LaTanya White and Harriet Paul mentor emerging farmers in Haiti.
Photo: Adam Taylor
FAMU PHARMACY Celebrates 65th Anniversary COVER STORY: PLANTING HOPE FAMUans Sow Seeds of Empowerment in Haitian Communities
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FAMU’S NEW NAA PRESIDENT A Vision for the Future
WHEN THE STUDENT BECOMES THE TEACHER The Story of Ferrisa Connell
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DARLENE MOORE Setting a Course for Success
FREEDOM WRITER FAMU English Professor Empowers Students to Tell Their Stories
OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN The Passion and Purpose of Jessie Small
RASHAN ALI The Game Changer TANYA TATUM A Heart for the Hill THE ULTIMATE GIFT FAMU Alumna Finds 25 Ways to Give Back
CeDAR A Story of Triumph PARIS PROCTOR Turning Pain Into Purpose COMMUNITY PROPERTY John Crossman and Thomas Bolen Uplift the Landscape of Real Estate … Together
ANGELA ROBINSON Behind the Smile
04 President’s Message 05 Editor’s Letter 52 Alumni Applause 54 From the Bookshelf 56 Campus Notes 58 Fallen Rattlers
UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT Elmira Mangum, Ph.D. ASSISTANT VICE PRESIDENT FOR COMMUNICATIONS Elise Durham EXECUTIVE EDITOR Kanya Stewart COPY EDITORS Shandra Hill-Smith Brian Lucas, DM Sabrina Thompson Mary Turner, Ph.D. LAYOUT AND DESIGN Charles R. Collins, III STAFF WRITERS Domonique Davis Alvin Hollins Asia Johnson Brian Lucas, DM Isaac Morgan PHOTOGRAPHY Adam Taylor Vaughn Wilson EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT Tawanda Finley ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT Lawana Clark EVENTS, MARKETING, ADVERTISING Charlene Balewa Vernon Bryant EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS Marissa Brown Tashavia Graham Geneia Holeman Jasmine Thomas FOR MORE INFORMATION (850) 599-3413 Twitter: twitter.com/FAMU_1887 Facebook Search: Florida A&M University YouTube: YouTube.com/FAMUTube1887 The A&M Magazine is the official magazine of Florida A&M University, and is designed to inform alumni, supporters, and friends about issues of importance about the University. This public document was promulgated at a total cost of $7,735 or $1.35 per copy. FAMU is an Equal Opportunity/Equal Access University.
Dear Alumni and FAMU Supporters: Welcome to another fantastic edition of the award-winning A&M Magazine. Presenting the A&M Magazine to our stakeholders is always an exciting time, because it allows us to give you an in-depth look into what Rattlers on campus and around the world are doing to achieve Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University’s mission of advancing knowledge, resolving complex issues, and empowering citizens and communities. With this in mind, this issue of A&M is appropriately themed “The Empowerment Issue,” because it displays the unique ways that the FAMU community is uplifting others through education, service, and an unwavering commitment to social change and economic enfranchisement. Indeed, FAMU has a storied legacy of empowerment, and together we are building upon that legacy. In fact, in April, we learned that ESSENCE magazine and Money magazine ranked FAMU as the No. 1 historically Black college or university in the nation for African Americans and ranked us No. 5 in the nation among all universities and colleges. Included in the top five were Princeton University, Harvard University, Duke University, and Cornell University. What is most significant about these rankings is that the University was highlighted for its affordability and the earning potential it provides for its graduates. This means that we are facilitating upward economic mobility for our students who go on to become alumni who do well for themselves and their communities. The World Bank defines empowerment as the process of increasing the capacity of individuals or groups to make choices and to transform those choices into desired actions and outcomes. This is what FAMU is all about – creating and bolstering access to a high quality, affordable education that positions those we serve for greatness while enabling them to accomplish their constitutional right to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To every Rattler and supporter reading these words, thank you for all you do to effect change in the lives of others. I truly believe that together we can change the world for the better. The stories you will read in the pages that follow give evidence that we are headed in the right direction. FAMU Forward!
Yours in Service,
Elmira Mangum, Ph.D. President
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Greetings Rattlers: Welcome to the spring 2016 edition of the A&M Magazine. This go-round we decided that the atmosphere was ripe to tell the story of FAMU’s rich tradition of empowerment. All around us we hear reports of the unfortunate circumstances that communities are enduring or fighting to overcome. As an alum and employee of the University, I am so proud to know that the FAMU community is steadfastly committed to providing solutions to society’s needs. I like to say that the “U” in FAMU stands for “uplifting,” because that is what I have always known FAMU to be. Niche, a ranking and review organization, recently listed FAMU among its “2016 Best Colleges.” In describing FAMU, Niche writes, “Florida A&M University will prepare you to excel in your future career. The professors push and encourage their students to go beyond their limits.” These words echo my FAMU experience, and I am confident they echo the experiences of the approximately 70,000 plus graduates of our distinguished institution. As a student, I was challenged to go the extra mile and to ensure that whatever path I took in my career and in life, was a path that would positively impact people along the way. This is what “The Empowerment Issue” is all about. We are telling the dynamic stories of alumni, students, faculty,
staff, and programs that are holding up the FAMU banner of love and charity. Our cover story, “Planting Hope,” chronicles the work of the FAMU Office of International Agriculture Programs and a group of Rattler and partner volunteers who are helping to bring economic and social empowerment to an often forgotten community striving to emerge from the ashes of the aftermath of the earthquake that devastated Haiti. In this issue, you will also learn more about FAMU’s “man on a mission,” Lt. Col. Gregory Clark, the newly elected president of the FAMU National Alumni Association, and the innovative campaign he has launched to support student retention at the University. While the FAMU Pharmacy Program is known as the No. 1 producer of African-American doctoral degrees in pharmacy, the story that often goes untold is the incredible work its faculty, staff, and students are doing to help bridge the health-care divide. In this issue, we celebrate the program’s 65th anniversary and its remarkable impact on the community. These are just a few examples of the remarkable stories you will find on the pages that follow. From our pioneering students and the embrace of our faculty and staff to the alumni who give selflessly in so many ways, I am confident that the words and images that fill this issue will inspire you! This edition was truly a labor of love by the Office of Communications staff, and it reflects just why the University was honored by the HBCUGrow Lead Awards as the best marketing team. Enjoy!
With Rattler Pride,
Kanya Stewart Executive Editor
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR The A&M Magazine welcomes letters to the editor about stories in its issues. We reserve the right to edit emails and letters for clarity or spacing. Emails may be sent to: email@example.com or letters may be mailed to the Office of Communications, Florida A&M University, 1601 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Suite 200 Lee Hall, Tallahassee, Florida 32307-3100. A&M MAGAZINE // SPRING 2016 // 5
BY [Brian LUCAS, DM]
Celebrates 65th Anniversary The Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (COPPS) has made enormous strides in 65 years. But its success spans more than the arenas of teaching and training. Since its inception, faculty, staff, and students in the College have been discovering and innovating solutions to today’s health problems, and reaching deep into the community by offering multiple programs to bridge the health care gap in underserved communities.
Most recently, the College received notification from the American Association of Colleges and Pharmacies (AACP) that its faculty led the state in National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants, thus exceeding all of the state’s pharmacy programs to include the University of Florida, University of South Florida, Nova University, and Palm Beach Atlantic University. In terms of surrounding states, COPPS faculty also secured more NIH funding than faculty at institutions such as Samford University, Auburn University, and the University of Georgia. “If you look at the level of productivity we’ve had and look at 65 years from graduating a class of two people and being housed in Jones Hall to now completing the construction of another phase of our own pharmacy building and leading the State in NIH funding, you can see that we as a College have made tremendous leaps and bounds,” said COPPS
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SERVANT LEADERSHIP4 Assistant Dean Carl Goodman, Ph.D. (left), Dean Michael Thompson, Pharm.D. (center), and Associate Dean Shawn Spencer, Ph.D. (right) have each played a pivotal role in the success of FAMU’s pharmacy programs and outreach initiatives.
Dean Michael D. Thompson, Pharm.D. To celebrate the excellence that has led to such accolades as the College being praised for graduating the most African-American Ph.D.s in pharmaceutical sciences, Thompson is planning a 65th Anniversary Reunion, August 25-28. A few of the planned anniversary activities include the dedication of the new research building, an induction ceremony for newly installed members of the College of Pharmacy Alumni Gallery of Distinction, and the weekend will culminate with a formal gala and fundraiser hosted by Christopher “Play” Martin. While the College has stood on a solid foundation for more than six decades, Thompson said that flexibility is the key to its continued success. “We have to continue to adapt because the profession is changing, so we are gearing up to meet those needs,” Thompson said. Thompson believes adapting won’t be a 4
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3IMPACTING GENERATIONS Mother-daughter duo Geraldine Roberts and Alexis Roberts McMillian attribute the success of their Frenchtown-based business, Economy Drugs, to the foundation they received at FAMU.
problem for COPPS faculty, staff, and students. He pointed to the hands-on experience that students gain on a weekly basis, which keeps them engaged with the community and up-to-date on today’s patient needs. Students regularly attend events such as health fairs where they perform blood sticks for various testing such as glucose levels and triglyceride monitoring in addition to other services. “We have a lot of ‘brown bag’ days where our students go out into the community and encourage residents to bring their medicine in a brown bag so that they can sit with them and inform them on what they should do or should avoid as it pertains to their prescriptions. Our students are well equipped,” Thompson said. FAMU alumna Geraldine Roberts, who manages Economy Drugs in the Frenchtown Community of Tallahassee, along with her daughter, was one of the first two graduates of the program in 1954. Roberts said the growth and progress of the College from then until now has been amazing. “It makes me feel good to know that I was a part of the first class and that I have family members who have come through the program and are pharmacists or in the medical field,” Roberts said. Her daughter, Alexis Roberts McMillan, who is also a COPPS alumna, echoed her mother’s sentiments about the program.
“Knowing that this is a pharmacy program that has been able to produce pharmacists who are now all over the world is exciting,” McMillan said. “These are professionals who are able to have an insight on new medications, new procedures, and new ways of enhancing your health.” During this special anniversary year, Thompson plans to travel throughout the state and region in order to reintroduce alumni and supporters to the program. His objective is to galvanize support and share a few of the things that have taken place since they left. Cities currently scheduled for visits include: Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando, Miami, and Atlanta. As a regular component of the COPPS curriculum, students and faculty also participate in various programs that deliver invaluable services to the community. A remarkable example is the pharmaceutical services the College provides at the Lincoln Neighborhood Medical Center in Tallahassee. FAMU graduates and current students manage the Center’s services. The Center is federally qualified to function as a community health center and receives funding to provide healthcare and medications to patients. FAMU alumna, Brittany Lyles, Pharm.D., who has served as a pharmacist at the Center for three years, believes the
services provided comprise a good partnership between the University and the city. “Generally patients don’t get the care that they need or require because it’s costly,” Lyles said. “When patients are getting adequate care and getting access to medicines they can’t afford, it leads to better healthcare otherwise.” An example of progress accomplished by the College during its 65 years of existence, as noted by Thompson, is becoming one of the first pharmacy programs in the country to house a public health institute. He also cited the opening of the Center for Health Equity in 2013 as a signature achievement. “Although there are lots of health disparity centers and medical and pharmacy programs, what makes us unique is that we focus on health equity and incorporate other units on campus, so it’s not just pharmacy, it’s the FAMU community making an impact,” he said. Thompson highlighted initiatives the students have spearheaded themselves to include a homeless assistance
program. “Every Friday a group of students make sandwiches that they take to the homeless shelter to hand out. We have another organization that coordinated with clinics during Breast Cancer Awareness Month to provide free mammograms for underserved women in the Frenchtown Community,” Thompson said. “These are things that they initiate themselves and it speaks to the core of who many of them are, and who we are as a College,” he added. As he continues to implement his vision for the future of the program, Thompson said he is keenly focused on the sustainment of research, education, and community engagement in the program. “My goal is to make sure our program is best-in-class, and that FAMU stands out as a leader and champion of underserved care,” Thompson said.
