Volume 41 No. 11
November 2010










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Campus Royalty
Operation Diabetes
All Business
One Size Fits All
SBS Celebration
On Target
PLS Donation

1834 NSF STEM Grant

The Department of Physics and Dual-Degree Engineering and the Division of Education have been awarded nearly $1.75 million to continue developing a retention and graduation program in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines and STEM education.

The five-year federal grant from the National Science Foundation represents a commitment from the federal government to graduate a more diverse student body in the sciences and in science education.

The new grant, designed to build upon the University’s existing programs, will work toward enhancing the quality of STEM education at the university, mentoring students to improve graduation rates, increasing the recruitment and retention of students, expanding research opportunities for undergraduates, and provide professional development for current and future educators.

1834 NSF Research Grant

Louisiana scientists and students from Xavier and six other state universities will share in $23 million in grants awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The package includes a five-year, $20 million award that is the biggest grant that the foundation has given to Louisiana. That grant will establish a network of scientists from Xavier, LSU, Tulane, the University of New Orleans, Grambling State, Louisiana Tech and Southern-Baton Rouge.

The work force, which will be made up of about 100 faculty members and students at the participating schools, will collaborate on projects in materials science, a relatively young discipline in which researchers will deal with topics such as the development of artificial organs and energy-storage units, fuel cells and systems that deliver drugs to the exact spot where they're needed to combat an illness. 

Each project will stress collaboration among physicists, biologists, chemists, mathematicians and engineers throughout the state.

The package also includes a two-year, $1.17 million award that will let XU scientists join the Louisiana Optical Network, an interuniversity computer network that lets members share huge amounts of data, much more than ordinary computers can handle.

1834 Basketball Update

MEN: The Gold Rush opened up the 2010-11 season with a convincing 71-58 win over Webber International at the Barn.

WOMEN: The Nuggets likewise opened up the 2010 season with a 55-47 win at home over Florida Memorial.

Check HERE for the latest updates on both the men's and women's squads.

1834 Cross Country

With the regular season completed, the cross country teams are preparing to compete in the NAIA National Championships-qualifying meet/Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Championships at Nashville TN Nov. 5.

For the latest updates visit HERE.

1834 Volleyball Update

The Gold Nuggets (8-23 overall, 3-3 in conference) close out the regular season at home Nov.8 vs. Loyola. The GCAC postseason tournament is at Nov. 12-13.

For the latest updates visit HERE.

1834 Fall Lecture Series

The Fall Speakers Series continues with a talk by sociologist/author Dr. Bertice Berry Nov. 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the University Center Ballroom. The event is free and open to the public.

Berry, who has a Ph.D. in sociology, is a successful author, lecturer, educator, entertainer and comedienne.

She was the host and co-executive producer of her own nationally syndicated talk show, The Bertice Berry Show, and the author of a memoir I'm On My Way, But Your Foot Is On My Head, as well as several novels.

1834 Film Screening

Jazz performer and historian Dr. Michael White ’76 (Keller Chair in the Humanities) will present a screening of the 2009 Zurich Film Festival Best Documentary Winner "The Sound After The Storm" Nov. 3 at 7:00 p.m. in the Qatar Pharmacy Pavilion, Room 112.

Admission is free. See HERE for more info.

1834 Haiti Connections

The Haitian Connections Fall 2010 series continues Nov. 11 with a panel discussion, “Art and Culture: The Making of a Nation,” at 6:30 p.m. in the Qatar Pharmacy Pavilion, Room 112A. The event is free and open to the public.

Also check out the photography exhibit, “Images of Haiti: The Young Photographers of La Vallee,” which runs now through January 13 in the Library Resource Center Gallery.

The series is sponsored by XU’s Haiti Cherie and Read Today, Lead Tomorrow.

1834 Opera Workshop

The Music Department will present its annual Opera Workshop Nov. 6 (2:00 p.m.) and Nov. 8 (7:00 p.m.) in the Administration Auditorium. Admission is free and the public invited.

Included in the program is a performance of Music faculty Dan Shore’s latest opera, "An Embarrassing Position," which was written here at Xavier and which premiered in May at the New England Conservatory to rave reviews.

