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WINTER 2014 // VOLUME 12 // NUMBER 1

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Earn Your Executive Ph.D. in Urban Higher Education One Weekend A Month (Thursday – Sunday) in Approximately 24 Months

Application Deadline: January 15 Jackson State University (JSU) is accepting applications for the Executive Ph.D. in Urban Higher Education. This trans-disciplinary degree requires studies in business, public policy and administration, and urban and regional planning in combination with studies in higher education administration and research methodology and practice. The Executive Ph.D. (EPhD) in Urban Higher Education at Jackson State University prepares students to assume leadership roles in post-secondary institutions and other organizations whose primary endeavors relate to or impact the operations of institutions of higher learning. The audience for this unique program could include faculty seeking higher level leadership, as well as, mid-entry level personnel in management from colleges and universities in urban or metropolitan settings and executive related agencies that work either as suppliers or clients of the higher education enterprise. This could include human resource/service agencies, foundations, corporations with an adult training mission, and other sectors that represent government, industry, commerce, or technology. To begin your application process or to request more information, please call (601) 979-EPHD (3743) or visit us online at:

CONTENTS WINTER 2014 Volume 12, No. 1

18) ‘Call Me MISTER’

Fewer than 2 percent of the public school teachers in the U.S. are black men. In an effort to increase this number, especially in the elementary grades, five young men are part of the first cohort of JSU’s “Call Me MISTER” program. Those accepted receive free tuition and loan forgiveness assistance as they pursue their degrees and placement in Mississippi elementary schools.

FEATURES 4) Gaza to grad school

26) An education in civil rights

Anas Alfarra leaves his war-torn home in Gaza to come to JSU as an exchange student. Through extraordinary measures, he finds a way to stay. The engineering major, now a grad student, shares his story.

The national narrative is a familiar one. There’s Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. But the goal of the Fannie Lou Hamer Summer Institute is to educate young people about the unknown faces of the struggle, many of them their own family members.

10) What a difference a year makes

31) Remembering Medgar Evers

A year into the groundbreaking iPad scholarship program for freshmen, benefits for faculty and students are already materializing, both expected and unexpected.

When the time came for the national commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Medgar Evers’ death, Evers’ widow, Myrlie Evers-Williams, and their daughter, Reena EversEverette, turned to Jackson State University for assistance.

14) Record enrollment growth surpasses all Mississippi schools Jackson State University’s fall enrollment of 9,134 marks a historical high for the university. In fact, the 3.6 percent increase over the previous fall represents the highest percentage increase of all Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning.

ON THE COVER: (From left) Students Malcolm Baldwin, Ansel Heidelberg, Alexander Gatewood, Edward Williams and Cortland Moten make up the first class of Jackson State University’s new Call Me MISTER program. Photo by Greg Campbell

The Jacksonian is published twice a year by the Jackson State University Department of University Communications. The U.S. Department of Education Title III program helps fund its production.


University Communications H.P. Jacobs Administration Tower, 2nd floor P.O. Box 17490, Jackson, MS 39217 601-979-2272 (phone) 601-979-2000 (fax)




Director of Public Relations Jean Gordon Cook

DEPARTMENTS Student Life Miss Mississippi contestant survives rare illness, helps others Theatre department celebrates 50th anniversary with The Color Purple

Alumni in Action 6 8

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Faculty and Staff Social work professor earns grant, studies grandfathers who raise children JSU staffers establish scholarship, keep memories alive

JSUNAA named national association of the year Homecoming celebration carries on

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Campus to Community

University Achievements Community welcomes JSU Madison; enrollment booming Mississippi e-Center @ JSU: Innovation at its best

Executive Director of University Communications Eric Stringfellow

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Conversation on race with author Kiese Laymon Essence editor emerita Susan L. Taylor shares leadership vision Mayor emphasizes partnership


Sports Briefs JSUNAA chapter directory Class Notes In Brief

33 37 38 43

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Creative Writer Shelia Byrd Contributors Jean Gordon Cook Spencer McClenty Bette Pearce Tammy Ramsdell Darrell Robinson Jr. Dominique Triplett Photographers Greg Campbell Anissa Hidouk Tommiea P. Jackson Darrell Robinson Jr. Charles Smith Frank Wilson D’Artagnan Winford Graphic Design Cercle Design Studio LLC


president’s message


Dear Jacksonians, As we close this holiday season, it is only fitting that we reflect on our many blessings here at Jackson State University. In this spirit, let me first recognize our progressive faculty and staff, loyal alumni community and achievement-minded student body. All have played heavily into a leading feat — a record-setting fall enrollment. It is a telling accomplishment, considering most universities in Mississippi are seeing stagnant or dropping enrollments. To further appreciate our many blessings, one only need turn the pages of the latest edition of The Jacksonian. You will be impressed at how the theatre department celebrated its 50th anniversary with its production of The Color Purple, its largest ever, featuring the world-renowned Mississippi Mass Choir And you will be amazed at the sophisticated growth of the Mississippi e-Center @ JSU, which is marking its first decade. Then, from the launch of the Call Me MISTER program, designed to address the dearth of black, male teachers in our elementary schools, to the opening of the Madison site with its night and online classes, to our award-winning Veterans Center, you will see how we believe in meeting people where they are — and then taking them down new paths. New paths, however, aren’t limited to institutional endeavors. Consider the stories of two students, one from war-torn Gaza, the other an aspiring beauty queen. Their perseverance, eloquently described in detail, is something we all can aspire to. Additionally, our academic accomplishments are on display, with our student-athletes turning in one of their best academic performances in the history of JSU and our iPad scholarship program flourishing in its second year. Indeed, our blessings are plentiful, as The Jacksonian shows. So pick up your copy and enjoy — with gratitude in your heart and hope for another bountiful year. Sincerely, Carolyn W. Meyers President, Jackson State University

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| student life |

When people see that I’m a Muslim and an Arab from the Middle East and that I’m a successful, normal person, this opens a dialogue to give others a different perspective of Middle Eastern and Arab people. Anas Alfarra, JSU grad student

Gaza to grad school

Through odds-defying “blessings,” student escapes ravaged homeland, finds another home at JSU by shelia byrd


ombs and gunfire are part of daily life in the Gaza Strip, which is the reason Anas Alfarra was so desperate to flee. His admission at age 17 into a competitive exchange program managed by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs was to be the first in a series of “blessings” leading to his May 4 graduation ceremony at Jackson State University. Alfarra lived in Egypt and Saudi Arabia before his family settled in the Gaza Strip, a 25-mile long sliver of land along the Mediterranean Sea. There, conflict is commonplace and has been for centuries.

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Through art, Alfarra found solace from the war and a way to earn income for his family. “As a 16-year-old, I started a business to recycle the torn-down trees from the war and make lamps out of them to sell. They symbolized that from the destruction, I am sending out light,” he said. “I was trying to find any way to get outside of Gaza because this was not the place for me after I faced death in the streets.” He applied for the Near East and South Asia Undergraduate Exchange Program for emerging student leaders from underrepresented sectors around the world. It enables stu-

| student life |

dents from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia to study at a U.S. college or university. “I was the first one to come from Gaza on the scholarship. I was chosen from a lot of applicants,” Alfarra said. “We serve as cultural ambassadors. We build bridges of mutual understanding between my country and America. When people see that I’m a Muslim and an Arab from the Middle East and that I’m a successful, normal person, this opens a dialogue to give others a different perspective of Middle Eastern and Arab people.” When Alfarra arrived at JSU in August 2009, he fell in love with the historically black university, so much so that he didn’t want to leave. “I never would have thought I would experience this much care, love and respect from the people here. Jackson State has been another home for me,” Alfarra said. “People opened their houses to me. You can feel that your success is a personal matter for almost every professor and employee, and if this was not the case, I would never have been able to reach this far.” But the exchange program didn’t allow students to pursue a degree at U.S. universities. Alfarra petitioned the State Department to grant him an exception. With support of JSU and faculty and staff at Millsaps College, where Alfarra had participated in activities, Alfarra submitted hundreds of signatures to the State Department. “I got an exception to stay in the country. That did not happen in 47 years,” he said. “People in the State Department said, ‘You are a very blessed young man.’ ” However, to get his visa status changed to that of a degree-seeking student, Alfarra had to go to Canada to apply for another student visa and then come back to the U.S. When he got there, American officials declined to grant the visa immediately. The delay could have cost Alfarra the opportunity to study at Indiana University in Bloomington, where he had received an internship. JSU faculty contacted U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., on Alfarra’s behalf. Thompson’s office took it from there. “I got an email one night from the U.S. ambassador in Ottawa, and she told me to come get my visa so I could finish my studies in the U.S. I went down to the floor and thanked God,” said Alfarra. Alfarra studied business administration during his first semester at JSU, but he became fascinated with the university’s engineering program. “I had a strong science base from my high school studies. I got a 4.0 my second semester in engineering and that’s when the School of Engineering extended me a

full scholarship. I finished the engineering program in two years and 11 months with a 3.7 GPA,” he said. Dr. Patricia Jernigan, assistant dean in International Studies, said Alfarra has excelled since his arrival at JSU. “He has probably had an A average since his first semester. He has proven to be an ambassador for the program that enabled him to come to the U.S.,” Jernigan said. By his senior year, Alfarra had served as International Student Association president, executive assistant to the Student Government Association president and president of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. He also had worked as a research assistant for JSU’s Northrop Grumman Center for High-Performance Computing. Alfarra’s mother, Eman Alfarra, said she can hardly contain the joy she feels for her son’s accomplishments. Her name means “faith,” and that’s what she holds onto during her son’s absence. “I never expected my son would go to another place and be able to study and graduate, which encompasses all the effort and all the investment that has been put in him since he was really young. It was like a dream to me,” his mother said through an interpreter. His father, Mohammed Ali Alfarra, said: “On the occasion of graduation with my only son in May 2013 from the historic Jackson State University, I am honored and happy. I offer my sincere thanks to all of the university administration for what they have offered and all their generous support. I also would like to thank the U.S. government for their humanitarian efforts and programs. Our hope is to see Anas soon. He has been away from us for four years.” Alfarra is currently a graduate student. He interned this summer at Union Pacific’s headquarters in Omaha, Neb. Though on campus now, his future after graduate school is uncertain. His current visa requires him to return to his homeland and work for two years before he can seek full-time employment in the U.S. “If I go home, I would never be able to come back. We don’t even have a U.S. consulate in Gaza,” he said. Still, Alfarra believes his future will work itself out as he pursues success in engineering. He’s also ever the ambassador. “I’m hoping people will read this and think, ‘Hey, this young man is trying to do something good.’ I really want to give back to Jackson State because this place has offered me a future in which I never could have accomplished in my country or anywhere else,” he said.