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FAMUans Sow Seeds of Empowerment in Haitian Communities as They Strive for Economic Vitality
“It doesn’t do anyone any good if we harp on a problem and not spend the same amount of energy creating a solution.” These are the words of LaTanya White, a Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) School of Business and Industry (SBI) graduate and now professor, who is a nationally recognized entrepreneurship coach and global business trainer. While her plate is full as a mother, entrepreneur, educator, and speaker, White has wholly dedicated herself to empowering those in need. As a student at FAMU, she learned that business should be used to foster social change and today she is living out that philosophy as a member of a small group of FAMU volunteers making a notable impact in a place where poverty is an everyday part of life. A place still coping with the aftermath of a natural disaster that literally rocked it to its core – Haiti. 4
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COVER STORY BY [Isaac MORGAN]
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More than six years ago, devastation struck the island when a 7.0-magnitude earthquake ripped through the country killing up to 316,000, according to the Haitian government, and displacing at least 1.5 million, according to a 2015 report by TIME magazine. Today, the people of Haiti are still recovering and rebuilding. Already one of the world’s poorest countries, economic empowerment is a much-needed response to the pain and destruction that still rings throughout the Caribbean country. White and her co-volunteers from FAMU have stepped up to the plate to help provide solutions to the needs of an aching, yet resilient people. And according to a report by the Financial Times, what the volunteers have to offer the people of Haiti may be just what the doctor ordered to help heal the broken pieces that families across the island are struggling to put together. The publication reported in a recent article that agriculture is considered vital to Haiti’s recovery. “The future economic development of this country lies in the agriculture sector,” said Haiti’s Agriculture Minister Fresner Dorcin, in the article. Under the leadership of Harriet Paul, director of FAMU’s International Agriculture Programs, White and her fellow volunteers FAMU staffers Trevor Hylton and Gohar Umar, along with several researchers, educators, FAMU students, Haitian college students, and representatives of partner organizations — are helping the University leverage its expertise in agriculture, research, extension, and business to help enhance Haiti’s agricultural industry through its Farmer-to-Farmer Program. According to Paul, who has worked with Haitian citizens in various capacities in the research and development arena for more than three decades, the 2010 earthquake worsened the human condition in Haiti. She explained that although numerous organizations and agencies came to work there to aid in its recovery after the earthquake, there still remains a specific gap to be filled. And that is where FAMU came in. Her observations led her to pursue external funding and serve as the principal investigator for a $100,000, one-year grant awarded in 2014 to the University. The grant created an international agricultural training and development program through support from the Office of International Agriculture’s U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance Small Grants Program (VEGA). BREAKING THE CHAINS OF POVERTY “Our main objectives (for proposing the grant) were to increase our Haitian clients’ capacity for income generation,” Paul said. “We also wanted to empower local women, small farmers, heads of households and youth in post-secondary to primary local schools to be more effective producers of food, disseminators of sustainable agricultural practices and stewards of the natural resource base. In addition, the program also was designed to increase the supply of fresh vegetables and legumes in the diets of beneficiaries of the program.”
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A CLASSROOM WITHOUT WALLS 5 Haiti residents learn unique ways to help lift their communities out of poverty. Local students are taking what they learned and training other youth in the areas of agriculture and business.
The volunteers of the Farmer-to-Farmer Program are focusing their efforts in a town called Montrouis in the Western Department of Haiti. Renowned for its white sand beaches and resorts, at first glance a visitor to the area would never know that beyond the area’s tourist attractions the locals there live in the face of extreme poverty and food insecurity. In fact, the West Department is home to almost 25 percent of the country’s poorest people, with women and children the most vulnerable. According to local government officials there is a focus on doubling the hotels in the area. But critics have out cried, saying that Haiti first must improve its infrastructure before it tries to grow its tourism industry – or else another disaster could rip the island and its people apart at the seams. According to Haitian Senator Francois Anick Joseph, Haiti is still in dire need of paved roads, dependable electricity, and clean drinking water. Paul concurs with Joseph’s observations and explains that these are the reasons FAMU plays such a vital role with its presence in Haiti. “The literature on Haiti is replete with data on the growing challenges facing the agricultural sector,” Paul said. “This includes the increasing decline of the natural resource base and environment, limited trained human capacity, limited financing, limited access to quality inputs, rural infrastructure challenges, insufficient policy framework, and natural disasters.” She further explained that in spite of all of these issues, one of the greatest threats to Haiti’s development is the lack of education of its people. In the agriculture sector, in order to increase the potential to bring about long-term improvements, agricultural education is a founding pillar, and that is the reason she and her superhero team of volunteers are focused in this area. Recent reports reveal that since the Farmer-to-Farmer Programs arrival just two years ago, FAMU has already directly impacted 660 households and 3,116 indirect beneficiaries. Locals are now growing their own fruits and vegetables and receiving much-needed payment for their productivity. Some are even selling their produce to local hotels, tapping into the industry that for the most part had left them in the shadows. They are also selling their goods at local and regional markets. This new market linkage allows the small farmers there to increase the profit margin of fruits and vegetables sold by 500 to 600 percent. AN IMMEASURABLE IMPACT While increases experienced by the farmers reveals a glimpse of hope for economic turnaround in the area, White says the impression being made is so much deeper than financial sustainability. “The impact that the FAMU Farmer-to-Farmer Program has had on Haiti is almost immeasurable. Besides the community, we have had direct access and influence on students, faculty, staff, and administrators at local educational institutions,” White said. “We know that education is the great equalizer and to be able to educate a people is to be able to empower those people. This means our reach goes beyond those who we have trained and into the communities
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5ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT FAMU entrepreneurship professor LaTanya White and Harriet Paul, the director of FAMU’s International Agriculture Programs, lend their expertise in business and development to bolster economic growth in Montrouis, Haiti.
that they live in, serve in, and sell to.” Due to the success of the program, Paul received another grant to continue the efforts there. The additional $150,000 award from USAID VEGA will help to carry out the Small Enterprise Development Project. The project allows FAMU’s International Agriculture Programs to build on the work they have accomplished and further impact Haiti’s Higher Education Institutions, their students, faculty and small farmers in their rural outreach communities. It will also allow for more hands-on learning opportunities for FAMU students and faculty. Among the many success stories that stem from FAMU’s work in Haiti is a local student named Auquel Elsonn, whose
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major is Agriculture Science at the Université Caraïbe. Elsonn was so inspired by the training and outreach provided by the program that he began a program of his own in partnership with the FAMU volunteers. He led the formation of the UC Club of Research in Agriculture, which helps local farmers secure contracts with the Moulin Sur Mer resort. He also led a fundraising effort to help youth in the community unite to create their own chicken farm. The farm has been a success and they are also selling them to the Moulin. And after working directly with the Farmer-to-Farmer Program, UC students now serve as mentors to area farmers and local primary/secondary school students. Elsonn proudly
exclaims to anyone who will listen that because of the program, members of the Montrouis community have increased knowledge and skills and are now equipped for continued development, growth, and success. He says he is now engulfed in the agriculture industry and often spends his time helping youth and local farmers learn best agriculture and sustainability practices. For instance, he volunteers twice a week with a local farmer teaching her best practices learned from the FAMU volunteers that have now greatly impacted the vitality of her garden. “Through the program I have learned to track socio-economic issues, agriculture issues, and food security issues,” Elsonn
said. “I think programs like the Farmer-to-Farmer Program are vital to the economy because it can help local leaders and citizens fight the extreme poverty in rural areas by teaching resilient agricultural practices.” For Harriet Paul, the visionary leader behind the program, stories like Elsonn’s are a testimony to the role FAMU plays in economic mobility and social change both here in the United States and around the globe. Because of Paul’s and her volunteers’ willingness to reach outside of the boundaries of the campus, local Haitian citizens and students like Elsonn have gained leadership and management skills that will impact generations to come. “The success of our program shows that FAMU is committed to the empowerment of people and assisting them in making improvements in their economic status, nutrition, and health through market-driven enterprise development,” Paul said. Her personal vision statement, the inspiration for the work she has begun in Haiti, sums up the importance of the program profoundly. “I am committed to a life of service and to work every day to ensure that someone’s life is better because God allowed me to pass this way.”
LIFE LESSONS4 Farmer-to-Farmer volunteers provide local residents with insight on ways to sustain their families and communities through agriculture.
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Our job is to ensure that no harm comes to this institution. Weâ€™ve got to train the next generation ... to understand our legacy. - Lt. Col. Gregory Clark, NAA
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BY [Brian LUCAS, DM]
FAMU’s NEW NAA PRESIDENT A VISION FOR THE FUTURE
Lt. Col. Gregory Clark is a man on a mission.
As a veteran member of the U.S. Army Reserves and a long-time financial adviser, he understands the importance of strategic movement. So as the newly elected president of the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University National Alumni Association (FAMUNAA), Clark is implementing new strategic initiatives to advance the mission of the University and his vision for the alumni association. Whenever Clark speaks about his goals and objectives for the association, he quickly cites recruiting and giving money as the two primary areas alumni can make a huge impact on the University’s sustainability and success. In an effort to jump-start his plans, Clark announced a $500,000 Retention Scholarship Fund in February. The main focus of the initiative is to ensure financial assistance is available to juniors or graduating seniors who may need help in order to complete their studies and graduate. The campaign officially kicked off during the annual FAMU Day at the Capitol. During the event, Clark presented 10 students with a check for $1,000 each on behalf of the NAA. All of the student recipients had a balance of $1,000 or less on their University accounts. Clark has promised that the association will meet its $500,000 goal by the May 2016 alumni convention in Tampa. “Many of our students leave school, not because of academics, but because they are getting right there to the end and running out of money,” Clark said. “We’re going to use the money raised immediately. We’ll see who needs money for the summer semester, and who needs money for the fall and start interjecting the money to help these kids get out of school
on time.” Clark is not only focused on raising dollars but also membership numbers. He explains that more active alumni, means more active support for the University. “We currently have about 3,800 members in the national alumni association and we know we have at least 70,000 alumni out there that we have to bring back to the fold,” Clark said. “FAMU has given a lot of people a great livelihood, so membership and giving back is a way of returning the favor.” Clark said the importance of alumni staying abreast of
issues related to governmental relations at FAMU is another high priority for the new administration. He cited the importance of alumni knowing the University’s priorities as it pertains to legislative issues and budgets. “These are the things that we need to be astute on and able to talk about,” Clark said. “Also, if there are things going on through Congress that affect FAMU, then we need to speak with our representatives and senators about them.” While speaking to the 220 Quarterback Club soon after beginning his new presidential
duties, Clark shed light on the importance of supporting FAMU’s athletic events. “The NAA is committed to athletics and ready to support the University. There are athletes who will soon receive retention scholarships from the NAA, because every athlete is not on a full scholarship,” Clark said. Victor Gaines, president of the Leon County Chapter of the National Alumni Association, said he is excited about the aggressive plans Clark has laid out. “I think he can do some good things as far as raising the
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5 A MAN ON A MISSION Newly elected NAA President Lt. Col. Gregory Clark is using every opportunity possible to engage and recruit alumni and raise awareness and funds to help support student success.
bar and the membership,” Gaines said. “I’m looking forward to seeing him shore up the younger alumni base and getting them involved and engaged in what we’re doing. We need the ideas and input of the youth to keep our organization going,” he added. Training the next group of leaders through the Student National Alumni Association is a critical link to the future of the organization according to Clark. The new president said he is encouraged by the amount of students who are graduating and becoming active members of the National Alumni Association. “That’s what I’m most proud of,” Clark said. “A good leader is only as good as the people around them, so I grabbed my team and said, ‘Tell me how we can get to these young alums.’ And they quickly responded and are in the process of laying out a blueprint to help us move forward with regards to young
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alumni membership.” A 1993 FAMU graduate with a degree in business administration, Clark is a well-respected member of the Prudential Advisors and has served more than 25 years in the U.S. Army Reserves. In addition to being a life member of the alumni association, he is a member of the 100 Black Men of America, a life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and member of the Prince Hall Shriners. His many long-term affiliations reflect his commitment to the community and the advancement of FAMU. He explained that in order to effect change you must be in it for the long haul. This is why he is heavily promoting life membership within the NAA. “Life membership is so important because it says that I’m making a commitment to the University and that I want my name enshrined in the University’s halls forever,” he said.