1834 Books into Film

The Library Resource Center/English Department’s monthly “Books into Film” series – a look at classic films that were adapted from equally classic novels – resumes Nov. 11 at 7:00 p.m. in NCF 105 with the 1940 film version of Dashiell Hammett’s mystery classic The Maltese Falcon starring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor and Sidney Greenstreet. Presenting the film will be Dr. Jay Todd. Admission is free.

1834 2010 Yearbook Info

Full-time students from the Fall 2009 and Spring 2010 semesters are eligible to receive the soon-arriving Xavierite 2010 yearbook.

May '10 graduates should send a current mailing address HERE ASAP. This edition includees photos taken at commencement.

1834 NAIA Character

XU placed seventh nationally in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics’s 2009-10 NAIA Champions of Character Scorecard.

XU scored 87 points, earning points for character training, conduct in competition, academic focus, character recognition and promotion, and exceptional student-athlete grade-point averages.

1834 Alumni Chapters

Check out the alumni HOME PAGE regularly for events near you. Here's what's happening this month:

1834 XU in the News

New XU Pharmacy Building Donated from Qatar Opens
Q&A Interview Series
[Warren Brown '69]
XU Building a Testament
to the Generosity of Qatar [editorial]
2Times-Picayune Enrollments Rise at
Many Local Colleges
Get Ye to the Polls!

ribbon-cutting A CUT ABOVE

(from left) State of Qatar Ambassador H.E. Mr. Ali Bin Fahad al-Hajri, XU President Norman Francis, Qatar Minister of Education H.E. Mr. Saad Bin Ibrahim al-Mahmoud and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu enjoy the moment after cutting the ribbon officially opening the new $29 million Qatar Pharmacy Pavilion.

Photo by Irving Johnson III


A ribbon-cutting ceremony scheduled to coincide with the fall meeting of the Board of Trustees has officially marked the opening of the University's new Qatar Pharmacy Pavilion expansion.

Qatar Minister of Education H.E. Saad Bin Ibrahim al-Mahmoud, whose Middle Eastern nation donated $12.5 million toward construction of the expansion, and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu were among the honored guests at the well-attended event, which included a building dedication/blessing, the ribbon-cutting, a short ceremony and plaque unveiling in the building’s marque classroom, and student-guided building tours.xxx - more -


The University added four new members to its governing Board of Trustees at the October meetings.

Joining the Board are investment banker Dwight Bush, managing partner of D. L. Bush & Associates; Sister Stephanie Henry S.B.S. ‘00, director of religious education at St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish in Philadelphia PA; Dr. Toni Hoover, senior vice president for pharmacy therapeutics research and development with Pfizer, Inc.; and Sister Barbara Specker S.B.S. ‘71, director of parish services at St. Barbara and St. Rose of Lima Parishes in Philadelphia PA.  

Selected to leadership roles on the Board were Mary Keller Zervigon (chair), Sister Patricia Suchalski S.B.S. (vice chair) and Mark Romig (secretary).  xxx - more -



Many college students use their summer breaks to travel and study abroad, but for five Xavier students their summer trip involved service as well as immersion into a language and culture.

Four speech pathology majors and one recent graduate – seniors Bernice Chaiasson of Ventress LA (Pointe Coupee High) and Trenai Lewis of New Orleans (Mt. Carmel High), juniors Erin Hale of New Orleans (Warren Easton High) and Michelle Johnson of Gretna LA (John Ehret High), and  Kirstin Coleman ’10 of Upper Malboro MD – spent two weeks in the Central American country of Nicaragua this summer, visiting some of the poorest parts of the country and conducting hearing and speech evaluations for children and adults as part of the University’s Buena Lingua program.x - more -


Sixty-six long-time faculty and staff members were honored as part of the University’s annual Founder’s Day celebration.

Topping the list of honorees celebrating anniversaries of their employment at XU were Dr. JW Carmichael (pre-med/chemistry), Dr. Joe Melcher (speech pathology) and Clifford Wright (business), all with 40 years of service.  xxx - more -

Where Are They Now?