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| student life |

A New Dream Miss Mississippi contestant survives life-threatening illness, now helps others by bette pearce


ennitra Thompson readily admits that when she failed to win the Miss Mississippi title in July, she went through a period of depression. “I felt lost.” She had dreamed of holding the title Miss America since she was 6 years old. And she’d grown up believing that if you wanted something bad enough and you worked hard enough, you could achieve your dream. “But something happened to my spirit when I didn’t even make the top 10,” says Thompson, the current Miss Rankin County Southwest. Just months before the pageant she had survived a rare, life-threatening illness and overcame the physical challenges that followed. At age 23, she wouldn’t be eligible to compete again. With her pageant days at an end, “I felt I had no direction; I felt like such a failure. I asked God, what will I do next?” She got the answer: “He said, ‘Kennitra, I need you to talk to people about feeling confident in themselves, regardless of their looks or failures. Be a living example. Flaws don’t make you imperfect, they make you perfectly you.’ ” Helping others embrace their flaws is now Thompson’s dream. She’s formed her own pageant consulting business, and she’s enjoying a packed schedule speaking to various community groups and organizations, sharing her inspiring story. She also is planning to write a book. Thompson’s story began last March when she contracted Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, a rare and almost always fatal illness in which the skin and mucous membranes severely react to a medication. The 4-foot, 9-inch dancer and beauty queen lay in a coma for two weeks, while wounds similar to severe burns formed on her internal organs and all over her skin. Much to everyone’s surprise, Thompson emerged from the coma. Her recovery, however, would not be easy. “I had to learn to walk all over again, and my eyes are extremely sensitive to light.” The only outward signs of the disease now are dark splotches that formed all over her body. “I call myself Cheetah Girl,” she laughs. Despite her appearance and physical challenges, Thompson was able to participate in the Miss Mississippi Pageant

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in July, walking the runway in her bathing suit with dark splotches in plain view. “I want people to embrace the obstacles in their life. The obstacles have a way of making you regroup and making your life more meaningful. I want to create a life of helping people. When you help others, they help propel you through your own adversity. “I don’t want to tell people to not dream, but not fulfilling one dream can be the motivation to embrace another dream, to make a difference in your life and others’ lives; to find a much more fulfilling direction in life. My spots are a reminder of my pain, but my pain has turned into my triumph.” Thompson says she has gotten accustomed to feeling good about herself due to compliments from others. “You don’t have to be a 5-foot, 7-inch blond to be a beautiful person, to care about other people, or to make a difference in their lives.” When stories about Thompson’s comeback were published in newspapers around the state, her phone started ringing and letters started pouring in. “So many people were so inspired by my story,” she says. “There are days when I have to double-book speaking engagements.” One letter, however, stands out from the rest, she says. “A woman said she was writing to me through tears,” Thompson says. The mother of two little girls, ages 6 and 8, said they heard Thompson speak at a Baptist school event. “You not only inspired me,” the woman wrote, “but you inspired my older daughter who came to me after hearing you and told me she no longer had to wear pants or leggings.” The child had refused to wear dresses or shorts because she was so self-conscious. “She told me that because I showed my spots, her daughter is no longer self-conscious about her skin condition. She is 8 years old and now comfortable with herself; confident in herself. To know I helped that little girl is so powerful. “I started with one dream, but now I’m living an entirely new dream, a much more fulfilling dream — helping others embrace their imperfections.”

| student life |

I want people to embrace the obstacles in their life. The obstacles have a way of making you regroup and making your life more meaningful. Kennitra Thomspon, Miss Rankin County Southwest

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| student life |

Color ple r Pu The

Theatre department celebrates 50th anniversary with largest production ever


he curtain rose on Jackson State University’s largest production in its history last fall when it staged the Broadway hit musical The Color Purple. The production featured a cast of nearly 50 performers that included JSU students, community members and members of Jackson’s world renowned Mississippi Mass Choir. “We had an outstanding cast. We tried to pull in the best of the best,” said Dr. Mark Henderson, theatre director of JSU’s Department of Speech Communications and Theatre. “We had auditions in the summer and started rehearsals right after Labor Day. It was quite an undertaking.” The production marked the theatre department’s 50th anniversary and topped off many events during JSU’s Domestic Abuse Awareness Month. The musical is based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Walker taught at Jackson State and was JSU’s writer in residence in 1968-1969. In 1985, the novel was made into an Academy-nominated movie starring Whoopi Goldberg and Mississippi native

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Oprah Winfrey. The musical version ran on Broadway from 2005 to 2008. The biggest challenge in staging such a large production was funding. But, Henderson said, “we found four major sponsors that really stepped up.” One of those sponsors was the Latasha Norman Center for Counseling and Psychological Services on the JSU campus. The center is named for a 20-year-old JSU student who was murdered in 2007 by an ex-boyfriend. The other major donors were the Chris Cook Foundation, the Jackson State University Division of Student Life and the Southern Institute for Mental Health Advocacy Research and Training. Jackson State alumna Deja Abdul-Haqq, an environmental and policy change program manager for the nonprofit health agency My Brother’s Keeper, was cast as Celie. Ashlei Murray, then a senior theatre major at JSU, played the role of club singer Shug Avery. Proceeds from the production went toward the establishment of an endowment fund to provide scholarships in the JSU theatre department.

| student life |

Ashlei Murray, then a senior theatre major at JSU, plays the role of club singer Shug Avery.

Celie and her sister dance as children.

Deja Abdul-Haqq plays the title role of Celie.

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| academics |


2 1

Lined up on desks, iPads are a common sight in classrooms.


Assistant Professor Candis Pizzetta says iPads are significantly increasing student interaction.


Students Trave’Elle Knotts, Antoneshia Ethel-Ami Ward and Chester Holden use their iPads both inside and outside the classroom.

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Dr. Robert Blaine, special assistant to the provost for Cyberlearning


I thought I would just use it for homework, but I actually use it in class. It makes things easier, and I enjoy how I can just do my homework and email it to teachers when I’m done. I don’t have to wait. Antoneshia Ethel-Ami Ward, mass communications major


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| academics |

iPads paying off Student performance up 7% since start of trailblazing program, research shows by bette pearce


xpectations were high when Jackson State University launched the groundbreaking Technology Advantage Scholarship Initiative that provided every incoming freshman with an iPad at the start of the fall 2012 semester. “The first year, we worked out all the kinks. This year it’s smooth going,” says Dr. Deborah Dent, vice president for Information Technology. Since the iPad Initiative began, researchers have seen a 7 percent rise in student performance. According to Dr. Robert Blaine, special assistant to the provost for Cyberlearning, a student who normally would get a grade of 75 now gets an 81. “Every student now has a decent opportunity to be successful. This proves we’re on the right track.” Cassandra Hawkins, an English instructor who authored an e-book for her class, says some students were apprehensive at the beginning of the school year when they learned they would not have a traditional textbook in her classroom. “They soon learned they’d not only save money, but they’d always have their book with them; they’re on board now.” What’s more exciting, she says, is students are more engaged in class and working collaboratively. “They’re not just sitting, listening to some boring lecture and trying to stay awake,” she laughs. “They come to class ready to have a dialogue because they’re able to research topics easier; they have a global library at their fingertips.” Hawkins also has noticed a significant increase in attendance. “It’s not unusual to see 100 percent attendance. One nontraditional student, a middle-aged woman, told me she enjoys class so much more than the traditional classes she was accustomed to; that it’s worth the one-hour drive from her home to get to class each day. I can’t wait until I look at end-of-semester grades and attendance and compare them to last year. I’m expecting to see a drastic change.” Assistant Professor Candis Pizzetta, too, has seen a dramatic increase in student interaction in class. “It’s amazing. I saw them asking ‘what do I have to know?” instead of ‘what do I have to memorize?’ The goal is to make students more active learners. They’re creating knowledge for themselves.” Trave’Elle Knotts, a computer engineering student, says

she uses the iPad about 70 percent more than she expected to at the start of the school year. “It’s been an easier way of accessing assignments and taking notes. It’s been one of the most relaxing and least stressful ways of learning,” she says. Antoneshia Ethel-Ami Ward, studying mass communications, also was surprised by how much she used her iPad as a freshman. “I thought I would just use it for homework, but I actually use it in class. It makes things easier, and I enjoy how I can just do my homework and email it to teachers when I’m done. I don’t have to wait.” Daniel Williams III, also a mass communications student, points out that since assignments go straight to students’ emails, “there’s no reason you should miss homework.” Recovery of lost or stolen devices had been among the concerns addressed in an extensive two-year study prior to the program’s implementation. Dr. William McHenry, executive director of the Mississippi e-Center Foundation that funded more than 1,150 iPad scholarships this year, says the electronic tracking technology installed in the iPads is so good that the location of one lost device was pinpointed to a second-floor apartment in a building in Atlanta. The number of lost devices has been remarkably low. According to Dent, of the more than 1,000 iPads distributed, fewer than 50 were lost or stolen. “Of those, we were able to recover all but 20.” And for students who may lose their iPad, safeguards are in place to guarantee a student’s digital books, notes, classwork and other materials are readily retrievable. “The fact that so few devices were lost or stolen on a large campus is a great success story about how students value their iPads,” McHenry says. McHenry calls the iPad initiative one of his most rewarding projects. “It’s helping to change the culture and helping folks understand our students are ready for the 21st century. We’re at the frontier of a new culturally adjusted academic environment. “No university has taken on a task of this magnitude and uniformly trained faculty to erase blackboards as their primary platform,” McHenry says. “We’ve proven we’re on the right track . . . and JSU is a trailblazer in the cyberlearning world.

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| academics |

We are meeting the needs of people from many different areas. 

—Judy Qualls, Madison location coordinator

The Madison move

Enrollment booming at new facility by Darrell Robinson Jr.


tudent enrollment at Jackson State University’s 8,600-square-foot Madison facility, which officially opened May 29, is growing rapidly. The fall semester enrollment of close to 400 students nearly doubles the inaugural summer enrollment. “We opened just in time for the summer session, and 198 students took advantage of undergraduate and graduate classes from all five of our colleges,” says JSU President Carolyn W. Meyers. “We are excited to see this number grow, and we project an even larger increase in the near future.” Students are taking advantage of an array of course offerings from the fields of business, criminal justice, education, healthcare administration, human resource development, philosophy, principle-centered leadership and technology. Of 33 courses offered this fall — triple the number offered during the summer session — 30 are graduate-level courses. The Madison facility, located at 382 Galleria Parkway, serves students from metro Jackson and surrounding Holmes, Yazoo and Madison counties. “We are meeting the needs of people from many different areas,” says Judy Qualls, location coordinator. Judy Qualls, Madison location coordinator

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| academics |

Jackson State University officially opened its Madison location in May during a ribbon-cutting ceremony that drew a crowd of JSU faculty, staff, alumni, supporters, elected officials and business leaders.

Students take advantage of classes offered at JSU-Madison.

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| university achievement |

Dr. RaShell Smith-Spears outlines expectations for her English class at the start of the fall semester.

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| university achievement |

Record enrollment Rodney Daniely, a civil engineering major from Atlanta, was drawn to JSU because of the programs offered in his major.

Growth surpasses all Mississippi schools by dominique triplett


Freshman Simon Cotton of Chicago considered Northwestern University or Morehouse College but decided JSU was the best fit.