Although the NAA is undergoing a transition period, Clark believes the time has never been better for alumni to become active members. He is also encouraging FAMU supporters who graduated from other colleges or universities to join the organization as associate members. “As long as you support the orange and the green, you’re alright with me. Just please know and remember that as alumni we are the guardians of this legacy,” he said. “Our job is to ensure that no harm comes to this institution. We’ve got to train the next generation, these students that are in there right now, to understand that legacy.” You can contribute to the NAA’s $500,000 Retention Scholarship Fund or join the organization by visiting www.famunaa.org.
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Changer BY [Asia JOHNSON]
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d n o er c Se art Qu t r s r te i F ar Qu
Since graduating with her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the FAMU School of Journalism and Graphic Communication, Rashan Ali has certainly made a name for herself. She is admired for her finesse in excelling in a male-dominated sports reporting industry -- successfully maneuvering into spaces not typically filled by women of color. Throughout her 18-year professional career, the sports connoisseur has filled many roles: personal assistant to the stars, charismatic sports anchor, engaging radio show host, talented author and actress, and unwavering mentor to the young ladies she is molding to fill her shoes. Between being a dedicated wife and mother, hosting a myriad of shows such as “Under Armour Highlights of the Week,” “Rise Up Weekly,” and “HBCU Playback,” and recently starring in the TV One movie “Definitely Divorcing,” she still finds time to use athletics to uplift young women and girls through mentorship.
In 2006, the FAMU graduate launched a year-round mentorship and sports camp program under her organization Sporty Girls, Inc. The program focuses on sports immersion for girls ages eight to 18 years old. It is designed to encourage minority women to pursue alternative sports including golf, tennis, lacrosse, swimming, and soccer. “From FAMU to Princeton, many of the girls that go through my program went on to pursue higher education,” Ali said. “We set them up to be leaders of tomorrow.” A natural-born athlete herself and former member of the FAMU Women’s Swimming team, Ali recognizes the difference athletics has made in her life and credits them for much of her development. “I know what sports have done for me and this program is directly influencing emotional growth and also discipline,” Ali said. “It has been a joy and a labor of love. Mentoring is a God-given opportunity, and hopefully in the process we can change their lives.”
The true gift of empowerment is not only lifting others up to where you are, but catapulting them to that next level. - Rashan Ali
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The annual camp has mentored more than 500 girls in the Metro Atlanta area via four channels: Camp Elite, a week-long overnight camp open to 40 girls; Sporty Saturdays, a monthly workshop from October through April; Sporty Tract to Scholarship, a scholarship program; and Sporty Clinics, a focus development program. Ali says the purpose of Sporty Girls, Inc. is developing skills, awarding scholarships, monitoring progress, and promoting success. The camps are affordable, which opens up the opportunity for less-fortunate girls to get in the game. This is made possible by assisted fundraising, which Ali said is sometimes hard. “It’s very hard trying to figure out how to fundraise in an effective way,” Ali said. “In the end, achieving the goal is gratifying, but it can be difficult to get people to believe in what you believe in.” Ali said she combats this with incentives like raffles for popular big-ticket items, including Surface Pros, iPads, and Beats by Dre headphones. Many young women have benefitted from the program, gone on to successful ventures, and count the camps as a defining moment in their lives. The success of the program is obvious when you consider girls such as Tamia Goodman. Goodman is a freshman at Princeton University who participated in Sporty Girls, Inc. She said she was able to expand her community of friends through talks, movie nights and engaging workshops. The Atlanta native also spoke of the strong mentorship she received. “To me, Mrs. Ali is the embodiment of love,” Goodman said. “Everything she does is selfless and displays her desire to share God’s love and hope for a unified people.” Goodman added, “Through her commitment to her dream (Sporty Girls, Inc.) and her passion for womanhood, friendship, mentorship, health, sports, and community, I have truly found a role model.”
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h t r ter u fo ar Qu
Ali, a self-proclaimed sports fanatic, says serving as a role model for young women and giving back to others is rewarding, in fact emboldening. She explained that seeing the light of hope in the eyes of those she mentors, inspired her to reach further. So, for girls who are too young for Sporty Girls, Inc., Ali authored “Piper Sky’s Pink Popsicle Shoes.” She created the character when her eldest daughter was three. “I always wanted to write children’s books with my writing and poetry background, so I made a character that has skin like my daughter’s and gave her hair like my daughter’s… I thought of Princess Tiana. That’s all my brown girls have. So I wanted them to see themselves in the characters.” Tracey Sapp, mother of two, purchased the Piper Sky book and applauded Ali’s efforts to empower young women. “My girls love it! I read it as a bedtime story for three weeks straight,” Sapp said. “It’s a fun book, but also teaches valuable lessons to young girls. I enjoyed the book because it shows diverse characters, promotes sharing, friendship, and athleticism.” Ali says her overall goal is to help the women and girls she inspires to become better people. She has the privilege of watching them learn, grow, and blossom into empowered women. Aside from FAMU and Princeton, some of Ali’s Sporty Girls now attend Morgan State University, George State University, and Clark Atlanta University. “The true gift of empowerment,” Ali said, “is not only lifting others up to where you are, but catapulting them to that next level.”
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BY [Asia JOHNSON]
It is not often that a health-care facility functions as a one-stop shop for all thingscoffee, contraception, oral care items, and even food. But FAMU’s Student Health Services Center isn’t your ordinary clinic; it’s a home away from home and the matron at its helm is Tanya Tatum. The oldest of six siblings, Tanya Tatum never became a mother. But with her selfless work at the center, Tatum continues to be a mother figure to many.
3 FOOD FOR THOUGHT Student Health Services Director Tanya Tatum promotes food security to ensure students have a successful college experience.
Steel cabinets full of nonperishable food items line the hallway leading to Tatum’s office. In one room across the hall, her eager volunteers methodically label and package food items for distribution to those in need. There was a time that the center didn’t provide as much support, but under Tatum’s leadership as director, Student Health Services has evolved into so much more. Its staffers are no longer reaching into their own pockets to help students eat and instead receive 550 to 1,000 pounds of food per week through several avenues — including the Farm Share program in Quincy, Fla. Harriet Jennings, office manager of Student Health Services, describes Tatum as a “mother lion,” fearlessly protecting FAMU students as if
5 STUDENTS FIRST Partnering with the Farm Share Program is just one of the many ways Student Health Services ensures the overall well-being of FAMU students.
they are her own. “A student came in with a stomach ache and it was revealed he was waiting on his mother to get paid at the end of the month and had no food,” Jennings said. “Tanya took $200 of her own money and bought the student and his neighbor groceries.” Jennings added, “That student became like a son to both of us and I am glad to say he has graduated and is stationed in Virginia with the U.S. Navy.” Tatum’s generosity is rooted in understanding. She revealed that she herself struggled with getting enough nutritious foods to eat while in college. “I remember being a very poor grad student,” she said. “I remember going to the store with $5 and thinking, ‘What can I buy with this?’ I remember being hungry and
not having enough money to take care of bills, rent, and transportation. It was difficult.” “When I came here it became very clear very early that students sometimes have difficulty feeding themselves,” Tatum continued. “We have had students pass out.” According to a startling new survey of more than 4,000 undergraduates at 10 colleges across the nation by the Wisconsin Hope Lab, half of all community college students are struggling with food and/ or housing insecurity. Seven percent of these students admitted that they have gone an entire day without nourishment, and five percent of polled students at the university level agreed. Food insecurity is the limited availability of nutritious foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire food in socially 4
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A Heart for the Hill acceptable ways. At schools like FAMU, that accept a high number of low-income students, retention rates suffer as finances are a primary culprit in completing a degree within four years. According to the Wall Street Journal, only about one in five college students from the lowest income bracket completed a bachelor’s degree by age 24 in 2013. That’s where the entire Student Health Services family comes in. Tatum and her cohorts empower students by alleviating the stress associated with food insecurity, among
other things. One could argue that Tatum and Health Services’ work assists with student retention. “It’s one of the things we can do to make students more successful,” Tatum said. “It is hard to make enough to ensure you have a place to sleep and to keep the lights and the air
conditioning/heat on and the water running. Some people live in a food desert. Until the Piggly Wiggly opened recently, FAMU had been in the middle of a food desert after Harvey’s closed.” Nicole Walker, a senior health-care management student from Fort Lauderdale, and first-generation college student, said that finding out about Student Health Services’ Farm Share Program and its food pantry initiative rescued her from a serious, looming bind. “The last time I used the program, I literally had no food in my pantry or fridge,” Walker said. “When I left, I had enough canned food to last for weeks. Fresh veggies too.” Walker called Tatum a “mentor” and said that after beginning to receive food, she asked to intern with the office and was accepted with open arms. “She is such a sweetheart,” Walker said. “Mrs. Tatum is one of the sweetest people I know. She may seem tough, but she’s someone you’ll love.” On any given day, the center swarms with visitors, both checking up on their health and checking in on some of the most loving and caring motherly figures of the University. Sometimes, though, the matronly Tatum is nowhere to be found in the office. That’s because she says she dedicates much of her time to getting out on campus, getting her hands dirty, and not being bound by the
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We have to reach and meet students where they are. - Tanya Tatum
confines of the center. Tatum, who received degrees in biology and health-care administration, takes immense pride in her work and says the favorite part about her job is the human interaction. In order to run an effective, well-rounded center, Tatum also has become a champion for not only the hungry college student, but for members of the LGBT community. When she’s not supervising food distribution, handing out safe sex
brochures at sporting events, or planning anti-domestic violence awareness events, Tatum advises an LGBT campus organization called Spectrum. “My goal is to really integrate student health and the broader community by doing outreach. We have to reach and meet students where they are,” Tatum said.