Leading the fight against a devastating disease that afflicts more than 100,000 Americans is no academic exercise for Trevor Thompson ‘91. It represents his best efforts to provide what he calls “a life worth living” for both himself and the many others who also suffer from this misunderstood and debilitating disease.

Thompson is the founder and CEO of The Sickle Cell Foundation of Tennessee. The Foundation was recently recognized as the 2010 Sickle Cell Community-based Organization of the Year by the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America. ---- more -



The Center for Undergraduate Research has awarded 11 mini-grants to 14 faculty members whose projects provide students with an opportunity for research experience within their respective academic disciplines.

Seven faculty received Title III funding ranging between $6,000 to $10,000 for six projects, including:

  • Dr. Jose Bautista (business) and Mark Quinn (business) – "Microenterprise Market Sizing in Louisiana"
  • Dr. Partha Bhattacharjee (biology) – "A Novel Peptide Therapy for Treatment of Herpetic Stromal Keratitis"
  • Dr. Kristy Brumfield (biology) – "Ergosterol Biosynthesis in Chlamydomonas Reinhardtii"
  • Dr. Maryam Foroozesh (chemistry) – "Synthesis and Bioassays of Coumarin Acetylenes as Potential Cytochrome P450 Inhibitors"
  • Dr. Rachel Davis-Haley (education) – "Book Clubs: Reading to Find US!"
  • Dr. Sarah Weaver (chemistry) – "Mechanism of ethylbenzene dehydrogenation"

Another seven faculty received Mellon Foundation funding ranging between $4,700 to $10,000 for five projects in the humanities, including:

  • Dr. Lisa Flanagan (communications) – "Practicing Performance as Subject and Method (Developing Solo Student Performances)”
  • Dr. Brenda Edgerton-Webster (communications) – "Newspaper Coverage of African American Women at the End of Jim Crow's Noose"
  • Dr. Biljana Obradovic (English) and MaPo Kinnord-Payton (fine arts) – "Ekphrasis: The World of Poetry and Visual Art"
  • Dr. Leslie Richardson (English) – "An Anthology of Feminist Theory"
  • Dr. John Ware (music) and Sr. Juliana Haynes (music) – Music Education in the 21st Century"
Mini-grants are given out three times a year (fall, spring and summer). CUR gives out an average of 30 grants per year. For more info contact Gary Donaldson, director of the Center for Undergraduate Research, at gdonalds@xula.edu.


World renowned comedian, actor and philanthropist William “Bill” Cosby will return once again to perform the opening act for the 3rd Annual Dr. Norman C. Francis Endowed Scholarship Benefit Concert Nov. 19 sponsored by AT&T at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center’s New Orleans Theater.

The Friday evening concert, which started three years ago to celebrate Francis’ 40th anniversary as president of the nation’s only Historically Black and Roman Catholic institution of higher education, will showcase performances by four legendary R&B vocalists – Jeffrey Osborne, Peabo Bryson, Howard Hewitt and Freddie Jackson – performing together this year in the nationwide “Men of Soul” concert tour.

AT&T Louisiana is the primary sponsor of this year’s event. Additional corporate and media sponsors include BP, Liberty Bank, The Louisiana Weekly Publishing Company, People’s Health, First NBC, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana and others.

The annual concert serves as a major fundraiser to support the Norman C. Francis Endowed Scholarship Fund, which was established to help ensure that deserving students in search of a Xavier education are able to earn a college degree. Tickets are on sale via the Ticket Master hot line 1-866-448-7849.


Alumni Homecoming 2010 is fast approaching – make sure your travel plans are in order for Nov. 17-21. A usual this year’s celebration will honor the 16 five-year anniversary Classes of 1930, 1935, 1940, 1945, 1950, 1955, 1960, 1965, 1970, 1975, 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995, 2000 and 2005, but all alumni are encouraged to participate.

Among this year’s highlights are the annual banquet, mixers and the 3rd annual Dr. Norman C. Francis Endowed Scholarship Benefit Concert. For more info visit HERE.