Junior psychology major Krystal Mooney of Memphis transferred to JSU after attending community college.

ackson State University’s fall enrollment of 9,134 marks a historical high for the university. In fact, the 3.6 percent increase over the previous fall represents the highest percentage increase of all Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning. The record enrollment includes a freshman class of some 1,100 students — a more than 25 percent increase over the previous fall. Within that class is the highest number ever of incoming freshmen meeting the criteria for JSU’s W.E.B. Du Bois Honors College. “We are pleased to know we’re attracting some of the best students in Mississippi and from around the country,” JSU President Carolyn W. Meyers said. Eighteen-year-old Simon Cotton, a multimedia journalism major from Chicago, is part of that group. The Chicago native considered other options, including Northwestern and Morehouse, but said JSU seemed the best fit. “My mom and sister both came to Jackson State, plus I wanted to be a part of the band,” said the Sonic Boom of the South trumpet player. The freshman class also includes a significant number of College of Science, Engineering and Technology students. Rodney Daniely, an 18-year-old civil engineering major from Atlanta, was drawn to JSU because of the programs offered in his major. “In the engineering school, the teachers are really personable, and they want you to succeed in life,” said Daniely. “They just want you to go out there, working, preparing you for bigger things in your life.” Over the past year, JSU has added 35 faculty positions, installed more Smart classrooms, improved laboratories and made campus-wide technological upgrades. The university also has strengthened its ties with other institutions, forming partnerships with Hinds Community College and Holmes Community College with the goal of increasing the number of students who receive bachelor’s degrees. Junior psychology major Krystal Mooney of Memphis transferred to JSU after attending community college. She chose JSU because of its proximity to the University of Mississippi Medical Center. “I want to get my master’s in clinical psyschology and work in a medical setting,” she said. “I’m so happy I came to JSU. The teachers here care about what you’re actually doing and don’t mind sitting down with you and answering all of your questions.”

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| university achievement |

The Mississippi e-Center@ JSU, located at 1230 Raymond Road, is a 192,000-squarefoot office space devoted to communications technology and research. Thirteen federally funded centers contribute to the research infrastructure of the university. The Meeting Innovation Center draws about 65,000 visitors annually, and the e-Center has the capacity to allow people around the world to participate in conferences held at the facility.

Joy F. Parikh

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The Mississippi e-Center@JSU

Innovation at its best

Alliances, partnerships bring research into the real world by Shelia Byrd


ith Department of Defense projects among its numerous contracts, Radiance Technologies, based in Huntsville, Ala., was hardly a startup operation. Yet, there were immediate benefits when the systems engineering, technology and prototype development company moved to a business incubator at the Mississippi e-Center@JSU. “It has great meeting space and a broad variety of other clients who provide a diversity of services and skills our company can utilize,” said Joy F. Parikh, program manager for the company’s Intelligence Analysis Operation. “We love it here.” The Mississippi e-Business Innovation Center is home to more than 30 growing companies, assisting them through development seminars, networking opportunities and office space. But the center is only one component of the vast e-Center, which recently marked a decade of operation. Telling the story of the e-Center’s evolu-

tion is something its executive director, Dr. William McHenry, doesn’t mind doing. In his white-walled office, McHenry sits at the edge of his chair, passion evident on his face, as he discusses how the center grew out of a former Allstate building that was transferred to JSU. What once was a sea of cubicles is now a 192,000-square-foot, pristine office space devoted to projects to advance communications technology and research. McHenry said 13 federally funded research centers contribute to the research infrastructure of the university. The Meeting Innovation Center draws about 65,000 visitors annually, and people around the world can participate virtually in conferences at the facility. In addition, WeatherVision, a company that provides weathercasts to stations nationwide, recently formed a partnership with and moved into the e-Center. McHenry said the e-Center operates on two principles: partnerships and alliances. “We want people working together in a

| university achievement |

cross-disciplinary system,” said McHenry. “That means we have to be creative. Sometimes we’ll put tables in the hallway, encouraging our clients and tenants to interact with each other. We think cross-disciplinary activities are the way that we solve problems.” The research entities include the Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, Center for Defense Integrated Data, Northrop Grumman Center for High Performance Computing Ship Systems and the Research Centers in Minority Institutions Translational Research Network Data Coordinating Center (RTRN DCC). The DCC is a technology hub and data center for the consortium of 18 biomedical research institutions across the country. The RTRN research emphasis is focused on addressing health disparities, and the DCC provides support for basic and applied research, including clinical trials and other biomedical research across multiple institutions. Funding comes from a grant from the National Institutes of Health-National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, said Dr. James Perkins, director of the RTRN DCC. “RTRN has completed our first clinical trial — vitamin D and its influence on cardiovascular function in African Americans — at two locations (Charles Drew University-Los Angeles and Morehouse School of Medicine-Atlanta). It was a two-year study with 100 percent enrollment. We are in the process of publishing our results,” Perkins said.

On the technological front, a recent initiative made JSU a leader in classroom innovation. The Technology Advantage Scholarship Initiative, a project of the Mississippi e-Center Foundation that governs the e-Center, was the largest iPad scholarship program at a public university in the nation when it was implemented last fall. All incoming JSU freshmen received an iPad for coursework. A 2011 pilot program revealed a learning gap for students who didn’t have access to mobile devices. The center also houses what’s evolving into a high-tech Mass Communication Department and JSU’s Executive Ph.D. program that prepares professionals for academic leadership. McHenry said the e-Center also has become a popular spot for wedding receptions. “After many years and many experiences, we’ve transformed the center into what we think is a successful model for community and academic development in a particular region,” McHenry said. And, none of the tenants ever have to worry about a power failure. An $800,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration funded a project to provide a clean, uninterrupted power supply, McHenry said. As the e-Center attracts more clients, McHenry said one of the goals is to eliminate the perception that it is one of the best-kept secrets in Mississippi. He said bolstering marketing activities will be a priority as the e-Center extends its reach nationally and globally.

Dr. James Perkins

Dr. William McHenry

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| cover story |

With firsthand knowledge of how a black male teacher can make a difference in a youth’s life, Cortland Moten is on the path to becoming an elementary teacher. Here, he hones his skills while working with a student at Isabel Elementary School in Jackson.

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| cover story |

He was the closest thing I’d ever had in regard to a male figure I could go to for advice. I could talk to him about school — history and English. He knew all kinds of music. I changed my behavior and became more disciplined, mostly from my exposure to him. Cortland Moten, on inspiring coach and teacher


MISTER New JSU program to increase number of black male teachers in elementary schools


ortland Moten wasn’t a bad kid; he just needed a little direction. Raised in a single-parent home, Moten rarely saw his father. Most of his male role models were uncles, cousins, his grandfather and the guys he knew from his tight-knit neighborhood. Moten admits he wasn’t always respectful at school. He’d crack jokes in class or horseplay with other athletes. That all changed when he met Coach Lintrail Dukes at Forest Hill High School in Jackson, Miss. Dukes demanded respect, and it was a demand that stuck with the impressionable young Moten. “I never had that before,” Moten says. “He was the closest thing I’d ever had in regard to a male figure I could go to for advice. I could talk to him about school — history and English. He knew all kinds of music. I changed my behavior and became more disciplined, mostly from my exposure to him.” With firsthand knowledge of how a black male teacher could make a difference in a youth’s life, Moten decided to become an educator. And, thanks to Jackson State University, he’ll get the financial, academic and mentoring support he needs to reach his goal. Moten, 19, is part of the first cohort of the JSU Call Me MISTER program, designed to provide academic and financial support to black men who want to become public elementary school teachers in Mississippi. The need is great — both in Mississippi and nationwide. Less than 2 percent of public school teachers in the U.S. are black men. In Mississippi, around 2.4 percent of its public elementary school teachers are black men. In a few years, at

by shelia byrd

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| cover story |

Ansel Heidelberg assists a group of students at Isabel Elementary School. While all students can benefit from a role model, the Call Me MISTER program is specifically designed to give young boys more black male role models.

20 | jacksonian

least five more are expected to join their ranks — Moten, Alexander Gatewood, Malcolm Baldwin, Ansel Heidelberg and Edward Williams. The young men receive free tuition and loan forgiveness assistance. They also receive book awards, leadership training, professional development, study abroad opportunities and placement in an elementary school in Mississippi. Dr. Daniel Watkins, dean of the College of Education and Human Development, finds the dearth of black male educators troubling. Last academic year, there were 33 elementary education graduates at JSU. Only four were men. Watkins is a lifelong educator who worked as a teacher, assistant principal, principal and school superintendent in K-12 schools before entering higher education. He remembers when school teachers were revered in their communities. If children saw one of their teachers at a grocery store, they knew they had to be on their best behavior even if they weren’t in school, he said. “Some of that has been lost. We’d like to recapture that,” said Watkins. He believes the Call Me MISTER Program can

pave the way, especially since the selection process is based, in part, on a candidate’s character. Williams gets it. The 19-year-old, with a starched posture and deep voice, already exhibits a commanding presence so vital in today’s classroom. Williams says he’s always liked working with children and is aware of the profound influence a teacher can have on students. “They’re very vulnerable and very open to new things,” Williams says. “I want to show my students that I’m a genuinely good person. I want to show myself as an example both in and out the classroom.” It is imperative that youth are exposed to positive black male role models because they’re inundated with negative stereotypes through media, Watkins says. And few would dispute that the breakdown of the black family unit — primarily the absence of fathers in the home — is a factor in many of the social ills impacting black children. In this country, 67 percent of African-American children live in single-parent homes, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation. In Mississippi, the figure is 74 percent.

| cover story |

I want to show my students that I’m a genuinely good person. I want to show myself as an example both in and out of the classroom. – E dward Williams Boys growing up in fatherless homes need a male mentor for guidance, and that’s a role a teacher a can fill, says Watkins, whose mother raised him and his siblings as a single parent. “This program means a lot to young African-American boys in challenged areas,” Watkins says. “In many cases, some might not see a male teacher until middle school or high school.” Another classroom benefit of male teachers is discipline, said Dr. Tony Latiker, assistant professor in the College of Education and the academic coach for JSU’s Call Me MISTER Program. “You often find that male teachers address minor classroom infractions in ways that cause little disruption to the flow of the lesson, such as moving closer to the student or the use of a slight touch on the shoulder, whereas female teachers are more likely to address behaviors verbally,” Latiker said. Latiker teaches all five of the “Misters” in his Introduction to Education class. “I’m very impressed with them. They each came to us with their own strengths and weaknesses. They’re actually starting to bond and support one another, which is a key part of the program because we want to make sure they provide one another with their particular network.” The cohort will matriculate through the same curriculum as other education majors, but it will also have a co-curriculum that reinforces the mission of the program. “It does dive into teaching and different strategies — professionalism, preparing leaders and making sure they’re good mentors or role models for the students they’re going to teach,” Latiker says. “The selection process is not just about academic performance. If we select people who really want to be teachers, if we provide them the proper support system, they’re going to be successful.” The Call Me MISTER program got its start in South Carolina, a state bearing the scars of a depressed economy, struggling schools and a prison system swollen from a booming black male population. Clemson University, partnering with three historically black colleges and universities — Benedict College, Claflin University and Morris College — launched the program in 2000.