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Before unwrapping presents and blowing out the candles on her 25th birthday cake, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University alumna Ashli Doss found it necessary to give a gift to the community in which she resides. 28 // FLORIDA A&M UNIVERSITY // A&M MAGAZINE
ALUMNI PROFILE BY [Domonique DAVIS]
FAMU ALUMNA FINDS
TO GIVE BACK D
oss, a fall 2013 graduate of the FAMU School of Journalism and Graphic Communication, made a list of 25 random acts of kindness she wanted to complete for her 25th birthday. Though she had a limited budget, Doss said she was still able to do small things that would help put a smile on someone else’s face. “I’m no longer a ‘struggling’ college student, but I am a recent graduate, so I don’t just have a ton of money to spend. I am in the building process, so I decided to do things that don’t really cost anything like helping wrangle carts at the grocery store and leaving an inspirational note on someone’s car. It’s really about the thought, when it comes to giving,” Doss said. While many of the entries on her list were lighthearted, such as taping popcorn to a Redbox machine and writing an inspirational message on a bathroom mirror, Doss said that everything on the list had a deeper, personal meaning. “It’s funny, people don’t really know that I chose to leave a dollar at Dollar Tree because I used to work there. With Publix—I went there all the time because I had a really close friend who worked there and he passed away when I was younger, so helping a customer there made sense,” Doss explained, while naming some of the locations she visited during her random acts of kindness project. She added that she felt especially compelled to donate clothing to Community Action Stops Abuse because one of her family members was a victim of domestic violence, and giving away books felt natural because she teaches at a school where many of her students struggle with reading and writing everyday. “The student population that I deal with, a 5 THE GIFT OF LIFE In the age of the “selfie,” Ashli lot of them are experiencing poverty,” Doss Doss found a creative way to said. “Many of them are at low academic celebrate life by helping others. levels in terms of their reading and their
I feel that in this journey that I’ve been on, I’m being called to do something more, something bigger - Ashli Doss
writing, and they’re dealing with a lot, things that I didn’t have to deal with while growing up. They really just have so many challenges that they’re facing.” Doss said witnessing the strength and light in her students gives her daily motivation to do more. Although she has numerous students who are dealing with trying personal lives and struggles at home, Doss said her students come to class everyday with a willingness to give their best, which she finds inspirational. Accompanying her on her mission to complete 25 acts of random kindness was one of her best students at Melrose Elementary School. Never missing an opportunity for a teaching moment, Doss said she knew she wanted to take a student along during her day of selflessness, and the quiet fifth grader with the positive attitude was the perfect choice. “I really gravitate towards students like her, because I don’t want them to think their hard work goes unnoticed,” Doss said. “I didn’t want the day to just be 4 A&M MAGAZINE // SPRING 2016 // 29
about her helping me, so for the first part I took her out to get her nails done and took her out to lunch. She was just smiling the whole day, so I know she had a great time.” After uploading photos and videos from her day online, Doss said she received an outpouring of support, and compliments on social media. When she started her day, Doss said she did not set out to get the attention of others. But, after learning that she had, she felt empowered to use the exposure to keep spreading positivity. “I don’t look at myself as an inspiration. I’m out here just trying to make it day to day, be a good person, and figure out life. To know that something so small like this can inspire people, that really touched me because in a way I feel like I have a purpose.”
After leaving a job in broadcast journalism and returning home to St. Petersburg, Fla. to impact her community as an educator, Doss said she has been really unsure of what the future holds for her career. However, she knows one thing is certain—she feels joy when she’s positively impacting the lives of others. Doss believes she is meant to help people and said in her personal and professional life she seeks to always work to better the lives of others. “I feel that in this journey that I’ve been on, I’m being called to do something more, something bigger,” Doss explained.
s s e n d n i K f o s t c A m 25 Rando
car l note on someone’s na tio ira sp in an e 17. Leav hborhood nd me hi be on rs pe e up trash in the neig th ck r Pi fo . h 18 ot bo ll to r bookstore 1. Pay fo te in a book at the CASA no to a e n av tio Le na . do 19 g in e car 2. Make a cloth their groceries in th ad t lo en ne ud eo st m so om p el nd a ra 20. H the 3. Have lunch with nt push carts in at ive da dr en ay att rt lid ca ho p a el to . H od fo or 21 4. Donate canned on a bathroom mirr ge sa es m l grocery store na tio ira ’s gas 5. Leave an insp ute towards someone need rib in nt on Co . rs pe 22 s es el m g meter 6. Help a ho d change to a parkin Ad ild . ch 23 a to ok bo a e daily 7. Giv e gospel; give out a home g th e in rs ar nu Sh e . th 24 in ne 8. Visit someo king out devotional ttle to someone wor ey mean 9. Give a water bo ee tr ll 25 people what th dollar Te e . th 25 at ar ll do a ve 10. Lea to me n to charity 11. Make a donatio ne a Redbox machi 12. Tape popcorn to a laundry mat 13. Leave quarters at checkout hind me go first at 14. Let the person be rget $1 bin section at Ta 15. Leave a dollar in em out coupons and hand th et rn te in ee fr t rin 16. P
My grandmother’s smothered sweet & sour chicken
Favorite pastime: Favorite quote:
Going to the skating rink My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion,
some humor, and some style. -Maya Angelou Favorite movie:
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t n e r e d h u t c S Tea N E H W E TH
S E M O HE C E B T
Since the first day she stepped foot on the Hill, senior public relations student Ferrisa Connell knew she wanted to leave a lasting legacy
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As an ambitious freshman, Connell was determined to be active in as many campus organizations that she could. Hitting the ground running, she began participating in student government, but the demands of her busy extracurricular schedule soon overwhelmed her. “As a student here at FAMU, sometimes when you get involved in a lot of activities your grades can slip, and as a first-generation student, I didn’t have anybody in my family to help me balance it all. I had a really hard time adjusting and eventually I lost my scholarship,” Connell explained.
BY [Domonique DAVIS]
The Story of
Stressed about how she would be able to afford her classes, Connell took a leap of faith that would eventually change her life and the lives of many others. “I had to think of a hustle,” Connell said. “I didn’t want to go back home to Tampa because I knew I would just fall into that place where you just find a job and work there for the rest of your life never doing anything more. So, I applied to what seemed like every internship there is and I finally got one.” That summer, Connell sought out her first of many internships, but began feeling discouraged after facing numerous rejections because she was only a freshman. Eventually, Connell obtained a paid internship with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through a partnership with the Student Conservation Association, where she was given the opportunity to work at an office in Alaska. “That was my first initiation into what internships were,” Connell said. “From then on I was just in work mode like, ‘What can I do next?’ So, through campus ambassador programs and doubling up on internships each semester, I’ve completed 19 internships.”
Connell said that seeking paid internships was not only financially beneficial, but also helped her to tap into her passion for helping other students and showing them how to navigate the college experience, including introducing them to the companies that she formerly interned for. Now, Connell has turned her knack for nabbing competitive internships into a consulting business, Internsation, helping to connect hundreds of students with professional work experience opportunities by strengthening their resumes and conducting strategic internship and employment searches on their behalf. While running her company, the socialprenuer still manages to stay active in student government, work in student media, plan numerous empowerment conferences, and obtain internships for herself. Though it’s rare to catch Connell on campus without a big smile on her face, heading to class or networking at an event, she said her journey to earning
her degree hasn’t always been easy. In particular, Connell refers to 2015 as the year of “discomfort.” Last year, Connell suffered from two family tragedies that rocked her to the core. After mourning the death of her slain cousin in January, Connell’s seven-year-old niece died in a car accident in May. “Nothing mattered. I wasn’t thinking about school, I wasn’t thinking about internships, I was just thinking about my family,” Connell said. “Funerals either bring people together, or they expose brokenness, and this time around, for us, it exposed brokenness.” Merely a week prior to the accident, Connell had accepted a summer internship opportunity as a counselor with Kids Across America. While navigating through one of the most emotionally trying times of her life, Connell decided to complete the internship.
Looking back, she said it was one of her most rewarding experiences to date. “The day after the funeral, I was on a plane heading to my internship,” Connell recounted. “Though my niece was taken away, I was able to work with girls from 14 to 18 years old who were just as broken, who were going through so many different things.” As she prepares for graduation and to enter the workforce, Connell said her vision for her future is becoming even clearer. Through her work with Kids Across America, Connell said her true purpose was revealed — working with women and youth from urban communities. “I used to always say, ‘I want to help people.’ I didn’t know how, but I knew I wanted to. Being at FAMU has really helped me focus on what matters most -- using your talents and experiences to uplift others,” Connell said. With her time at FAMU coming to an end fall 2016, Connell said she is proud to have made a difference. And as she transitions to the next chapter of her life, she stands ready to impact as many lives as possible. “Going through everything I’ve been through this past year, I’ve learned that life is about more than material things, it’s about what you can do for others,” Connell said.
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To say that Darlene Moore, Ed.D., Florida A&M University’s head women’s track and field coach, is more than a sports coach is just scratching the surface of the impact this dynamic woman has made on her student-athletes in a trailblazing career. 34 // FLORIDA A&M UNIVERSITY // A&M MAGAZINE
BY [Alvin HOLLINS]
he Georgia native was one of the few female head track and field coaches in the country when she began her career in 1998 at Fort Valley State University, a job she accepted at the time with no college coaching experience. “Any time you can have a woman coaching young ladies, it is always a good thing,” Coach Moore said. “At Fort Valley State (in 1998), I broke some barriers in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC). I became the only coach – male or female – to win eight championships in a row. At the time, no female coach had even won two in a row.” “Once I got into coaching, I discovered I was able to move our program from last place to first. Some coaches just have ‘it.’ I can’t explain what ‘it’ is. A lot of coaches don’t have that
first year at FAMU (2009-10). “When coaching men and women, the key is being organized and structured, having a set of rules for the athletes to follow,” she said. Moore came to FAMU as track coach in the summer of 2009, realizing a longtime dream. “FAMU was my dream job coming from the state of Georgia. We love FAMU in Georgia, and after having run in the FAMU Relays at Albany State and coached in the Relays at Fort Valley State and Albany State, I always had my eye on this job. FAMU is a highly prestigious HBCU and I love the state of Florida,” Moore reflected. When Moore put in her bid to fulfill her dream of coaching at FAMU, she quickly stood out and was selected out of 81 applicants. “I told them I would recruit the
special something, but I was fortunate to have it,” Moore concluded. Moore‘s focus as a coach isn’t just on sports alone. “I wanted to help young ladies grow and direct them to being productive citizens in the community,” Moore said. “In coaching, you have to be able to teach and relate, and as an educator I could teach, and I’m able to relate to my student-athletes,” Moore said. Her ability to relate and communicate with young people was important as several times during her coaching career, she also had to coach men as well as women in track and field – at Fort Valley State University, and for the
brightest, fastest and strongest athletes, and that we would be a force to be reckoned with in the future,” she said.“Taking over the women’s program was a tough task, and we had to get our young ladies to buy into the philosophy that we, at FAMU, are committed to achiveing our goals .... Mediocrity has no place in our program.” Moore hit the ground running upon accepting the position. She went out and recruited athletes from winning programs across the globe. Under Moore’s leadership, the women’s cross country team made FAMU history by winning four straight championships, but now the goal is to
make MEAC history and win five in a row. The 2015 outdoor track team captured FAMU’s first MEAC Women’s title since 2001, and the two conference crowns in the same year led to Moore being named HBCU Women’s Coach of the Year by HBCU Digest last spring. The current success means finding new worlds to conquer and Moore has her eyes on even bigger things for FAMU Track and Field. “Our next goal is to begin to do well on the regional-national level. To do that, we have to bring in higher-caliber athletes, and with our success, athletes and coaches are starting to see FAMU as a real option again,” Moore said. During Moore’s tenure, FAMU Women’s Track has enjoyed a perfect Academic Progress Rate (APR) score of 1000 for cross country, indoor and outdoor track. “I tell my young ladies that being a student athlete is not for everybody, because you have to make a lot of sacrifices to go the extra mile. I let them know they were brought here for academics, then athletics,” she said. One interesting problem she jokes about is how quickly her ladies exceed her expectations. “We have done so well academically, we have ladies graduating and leaving the program early to get their master’s degree or go into the workforce. As a coach, you miss them on your team, but as an academician, you can’t be selfish, because you want them to graduate and flourish,” Moore said. Moore has been inducted into the Sports Halls of Fame at Albany State University and Fort Valley State University, and at her current success rate may well be on track for the FAMU Sports Hall as well. So how much longer will the Georgia native stay in the coaching profession? “My coaching tenure is indefinite, but FAMU will be my last stop.”