Six music performance majors – junior Joshua Copper of New Orleans (O. Perry Walker High), senior Greg Dixon of Houston TX (Westfield), senior Myron Hartford of New Orleans (Clark), sophomore Kapria Joseph of Brooklyn NY (McKinney), junior Crystal Morris of Jackson MS (Hum Hill) and sophomore Alesia Sterling of Jackson MS (Jim Hill) – added their voices to the chorus for the New Orleans Opera Association’ production of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess.

The XU student chapter of the American Chemical Society has been recognized by the ACS National Office as an Outstanding Chapter for 2009-10. It’s the 5th time in the last 7 years that the chapter has received the award.


Dr. Katrice Albert ’94, vice provost for Equity, Diversity & Community Outreach at LSU-Baton Rouge, was honored for her tireless advocacy for gender equity and her exemplary ample of strong leadership at the Louisiana Conference for Women. At LSU she is responsible for developing and implementing strategic initiatives and policies aimed at cultivating a campus environment that embraces individual difference, sustains inclusion and enhances institutional access and equity.

Dr. Troy Lynn Baldwin ’79, interim assistant vice president for development at Dillard University, has received a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in Urban Higher Education from Jackson State University. She earned both her bachelor’s and a master’s degrees at XU.

Maria Sly George ’58, has been selected by AARP to receive Louisiana's 2010 AARP Andrus Award for Community Service, the association's most prestigious and visible volunteer award for community services.  This award symbolizes an individual's poser and ability to make a difference in the lives of others.

Jeniece Houze '59, was awarded the Distinguished Service Award for St. Jerome Parish in Los Angeles CA.

Dr. Trimiko Melancon ’99, has joined the Loyola University-New Orleans faculty as an assistant professor of English. She earned her Ph.D. in Afro-American Studies from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Dr. Mahasin Muhajid ‘01, is serving as an assistant professor of public health at the University of California, Berkeley. She earned her Ph.D. in biostatistics and epidemiology from the University of Michigan and was a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Fellow at Harvard University.

The Rev. Jeffrey  Ott, OP ’88, who most recently served as chaplain at Xavier, has been installed as the  new pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Atlanta GA. Ironically, the church is one of the buildings for which St. Katharine Drexel provided funds.

Tahira Stalberte ’96, has been named chief communications officer for Durham (NC) Public Schools. A media relations specialist, she previously worked with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (NC) managing media relations and crisis, internal and external communications efforts for the district.

Four speech pathology majors – (from left) seniors Bernice Hammond-Chiasson and Trenai Lewis, and juniors Michelle Johnson, and Erin Hale of New Orleans – visit with Communications chair Dr. Joe Melcher and program director Dr. Nancy Martino after a two-week stay in Nicaragua this past summer conducting hearing and speech evaluations for children and adults as part of the University’s Buena Lingua program.

Photo by Irving Johnson III

speech path cont

Project Buena Lingua, begun in 2008, is working to increase the number of speech pathologists qualified to provide services to native Spanish speakers who are learning English. 

“These students are part of a group who will be uniquely qualified to serve both native English speakers and Spanish speakers for whom English is not their first language,” said Dr. Nancy Martino, director of the program.

Each of the Project Buena Lingua students has an academic minor in Spanish and this semester they are currently working with a new program with the New Orleans Speech and Hearing Center, offering treatment programs to Spanish speaking preschoolers who are experience difficulty learning English.

The summer experience in Nicaragua, helped prepare them for this and other future bilingual encounters in their speech pathology careers.

The Xavier group traveled with a group of students from the University of Northern Iowa, with a coordinator who gave them a bit of a scare in his description of the country and its safety as they prepared for the trip. But the students felt it was a slight exaggeration in order to prepare them for the worst and keep them alert in a foreign country.

“We really did appreciate the preparation and were pleasantly surprised when we found it was not as bad as we expected,” said Michelle.

Although two of the students have an ethnic Spanish speaking background – Michelle’s mother is Mexican and Erin’s father is from Belize – none of them are exactly fluent speakers of the language. The trip to Nicaragua gave them a chance to practice their language skills in a more concrete way, and while they reported it was easy to speak the language, they found it harder to understand and hold a conversation.