At the time, less than 1 percent of the teachers in the schools were black males, says Dr. Roy Jones, executive director of Call Me MISTER and associate professor of Educational Leadership at Clemson. “The prison population was 65 percent black/ brown,” Jones says. “There were more black men spending a night in jail than a college dormitory. We couldn’t do anything about getting prisoners out of jail, but we thought we could do something about preventing more black males from going to prison.” Jones says it was natural for HBCUs to become part of the project since the institutions graduate 50 percent of the nation’s African-American teachers. “Clemson could raise funds and handle marketing and promotion. The HBCUs brought recruitment, retention and development.” More than a decade later, the program continues to thrive, expanding to other states and gaining numerous educational partners, including 16 colleges and universities in South Carolina. The program graduated its first class in 2004, and it has 123 graduates who are fully certified. Jones says 160 more are matriculating this fall into partner colleges and universities. “Since 2004, we’ve never lost a soul,” Jones says. “A few have become principals and are leading schools in remarkable ways.” Jones expects a similar outcome at JSU, where a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation is funding the program, though the university is actively seeking additional resources to expand. At Isabel Elementary School in west Jackson, the five “Misters” comfortably interact with the young students. Moten sits next to an 8-year-old named Robert, guiding him through a reading exercise. Nineteen-year-olds Heidelberg and Gatewood bend over the work tables and listen as the children describe their exercise. Heidelberg is hopeful his decision to pursue an educator’s path will inspire schoolmates who have lost their way. “I want to be a role model to the males at Provine High School,” he says. Baldwin, a 19-year-old from Atlanta, smiles as he watches the students. “They’re future business leaders and, perhaps, future presidents.”

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| faculty/staff focus |

by Darrell Robinson Jr.


Dr. Olga Osby’s work has been featured in several publications.

Social work professor earns grant to study grandfathers who help raise children 22 | jacksonian

elta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., held its 51st National Conference and Centennial Celebration in Washington, D.C., on July 12, where it awarded Jackson State University the Distinguished Professor Endowed Chair Award to fund a research proposal submitted by JSU associate social work professor Dr. Olga Osby. The $220,000 award will support the university’s effort in the School of Social Work for research on the role that African-American grandfathers play in child rearing. The title of Osby’s winning proposal is “American Grandfathers in Community Engagement and Family Stabilization.” “The project stems from my interest in looking at AfricanAmerican grandfathers as a hidden resource in the community,” Osby said. “I see all of these men in our communities and in our churches, but as a social worker and a researcher, I didn’t see that reflected in the literature.” Dr. Deborah Dent, vice president of Information Technology, accepted the award on JSU’s behalf in front of thousands gathered at the National Mall. “It was an exciting moment. I was very proud because we were competing against all of the other historically black colleges and universities nationwide,” said Dent, a Delta Sigma Theta member. “The committee is so interested in Dr. Osby’s research, and they want to follow her project. The thrilling part was that this was the Deltas’ 100-year celebration. Standing there on the National Mall in front of all of those people, it was just unforgettable.” Osby first started working on her winning proposal last summer during a writing retreat for JSU’s female faculty members. The retreat was part of the JSU Advance program, which is a leadership development program for women faculty funded by the National Science Foundation. Osby took part in the retreat with support from JSU’s Center for University Scholars. She further developed her project through her participation in JSU’s Academy of Research and Scholarly Engagement, which launched in the fall of 2012. Through that program, researchers get support and coaching to develop their ideas into funded research projects. Osby’s is the first academy project to earn a grant award. Osby also was invited to the Council on Social Work Education White House Briefing, Addressing the Social Determinants of Health in a New Era: The Role of Social Work Education, on Sept. 25. Osby’s work has been featured in several publications, and she has also made presentations on special topics in the field of social work.

| faculty/staff focus |

Jamea AdamsGinyard (left) and Pamela Berry-Johnson are honoring their mothers through an endowed scholarship.

Honor thy mothers

JSU staffers establish scholarship, keep memories alive by Darrell Robinson Jr.


wo women whose mothers died of cancer have turned their personal loss into an opportunity to help others. Jackson State University employees Pamela Berry-Johnson and Jamea Adams-Ginyard established the Gwendolyn Adams and Aljean Berry Memorial Scholarship two years ago. It provides financial assistance for a student in need whose mother passed away from cancer. The student must be from Mississippi or California. Adams-Ginyard is a native of Los Angeles, and Berry-Johnson is from Jackson.

Adams-Ginyard was finishing her first year of college at Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University in Huntsville, Ala., when she got the news of her mother’s passing. “I was only 18 years old,” she recalls. “I did not know she was sick to that degree. It caused me to make some quick adjustments, but not finishing school was not an option.” That’s because education had always been a priority in her family. She recalled how her mother set an example by finishing high school as an adult

and then earning a degree from a junior college “My sister and I went to school with her while we were in junior high and high school,” says Adams-Ginyard. “We would take our homework and do it in her class.” Berry-Johnson’s mother passed at a later point in her daughter’s life, but education was also a priority. “My mother and I were very close,” says Berry-Johnson, a JSU alumnus. “She didn’t finish high school, but she would always push me to finish things.” Establishing the scholarship served as an avenue for these JSU staff members to honor their mothers and acknowledge their value of education. “The scholarship was a tangible way to remember my mom,” says Berry-Johnson. Adams-Ginyard says she set up the fund at JSU because Constance Lawson in the Division of Institutional Advancement made it so easy. The scholarship is funded through payroll deductions. “It was unique because they joined forces to honor their mothers,” says Lawson, a development officer. Because of the Gwendolyn Adams and Aljean Berry Memorial Scholarship, students who have similar experiences now have a motivating factor to continue pursuing their educational goals. As for the future of the scholarship, both Berry-Johnson and Ginyard-Adams expect to see the award amount grow exponentially. “I want to be able to help the Jackson State family as much I can,” Adams-Ginyard says. “As I make more, I will give more,” says Berry-Johnson. “I also want to encourage other alumni to consider establishing a scholarship if they are able. It’s a privilege to be able to help students here at Jackson State.”

Want to start your own scholarship?

The Division of Institutional Advancement has opportunities available to establish annual scholarships. The current minimum is $10,000. Opportunities are also available to establish endowed scholarships in the amount of $25,000. For more information, contact Development Officer Constance Lawson at 601-979-2357.

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| alumni |

(From left) David Hoard, vice president for Institutional Advancement and Dr. Steven Smith, alumni director, accept a $5,000 donation from JSU alumnus Lee Frison during 2013 Homecoming Week.

Amazing alumni

JSUNAA named national chapter of the year by bette pearce


hen it comes to support, loyalty and love of school, Jackson State University alums are the best in the nation — literally. The JSU National Alumni Association was named National Alumni Association of the Year by the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame Foundation Inc. during the foundation’s 28th annual conference Sept. 25-29 in Atlanta. The organization’s extensive involvement in university and community activities and impressive financial support were highlighted. Members’ activities include work with the American Cancer Society, the Mississippi Society of Georgia and Hands on Atlanta. Local alums also play high-profile roles in local food, clothing and blood drives, nonprofit organizations and homecoming events. On the financial front, a fundraising campaign in 2012 brought in $3.2 million for the JSU Excellence Fund. The annual giving campaign’s latest goal is $2 million. Alumni to date have contributed $1.6 million. JSUNAA also established a $100,000 endowed

scholarship with the JSU Development Foundation. Additionally, it offers a tuition waiver for dependent children of out-of-state alumni. The waiver program can save a family in excess of $300,000. To help raise money, JSUNAA hosted its Inaugural Black Tie Scholarship Gala last year. More than 700 people attended. Another gala is scheduled for 2014. Recruitment is another focus of JSUNAA. JSU’s Enrollment Management department provides training for chapter recruitment coordinators. In fact, JSUNAA members represent the university at 90 percent of the college recruitment fairs in metro Jackson. “Chapters also meet and greet thousands of students and parents each year,” said Terry L. Woodard, JSUNAA president. “The association serves as a leader among alumni associations of other universities as it partners with alliances for events, including the annual SWACFest weekend in which all SWAC alumni associations come together in fellowship before becoming staunch rivals in the upcoming football season.”

did you know? JSUNAA’s fundraising campaign in 2012 brought in $3.2 million for the JSU Excellence Fund. It marked the first time in the history of the university that alumni giving topped $1 million within a 12-month period. The annual giving campaign’s latest goal is $2 million.

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| alumni |

JSU’s Interfaith Choir performs with gospel legend Smokie Norful.

Charlie Wilson performs to a sold-out audience.

Alumni, supporters celebrate

2013 Homecoming


ackson State University fans didn’t let Grambling’s no-show ruin their Homecoming. Tens of thousands of alumni, students, friends and visitors packed the Gibbs-Green Pedestrian Walkway, danced through a sold-out Charlie Wilson concert and cheered on the JSU Tigers during the “Blue and White” scrimmage. The weeklong celebration proved Jacksonians know how to make the best of any situation.

Omega Psi Phi fraternity members stroll down memory lane at Homecoming 2013.

The Tigers are ready to rumble.

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| campus to community |

Justin Armstrong (right) and other classmates at the Fannie Lou Hamer Institute Summer Workshop, “The Southern Civil Rights Movement: The Pivotal Role of Young People,” listen intently during a presentation. Justin, an 11-year-old from Byram, Miss., was elected president of the camp.

