February 15, 2018

Three young Xavier graduates – Dr. Pierre Johnson, Maxime Madhere, and Dr. Joseph Semien – debuted their new book, “The Pulse of Perseverance” with a Q&A forum, book signing and reception event at the University.

Award-winning The New York Times investigative journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones moderated the discussion about the book, which details the three men’s struggles to overcome the obstacles of poverty, inadequate K-12 educations and family dysfunction as they pursued their dreams of becoming doctors.

The forum also highlighted the role that Xavier University of Louisiana, which sends more black undergraduates on to become doctors than any other college in the country, played in their success.

“Xavier University itself was my saving grace. It would’ve been very easy for me to slip through the cracks during the academic valleys of my freshman year, but Xavier actively worked to identify and support students like me,” says Dr. Johnson.

Rising from backgrounds marked by violence, drug use and personal struggle, Doctors Pierre Johnson, Maxime Madhere and Joseph Semien show that their trials and tribulations were stepping stones rather than roadblocks. At Xavier University of Louisiana, these three black premedical students struggled with the demands of the university’s rigorous curriculum, but formed a bond that allowed them to succeed, despite the challenges and setbacks each faced. “Pulse of Perseverance” relates a story familiar to many urban youth, and provides a roadmap for how they can overcome. “Fear of failure haunts us all, but it’s not failure itself that counts, it’s how we respond to failure that makes the difference,” Dr. Semien says. “No one’s journey in life is perfect; my own life is a testament to that.”

By sharing their personal struggles and ultimate triumphs, the authors aim to empower and inspire black youth to work towards their goals. But more than that, they hope this book will help redefine the portrayal of the black male. "I find inspiration and hope in both the great and small,” Dr. Madhere claims. “Having gone through the process of writing this book with my brothers, I am hopeful that our stories might speak to a young reader and offer him or her some degree of support or direction; who knows what sharing our stories might lead to? Perhaps someday, one of our readers will go on to change the world."

“Xavier has held true to the belief that every student can succeed,” stated Norman C. Francis, President Emeritus of Xavier. “Each student is given the support they need from the Xavier community to achieve greatness. I am proud to have served as President of this institution for half a century and I look forward to watching it continue to grow and succeed as we move into the future.”

Xavier President Reynold Verret stated, “Today, we are building on our inspired founding vision to guide the path into an ambitious future. We l continue to sustain the unique educational experience that has yielded so much success. We know that students come to us with different levels of pre-college readiness. At Xavier, we embrace each one with an expectation of greatness, and they leave us ready to serve and to lead.

“The Pulse of Perseverance” is an inspirational story of success; one that demonstrates the importance of a strong support system and the investment of academic institutions like Xavier University of Louisiana in students of color.


Three Xavier-educated physicians – (L-R) Dr. Pierre Johnson ’02, Dr. Maxime Madhere ’02, and Dr. Joseph Semien, Jr. ’01 – sign copies of their new book, “The Pulse of Perseverance,” following a Q&A forum and reception held on campus. Looking on is award-winning The New York Times investigative journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, who served as moderator.

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