“Our hardest time was in a restaurant where we tried to order and the waiter just didn’t understand us and we couldn’t understand him,” said Erin. It was hilarious!”

They found it was easier working with the children.

“We learned basic words and phrases for the work we had to do, and the kids were really excited to have us there. The bonds we made with those kids was the best part of the trip,” said Erin.

“Our hearts really go out to that population,” said Trenai. “After that trip, you can really have an appreciation for what we have here. The dire poverty and lack of resources that we came across is more intense than anything you see on television.”

“Overall it really was a good experience and I’m glad we did it,” said Bernice. “It’s helped us to be more confident and in approaching people and working with non-English speakers now.”

“Having the students work with Project Buena Lingua opens them to the fact that here are so many other ethnic groups out there,” said Martino.

Students in the program agree to provide two years of service in public schools with bilingual populations for every year of funding received. The program, currently open to junior and senior Xavier students, is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
For more information on Xavier's Project Buena Lingua, contact Martino at nmartino@xula.edu.

qatar pavilion cont

The Pavilion has actually been in use by students since the start of the fall semester.

All of the COP’s new high-tech teaching labs, as well as two large auditorium-style lecture halls – each capable of seating as many as 200 students – are housed in the five-story, 60,000-square foot addition expansion. The pavilion, connected to both the Library Resource Building and the existing College of Pharmacy building and facing the campus’ I-10 boundary to the north, also houses teaching and research laboratories, a mock pharmacy skills laboratory and a Drug Information Center.

The expansion will allow the University to sustain its increased enrollment growth while drastically improving the overall quality of the academic programs and research endeavors.

trustees cont

Bush, a former Board member, is an investment banker with his financial advisory and business consulting firm based in Washington DC. He was previously president and CEO of Urban Trust Bank and Urban Trust Holdings. From 2002-2006, Bush was principal in an Arlington-based investment firm and prior to that served in various financial and management roles in financial institutions.

Henry, also a former Board member, is director of religious education at St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish in Philadelphia PA. Prior to this assignment, she held various positions at Xavier Prep in New Orleans, including teacher in the physical sciences and president of development and alumni affairs. She holds a master’s degree in education from Xavier.

Hoover oversees the research and development centers in Groton and New London CT, the major hub of drug discovery, metabolism and development, animal health and drug safety evaluation, and the location where many of the discoveries and innovations that drive the Fortune 500 biopharmaceutical giant’s pipeline are made. During her career at Pfizer she has held various positions of increasing responsibility and scope within the drug development process.

Specker, another former Board member, serves as director of parish services at St. Barbara and St. Rose of Lima Parishes in Philadelphia, PA. She served as part of the SBS leadership team from 1995 to 2000 and was the director of St. Monica's Social Service Center in New Orleans, from 1981 to 1995. She has also taught extensively. She also holds a master’s degree in education from Xavier.

Active carryovers on the 17-member board, who are serving either their first or second terms, include: Sister Doris Blum, S.B.S. '55, Dr. Dale Mason Cochran, James Garner, Carla Harris, Monsignor Paul Lenz, Sister Amedee Maxwell S.B.S., Sister Rita Radloff S.B.S., Romig, Leo Sam, Jr. '52, Suchalski, David Voelker, Janice Wilkins '67 and Zervigon. XU President Dr. Norman Francis '52 (ex-officio) also serves on the board.

Rotating off of the Board after serving two terms were Sister Elizabeth Collins, S.B.S., Michael Rue, Paula Saizan '69 and Sister Juliana Haynes S.B.S., who resigned in August of this year to begin teaching in the Music Department here at Xavier.


Dr. Loren Blanchard (senior VP for Academic Affairs) has been elected to serve a second term as Chair of the Association of Chief Academic Officers for the Southern States, an affiliate organization of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) that comprises academic officers from an eleven state region.

Dr. Thomas Bonner, Jr. (Emeritus) presented the paper "Kate Chopin and the West" at the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association  Conference in Albuquerque NM. Two of his reviews of Southern literary studies were published in Choice, while he also spoke on Chopin's The Awakening to the Charles Town Reading Group.