Fannie Lou Hamer Institute

An education in civil rights Summer camp gives youth new perspective on past struggles by shelia byrd


ustin Armstrong admits his civil rights history was limited before he attended a summer camp sponsored by Jackson State University’s Fannie Lou Hamer Institute. “I didn’t know that much because I just got out of elementary school,” said the 11-year-old who lives in Byram, Miss. Now, he’s confident about his knowledge of the civil rights movement and the role Mississippians played in the struggle for equality. Justin is among 22 students from the Jackson metropolitan area who

26 | jacksonian

participated in the institute’s summer youth workshop, “The Southern Civil Rights Movement: The Pivotal Role of Young People.” The workshop is held each year to educate youth about civil rights history and democracy and to teach them how to affect change in their communities, said Keith Lamont McMillian, currently interim director with the institute. This year’s workshop garnered the attention of NPR, which featured a story about the program on its show All Things Considered.

| campus to community |

Everybody knows the national narrative ... Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X. We want them to know that the people who may have made the most impact may be right in their own families. Keith Lamont McMillian, interim director

Emphasizing the political process is another component of the two-week workshop, McMillian said. This year, the students held elections for president and vice president of the workshop. After a brief campaign and an official vote, Justin emerged as the president, but that’s not the only highlight from his workshop experience. “It’s been fun meeting new people and learning new things. I want to take this knowledge back to school and be ahead of the game. Maybe sometimes I could correct the teacher,” he said. He eagerly shares a fact not known to many: “I learned that before Rosa Parks got on the bus and refused to get up, Claudette Colvin got on a bus and refused to get up. She was a 15-year-old girl.” In 1955, Colvin was arrested for the act of civil disobedience, and her case led to the Supreme Court’s order for the desegregation of Alabama’s bus system. Colvin’s refusal occurred some nine months before Parks’ actions. Such historical details are weaved through the workshop. Many come directly from activists who participated in sit-ins, voter registration drives and other demonstrations. Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of slain NAACP Mississippi field secretary Medgar Evers, led a discussion. During another session, students listened intently to Hollis Watkins and Bobby Talbert share stories about living in a segregated Mississippi during the 1950s and 1960s. Much of Talbert’s activism occurred in McComb, a city off I-55 South where young people conducted sit-ins at the Woolworth’s and the Greyhound Bus terminal in 1961. That same year, more than 100 students walked out of Burglund High School to protest the expulsion of a student activist. Watkins first became involved in the movement through the NAACP Youth Chapter, working alongside Medgar Evers on voter registration. He then joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which conducted sit-ins and other demonstrations. Watkins also helped train hundreds of young people who converged on Mississippi in 1964

for what became known as Freedom Summer, a voter registration project organized by SNCC, the Congress on Racial Equality and other civil rights groups. Watkins, a slight built man who looks younger than his 72 years, said there are a number of reasons today’s youth should be educated about the movement. “In order for you to fully understand where you are today, you have to understand your past and why you’re dealing with the issues of today,” Watkins said. “If young people don’t understand the struggle people had to go through for them so they could do things like choose where they want to get their education, they can’t have an appreciation of that freedom.” Ashley White, an 18-year-old senior at Forest Hill High School, said she didn’t want to come to the workshop at first. The group visited the Evers’ home, and while there, a photo caught her attention. It was a picture of her grandfather, who was active in the movement. “I was just amazed it was even there,” said White, whose grandfather died before she was born. That’s a point organizers want to make to the students — their neighbors and relatives were likely part of the movement. “Everybody knows the national narrative ... Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X. We want them know that the people who may have made the most impact may be right in their own families,” said McMillian. He also said it was important the youth understand that people who were around their age at the time were instrumental in dismantling segregation in the South. The group, ranging in age from 11 to 18, also worked in a community garden and painted a shelter. The workshop featured a family reception, a trip to McComb and landmark sites from the civil rights movement. White said the experience taught her that it’s within her power to help others. “I’ve always wanted to be involved in projects that let young people know there’s a way out of (bad circumstances). This program has given me a sense of where to start,” White said.

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| campus to community |

An honest conversation

JSU, Millsaps talk race, art and identity

Noted writer Kiese Laymon (left) talks about his personal experiences with race, racism and coming of age in Jackson.


ackson State University, Mississippi’s only designated Urban University, and Millsaps College, a private, Methodist-affiliated liberal arts institution in Jackson, came together in a historical meeting last winter to address myriad racial issues. “Necessary Tension: An Honest Conversation on Race, Art and Identity,” held on both campuses Feb. 19-20, featured noted author Kiese Laymon. Laymon, a writer and an associate professor of English and co-director of Africana Studies at Vassar College, recently earned notoriety for his essay, “How To Slowly Kill Yourself and

28 | jacksonian

Others in America,” which explores his personal experiences with race, racism and coming of age in Jackson. Laymon’s piece is included in a new book of essays by the same title. Before graduating from Oberlin College, Laymon attended Millsaps College and Jackson State University. The event — conceived and planned by a committee of students, faculty, and staff from the two schools — opened dialogue between the two campuses about the complexities of racial identity formation on college campuses, the need for creating spaces where students can explore and express identity, and the role of artistic endeavor in that process.

| campus to community |

Susan Taylor and Lori Stewart, associate director for Campus Life at JSU, share a hug .

The ‘Essence’ of being a Woman Essence magazine editor emerita Susan L. Taylor addressed audiences at several events held during Women’s History Month in March. Taylor, also founder of the National Cares Mentoring Movement, gave the keynote address during the 2013 Emerging Leaders Leadership Summit. She also spoke on “Bold, Visionary Leadership: From the Inside Out” at the event’s luncheon gathering.

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| campus to community |

Myrlie Evers-Williams

30 | jacksonian

| campus to community |


Medgar Evers University Communications plays lead role in 50th anniversary commemoration of assassination by shelia byrd


n assassin’s bullet silenced Medgar Evers in 1963, but it did not thwart the civil rights leader’s mission to improve the lives of black Americans living in the segregated South. Indeed, Evers’ death stoked the fight for equal rights, and in the decades since, he has been among those credited with tearing down the barriers black people faced at the voting booth and in schoolhouses. So when the time came for the national commemoration of the 50th anniversary of his death, Evers’ widow, Myrlie Evers Williams, and their daughter, Reena Evers-Everette, turned to Jackson State University for assistance. Eric Stringfellow, executive director of University Communications, said it was a privilege to be involved in an event that honored not only Medgar Evers, but all the activists who made sacrifices during the turbulent civil rights era. “Their legacy is evident in the election of black political leaders and the improved quality of life of black Americans,” Stringfellow said. “I really appreciate Myrlie Evers’ sacrifice and her commitment to service.” A native of Decatur, Medgar Evers became the first state field secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Mississippi in 1954. He investigated racially motivated crimes against black citizens and

Myrlie Evers-Williams (front, right) and daughter Reena Evers-Everette (front, center) visit the University Communications staff on June 17 to thank them for their help with the Medgar Evers 50th Anniversary Commemoration Tribute Gala and related events. Pictured are (front, left) Eric Stringfellow; (second row, left) Linda Daniels, former Division of Institutional Advancement staff; (second from right) Gina Carter-Simmers; (third row from left) Franshell Fort, Keith Collins, Pamela Berry-Johnson; (back row, from left) Germaine Williams, Jamea Adams-Ginyard, Gerard Howard and Jean Gordon Cook. Not pictured: Shelia Byrd, Tommiea Jackson, Spencer McClenty and D’Artagnan Winford.

organized voter registration drives and economic boycotts. It was fitting for JSU to be involved in Evers’ national commemoration, said Dr. Robert Luckett, an assistant professor of

history and director of JSU’s Margaret Walker Center. “Evers’ work particularly impacted Jackson State, considering his NAACP office was a block from campus, and JSU students made up a considerable number of his volunteers,” Luckett said. “Not only that, Medgar and Myrlie Evers and their children lived on the same street as Dr. Margaret Walker Alexander, the great writer and JSU professor. The history of Medgar Evers’ life is intertwined with Jackson State.” JSU’s University Communications staff played key roles in promoting the event, including directing the video production, creating a gala book, generating press coverage and leading the marketing strategy. Evers-Williams and Evers-Everette visited JSU to personally thank the staff after the commemoration gala held in June. “Everything that I personally wanted to happen for people to really understand the meaning and vision of my father, you helped get out,” said Evers-Everette. “You have shown such heart and spirit.” The Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute, which promotes and advances the legacy of the civil rights leader’s work, sponsored the commemoration. Evers-Williams said the commemoration went beyond the 50th anniversary of her husband’s assassination. It was about his life and his contributions.

jacksonian | 31

| campus to community |

Mayor emphasizes partnership


ewly elected Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba said he considers Mississippi’s capital and Jackson State University partners. Lumumba was among the distinguished speakers at this year’s Faculty and Staff Seminar, the theme of which was “One JSU: Higher Purpose, Higher Expectations, Higher Outcomes.” “It is truly a blessing for you all to come together and be united as one JSU community,” Lumumba said. “This academic year provides you with the opportunity to work together aiming for a higher purpose, higher expectations and higher outcomes.” He said he considers the city of Jackson and JSU partners in the city’s growth and develop-

32 | jacksonian

ment and called JSU a buttress for economic development, adding the university’s planned domed stadium will attract many potential students, fans and tourists alike to Jackson. “When competing in a globalized world, academic innovation is essential to moving our city forward,” the mayor said. “It is vital that JSU continues to set the bar high and serve as a major nationally recognized urban institution.” Lumumba also told the gathering that challenges still exist 50 years after the fight for civil rights, and he exhorted the JSU community to continue to build a foundation to “aid students in intellect and preparation to go out and fight the barriers that remain.”

| alumni chapter list |

Jackson State University National Alumni Association, Inc. Chapter Directory Detroit Shunya Cleveland 313-720-0446

Scott County Pearl Clark 601-469-3239

Greater Washington Sherwin Maynor 301-352-2972

Southeastern Va. Henry Stovall 757-508-0692

Jackson-Hinds Gwen Washington 601-981-7396

Natchez William J. Blowe 601-445-4146

New Orleans Metro Lydia Payne Monie 504-234-6061

Tupelo-Northeast Phyllis Sims 662-842-7021

Houston Area Larry Shaw 832-754-9921

Holmes County Geraldine H. Sturgis 662-653-6863

Huntsville, Ala. Lance Bartee 601-934-9144

Metro New York Johnathan Gibson 601-397-9058

Madison County Barbara Ousby 601-238-9129

Dallas Fort Worth David Robinson 214-418-6189

Meridian-Lauderdale Josephine Hughes 601-527-7691

Memphis Angelia Davis-Webster 901-258-2666

Nashville Rodney Harris Rodney.Harris@ 615-945-5245 New Horizon Church International Perceta Tuggle 601-983-7632 Los Angeles Mara Hall 818-863-6014 Metro Little Rock Kristie Croom 501-951-5640 South Florida Gerald Hurley 754-214-5775 Byram-Terry Patrease Edwards 601-454-2435 Leake County Lyvonne Leflore 601-267-7577

Copiah County James Mitchell 601-894-2176 St. Louis Sheila T. Ward 314-323-4949 Vicksburg/Warren County Ben Brown, Jr. 601-638-9047 Cleveland-Ohio Beverly Gardner 216-233-0851 Indianola/Sunflower County Betty Barnes 662-887-1501 Columbus, Miss. Rejeana Hayes 614-313-2348 Gulf Coast Hal Merritt 228-365-4066 If you would like to submit your local alumni chapter’s information, please contact LaToya Hentz at

jacksonian | 33

| sports |

INDUCTS 13 Thirteen former Jackson State University athletes or coaches were inducted Oct. 4 into the JSU Sports Hall of Fame. Honorees were presented with plaques and medallions, and their pictures will be placed in the Sports Hall of Fame Room at the university.

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| sports | Stanley Blackmon

Former Tiger football player Stanley Blackmon is considered one of the most talented administrative officials in recent Jackson Public School history. He served as principal at Lanier High School, Hardy Middle School and Canton High School. He also received awards and recognition for his work as a football coach and an educator.

Martin Epps

From 1969-91, JSU’s track and field teams were ranked among the best in the world. At the helm of the program was Martin Epps, one the most successful coaches of any sport in SWAC history. During his tenure, JSU won six NAIA indoor track and field national championships and an NAIA outdoor track and field title.

Lindsey Hunter

Lindsey Hunter is the second-leading scorer in Jackson State basketball history. Following his collegiate career, Hunter was selected as the 10th overall pick by the Detroit Pistons in the 1993 NBA Draft. He later played for the Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers, and Toronto Raptors and is interim coach for the Phoenix Suns.