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CeDAR: A STORY OF TRIUMPH
Every year thousands of high school students prepare to transition to college life and to the new stressors they may experience, but Reyshon Davis found himself facing an additional challenge. Last year, Davis, a freshman business administration student from Orlando, was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) while he was a senior in high school. “Teachers would ask, ‘Why don’t you do your work?’ ” Davis said. “They would notice I was taking longer than everybody else to finish my work, but they didn’t do anything about it.” The ambitious aspiring business owner remembers not being able to finish tests because he would often become fixated with the distant, but distracting noises coming from his peers’ sneakers walking through the halls outside his class door. Though Davis could have felt slighted that his disability was diagnosed so late in his academic career, he chose to remain optimistic. “I wasn’t mad when I found out I had ADHD. It was just something that I had to deal with,” Davis said. “It didn’t make me regret anything, it actually inspired me to do better in school.” Davis no longer has to worry about not receiving the help he needs. Now, with the help of Jessica Knight, coordinator of programming and outreach, and the entire FAMU Center for Disability Access and Resources (CeDar) staff, he is in good hands. Knight is very hands-on and has dedicated her time to CeDAR for the past six years, even as a student. She spoke 4 36 // FLORIDA A&M UNIVERSITY // A&M MAGAZINE
EXCELLENCE WITH CARING 4 Jovany Felix (left) and Jessica Knight (right) are helping FAMU students achieve their potential through compassion and commitment.
BY [Domonique DAVIS] + [Asia JOHNSON]
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emphatically about how the program has set itself apart. “We teach our students to be advocates for themselves,” Knight said. “This program is unique because not all schools utilize this admissions model. We offer students with disabilities, who otherwise would be denied due to their test scores or GPA, a chance to come to a four-year institution and receive college credit. That is major.” Programs like CeDAR are a Godsend for students like Davis. The CeDAR ART Program has three basic goals: admissions, retention, and transition. CeDAR empowers its students while providing disability awareness, advocacy, and education, offering disability assessment, and a disability resource center. Knight said that initially Davis
didn’t recognize how much CeDAR resources made a difference in his education. “Reyshon felt that he could handle the workload that came with college without assistance from our office and with no accommodations. Unfortunately, he was failing the majority of his classes and lost his scholarship,” Knight said. “After realizing he needed help, Davis made an appointment with our academic advisor, Ms. Gwendolyn Johnson. Together they constructed a plan to get his GPA back on track.” CeDAR provides accommodations to facilitate learning and ensure its students get the special attention they need to succeed. Accommodations include test readers, extended time for tests and quizzes,
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recorded lectures, note takers, essay proofreading, reserved front seating, test proctors, and other assistive technologies that are determined based on your specific disability. Today, Davis has a 3.0 GPA, has regained his scholarship and was handpicked to become a CeDAR ambassador. One of the many duties of a CeDAR ambassador is to help mentor incoming freshmen during their transition to their new collegiate career. Davis’ mentor Woody Aubrin served as a CeDAR ambassador during the summer of 2014. While he was speaking at a CeDAR event, Aubrin said he spotted Davis in the crowd because he felt that he was truly connecting with his message. Aubrin, who also grew up in
Orlando, said Davis was able to see his success and see that the neighborhood they grew up in did not limit him from maximizing his potential. “When I was talking to that class of incoming freshmen, I could just tell that he was the only student that was really grasping what I was saying,” Aubrin said. “There’s something about seeing someone from the same rural, small town you come from doing what you want to be doing that makes you feel like you can, too.” Aubrin, a Fall 2014 graduate, is currently the chief executive officer of a barber shop where he not only manages the daily operations of the business, but also participates in community outreach and funds a scholarship program that offers
While they may have barriers that prevent them from feeling they can succeed, they can reach their potential with a little bit of ‘Excellence with Caring.’ - Jovany Felix
book stipends to high school students who are working toward obtaining a four-year degree. Aubrin credits CeDAR and the mentorship he received while in the program for helping him transform into a confident, capable business professional. “Participating in the program definitely rescued me from the dark cloud that was hanging over my head,” Aubrin explained. “Now, I’m more comfortable
speaking out and letting people know I have a disability. The CeDAR program took me out of my denial and helped me accept that I do need help, and I do need extra time, but I am capable of getting the job done.” By utilizing the resources in the CeDAR program, Aubrin said students who are dealing with similar struggles would be able to reach their highest potential as well.
“One thing about the CeDAR program is that you’re not just a student,” Aubrin said. “They help make the connections between you and your professors and advisers so that you feel comfortable telling them what you need to truly succeed.” According to CeDAR program director Jovany Felix, that is what the program is all about. Overseeing both the CeDAR and TRIO programs at FAMU,
Felix said he finds joy in seeing students — especially those who are facing challenges — succeed. “When I see students who have overcome barriers walk across that graduation stage, it makes me realize that I’ve found my passion,” Felix said. He attributes much of the program’s success to the compassionate nature of his staff and their devotion to the individual success of each student in the program. “How we do it at CeDAR and FAMU TRIO is what I think all schools should strive to do, and that is to treat all students as unique individuals,” Felix said. “While they may have barriers that prevent them from feeling they can succeed, they can reach their potential with a little bit of ‘Excellence With Caring.’”
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BY [Asia JOHNSON]
hen Paris Proctor graduated from the School of Business and Industry in 2013, she could have easily set her sights on corporate America. After all, she did have a 3.95 GPA and several offers for significant positions at companies such as Ford Motor Company. But months earlier, she abruptly lost someone who meant the world to her. Proctor could’ve remained heartbroken. Instead, she turned her pain into purpose and created the organization A Touch of Heart, Inc., offering a piece of hers to the ones that need it most. Growing up, Proctor’s aunt Pamela Mougin had been a confidant to her. Seven months shy of what was supposed to be one of the happiest moments of the then student’s life, Pamela took her own life over what Proctor deemed a broken heart. The recent graduate struggled coming to terms with the loss and contemplated how someone in perfect health on the outside could be dealing with so much internally. In a move that shocked others, she decided to turn down employment with a Fortune 500 company, become an ordained minister and create a nonprofit organization aimed at touching the lives of others through outreach. It’s what her creative artist aunt would have wanted. “Who would have known how God could redeem such a loss and use it to lift me into my future?” Proctor said. “I decided to follow my own dreams.” Proctor’s business sense and spiritual faith intersected to build an outlet that has benefited people across several nations, including the United States, Greece, Turkey, and Bulgaria, as well as the upcoming opportunity to spend the summer in Mozambique, Africa. A Touch of Heart is a faith-based organization called to mentor, develop, and equip those that hunger to serve in different capacities locally, nationally, and abroad. “My organization is a bridge for people to give and receive,” Proctor said. “It connects a multicultural and multigenerational world with numerous opportunities to touch the lives of others. While physical needs still need to be met, the needs of the heart are a lot of times far greater and cry out even louder.” All those who come in contact with the cheerful nonprofit founder seem to be completely enamored with her. Kristy Davenport, a FAMU alumna and volunteer, counts Proctor as a “blessing in her life” and applauded her humility, grace, and sincerity. “I am very grateful for the relationship that we have built,” Davenport said. “Paris is a beautiful person inside and out. Her efforts show how much she truly cares about people.” Last August, Proctor assisted in organizing the Stop Hunger Now Meal-Packaging Event in her hometown of Indianapolis, Ind. The group fundraised for and packaged 10,000 meals that were distributed to the LeSEA Global: Feed the Hungry’s daily feeding program for impoverished children in seven schools throughout the greater Kampala area of Uganda. Most recently, through a partnership with Keichun Graves and
Socks4Souls Inc., A Touch of Heart helped plan the Seventh Annual Thanksgiving to Give Donation Drive. With the participation of more than 50 volunteers from the Los Angeles community, Proctor and Graves led three ardent teams that spent Thanksgiving morning in the Skid Row community. Skid Row is home to the largest homeless population in America. According to Proctor, there were more than 300 pairs of socks, 20 bags full of donations and hygiene essentials provided. Graves, Proctor’s cousin, said that Proctor was always a humanitarian; however, her experience with loss was so astounding that it lit a fire in her. “I couldn’t have done it without Paris’s heart,” Graves said about the success of their joint venture. “She gave intangibles when the tangibles were depleted.” Graves explained that Proctor is gifted with the ability to be a light that shines on others even in their darkest hours. One of those examples of light is a special connection Proctor shared with a little girl in the Gypsy community that she visited in Kazanlak, Bulgaria. For Proctor, the experience left a lasting impression. “This little girl and I were together the entire time and I learned how to say hello and beautiful in her language. I just kept saying that to them over and over and at the end of the trip, the little girl turned to me, took off her princess watch, and gave it to me. I thought it was so special!” Proctor said. “For her to not have a lot, but to give something from her heart was so beautiful. That moment showed me that we have the ability to build heart-to-heart connections wherever we go,” she said. To sum up her work, Proctor humbly stated, “In the words of my ministry teacher: ‘I don’t work for love, I work from love.’”
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n a m oss r C n
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BY [Asia JOHNSON]
Community Property John Crossman and Thomas Bolen Uplift the Landscape of Real Estate … Together
homas Bolen can vividly remember the day he met his mentor, John Crossman. The now FAMU Foundation Board of Directors member visited FAMU to inspire business students to break down the racial barriers that often plague the real estate industry. Crossman spoke to a lecture hall full of School of Business and Industry students, charging them to create their very own real estate club. Afterward, he handed out business cards. “The day I heard John speak there was just was something different. He primarily focused on students and making a difference, which most companies do not do,” Bolen said. “He ended his speech by asking us, ‘how can I help SBI?’” At that moment the real estate bug bit Bolen. With the help of fellow student Adam Ramgeet, Bolen formed the first real estate club in the history of the University, Club R.E.A.L., and followed up with a call to Crossman. After their conversation, Bolen knew it was time to spring into action. “When John told me I was the only student to call, I knew it was destiny,” Bolen said. “We also both are pastor’s kids, and so we clicked. His ideas about
helping others are in line with mine.” Fast forward six years, and Bolen works as a broker at Crossman & Company, a premier commercial real estate company under Crossman’s leadership with offices nationwide. Bolen and Crossman agree that there is an absence of minorities in the world of real estate — as homeowners or realtors, brokers, and agents. Crossman believes this is a direct product of institutional racism. “Over the years, I became aware of a need for more minorities in real estate,” Crossman said. “It felt like there was a gap and that the lack of minority ownership was a big problem with no one focusing on the solution.” Crossman is dedicated to changing the racial climate in America through real estate and ownership. He explained that he does everything he can to contribute with solutions, including facilitating learning about commercial real estate, granting employment at his company to current students and recent alumni, and presenting endowed real estate scholarships at historically
black colleges and universities (HBCUs). In July 2014, Crossman passed the torch to Bolen and urged him to create an initiative to further their goal. The result was the HBCU Real Estate Education Plan. The plan encourages HBCUs in the Southeastern United States to propose the study of real estate and to empower HBCU students to break into the industry. Bolen led the initiative that is supported by legislators such as U.S. Rep. Corinne Brown and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. Florida universities including FAMU and Bethune-Cookman have reaped the benefits of the education plan, both having their own Crossman & Company Endowed Real Estate Scholarships. Last year in 2015, Crossman raised $175,000 for the FAMU scholarship pool. Bolen has followed in the footsteps of his mentor and utilized his recently awarded Fiala Fellowship from the International Council of Shopping Centers to fund travel to HBCUs and spread the word about real estate and how it turned his life around. One of the students he affected was Flavia Kanyago, a senior business administration student from Tampa and past president of Club R.E.A.L., who is
now employed by Crossman. “It feels good to know we have a Rattler out there reaching in to empower FAMU students. His efforts to mentor students and connect HBCUs to real estate opportunities is amazing,” Kanyago said. A son of parents who barely finished high school, Bolen was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and expelled for being a classroom disruption. Eventually in seventh grade, he met someone much like John who encouraged him to improve his life through reading. Bolen went on to become the first person in his family to graduate from college. “I’m amazed with how far I’ve come. I’m happy to help, because John and others helped me,” Bolen said. Crossman insists that mentor-mentee relationships are a two-way street. He says everything he does is to be a servant and serving FAMU is what he loves. “To be clear: I have not singlehandedly reached down and picked anyone up,” Crossman said. “There have been many times where Thomas has picked me up and helped me over the years.”