Okyeame Haley ’96 (institutional advancement) made two co-presentations, “Practicing Law: Taxation Pitfalls for the Practitioner” and “Succession, Wills & Trusts – It’s a New World in Taxation” at the Taxation for the Non-Taxation Lawyer seminar, held in New Orleans.

Dr. Elizabeth Yost Hammer (psychology; director, Center for the Advancement of Teaching) served as a guest faculty developer for the women faculty of King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. As part of its "Preparatory Week of University Teaching" she conducted several days of faculty workshops on topics including planning for teaching, enhancing student motivation, increasing active learning, and assessing student learning.

Dr. Lester Jones (mathematics) delivered the keynote address at the Field of Dreams Conference of the Alliance for Doctoral Studies in Mathematics at the University of Iowa.

Dr. David Lanoue (RosaMary Professor of English) has added his 10,000th translation to his Haiku of Kobayashi Issa website– a milestone that has taken him 26 years to reach. He also helped to translate and provided a preface for Hoang Quang Thuan’s book of Vietnamese poetry, A Book of Hoa Lu - Thang Long Poems, published in Hanoi as part of that city’s recent millennial celebration. In addition he has an essay, “Umberto Senegal Revisited” in the current issue of Modern Haiku. Nancy Hampton (library) assisted with research for the article.

Nora Olgyay (chair, art) was elected vice president and education chair on the 2010-2012 American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) New Orleans Board of Directors.


Professors Dr. Joe Melcher (speech pathology) and Clifford Wright (business) are congratulated by President Norman Francis for 40 years of service to the University at a special reception held on Founder's Day. Dr. JW Carmichael (pre-med) was also honored for 40 years, as were 63 other long-time faculty and staff members.

Photo by Irving Johnson III

faculty and staff cont

Other employees honored for long-term service included:

35 years – Deborah Lidy (sponsored programs) and Dr. Lester Jones, Jr. (mathematics).

30 years – Dr. Marty Akundi (physics), Luella Gombako (housing), Bobbie Gordon (student services) and Dr. Michael White (languages).

25 years – Dr. Kenneth Boutte (academic enhancement), Joseph Byrd (student services), Janice Florent (Center for the Advancement of Teaching), Jacqueline Gavins (chemistry) and Dr. Shamsul Huda (history).

20 years – Dr. Marguerite Giguette (academic affairs), Erica Houston (mathematics), Delise Hunter (safety), Gennice King (library), Sandy Livings-Veals (financial aid), Gwen Morris (registrar), Paul Pierce (campus police), Gina Rachal (financial aid), Patricia Vaultz (fiscal services) and Dr. Jian Zhang (chemistry).

15 years – Sharon Aubert (pharmacy), Dr. Levon Bostanian (pharmacy), Arnold Crump (communications), Dr. Ronald Dorris (English), Dwight Fitch (campus ministry), Dr. Maryam Foroozesh (chemistry), William Harris (student center), Dr. Anil Kukreja (business), Dr. Guangdi Wang (chemistry) and Mark Whitaker (English).

10 years – Feralyn Ahmed (information technology), Pearl Algere-Lonian (academic affairs), Sr. Joanne Bauer S.B.S. (pre-med), Dr. Amne Borghol (pharmacy), Dr. Betty Brookover (planning and institutional research), Darrilyn Broussard (athletics), Phyllis Calvin (library), Dennis Carr (physical plant), Arthur Collins (physical plant), Dr. Wendy Gaudin (history), Annette Gibson (pharmacy), Richard Graves (pharmacy), Dr. Nicole Greene (English), Dr. Mark Gstohl (theology), Dr. Rosalind Hale (education), Dr. Elliott Hammer (psychology), Dr. Martha Harris (pharmacy), Danitra Hawkins (pharmacy), Elsie King (fiscal services), Michelle Lavigne (fine arts), Dr. Huiming Li (pharmacy), Wanda Martin (campus police), Deborah Nolan (pharmacy), Fred Reed (library), Alice Roy (library), L’Tanya Settle-Charles (information technology), Kendra Tircuit (advancement services), Yamlak Tsega (information technology), Benventra Wandera (information technology), Judy Warren (health services), QuoVadis Webster (pre-med) and Cynthia Williams (pharmacy).

where are they now cont

Thompson and wife, Cherry Whitehead-Thompson, founded the charitable, non-profit organization in 2008 in an effort to increase the education, health awareness and life skills of individuals living with Sickle Cell disease in Tennessee and the mid-south area (West Memphis, Arkansas and North Mississippi).

