annual "Men of Color" Conference held at Tulane University.

Shirley Flen Labbe (counseling) presented a workshop, “Partnership to Improve Campus Wellness,” at the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Training Policy Academy in Arlington VA, as the project director of the HBCU Mental Health mini-grant. She was assisted by Eloise Doxie Dixon (counseling).

Fr. Phillip Linden, Jr., S.S.J. (theology) was honored last month at a Eucharistic Celebration of his 40 years in the priesthood.

Dr. Joe Melcher (speech pathology) was presented the Diversity Incentive Award by the Council for Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders for his significant contributions to achieving diversity in the field of communication sciences and disorders and increasing the presence of under-represented populations in the field. Dr. Nancy Martino (speech pathology) also participated in the annual meeting.

Dr. Jonathan Newsome (pharmacy) made a presentation, "Association Between Exposure to Diabetes Self Management Education and Disease State Knowledge and Hemoglobin A1C Level," at the American Pharmacist Association (APhA) Annual Meeting & Exposition in San Antonio TX. 

Dr. Bonnie Noonan (English) presented a paper, "To Be a Sci-Fi Human," at the 2009 Joint Conference of the National Popular Culture and American Culture Associations. She also chaired a panel, "Science Fiction & Fantasy: What It Means to Be Human."

Dr. Jason Todd (Writing Center/English) won second place in the 1st
Annual Southern California Review Fiction Prize for his short story, "This Is Where," which was published in the spring ‘09 edition of the magazine.

Three Department of English and African America Studies faculty participated in the Annual Gulf Coast Association of Creative Writing Teachers’ Conference in Fairhope, Alabama. Dr. Biljana Obradovic gave a poetry reading and participated in a panel on "Poetry, Poets, and the Collapsing Economy: Are They Related?" and Robbi Pounds and Jeremy Tuman read selections from their creative nonfiction.

Where Are They Now?


The stakes will be high when The Next Food Network Star returns this summer with a star-studded fifth season on Food Network. As television’s most challenging food fight, the series provides 10 hopeful TV chefs the chance to compete for the ultimate dream job: his or her own Food Network show.

Iron Chef Bobby Flay leads the selection committee that ultimately decides the winner’s fate and launches one lucky man or woman into a food and television celebrity. The series kicks off on June 7 at 9:00 p.m.

So why should you know this?

Don’t look now, but one of those culinary hopefuls is Jamika Pessoa ’01, a young certified personal chef and successful businesswoman whose vibrant personality and unbridled enthusiasm just cries out for an audience wide enough to hold it.

And the Food Network, which is viewed by 98 million U.S. households and in more than 150 countries, certainly fits the bill.
Jamika Pessoa
Photo courtesy the Food Network

Pessoa didn’t start out to be a chef. A business major at XU, she stormed into her first job at an Atlanta public relations agency ready to become the next “Miss Corporate America.” It wasn’t long, however, before she realized that it was a dream best deferred – perhaps even forgotten. Low (wo)man on the totem pole and someone disillusioned, she almost welcomed it when the firm made some personnel cuts. It gave her the impetus to return to her first love – cooking.

“The last of three girls, I was always on my Momma’s hip when she was in the kitchen,” she said. “I learned from the best. I always enjoyed cooking.”  

But what she lacked was formal training. She got that as a student at the Art Institute of Atlanta and later the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where she learned to produce mass produce quality food and the value of service with a smile. As much as she enjoyed the hotel scene, which she described as “first class”, she wanted more: more freedom in the kitchen and more contact with the customers. Leaving her secure job behind, she stuck out on her own and eventually translated that passion into successful business in Atlanta, where she regularly cooks for an ever-growing client list of local and national celebrities.

“I started with zero contacts,” she said, recalling her start of her private business venture. “It took a lot of networking, a lot of working for free, but in the end I was able to build a reputation for myself through recommendations and word-of-mouth.”

While she is a dynamite cook, Pessoa credits much of success to her equally dynamic personal charm and her mantra: “look cute, cook and entertain.” She loves exploring international cuisines in the kitchen. Innovative style, sassy personality and inspiring tenacity are key ingredients to the magic she produces in the kitchen.

“Personality is one of the most important aspects of this business, it’s one of the things which makes you special,” she said. “You have to be interesting; you have to have stories to tell. I find the stories get better and more interesting as I get older.”

Although her personal business was booming, Pessoa was still on the lookout for ways to expand her options. When the casting call went out for the Food Network show, she drove five hours to Charleston SC for an open audition. Fourth in line when she arrived during the pre-dawn hours, she had spurned the easier option of sending in a video because, as she put it, “you can’t fit me and my personality into a three-minute interview.” That’s where some of her Xavier training also kicked in.

“Xavier always stressed the importance of selling yourself even before you open your mouth – by walking, talking and dressing in a professional manner,” she said. “It’s all about ‘selling yourself and what you are doing’ – and that’s what I tried to do in the audition.”

Apparently she got it right, because two weeks later she was on the show. The series, pre-taped over a nine-week period, has already wrapped up shooting, but the winner won’t be revealed until the series finale on August 2. The winner will receive a six-episode show that will premiere in August 2009.

During the show the finalists had to prove their culinary expertise and star potential through a series of complex challenges. In each episode, they were put to the test to see who could handle the pressure and present the most mouth-watering food. Challenges included catering a party for a roomful of Food Network stars, impressing the “Barefoot Contessa” herself in the Hamptons and preparing a comforting meal for returning soldiers on the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum.

The finalists also had to survive a beachside wood-grilling challenge for Red Lobster and create a delicious dinner for a group of culinary elite at a screening of a major Columbia Pictures’ movie. Throughout the season, they also had to prove they had star quality and dazzle a variety of media outlets.

Along the way they were guided along by such famous Food Network icons as Rachael Ray, Giada De Laurentiis, Alton Brown, Guy Fieri, Ina Garten, Emeril Lagasse, Gina and Pat Neely, Masaharu Morimoto, Ted Allen, Tyler Florence, Michael Symon and the season four winner, Aaron McCargo, Jr.

Pessoa gave no hint as to whether or not she came out on top, but has no regrets about making the effort. “I’ve learned a lot about cooking, television and myself,” she said.

Not to mention making a lot of important contacts. She just might make “Miss Corporate America” after all.

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