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FAMU English Professor Empowers Students to Tell Their Stories BY [Domonique DAVIS]
When the small classroom door swung open in FAMU’s Gore Education Complex, the chatter of more than 20 students silenced as English professor Kendra Bryant, Ph.D., addressed the room with a simple, “Good afternoon, class,” and a smile.
Though small in stature and further in age from many of her colleagues than the students she instructs, Bryant effortlessly commands the respect of her classroom, but that respect isn’t a one-way street. Bryant said she is deliberate in her efforts to ensure each of her students feel respected and empowered in their learning environment. Through small efforts such as learning names and remembering minor details, Bryant said she is able to gain the trust of the students she instructs. “A good teacher will always build relationships first,” Bryant said. “It breaks down some of the hierarchy. If you relate to them, get to know them, learn their names, know where they’re from, it will be easier for them to trust you, and trust that if I am writing on your paper and it’s marked all over, it’s not an attack on your personhood.” A poet and creative writer herself, Bryant said she understands the necessity for students to have a safe space where they feel they can openly express themselves and tell their own stories. She explained that there is a certain level of intimacy that writing requires, so she enjoys breaking down the walls with her students so that they are able to tap
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into that creative space. “Before I even bring all that technical stuff to the classroom, it’s very important that I help students become in touch with themselves. Many of them have not been challenged to just find out who they are. ‘Who are you? Why are you here? Why are you wearing what you’re wearing? What does your name mean? Who named you?’” One of the first assignments Bryant gives at the onset of each semester is for students to ask their parents how they received their names. Upon completing this exercise, Bryant said students are left feeling more self-aware; something that she says is necessary for the writing process. While teaching freshman communication skills in the ENC 1101 and 1102 courses, Bryant is often tasked with re-teaching some of the fundamental writing skills that college students must know throughout their academic career. But she doesn’t just stop there. Bryant ensures her students are able to learn beyond the typical structure of a basic composition course through assignments such as poetry and speech reader’s responses. As an English professor, Bryant said she
is able to help students deal with the various uncertainties they may feel at this stage of their lives by encouraging them to pose questions through their writing and during class. Allowing students to share their life experiences and come to her with questions is something Bryant believes is a major component in their development into adulthood. “Empowerment comes first with selfknowledge,” Bryant said. “I think before we start talking about race matters and gender, we have to ask first: ‘who are you?’ It’s important that I talk about women’s rights, Black rights, LGBTQ rights, and allow them to share what they know or don’t know and fill in the blanks.” Elicia Brewster, a student in Bryant’s ENC 1102 course, said through Bryant’s constant encouragement, she feels emboldened to continue using writing as a form of release. “When she found out that I’m a journalism student, she really took me under her wing and helped me to focus on becoming a stronger writer,” Brewster said. “She’s always telling me, ‘put your feelings into it,’ so that’s something I’m working on trying to do.” “She’s one of those professors who will
give that constructive criticism, but you can take what she’s saying and use it to make your work better because you know that it’s coming from a loving place,” she continued. Brewster said it’s not only Bryant’s electrifying teaching style but also her alternative personal style, that inspires her students to always showcase their authentic selves in every aspect of their lives, including their writing. “When I first saw her and saw how she expresses herself through her style— she dresses differently from any other teacher—it really just encourages me to express myself as well, especially in my writing,” Brewster said. In addition to cultivating students’ writing abilities, Brewster said she enjoys that Bryant infuses current events, history, and popular culture topics into her classroom discussions. “I believe that’s why she relates to students so well,” Brewster said. “She talks to us like she remembers when she was a student and when she was in this same position. She discusses social issues and the issues that we have going on in our personal lives. Things like that really make for a comfortable learning environment.”
Bryant said this is all a part of the holistic educational experience she strives to provide her students. Not only does she believe this makes her students better writers, but also better citizens. “I think as teachers, we have to bring a lot of the news to the classroom. We have to remain objective, and we have to almost have a Socratic way of questioning. We don’t tell them what it is, but we just question and encourage them to question, question, question. That will help with their empowerment as writers and individuals,” Bryant explained. Questioning the way things are and challenging the things that they believe aren’t working in today’s society is something Bryant said takes true courage. Though she understands it can be hard, she said she constantly reminds students to keep speaking up. “I tell students, they always say ‘keep it 100,’ and I tell them that takes courage,” Bryant said. “I tell them it takes courage to be vulnerable, to be true to yourself, to speak up in class, to speak up for what’s right and what’s wrong, to ask your teacher questions. But my hope is that our students here at FAMU continue to be courageous.”
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OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN The Passion and Purpose of Jessie Small BY [Domonique DAVIS] Whether in a football uniform or a police uniform, Jessie Small has always been determined to be a game changer. A former NFL linebacker, Small soared during his time playing for the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals. Now, the retired professional athlete dedicates his life to serving and protecting the community as a law enforcement officer with the Florida A&M University Department of Campus Safety and Security. As the second of five children growing up in a single-parent household in Boston, Ga., Officer Small said he used football as a way of occupying his time and staying out of trouble. His talents in football found him well on his way to the NFL, after earning an athletic scholarship to play college football at Eastern Kentucky University. “I didn’t realize growing up the talent and brain capacity that I really had,” he said. “All I knew was that I was good at sports. I couldn’t see beyond that, so when I went to Eastern Kentucky for college, I did just enough to stay eligible to play football and hoped that the draft would carry me through, and it happened.” While being drafted into the NFL was a great achievement for Small, it also brought to his attention a great obstacle. “Once I became known as an NFL player, I thought that was all I was capable of doing. I thought that success in sports was all I needed. I didn’t realize that I was limiting myself. I didn’t know my potential was more than just being an athlete, because I hadn’t
focused on anything else. I was grateful for my success, but I think deep on the inside I knew there was a life I would have to live after the NFL,” Small said. Soon, Small would learn the impact of solely depending on his athletic ability. During his second season in the NFL, he suffered from a debilitating foot injury followed by a knee injury that would end his professional career after four short seasons. Unsure of what to do next in life, a childhood dream resurfaced – becoming a police officer. “As I was coming up, I wanted to be a law enforcement officer because I observed other young men of good character being harassed by police officers for no other reason than the color of their skin,” Small explained. Today, making a difference in the lives of young, Black men is one of Small’s many passions. While working at FAMU, Small is often given opportunities to help better the lives of the demographic he hopes to reach. Through his spearheading of community initiatives such as “Shop With A Cop,” a program that allows law enforcement officers to partner with a child from a low-income family, and his budding mentorship program, Small has been able to make a difference in the lives of many young people, including FAMU students. “We’ve got to educate our young Black males and get them in the loop,” Small said. “They are a resource that can no longer be ignored because the literature suggests
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that by 2050 the minority is going to be the majority, so we’ve got to start reaching them now to prepare them for the future.” Before playing football, Small said he never thought higher education would be an option; he was merely expected to get his high school diploma and get a job, so while in college his focus remained on the field. But today, his perspective is different. There are young men just like him that he must reach, and he knows that higher education is key. Now, he is preparing to write his dissertation for a doctoral degree in management and leadership, Small said he hopes to be an example to other young men coming from small towns who have aspirations of achieving beyond the limitations they’ve had placed on their success. “I was raised in a town that had one stop light. Statistics say I was supposed to be in prison or dead, but here I am,” Small said. “I want these young men to know that you’re not your situation or where you’re born. It’s about what you do with what you have that makes a difference.” Recently, while shopping at a local convenience store, Small ran into one of the young men he mentored. Not recognizing him at first, Small said the student approached him and told him that their conversation led him to change his life around and he was preparing to graduate that semester. Moments like those, Small said, are what make his job worthwhile.
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BEHIND THE SMILE BY [Domonique DAVIS]
hese are all words used to characterize Veronica Harrington, one of the antagonists of Tyler Perry’s hit television drama “The Haves and the Have Nots.” However, when describing Angela Robinson, the actress who has taken on the dynamic role for four seasons, those words are far from what comes to mind. Though she deeply enjoys her time playing Veronica, Robinson explained that the character’s personality couldn’t be any more opposite from her own. “When I go out, people love to tell me about Veronica and how she just makes them so angry,” Robinson said. “I just smile and laugh because I love that they are so invested in the character. I tell them ‘We just look alike. We’re actually really different.’” Different they are indeed. Robinson, a graduate of
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Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, and former Miss FAMU, has an undeniably warm spirit that has helped her successfully navigate through the demands of Broadway and Hollywood. When she returned to FAMU to address students, faculty, staff, alumni, retirees, and FAMU supporters as the 2015 Homecoming Convocation speaker, Robinson shared that warmth with excited Rattlers, greeting everybody she met with a smile, hug, and words of encouragement. During her speech, Robinson told the roaring crowd that her days on the Hill were some of the best of her life because she was surrounded by the people with whom she first began to dream — including her college roommate, actress and director T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh, known for her starring roles in “In Living 4
5 2015 HOMECOMING PARADE Angela Robinson (above) enjoys her return to the Hill accompanied by fellow Rattlers Mayor Andrew Gillum (center) and Rep. Alan Williams (left).
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Color” and “That’s So Raven.” “Attending FAMU opened doors for me and blessed me because it allowed me to meet all sorts of people I would never have met otherwise,” Robinson explained. “So many of my friendships began here at FAMU. We dreamed of doing what we’re doing now together, and I think that’s important. I have learned that when we share our hopes and dreams with each other, and one person’s dreams come true, others will see that and begin to live out their fullest dreams the same way that person is doing.” From the stage to the television screen, Robinson has been living out her dreams for more than 20 years. Now, the seasoned actress finds joy in helping others do the same. As a mentor and coach at The WhiteRobin Group, an artist consulting firm she owns with her husband, Scott Whitehurst, Robinson assists young, aspiring actors in navigating their career paths, achieving their goals, realizing their purpose, and actualizing their dreams. Though she has maintained a steady and lucrative career, Robinson said she understands
that many artists do experience financial hardships, but that shouldn’t stop young people from striving to create art. One of her many goals as a coach is to empower aspiring artists to ignore the naysayers and take a leap of faith no matter the odds against them. “Surround yourself with people who are going to only speak life to your seed. Not people [who] are going to sort of put your light out and make you feel unworthy,” Robinson said. “You have to block out the negativity and be with people that lift you up and validate your dreams.” It was on the stage at FAMU where Robinson said her dreams were first validated, so she was determined to help do that for current students throughout her October visit. Among her many stops during her return to campus was the place where it all began — the theatre. While visiting her alma mater, Robinson met with students who participate in the productions of the FAMU Essential Theatre. Telling stories of her early career challenges, Robinson posed a question to the crowd,
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“Who in this room is willing to starve for their art?” The Charles Winter Wood Theatre fell silent as students began to survey the room and contemplate their responses, but it wasn’t long before Robinson interjected. “Don’t worry, you don’t have to,” she said as the room collectively released sighs of relief. To ensure the artists she works with are prepared for the highs and lows of the industry, Robinson said she always shares the numerous opportunities there are to work, that often go overlooked in the field. In addition to acting, the multi-talented Robinson told the crowd that she also has toured as a singer and worked as a former model, teacher, and agency director at Barbizon and Sessions modeling studios. She explained that there are many ways that one can use their talents to prosper even if it’s not the way they had always envisioned. As long as they are feeding their passions, Robinson tells students that they can’t go wrong. “You know, we have our loved ones, and they want us to be safe, and they want us to eat, and they know that sometimes life as an artist means a little bit of a struggle, it means a lot of rejection and they don’t wish that for us, but my advice is that if that passion is in you and it’s a true desire, you have no option. You have to do it,” Robinson said.