Sickle Cell disease is an inherited blood disorder causes round red blood cells to become sickle-shaped (crescent shaped), which makes their normal flow through small blood vessels more difficult. When sickle-shaped cells block small blood vessels, less blood can reach that part of the body, causing a host of medical complications that include lung tissue damage (acute chest syndrome), pain episodes (arms, legs, chest and abdomen), and stroke. It also causes damage to most organs including the spleen, kidneys and liver.

Sickle Cell conditions are inherited from parents in much the same way as blood type, hair color and texture, eye color and other physical traits. African Americans are particularly susceptible to the disease.

Thompson said that health maintenance for patients with sickle cell disease starts with early diagnosis, preferably in the newborn period. Treatment of complications often includes antibiotics, pain management, intravenous fluids, blood transfusion and surgery all backed by psychosocial support.

There is currently no universal cure for sickle cell disease. The average life expectancy of persons with Sickle Cell disease is in the mid-40s.

“Sickle cell is very misunderstood disease, because one of its main symptom is pain – and you can’t see pain in a medical test,” said Thompson, who pointed out that his own condition wasn’t diagnosed until he joined the army at 18. “The pain associated with disease is so intense that narcotics are often the only answer, and that lends itself to Sickle Cell patients being wrongly labeled as drug addicts.”

That’s where SCFT comes in. The Foundation provides sickle cell patients with comprehensive social services and a holistic concept to foster interdependence, which ultimately increases education and their quality of health care. It also seeks to educate the general public about the disease.

Recognized as one of the model Sickle Cell community-based organizations in the nation, last year the SCFT provided social services to approximately 270 Sickle Cell consumers and educated more than 100,000 people on Sickle Cell Disease.

Headquartered in Memphis TN, SCFT opened its first satellite office in Chattanooga TN earlier this year, giving it a broader reach throughout the state. SCFT credits its success to a dedicated staff, advisory council, board and the supportive citizens of Tennessee and the Mid-South community.

Noting that “the disease may have my body, but not my spirit", Thompson said that while logging more than 34,000 volunteer hours and leading fundraising efforts that netted more than $500,000 over the past 15 years, he has developed a sincere understanding toward the problems that the consumers face day to day.

However, he does not believe in excuses. And despite his own medical issues, he lives a full life.

In addition his role with the Foundation, Thompson serves Memphis City School System as ESEA Parent Coordinator for the Division of Parental And Community Engagement, where he is on personal mission to help educate, empower, and train parents in the 205 schools that encompass the district. [ESEA (the Elementary and Secondary Education Act) is the forerunner of what today is called the “No Child Left Behind” initiative].

He also remains devoted to his alma mater, serving as president of the Memphis Chapter of Xavier Alumni Association and a member of the Association’s Board of Governors. He was the University’s 2008 UNCF Alumnus of the Year.

Thompson, who has one daughter (Alexandria) and one son (Preston), is a strong believer that that parents should “lead by example” – and he follows his own edict. His actions have not gone unnoticed.

The Memphis City Council has twice recognized him outstanding commitment to the community. Thompson has been recognized as an Outstanding Civic Leader in Education by the National Pan-Hellenic Council, Inc. of the Memphis Metropolitan Area and was selected as the 2002 Brother of the Year for the Association of Tennessee Alphamen for Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. Additionally he was recently named the 2009 Stone Awards Humanitarian.

In addition to his undergraduate degree from Xavier and a master’s the University of Mississippi, he is presently a doctoral candidate at the University of Memphis concentrating in leadership and policy under a 1st Generation Ph.D. Fellowship.

If you have any comments about TMAX or have some information you
would like to submit for publication, please direct an e-mail to rtucker@xula.edu

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