Keith Lee

Keith Lee was a prominent member of the men’s track and field team from 1973-78. He was a four-year letter winner in the 800, 1000, 1500, 1-mile, sprint medley and 2-mile relay. He was an All-SWAC performer and earned All-American honors in the 800 and the 2-mile relay. He was an Olympic qualifier in 1976 and 1980.

Rodney Phillips

Rodney Phillips played on Jackson State’s football team from 1971-74, alongside Walter and Eddie Payton, Jackie Slater and Robert Brazile. He was a two-time letter winner and a two-time, first-team All-SWAC member. Phillips played with the Los Angeles Rams (1975-78) and the St. Louis Cardinals (1979-1980).

Darrin Wade

Darrin Wade was a four-year baseball letter winner from 1983-87. He was drafted in 1987 by the Toronto Blue Jays and played two minor league seasons. He played in 166 games with 534 at bats, 132 hits, 60 runs, 10 home runs and 64 RBI before suffering a career-ending eye injury and returning to JSU to complete his degree.

Sean Woodson

Sean Woodson emerged as one of the premier defensive backs in the SWAC during the mid-1990s. He was an All-SWAC first-team member in 1995 and 1996. During his senior year, he recorded a league-high eight interceptions. In 1997, he was drafted by the Buffalo Bills.

Wes Chamberlain

Before appearing in the 1993 World Series with the Philadelphia Phillies, Wes Chamberlain was a Jackson State Tiger (1985-87). At JSU, Chamberlain was an All-SWAC performer. Chamberlain played six seasons in the Majors with the Phillies, the Boston Red Sox and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Mary Fuller Scott

Mary Fuller Scott is the third-leading scorer in Jackson State women’s basketball history. From 1976-80, she scored 1,923 points. She was named a team MVP, received SWAC All-Tournament team awards and was an All-American. She played for the St. Louis Streak and later became a youth program director.

Alvin Jackson

As a member of the Jackson State men’s track and field team from 1977-80, Alvin Jackson competed on five national championship teams, five SWAC championship teams and was a member of the world-ranked 4x400meter relay. Individually, he was a six-time All-American and a six-time All-SWAC performer.

Rickey Myles

Rickey Myles was on the track and field team from 1974-78. He was a four-year letter winner, a four-year All-SWAC performer and six-time NAIA All-American. As a senior, he won the 600-yard run at the NAIA championships. He was a member of the 4x400-meter relay team, which won the 1977-78 NAIA National Championship.

Tom Rice

Tom Rice was one of the most dominant offensive linemen in the SWAC from 1977-80. In 1978 and 1979, JSU was named the NCAA Rushing Offense Champion. JSU won its sixth SWAC championship in 1980. Rice was named an All-SWAC member. He received Kodak AllAmerica recognition and was named a team captain.

Harrison Wilson

As Jackson State’s men’s basketball coach and later as president of Norfolk State University, Harrison Wilson became known for his formidable leadership skills. His 371-93 career record ranks the highest for JSU basketball. In 17 seasons at the helm of the Tigers’ program, he never had a losing season.

To view the inductees’ full biographies and the 2013 JSU Sports Hall of Fame book, visit jmgcook/docs/2013_jsu_sports_hall_of_fame.

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u.s. track championship


lumnus and reigning Olympic silver medalist Michael Tinsley spent the 2013 summer winning races, breaking records and accomplishing career milestones. On May 26, Tinsley won the 400-meter hurdles during the 2013 Adidas Grand Prix, rallying at the end of the race to finish with a time of 48.42 seconds. Less than a week later, Tinsley was named USA Track & Field’s Athlete of the Week. Then on June 24, Tinsley used his long stride to edge out a victory and set the world’s fastest time of 2013 (47.96) in the 400-meter hurdles final at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. Commenting after the race, Tinsley said, “I feel like a champ. I feel like a million bucks.”

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world university games


naso Jobodwana, representing his native South Africa, claimed a prestigious sprint double at the World University Games in Kazan, Russia, after running the fastest 200 meters ever by a South African. Jobodwana stopped the clock in 20.00 seconds, but wind prevented a national record classification. At the 2013 NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., Jobodwana finished fourth in the 200-meter dash with a time of 20.29. He also earned a first-team All-American nod.

swac woman of the year


he Southwestern Athletic Conference named Tigers volleyball player Kameron Boggan its 2013 SWAC Woman of the Year. The honor was the second for a Jackson State volleyball player, behind former teammate and 2012 recipient LaToya Clark. In 2012, Boggan served as a team captain while helping lead Jackson State to a fourth consecutive Eastern Division title and a 22-match win streak en route to back-to-back tournament crowns. For the season, she recorded 130 kills and 45 assists to help lift JSU to a 24-12 overall record with a consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. Boggan also garnered the team’s highest grade point average and received its Clutch Player and Leadership awards. A civil engineering spring 2013 graduate, Boggan was a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and assistant secretary for the American Society of Civil Engineers.

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scholar-athlete apr scores


he Division of Athletics announced its most recent Academic Progress Rates with 94 percent of its programs boasting a single-year APR above 930. The 2011-12 APR outcomes, released by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, represent one of the best overall academic performances of Jackson State student-athletes in the history of the APR. Furthermore, it confirms the Division of Athletics’ commitment to academics. The APR is a four-year average based on the school’s overall student-athlete eligibility, retention and graduation rates. The current APR cohort consists of student-athletes who participated during the 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12 academic years. The rate also serves as a predictor of graduation success with 930 nearing a 50 percent graduation rate. Headlining the banner of academic excellence was the women’s tennis program, which recently was recognized by the NCAA for a top 10 percent academic performance nationally. The women’s tennis team, boasting a perfect score of 1,000, resulted in the team’s third consecutive NCAA APR Public Recognition Award.

swac baseball title


he Jackson State baseball team won its 15th Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship by beating the Prairie View A&M Panthers 6-2 at LaGrave Field. With the win (34-20), Jackson State picked up its first conference championship since 2000. The title was also a first for head coach Omar Johnson.

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| class notes |

Class Notes ‘70s

Thomas C. Tolliver Jr. (’72), Wilkinson County’s chancery clerk, is continuing in the position he has held since 1979. Tolliver is also the director of Emergency Management/Homeland Security and president of the Wilkinson County Industrial Development Authority. He is a 32nd degree Mason, a Shriner and a member of the Mississippi Emergency Management Association. Tolliver, who earned a degree in biology, is a life member of the JSU National Alumni Association and the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. Lindsey Horton (’76) was named the Jackson Police Department’s new chief, effective July 1. He succeeds Rebecca Coleman, who served as JSU’s police chief before taking on the city’s top law enforcement post. Horton joined the department in 1985 and Lindsey Horton has been deputy chief for more than a decade. He also was a SWAT team commander and a firearms training director. Horton, a former snare drummer in the Sonic Boom of the South marching band and a first-degree black belt, started the Jackson State University Taekwondo Karate Club in 1971. In 2011, the Mississippi Legislature issued a resolution congratulating Horton’s 40 years as the grandmaster sensei of the Jackson State University Taekwondo Karate Club. Horton, who earned a degree in urban studies, serves on the board of the Tiger Fund, which supports athletic programs.

‘80s Dr. Alfred Martin Jr.

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Dr. Alfred Martin Jr. (’84, ’88, ’10), president and chief executive officer of Environmental Management Plus Inc. in Jackson, has been named national chairman of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, based in Washington, D.C. He began his two-year term July 1. Martin, appointed to

the Mississippi Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee in 1992, now is its chairman. He also serves on the Mississippi Supreme Court’s Commission on Children’s Justice and Jackson State’s Development Foundation Board of Directors. He is a charter member of the Jackson Metro Crime Commission. Martin holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communications, a master’s degree in business administration and a doctorate in urban and regional planning.

Dr. Earlexia Norwood

Dr. Earlexia Norwood (’84) has been appointed chief of Family Medicine at Henry Ford West Bloomfield (Mich.) Hospital. Prior to her appointment, Norwood served as physician-in-charge of the Troy Medical Center and division head of Family Medicine for the Henry Ford Hospitals’

Northern Region. She chairs the Committee for Personal Awareness and Success and is an HFHS Healthcare Equity ambassador. A native of Jackson, Norwood received a degree in biology from Jackson State and a medical degree at the University of Iowa. She completed a residency in family medicine at St. John Hospital in Detroit.   Dr. Gregory Taylor (’85) is the author of the newly released book, Paradise Lost: The Unraveling of American Morals. The book examines how the loss of traditional values affects the classroom performance of students and their perception of education. Dr. Gregory Taylor The Mississippi native, who became the youngest Eagle Scout in the state of Mississippi at age 12, used his extensive background in the biomedical sciences to become the first African-American department chair at Marietta High School, where he is an assistant principal. He also taught in the School of Education at Tennessee State for four years and worked with patients in the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tenn. Taylor has been a consultant to many organizations, including the Georgia Department of Education. In that particular role, he helped develop the policy governing the

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End-of-Course Test, a graduate prerequisite for Georgia students. Taylor holds a degree in biology (pre-medicine) from Jackson State. He attended the University of Alabama as a microbiology major and transferred to Tennessee State University where he earned a master’s degree in secondary science instruction and a doctorate in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in science and testing. Carl Frelix (’88), Hinds County Public Works director, received three achievement awards from the National Association of Counties. The awards recognize innovative programs in a variety of categories designed to modernize county government Carl Frelix and increase services to residents. The county’s drainage improvement and traffic-calming programs and pothole repair hotline were noted. Frelix is responsible for more than 900 miles of roads and about 400 bridges in Hinds County. He holds a degree in industrial technology with a concentration in engineering.


Dexter Green (’90) is the new superintendent of the Okolona School District — the district’s first superintendent since it was placed under state control more than three years ago. Green, a former principal with Tunica County, is noted for Dexter Green taking poor performing elementary schools and helping them earn both state and national academic honors. Dr. Reynaldo Anderson (’92), an assistant professor of humanities at Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis, Mo., was appointed development ambassador for the Sekyere Afram Plains District in the country of Ghana. As an ambassador, he promotes Dr. Reynaldo Anderson the socio-economic empowerment of women and youth. Anderson has published articles and book chapters and has presented extensive research documenting the Africana experience and the communication studies field. He pre-

sented his latest research on the Africana futurist perspective at a conference in Paris hosted by UNESCO. Anderson is a past chair of the Black Caucus of the National Communication Association. As an executive board member of the Missouri Arts Council, he helped procure resources from the American Recovery Act to support the arts community in the region. He was recognized in 2010 for his efforts in the humanities with a community leadership award from Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon. Dr. Pamela R. Husband (’93) is an associate faculty member at the University of PhoenixHouston. A native of Jackson, she is a member of the JSU National Alumni Association, the Houston Area Alumni Chapter and the Dr. Pamela R. Husband Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. She received a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Jackson State, a master’s in software engineering from the University of Houston-Clear Lake and a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Phoenix. Dexter M. Brookins (’97) was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel. He is assigned to the Joint Enabling Capabilities Command, Norfolk, Va., as a Force Protection Plans officer. During his career, Brookins was assigned to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He also served as operations officer and special assistant to the Inspector General of the Army in the Pentagon and was a White House military social aide to former President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007. The highly decorated Brookins has been the recipient of many awards, including the Bronze Star Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, three Meritorious Service Medals, two Joint Service Commendation Medals, two Army Commendation Medals, four Army Achievement Medals and two Joint Meritorious Unit Awards. Brookins holds a Bachelor of Social Work degree from JSU, where he also received his commission from the U.S. Reserve Officer Training Corps, and an Executive Master of Policy Management degree from Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. He is a member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity.