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applause Maurice Allen Crowned Europe’s Long Drive Champion At 5 feet 8 inches, Alpharetta, Ga. golfer and alumnus Maurice Allen may not seem to be an imposing presence on the tee, but the power he generates with one of the fastest golf swings in the world has earned him international fame – and championships in the emerging sport of Long Drive. Allen’s skills and athleticism have garnered him the title of 2015 European Long Drive Champion. Allen also competed as a top finalist in the World Long Drive Championship, appearing at the WinStar World Casino and Resort and on the Golf Channel. Allen is ranked No. 1 in Europe and holds titles as the Sweden Long Drive European Tour (LDET) Champion, Belgium LDET Champion, and Italy LDET Champion. He earned his degree in biology from FAMU in 2010.
Winfred Parnell Elected Chair of Parkland Health Alumni Winfred Parnell, M.D., was unanimously elected to serve as the chair of the Parkland Health & Hospital System Board of Managers. Dr. Parnell, a gynecologist, was appointed to the Board in 2012. He is also a member of the medical staff at Medical City Dallas Hospital where he served in many leadership positions including Department of Surgery chair, chief of staff, and a Board of Trustees member for 15 years. Dr. Parnell represented Texas at the White House White Coat Ceremony on Health Care Reform and has also been named “One of the Best Doctors in Dallas” by D Magazine. Dr. Parnell received his bachelor’s degree from FAMU in 1974 and completed his medical education at the University of Florida College of Medicine in 1977.
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Kendra Foster Earns Grammy for Work with D’Angelo In February 2016, Kendra Foster joined the list of Grammy award-winning FAMUans. Foster was recognized for her work on “Really Love” by D’Angelo, which took home the award for “Best R&B Song” at the Grammy ceremony. She also co-wrote eight songs for the album “Black Messiah,” which took home the Grammy for R&B Album of the Year. The jazz and commercial music graduate tours with George Clinton, who is her mentor. She is a former member of Orchesis Contemporary Dance Theatre. Other alumni who took home trophies were rapper Common, for his work on “Glory” and producer Amir Windom for his work on Mark Ronson’s and Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk,” which was awarded a trophy for Record of the Year.
Bill Lacey Named CEO of GE Lighting Bill Lacey joined General Electric (GE) in 1992 and has filled several finance leadership roles at GE Appliances & Lighting, GE Power & Water and GE Healthcare. In 2002, he was positioned as the CFO of GE Wind Energy and, in years since, has served as GE’s chief financial officer of their healthcare medical diagnostic division. He also served as an executive audit manager with GE’s Corporate Audit Staff (CAS). Lacey was named CEO of GE Lighting earlier in 2016 after GE Power was split into two divisions— lighting and current. Lacey received a degree in business administration from FAMU’s School of Business and Industry.
Donovan Long Becomes Anchor at WVLT Reporter Donovan Long graduated from the School of Journalism & Graphic Communication in May 2015 and has since made a splash in the newsroom. The Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. member got his start on FAMU TV-20 and upon graduating was hired as a multimedia journalist and weekend anchor at WFXL in Albany, Ga. He was recently hired as an anchor at WVLT Local News 8 in Knoxville, Tenn. During his time at FAMU, Long won numerous awards for his work. Long’s accolades include being deemed “Best Television Journalist” and “Best Multimedia Journalist” by the Southeast Journalism Conference in 2015, and “Best Breaking News Reporter” by FAMU’s Society of Professional Journalists. Long is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, Golden Key National Honor Society, and the Society of Professional Journalists.
Gilda Cobb-Hunter Named MEAC Distinguished Alum The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference has recognized S.C. Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter as MEAC Distinguished Alumni of the Year for 2016. Cobb-Hunter is a lifetime member of the FAMU National Alumni Association (NAA) and founding member of the South Carolina Chapter of the association. Cobb-Hunter is the executive director of the CASA/Family Systems, a family violence agency serving counties in S.C. including Orangeburg, Bamberg, and Calhoun. She has worked on the state, regional, and national levels on a myriad of issues to make communities a better place to live for working families. In 1992, Cobb-Hunter became the first African-American woman elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives. Cobb-Hunter earned her AfricanAmerican studies degree from FAMU in 1973.
Pamela Pugh Smith Serves on Michigan Board of Education Pamela Pugh Smith was elected to the State of Michigan Board of Education during a recent general election. Pugh is the owner of Regeneration LLC, a business that serves as a catalyst for economically sustainable and healthy urban communities by assisting public agencies, organizations, and businesses in building capacity through effective operations and winning partnerships. Prior to starting this business, she was employed by the Saginaw County Department of Public Health for 14 years. She received a doctorate of public health (DrPH) from the University f Michigan School of Public Health and a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Florida A&M University. Pamela has been at the forefront of the fight to eliminate childhood lead poisoning in Michigan. Her research entails development of an instrument to assess and identify households and neighborhoods that pose the greatest environmental health risk.
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From The Bookshelf Become You: A Transformational Blueprint for Mind, Body, and Soul by Toneka R. Etienne
5TONEKA R. ETIENNE
“Become You: A Transformational Blueprint for Mind, Body, and Soul,” written by Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University alumna Toneka R. Etienne, is a self-help book for the modern woman. Etienne sets out to guide readers through a lifestyle transformation by reflecting on their beliefs, habits, and spiritual life. Etienne holds a bachelor’s degree in political science, a master’s degree in school psychology, and a doctoral degree in educational psychology. For ten years, she has worked with students, parents, teachers, and administrators as a school psychologist. Through her work as a psychologist, Etienne said she discovered her passion for helping women, and “Become You: A Transformational Blueprint for Mind, Body, and Soul” was born. Though her book encourages readers to take an honest look at their lifestyle choices and negative habits that may be hindering them from reaching goals, Etienne also empowers readers to maximize their personal strengths to reach new heights. Unlike the typical self-help book, Etienne’s book offers a holistic approach to balancing life’s demands by helping readers look within to find more confidence, balance, and focus. Etienne’s first book, “Become You: A Transformational Blueprint for Mind, Body, and Soul” is available on Amazon.com.
Dean and the Scariest of Things by Jonathan W. H. Norville “Dean and the Scariest of Things” is a children’s book about overcoming fear. The vivid tale is of a boy’s quest to find out where fear comes from. In the story, Dean and the scariest things travel to the ends of the universe and back to discover the origin of fear. 54 // FLORIDA A&M UNIVERSITY // A&M MAGAZINE
Jonathan W. H. Norville, the author of “Dean and the Scariest of Things” is a writer and illustrator of poetry, books, short stories, and scripts. Influenced by children’s books, ‘90s cartoons and anime, Norville said he utilizes storytelling to emphasize moral lessons that will empower children. After graduating from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University
Wanderlust: For the Young, Broke Professional
Marriage: A Blessing and a Boot Camp
by Deidre Mathis
by Jennifer Edwards In “Marriage: A Blessing and a Boot Camp,” Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University alumna Jennifer J. Edwards, Ph.D., offers advice for wives and wives-intraining. In her book, Edwards sets out to help women bridge the gap from their independent lives to their lives as partners in a marriage. Though her book offers pertinent information for new brides, she also shares wisdom that she believes may be useful to the seasoned wife. Edwards’ goal is to empower women who are struggling to fuse their individuality with their new union after tying the knot. Edwards is an author, educator, and self-proclaimed “momprenuer.” She currently works professionally as a university public health faculty member and consultant serving health nonprofits. After completing her undergraduate studies at FAMU, Edwards went on to obtain her doctoral degree specializing in health communication and a graduate certificate in international studies from Howard University. “Marriage: A Blessing and a Boot Camp” is available online at LuLu.com, Amazon.com, and Barnes and Noble.
After being exposed to international travel through a study abroad trip to the Dominican Republic as a student at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, 26-year-old Deidre Mathis decided to take a break from her career and explore the world. Though she had only recently been employed after completing graduate school and was financially constrained, Mathis decided to set out on a year of international travel. To date, Mathis has traveled to five continents and 27 countries, and she is sharing her secrets to travelling on a limited budget in “Wanderlust: For the Young, Broke Professional.” Though Mathis wrote “Wanderlust: For the Young Broke Professional” with young professionals in mind, she said the tips offered can be useful for college students and recent graduates alike. The book recommends resources to help save money, manage and prioritize time, and ease overall trip planning. In addition to budgeting advice, Mathis also provides tips on completing paperwork, packing efficiently, creating pre-travel checklists, and Receive This Moment staying safe. Mathis uses her experience to give by Chris Cotton readers a complete guide through the research, planning and execution of a trip to a new place and While traveling down a path to self-discovery, 2013 Florida Agricultural encourages young professionals to take trips of and Mechanical University alumnus Chris Cotton decided to compile their own. his thoughts into a book to empower others to do the same. Cotton, You can find “Wanderlust: For the Young, a graduate of the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, wrote “Receive Broke Professional” online at Amazon.com. This Moment,” to help readers understand the power in receiving each
with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, Norville founded Taste Create, to help both individuals and small businesses represent themselves with engaging and effective marketing. Through the writing and illustrating of children’s books, Norville said he sets out to create stories and characters that inspire today’s youth. You can purchase “Dean and the Scariest of Things” on Amazon.com.
moment as a gift. “Receive This Moment” is Cotton’s first published book. Cotton uses his own life experiences to share thought-provoking passages about life, friendship, family, and more. Through writing his inspirational and spiritual book, Cotton said he has begun to fulfill his purpose. “Don’t be surprised if some of my entries have your mind thinking in new thought forms and patterns,” Cotton explained in the book’s introduction. “Please believe I have read plenty of these entries over again to receive enlightenment myself. That goes to show, a lot of the time I do not take credit for these creations; I’m just the vessel.” If you’re interested in using “Receive This Moment” to help jumpstart your own journey of self-discovery, you can purchase Cotton’s book online at Amazon.com. A&M MAGAZINE // SPRING 2016 // 55
Campus Notes FAMU Named Among Top 5 Universities for AfricanAmericans ESSENCE and MONEY Magazine released their list of the “50 Best Colleges for African-Americans,” ranking FAMU No. 5 among all national universities and colleges and naming FAMU the top historically Black college or university (HBCU) in the nation. MONEY and ESSENCE magazine analyzed more than 1,500 colleges to single out the ones that offer the best value for African-American students. Drawing on the federal data that MONEY compiles for its annual Best Colleges rankings—including graduation rates, net college costs after financial aid and graduates’ early-career earnings—in addition to ESSENCE Magazine’s criteria to evaluate racial climate on each campus, the magazines developed a methodology that factored in graduation rates, affordability, earning potential, and representation. FAMU Makes Big Improvements on Performance Funding Metrics Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) made big gains in several key metrics according to The State University System (SUS) Board of Governors, including an 8 percent gain
in the median average wages of undergraduate students employed in Florida one year after graduation; and an 8 percent increase in the number of graduate degrees awarded in areas of strategic emphasis, including STEM. The University also saw a 5 percent gain in second-year retention rates. According to the Board of Governors, this year’s improvements will yield additional funding opportunities for the University, which is now ranked among the top 8 SUS schools. The legislature has proposed a $500 million investment in performance funding for the 2016-2017 year, with state universities contributing $275 million to match a $225 million investment from the state. FAMU Wins Eighth Honda National Quiz Bowl Championship Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) took home its eighth national quiz bowl competition championship during the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge, earning a $75,000 grant for the University. The FAMU quiz bowl team competed among some of the best and brightest students in the nation, ultimately representing the elite eight of HBCU’s during a year-long competition against a total of 48 schools.
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Participating students included Kimberlyn Elliot, Travian Albert, Dominique Berry, and Imari Nalls. Retired FAMU professor Vivian Hobbs, Ph.D., who has coached the team for decades, coached this year’s championship team. FAMU Chosen to Participate in Two Landmark Pilot Programs Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) signed on to participate in two landmark pilot programs that focus on enhancing the classroom learning experience, supporting student achievement, and improving minority graduation rates. In March, FAMU was selected to participate in a collaborative effort by the American Council on Education (ACE) and the Association of College and University Educators (ACUE) aimed at advancing effective college instruction through state-of-the-art online professional development programs. ACE is the major coordinating body for all the nation’s higher education institutions and ACUE partners with colleges and universities to advance effective instruction and promote student success.