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State Rep. Angela Cockerham (’98) was appointed to the House Appropriations and Legislative Budget committees. In such positions, she plays an integral role in crafting the state’s budget of nearly $6 billion. Cockerham earned a master’s Angela Cockerham degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a law degree from Loyola University. Kristina Pollard (’97) was named principal of Lamar County School District’s Oak Grove Elementary School. Pollard, who had been an assistant principal with the Desoto County School District, began teaching in 1998 in the Dallas Kristina Pollard Public School District. She holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Jackson State, a master’s degree in education from William Carey College at Hattiesburg and an education specialist degree from Walden University in Minneapolis, where she is working toward a doctorate in education. Tina L. Steele (’98) recently accepted a position with the University of Chicago’s Urban Education Teacher Program. She supports new teachers as they complete their graduate degrees and become professional educators. Tina L. Steele Steele is also the director of Product Education for LifeOrganics Natural Hair and Skincare Co. She received bachelor’s degrees in biology and chemistry from Jackson State. She is working on her doctorate in educational leadership at Concordia University-Chicago.

‘00s Derrick T. Simmons

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State Sen. Derrick T. Simmons (’00) was named “Legislator of the Year” by the Mississippi Association of Justice. Last year, he was the Magnolia Bar Association’s Government Service Award recipient. Simmons co-founded Simmons

and Simmons PLLC in Greenville. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration/ accounting from Jackson State. In 2002, he received a master’s degree in business administration with a concentration in finance from Howard University College of Business, ranking first in his class. He received a jurist doctorate from Howard University School of Law in 2005. Sherri Williams (’00) appeared on CNN’s Piers Morgan Live as a guest on a segment about the George Zimmerman trial. She spoke on the racist, sexist and classist social media representations of trial witness Rachel Jeantel, the last person Sherri Williams to speak with Trayvon Martin before he was killed in Sanford, Fla. A recipient of reporting fellowships in South Africa and Cuba, Williams also is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and the Society of Professional Journalists. She is pursuing a doctoral degree in mass communications at Syracuse University, where she is an adjunct professor. Williams earned a bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in journalism from Jackson State and a master’s degree in magazine, newspaper and online journalism from Syracuse University in 2010. She previously worked as a reporter with The Associated Press and The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson. Reginald V. Jefferson (’02) and F. Janelle Hannah-Jefferson (’03, ’05) started a business in 2011. It’s A Wrap, LLC, designs and sells custom apparel, handpainted items, i.e. baby hospital/ nursery door signs, personalized R.V. Jefferson and Greek items, etc., and offer speF.J. Hannah-Jefferson cialty gift wrapping services. The company is in the process of becoming a JSU vendor to offer more specialized JSU products. Kenyatta Jones (’02) is the star of a new reality show, House of Curves, airing on WeTV. The show follows the passionate and hilarious trials of Jones, an Atlanta-based designer and CEO of Bella Rene Clothing, as she Kenyatta Jones tries to make it in the world of fashion with her edgy plus-size designs.

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Jones launched her plus-size clothing line in 2007 and named it after her mother, a cancer survivor. Jones holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in business administration from Jackson State. Micca A. Knox (’05) was named principal of Emmalee Isabel Elementary School in Jackson. She previously worked as a teacher at George Elementary School, a counselor at Bates Elementary School and as an assistant principal at G.N. Smith Micca A. Knox Elementary School, all in Jackson. At Smith, she wrote and secured a grant from KaBOOM! and the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group for a new playground. She also founded the GEMS (Girls Excelling in Mississippi Schools) recognition program for female students. Knox holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Jackson State University and master’s degrees in school counseling/education leadership and supervision from Mississippi College. She is working toward a doctorate in early childhood education.

Eric Eugene Barnes

Eric Eugene Barnes (’06) was appointed assistant principal of Desoto High School near Dallas, Texas. Barnes, who has taught in Mississippi and Texas, plans to obtain a law degree to practice K-12 educational policy. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business.

Dr. Tonjanita Johnson (’06) is the new vice president of communications at The University of Tennessee. She oversees all communications, marketing and branding for the system. Johnson previously served as chief deputy to the president of Dr. Tonjanita Johnson State University of New York at Stony Brook, assisting with strategic planning and oversight in the offices of Conferences and Special Events and Diversity and Affirmative Action, among others. She also spent two years as associate vice president for marketing and communications at Middle Tennessee State University and spent seven years in various positions at Mississippi Valley State University. Johnson was a reporter at The Decatur Daily in Alabama

before joining the communications staff at the University of Alabama, where she received bachelor and master degrees in communications. She received a doctorate in urban higher education from Jackson State. Reginald K. Riggins (’07) was awarded a pre-doctoral fellowship in mental health and substance abuse services from the American Psychological Association Minority Fellowship Program. Riggins, a native of Chicago, is one of 15 fellows selected from Reginald K. Riggins a pool of 193 applicants. He received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from JSU and a master’s in public health from the University of IllinoisChicago in 2009. He is completing his dissertation research while seeking a pre-doctoral internship placement for summer 2014. Tony A. Foster (’08), a school finance officer for the Mississippi Department of Education, Office of Financial Services, provides technical assistance to school districts throughout Mississippi. He holds a bachelor of business administration degree in Tony A. Foster accounting and is a member of the Mississippi Association of School Business Officers. He is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in human resources from Delta State University.


Eric LaSaul Ross (’10) is the executive officer, second in command, of the 502nd Human Resources Company comprised of 180 Army personnel and contractors throughout Afghanistan’s Regional Commands South, Southwest and West. Eric LaSaul Ross His organizational skills contributed to the ability of a regional mail distribution center, two Army post offices, 10 satellite Army post offices and more than 60 mobile postal missions to move more than 14 million pounds of mail to 50,000 soldiers and American civilians. As a unit movement officer, the Jackson native also ensured that cargo and equipment was prepared to pass

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| class notes |

joint airlift inspection and be safely shipped to Kandahar Airfield and back to Fort Hood, Texas.  Ross, a graduate of the ROTC Tiger Battalion, holds a Bachelor of Science degree in interdisciplinary studies. Christina Delgado (’11) was recently awarded the Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship valued at $30,000 per year for her medical training at the University of Mississippi School Of Medicine in Jackson. The Mississippi Rural PhysiChristina Delgado cians Scholarship Program, launched in 2007, is designed to increase the number of primary care physicians in rural areas of Mississippi.  When medical training is completed, MRPSP scholars must enter a residency program in one of five primary care specialties: family medicine, general internal medicine, medicine-pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology or pediatrics. The MRPSP Scholar must provide four years of service in a clinic-based practice in a Mississippi community with a maximum population of 20,000 located more than 20 miles from a medically served area.

John Moore

John Moore (’13) has joined the National Weather Service in Memphis, Tenn. Moore, who majored in meteorology, was among the senior Tigers who helped lead Jackson State to the Southwestern Athletic Conference football championship game held in Birmingham, Ala.

wants to hear your news! Please send your submissions for the class notes section to:

Jackson State University University Communications, P.O. Box 17490, Jackson, MS 39217, or email them to Please include a digital picture.

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| in brief |

University Highlights

Domed venue resolution

Pioneering alumnus

The Board of Trustees of the Hinds County Development Authority issued a resolution in support of the university’s plan to build a domed venue. “Jackson State University is an integral component of Hinds County’s economy,” wrote executive director Blake Wallace in a letter to President Carolyn W. Meyers. “Physical expansions such as the proposed arena, along with expansions in the programs and enrollment of the university, consistently serve as proof of your institution’s outstanding role in our community.”

A half-century after he left Jackson State with a degree in science, Dr. Roosevelt Calbert returned to receive an honorary doctorate for devoting his career to improving educational opportunities for minorities. The 81-year-old Calbert has had a distinguished teaching and research career, including service as director of the National Science Foundation, Division of Human Resource Development. Calbert received the degree during Spring Commencement. He called the gesture “exhilarating and heartwarming.”

HBCU awards, media summit

Veterans Center recognition

Jackson State won two national awards — Best Marching Band (Sonic Boom) and Best Male Athlete (Anaso Jobodwana) — at the third annual HBCU Media Summit held at Jackson State in June. The awards program celebrates the achievements of HBCUs throughout the U.S. in the fields of leadership, arts, athletics, research and community engagement. Jackson State has produced hundreds of media professionals who work throughout the country and is home to several student media outlets.

During the first Education Symposium held in June, the Mississippi National Guard recognized the Veterans Center and Financial Services for their support of veterans and service members. Located in the Jacob L. Reddix Building, the Veteran Center’s outreach programs focus on the special needs and requirements of veterans, service members, their dependents and survivors.

Record spring enrollment, strong transfer turnout A 2013 spring semester record enrollment of 8,760 represented a nearly 3 percent increase over the same time period in 2012. The figure marked the university’s third-highest overall enrollment and marked the first time in the university’s history that spring enrollment surpassed that of the previous fall. The annual Transfer Assessment and Advisement Program held in July drew one of its largest crowds in recent years, with students and parents packing the Student Center to learn how to make a smooth transition to Jackson State.

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RCMI Center for Enviromental Health awarded $10.7 million NIH grant

ABA publishes student’s chapter

Research Centers at Minority Institutions Center for Environmental Health was awarded $10.7 million from the National Institutes of Health-National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities to enhance the center’s biomedical infrastructure to support research that addresses environmental and public health issues impacting vulnerable and underserved communities. For the past 15 years, RCMI-CEH has focused on studying the biochemical and physiological effects of exposure to environmental compounds. Dr. Paul B. Tchounwou is the principal investigator and program director. The grant will support research projects on environmentally induced diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and/or neurobehavioral diseases.

Ed Sivak, doctoral student in the College of Public Service, recently authored a paper on the evolution of workforce development in Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina. The paper was published as a chapter in the book, Building Community Resilience PostDisaster, by the American Bar Association. Work for the chapter was conducted in the Advanced Quantitative and Qualitative Research class under the direction of Dr. Gina Scutelnicu. Sivak, a student in the Department of Public Policy and Administration, is director of the Mississippi Economic Policy Center and the senior vice president for policy and evaluation at the Hope Enterprise Corp.