FAMU Pharmacy Program Receives Top Recognition for Medical Research Faculty in the FAMU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (COPPS) are making a national impact in medical research. The prestigious Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research has listed the college as the No. 12 pharmacy program in the nation for generating the most research funding, and the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) lists the college as the largest recipient of National Institutes of Health (NIH) research grants among all Florida pharmacy programs, as well as among those at the University of Georgia, Auburn, and Samford. These accomplishments have helped to contribute to the University’s recent elevation by the Carnegie Classification of Institutes of Higher Education System to an R-2 or “high research activity” institution. FAMU and FUT MINNA Sign Memorandum to Continue Partnership That Promotes Information Exchange President Elmira Mangum, Ph.D., Provost Marcella David, and other representatives from the Federal University of Technology, Minna signed a new memorandum of understanding into effect, strengthening a mutually
beneficial relationship of cultural, intellectual, and information exchange. The partnership will allow Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) to assist the university with advanced research in pharmacy, engineering, and other science, technology, and mathematic areas, and in turn, will increase our university’s global reach. The memorandum is the result of long-standing connections between the University and countries in West Africa. FUT MINNA is located in Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa. FAMU Unveils Plans for Small Business Incubator In March, John Thompson, Ph.D., CEO of Microsoft and School of Business and Industry Dean Shawnta Friday-Stroud, Ph.D., unveiled plans for a business incubator that will benefit FAMU stakeholders and the community-at-large. Thompson and his wife Sandi’s personal donation of $5 million is helping to build the facility as part of their pledge to reward interdisciplinary creativity and entrepreneurship and reward high performing students with graduating with minimal debt. The business incubator is part of ICCI, FAMU’s Interdisciplinary Center for Creativity and Innovation. The center will allow creatives
from all disciplines across Tallahassee to pitch business ideas, and, if chosen, make their business startup dreams a reality. The Kinsey Collection Comes to FAMU Bernard and Shirley Kinsey brought their renowned Kinsey Collection to FAMU for a two-month long exhibit that was held in the FAMU FosterTanner Fine Arts Gallery. The world-renowned Kinsey collection is the recipient of three national awards including the President’s National Award for Museum and Library Services. The entire 500-piece collection boasts manuscripts, books, documents, letters, and two-dimensional art, including the first book published by an AfricanAmerican, Phillis Wheatley. The oldest document in the collection is a baptism document for a girl named Estabana from 1595. The Kinsey Collection was previously held in the Smithsonian Museum and Epcot. FAMU Faculty and Students Travel to Paris for Climate Conference To ensure FAMU’s active participation in climate change discourse, FAMU Sustainability Institute (FAMU-SI) Faculty Director Odemari Mbuya travelled
to Paris to attend the United Nations Framework Climate Change Convention Conference of the Parties 21st convening (COP21), where he gave a presentation. As part of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Climate Change Initiative, political science professor John Warford, Ph.D., accompanied FAMU environmental and political science students who traveled to Paris to participate in COP21. Mbuya will travel to India in October 2016 to speak at the International Conference on Food, Water, and Energy Nexus in the Area of Climate Change.
that enriches the lives of those around them and helps to strengthen international ties and increase our country’s global competitiveness.
FAMU is Peace Corps’ No. 3 Top Volunteer-Producing HBCU The Peace Corps has announced the 2016 rankings of the nation’s top volunteerproducing Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). This year, FAMU claimed the No. 3 spot. This is the first time Florida A&M University has appeared on the ranking. Since the Peace Corps was established in 1961, 79 Rattlers have served abroad as volunteers. College graduates with Peace Corps volunteer experience gain cross-cultural, leadership, language and community development skills that give them a competitive edge for 21st century jobs and advanced educational opportunities. They develop a global perspective A&M MAGAZINE // SPRING 2016 // 57
James “Jim” Davis, April 2016 Davis served as executive assistant to the president and as the lobbyist for governmental relations and legislative affairs at FAMU. He also served as state consultant for Cooperative Education, Region III, and planning and budgeting specialist for Vocational Planning, Budgeting, and Management Information. Davis earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial arts education and a master’s degree in leadership development from FAMU. Davis was a veteran of the United States Army. Earl E. Allen Sr., M.D., April 2016 Allen served as a private practice physician. He was also employed in several capacities throughout his professional career, including service as a leader in the Miami Dade County Public School System and as director of the Science Department at Brownsville Middle School. He earned a bachelor’s degree from FAMU and a doctor of medicine degree specializing in obstetrics and gynecology from the University of Miami. James Barge, Ph.D., April 2016 Barge served as an educator in Florida’s Walton County School District early in his career. He later served as a bureau chief for the Florida Department of Education, and served as an adjunct professor for the College of Agriculture and Food Sciences at FAMU. He earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture teacher education and elementary education and a master’s degree in education from FAMU. He also earned a doctorate degree in vocational education administration from Florida State University. Barge was a veteran of the United States Army.
he helped produce several AllConference and All-American kickers. Messina was a United States Coast Guard veteran and a member of the FAMU Sports Hall of Fame. Theodore James, March 2016 James was a retiree of the United States Department of Agriculture with more than 30 years of service. He was also a veteran of the United States Air Force. James earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science from FAMU. Melvin Ray, March 2016 Ray served as a musician for the FAMU Gospel Choir. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities at FAMU.
Edmond Wyche Jr., February 2016 Wyche served as a football coach and administrator on Juvais J. Harrington, April 2016 the high school, collegiate, Harrington served as associate director of and professional levels. He the Office of Sponsored Programs at FAMU. served as a coach at several Additional work experience included service historically Black colleges and as a senior grant advisor for the Department universities. He was recognized of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, as the Mid-Eastern Athletic and as a grant specialist with the Division Conference “Coach of the Year” of Emergency Management. Harrington during his tenure at Delaware earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting State University. Wyche earned from FAMU. He also earned a master’s a bachelor’s degree in physical degree in public administration from Florida education from FAMU. He also International University. earned a master’s degree in supervision and administration Anthony F. Messina, March 2016 from Howard University. Messina was an alumnus who served as the football kicking coach at FAMU for more than 20 years. During his coaching tenure, 58 // FLORIDA A&M UNIVERSITY // A&M MAGAZINE
Ret. Sgt. 1st Class James D. Johnson Sr., February 2016 Johnson served a distinguished career in the United States Army. He also served as director of Veterans Services in Wakulla County, Fla. and in various capacities as an employee at FAMU. He earned an associate degree in business administration from Clark County Community College and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Nevada. Nicole Brown-Seabrooks, February 2016 Brown-Seabrooks served as an instructor in the Criminal Justice Department at FAMU and as the lead instructor of the Criminal Justice Department at ITT Technical Institute. She earned an associate degree from Miami Dade College, and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s degree in public administration from FAMU. Leo P. Sam Jr., January 2016 Sam served FAMU as vice president of University Relations and executive director of the FAMU Foundation. Prior to serving at FAMU, he served as the director of recruitment for Crossroads Africa. He also served as the deputy director for the Maternal and Child Health Center at Meharry Medical College. He is credited with developing the FAMU Cluster Program. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Xavier University. He was also the recipient of an
honorary doctorate of humane letters from FAMU. Robert B. Hayling, D.D.S., January 2016 Hayling was a Civil Rights pioneer, whose leadership and courage contributed heavily to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. He served as an officer in the United States Air Force and established a dental practice in St. Augustine, Fla. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from FAMU in 1951 and a doctor of dental surgery degree from Meharry Medical College. Ret. Col. Herbert G. Parker, January 2016 Parker served as the FAMU Army ROTC “Rattler Battalion” professor of military science during his career. As an Army officer, Parker served as a member of the elite Special Forces unit. Upon his retirement from the military, he served as the executive director of the Florida Crimes Compensation Program and director of administration for the Florida State Department of Education. Willie Bryant, D.D.S., January 2016 Bryant served as an officer in the United State Army and enjoyed a career as a dentist, including an appointment as the director of Dental Services at Letchworth Village in New York. He served as the vice president of the Northeast Region of the FAMU NAA. Bryant earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from FAMU and a doctor of dental surgery degree from Howard University.
LaMetra M. Moody, January 2016 Moody earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from FAMU in 1995 and a master’s degree in education mathematics from FAMU in 2001. Ret. Justice Leander Shaw Jr., December 2015 Shaw served as Florida’s first Black chief justice. Prior to serving on the Florida Supreme Court, Shaw served as an assistant professor in the FAMU College of Law. He was a member of the State Attorney’s staff, and the law firm of Harrison, Finegold, and Shaw. He also served as an assistant public defender and was appointed by Gov. Reubin Askew to the Florida Industrial Relations Commission. He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1952 from West Virginia State College, and a law degree in 1957 from Howard University. Meadowlark Lemon, December 2015 Lemon was a FAMU alumnus who enjoyed an extensive 24-year career as a featured member of the world famous Harlem Globetrotters. After attending FAMU and serving in the U.S. Army, Lemon joined the Globetrotters where he became affectionately known as the “clown prince of basketball.” Lemon played in more than 100 countries around the world entertaining millions, including popes, presidents, kings, and queens. Christopher O. Ikediobi, December 2015 Ikediobi was a retired professor of chemistry at FAMU where he played a primary role in
establishing the University’s graduate program in chemistry. He also served as a professor of biochemistry at Ahmadu Bello University-Nigeria. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champagne, a master’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin, and a doctoral degree in bioorganic chemistry from Iowa State University. Ret. Lt. Col. Marcellas Durham, Sr., December 2015 Durham is a FAMU alumnus who served a distinguished career as an officer in the United States Army. While attending FAMU he was a member of the football team led by legendary Coach Jake Gaither. After retiring from the Army, Durham was twice a gubernatorial appointee as Assistant Secretary for the Florida Department of Corrections and the Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services. Darius M. Williams, December 2015 Williams was a FAMU alumnus who served as an employee of the Miami-Dade County Public School System for 20 years. While attending FAMU he was a member of the Marching “100.” Bernice G. Greene, November 2015 Greene served as the second Miss FAMC from 1932-1933. She was a charter member of the Beta Alpha Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. at FAMU. Greene was the first supervisor of Negro Education at the University of North Carolina and served as a teacher in Philadelphia for more than 30 years.
Patricia “Pat” Tucker, November 2015 Tucker was a FAMU retiree who served as a professor of nursing. Prior to her tenure at FAMU she served as a faculty member at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. She earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in nursing from Howard University. Elder Leroy Simmons, November 2015 Simmons was a retiree of FAMU and the Gillette Company in Boston, Mass. Virginia D. White, October 2015 White earned a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology from FAMU in 1972 Julius Johnson-Rich, September 2015 Rich was a FAMU alumnus who served as a leasing agent at the Seminole Grand Apartment Complex in Tallahassee. Carolyn Cullers Bullard, September 2015 Bullard served for nearly 40 years as a FAMU employee prior to her retirement from the University in 2003 as director of Telecommunications. Bullard earned a degree in secretarial science from Thomas Area Technical School in 1967. Moise Y. Joseph, September 2015 Joseph served as a science lab director and first-year experience instructor at FAMU. He earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in biology from FAMU.
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In this issue of A&M Magazine we tell the story of FAMU’s rich tradition of empowerment. Our cover story, “Planting Hope,” chronicles the...
Published on May 24, 2016
In this issue of A&M Magazine we tell the story of FAMU’s rich tradition of empowerment. Our cover story, “Planting Hope,” chronicles the...