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College of Public Service receives grant, participates on research team The College of Public Service, School of Health Sciences was awarded a $700,000 grant from Hampton University as part of an initiative to combat and reduce selective health disparities in minority men. The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities awarded $13.5 million to Hampton University to lead the project. Dr. Olugbemiga Ekundayo, associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, is the principal investigator for JSU’s grant. The JSU study project will use the Jackson Heart Study template to study cardiovascular disease among rural African-American men.

Biking with Sesame Street’s ‘Gordon’ Sesame Street’s “Gordon” joined dozens of area children for “Cruising the Community” in August. The event, sponsored by the Center for University-Based Development and Voice of Calvary Ministries, included a children’s 1.2-mile bike ride around campus as part of the church’s “On the Road to Health” initiative In addition to the health screenings, helmets and food, the participants enjoyed listening to “Gordon,” whose real name is Roscoe Orman, read from his children’s book, Ricky and Mobo.

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Laboratory school partnership Jackson State University and Jackson Public Schools entered into a historic agreement, creating a partnership to enhance the quality of education at Blackburn Middle School. Jackson State faculty and researchers started working in the summer with Blackburn faculty and administrators to create a school where excellence in education theory and practice can be studied and utilized. Renamed Blackburn Laboratory School, it also is a place where students can gain clinical experience. Dr. Daniel Watkins, dean of the College of Education and Human Development, said a significant percentage of the nation’s middle school students are deficient in reading and math and 1.3 million middle schoolers drop out annually.

National Alumni Conference The Alumnus of the Year award was presented to Kathy L. Berry (pictured) at the ninth Biennial Conference of the Jackson State National Alumni Association. Held in Tunica in July, the conference honored the achievements of graduates and alumni chapters across the U.S. Berry has served as information officer, vice president and president of the Milwaukee chapter. The Young Alumni Achievers awards were presented to Casey Nesbit and Telicia Smith. Nesbit is a 1999 mathematics graduate who also earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University. She served as first vice president and business manager of the Chicago chapter and now is its student recruitment chair. Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1998. She is a science teacher with the Houston Independent School District. Illinois State Sen. Mattie Hunter was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Hunter has served in the Illinois Legislature since 2003. Patsy Johnson was honored for her longtime dedication to service, and 2008 graduate Andrell Harris was recognized as the conference’s top sponsor.

WJSU-FM broadcast awards WJSU-FM staff and students earned 13 awards from the Mississippi Associated Press Broadcasters. In the professional honors division, WJSU-FM placed in four categories. Stone Abdullah, Kourtney C. Paige and L.A. Warren (pictured) took home thirdplace honors in the Best Spot News Story category. Warren, news director, and Larissa C. Hale (pictured), music manager, took home third-place awards in the Best Public Affairs Reporting category. Hale, Paige, Warren and Meredith Hairston received third place for their live coverage of the Democratic National Convention. WJSU-FM won third place in the Best Radio Sound category and saw success in the AP College Honors. It took both first and second place in the Best Documentary and Best News Story categories; second and third place in the Best Newscast category; and third place in the Best Sportscast and Best Feature Story categories.

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Faculty/Staff Notes Leadership cohort named

The second cohort of the Staff Leadership Institute includes Shirley Carpenter, Jill Chaney, Alla Frank, Kamesha Hill, Dorothy Huddleston, Tamara Preston, Kedra Taylor, Stephen Okoye, Louise Vaughn, Macy Russell, Christie Mickel, Kimberly Horton, Tina Collier, Frances White, Latasha Wells, Floressa Hannah, Tiffiney Gray, Mona Brown and Martisha Morgan. The Staff Leadership Institute provides a framework to encourage and recognize performance excellence and professional development and strengthen relationships.

Professor lectures in China Dr. Everett G. Neasman, assistant professor in the Department of English, toured China in June to lecture on the works of William Shakespeare and promote an ongoing exchange with Jackson State’s students and teachers. Neasman’s trip began with a cultural and academic tour of Beijing led by the National Association of African American Studies. Neasman also met with professors and administrators at local Beijing universities. Neasman was successful in implementing electronic research and studentbased learning with Minzu University and anticipates future participation with Beijing Union University. Asst. provost tapped for leadership Dr. Nicole Edwards Evans, assistant provost for Institutional Research and Planning, was selected as a protégé to the Class of 2013 Millennium Leadership Initiative Institute. MLI prepares individuals for potential roles

as presidents and chancellors in an effort to increase senior leadership at state colleges and universities. Evans’ office oversees initiatives that support major planning efforts, serving as a central repository for college and division strategic plans and assessment plans. Her office also provides facilitation and analytical consulting support and oversees regional and disciplinespecific accreditation. College of Public Service professor invited to national committee Dr. Mustafa Younis, a professor of health policy and management in the College of Public Service School of Health Sciences, was invited to serve on the 20142015 National Screening Committee for U.S. graduate students wishing to pursue study, research or professional training abroad under the Fulbright-Hays Program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. The committee also screens for other awards offered by foreign governments, universities and private donors.

Brown named Public Service dean Dr. Ricardo A. Brown, a veteran administrator and cardiovascular physiologist, was named dean of the College of Public Service. Brown has worked with the National Institutes of Health and led programs to open pathways for underrepresented populations. Brown previously was assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs for the University System of Maryland and chief academic programs officer at the Universities at Shady Grove, which is part of the system. From 2002 to 2008, he was the health scientist administrator/minority health and health disparities coordinator for the NIH’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

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JSU faculty member appointed academic editor of research journal Dr. Edmund C. Merem, researcher in the College of Public Service, was appointed academic editor of the Journal of Advances in Research. Merem is a full professor, author and the founding B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. program coordinator with the Urban and Regional Planning Program in the School of Policy and Planning. He’s been recognized four times as Researcher of the Year in the College of Public Service. Merem is the author of Environmental Accounting For Oil and Natural Gas and is working on a new book, An Environmental History of African Americans. Professor adjudicates national competition Dr. Karen Laubengayer, professor of music, served as one of three adjudicators for the Biennial Ellis Duo Piano Competition held in April at Belhaven University in Jackson. Sponsored by the National Federation of Music Clubs, the renowned piano competition attracts piano duo teams from across the U.S. Chanay president-elect of national association Dr. Marcus A. Chanay, vice president of the Division of Student Life, has been named president-elect of the National Association of Student Affairs Professionals. He will assume the presidency in 2014. Chanay also was accepted into Harvard University’s Institute for Educa-

tional Management, a program known for training future university presidents and chancellors. The IEM helps seniorlevel leaders in higher education focus on the challenges of organizational change while providing opportunities for personal renewal. Scientist to join global task force Dr. Clement G. Yedjou, assistant professor of biology and CSET distancelearning coordinator, has been invited to join “The Halifax Project,” comprised of 350 cancer researchers from prominent research institutions in 31 countries. The collaborative international initiative is being led by a nongovernmental organization called Getting to Know Cancer. Yedjou will be working on one of 12 cross-functional teams examining a different aspect of cancer biology. Alumna named director of Prancing J-Settes Chloé Ashley, a Jackson native, was named director of the Prancing J-Settes. While in high school, Ashley trained in ballet, modern and jazz at Power Academic and Performing Arts Complex. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in economics while performing in the Sonic Boom of the South marching band as captain of the Prancing J-Settes. Ashley earned a master’s degree in dance education from New York University. She has choreographed, taught and performed various genres of dance, ranging from ballet to East African. In May, she performed at Radio City Music Hall.

Calhoun appointed to editorial board Dr. Thomas C. Calhoun, associate vice president for Academic Affairs, was invited to serve on the editorial board for the Journal of Mass Communication, Delinquency and Criminology. The publication is an open-access, peer-reviewed international journal that publishes original research articles on the cross-disciplinary relationship between crime, delinquency, mass communication and society. It is a key vehicle for scholars who specialize in such areas. Burton leads Institute of Government Dr. Otha Burton Jr., former chair of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning and former chief administrative officer for the City of Jackson, was named executive director of Jackson State’s new Institute of Government. The institute, which will move to the university’s downtown location when it opens in 2014, provides leadership development, research, education, consultation and training to help improve the performance of government and other public service organizations. JSU’s Lori Stewart named Advisor of the Year at national conference Lori Jackson Stewart, associate director for Campus Life, was named Advisor of the Year during the Royal Academy Awards ceremony at the 12th Annual Leadership for Queens and Kings Konnection Conference in Memphis. The academy provides leadership training for newly elected Kings and Queens at HBCUs and their advisors.

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Public Schools in various capacities including principal of Forest Hill High School, where she transformed the school’s status from underperforming to successful. In 2011, she was recognized as JPS Administrator of the Year.

Stewart has been the primary advisor for Miss Jackson State University and the Royal Court for three years. Jackson State was one of 40 HBCUs that participated. Professor examines dry ports Dr. Evandro C. Santos, assistant professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, published the book, Dry Ports in Brazil: Planning Guidelines for Land Use and Environmental Conservation (LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing, 2013). The book features strategic planning guidelines related to land use and environmental conservation at dry ports in Brazil. Using examples drawn from Europe and North America, the book illustrates how dry ports can minimize environmental impact related to storage, distribution and transportation. JSU art professor leads study abroad program in Brazil Art professor Kenyatta Stewart led students on a two-week trip to Salvador and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil to study the

country’s culture. The students said the food, religion, clothing and vivacious music of Salvador made the city an unforgettable place. Stewart said many people in the city can trace their lineage to family members in Africa. In Rio de Janeiro, the group toured several famous sites, including Corcovado Mountain, where the “Christ the Redeemer” statue stands. The group also visited Sugarloaf Mountain, the Lapa Arches and Church of the Blacks. Mays-Jackson named vice president Dr. Debra MaysJackson, a JSU alum and an adjunct professor in the JSU Educational Leadership Department, is the new vice president for Hinds Community College’s Utica and Vicksburg-Warren campuses. She previously worked for Jackson

Students win research competition Two teams of undergraduate elementary education majors won awards in the 2013 National Association of African American Studies Undergraduate Research Competition. JiaVanti Johns, Brandy Jackson, Leontyne Snell, LaTisha Johnson and Brianna McAllister presented “Factors Influencing African American Male Choice of Elementary Education as a Major;” Eric Boone, Jessica Trader and Tearra Williams presented “Effective Teaching Modes of the iGeneration at an HBCU.”s

New alumni director joins JSU Dr. Steven Smith was named the director of Alumni Relations and Constituency Services at Jackson State University. He most recently served as assistant vice president of Enrollment Management at Tougaloo College in Jackson. He directed recruitment strategies and was responsible for the oversight and management of four departments: recruitment, admissions, financial aid and parent relations/scholarship services. While at Tougaloo, Smith served on the leadership committee for the college’s recertification. Smith was employed at Jackson State in the 1990s as coordinator of Community College Recruitment. In the business sector, he was marketing manager for MCI WorldCom in Richardson, Texas. Smith earned a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication, a Master of Science in Educational Administration and Supervision and a Ph.D. in Education Administration, Supervision and Leadership, all from Jackson State.

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The Jacksonian - Winter 2014  
The Jacksonian - Winter 2014  

The Jacksonian is the alumni magazine of Jackson State University.