Volume 11 – Fall 2010
PIG MANIA: Members of the Class of 2014 – (from left) Khylin Patton, Kaila Harris, Yves Young, Briston Hines, Nadia Turner and Montrelle Joseph – show off their Gold Rush piggy banks, the icon for the new voluntary student-giving initiative. Students are encouraged to fill the banks with their spare change, with monies collected to be used to support programs and activities selected by the freshman class.
A publication for parents, students and prospective students of Xavier University of Louisiana
New Freshman Scholars Ahead of Their Class Contrary to conventional wisdom it’s NOT necessarily always best to start at the beginning – especially when there are numerous opportunities to get ahead of the class. And that’s been the successful philosophy of a growing number of Xavier freshman scholars who have seized the day and gotten their college careers off to a fast start. Case in point: biology/pre-med majors Antonio Roberts of Alexandria LA (Peabody Magnet High School), Sharon Ogidan of Arlington TX (Texas Leadership Academy) and Desmond Stewart of Louisville KY (DuPont Manuel High School); and chemistry/pre-med major Wyndy Bailey of Fayetteville GA (Fayette County High School). These students are representative of a new breed of high school graduates who started earning degree-credit hours long before they stepped foot on campus. In the case of these scholars, all four entered XU with at least 29 college degree credits already banked toward their
respective curriculum requirements, making them sophomores and juniors in academic standing. Roberts had already garnered 30 hours of college credit before he arrived in New Orleans in July of this year. And he’s up to 33 hours now, thanks to an additional three hours he earned through XU’s chemistry-based Howard Roberts Hughes Biomedical Summer program. Course-wise that officially makes him a sophomore. Roberts, who is attending XU on full academic scholarship, amassed his hours in the traditional way – concurrently enrolling at LSU-Alexandria while still in high school, mostly in English, math and history courses. He picked up an additional three hours at the biologybased Howard Hughes summer program at the University of Louisiana-Monroe. Although his high school actively encouraged him. Roberts said he embraced the
ON THEIR WAY: First-year College of Pharmacy students Justin Brown of Hampton VA (Hampton High) and Porscha Showers of Pontchatoula LA (Pontchatoula High) sign their professional oaths at the 9th annual White Coat Ceremony, during which the neophyte students received their first professional uniform - the white jacket - symbolizing ethical practice and signifying the beginning of their professional pharmacy educations. 150 students participated in the traditional event. extra academic load because he knew it would help him down the line, while admitting it took some balancing of family obligations and extracurricular interests.
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continued It paid off big time for the first generation college student who received scholarship offers from Tulane, LSU, Morehouse and Baylor, but ultimately he decided on Xavier the month of graduation due in part to his overriding interest in the health sciences and the University’s unrivaled success in that area. “I have seen members of my family suffer with diseases like cancer and diabetes, and I have always wanted to learn what causes these illnesses and how they can be cured,” he said. “Health care has been an area of great interest for me and Xavier seemed like a natural fit.” And he is happy with his decision, and pleased that the transition from high school to college wasn’t all that difficult. “I got a lot of positive pointers from the peer deans during New Student Orientation that made that first week of classes a lot easier,” he admitted,” and the faculty and the older students I’ve met have been really helpful.” Although his 33 hours of advanced credit puts him ahead of the curve vis-à-vis the majority of his freshman classmates in terms of his core curriculum requirements, he said he still spends most of his class time with his peers in courses related to his major. Roberts, who participates in ROTC through the university’s joint agreement with Tulane University, ultimately plans to pursue a double major in business administration with the goal of enhancing his prospects for a career in hospital administration or with a health-related research company. Ogidan leap-frogged even further, entering Xavier with 65 college credits already banked. That makes her a junior – academically speaking. She garnered those credits through a residential honors institute for junior and senior high school students at Lamar University, where students can fulfill both their high school requirements and earn college credit. She amassed her credits mostly in mathematics, the sciences and English. Ogidan, looking to fast-track into a career in pediatric medicine, was following in the footsteps of two older siblings who completed the same program at Lamar and are now both in medical school. The elder of the two, Patrick, now at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine in New York, was a member of Xavier’s first post-Katrina graduating class (2006).
“I was looking for a change of scenery, and since my brother had a good experience here, this was a natural choice,” said Ogidan, explaining Ogidan her decision to attend Xavier after accumulating so many credits at Lamar. “Besides, engineering is Lamar’s forte, and I wasn’t really interested in that. I want to be a doctor – and Xavier is the place to be for that.” Ogidan concedes that being far ahead of the curve is not without its drawbacks. As most of her advanced credit was in core subjects, when in class she finds herself a freshman novice among seasoned upperclassman. “It’s been a little awkward because most of them (the upperclassman) already know each other, and here I am this stranger,” she said. “Most of them don’t know my story – they figure I must be a transfer or something.” Stewart followed a different track to his advanced credit hours – Advance Placement Bailey (AP) classes. Taken at the high school itself, these honor-level courses allow students to meet their high school requirements and earn college credit at the same time – provided they score high enough on a nationallyadministered exit test. There is a trend of more freshmen coming to Xavier with Advanced Placement (AP) courses. For the current freshman class, there is a 36% increase of those with AP credit over last year’s class. Stewart amassed 26 of those in mathematics, business, history, language and computer science, and then tacked on three more credit hours attending Xavier’s Howard Hughes Biomedical program this past summer.
“Dupont offers more AP courses than any other school in the state – it’s a pretty rigorous curriculum – so students are more or less expected to take them,” said Stewart.
Since most of his advance credits were electives, Stewart spends most of his class time with his peers in the more core subjects. He has adjusted well to campus life, although he admits learning to manage your time is one of the more difficult transitions from high school. He credits the New Student Orientation program with providing some assistance in that area, as well as with the social aspect. No one else from his high school came to Xavier, so he was grateful that orientation afforded him “the time to get to know people without the stress of going to class.” Stewart himself didn’t decide to attend Xavier until mid-way through his senior year in high school. “My next door neighbor, who’s been like a grandfa-
ther to me, suggested that I go to an HBCU – and he specifically recommended Xavier,” he said. “Honestly, I had never heard of Xavier before that.” It was his over-riding interest in medicine and the human body – he’s currently thinking of a career in anesthesiology or primary care at the moment – that tilted the scales and sent him down to New Orleans. Bailey earned all of her 34 hours via Advanced Placement courses at her high school – mostly in the areas of science, English, mathematics and history – and that makes her a sophomore in academic standing. While she also considered attending some home state school – the University of Georgia and Spelman College were on the list – she, like Stewart, was sold on Xavier’s reputation for placing African American graduates into medical school. She is also on full scholarship. Bailey, who plans to follow in her father’s footsteps (he is a physician himself) or diverge slightly into dentistry, took on the AP courses in high school not so much to get a head start on college, but because of the time management and critical thinking skills they helped her develop. “I looked upon the AP courses as a challenge, and they were,” she said, conceding that, for the most part, they were much harder than her standard prep classes. “But I think by taking them I better prepared myself for college and, eventually, med school.”
Enrollment Reaches New Post-Katrina High Post-Hurricane Katrina enrollment has hit a new high again this fall, thanks to a solid freshman class that exceeded projected levels and a welcome influx of new transfer students. Preliminary numbers show 781 new freshmen and 151 new transfers, which pushes the university’s current overall enrollment to 3,394 students, two percent higher than last fall’s figures. Enrollment has grown slowly but steadily in the five years since Katrina had knocked down the student population to around three-quarters of its best pre-storm figures. Administrators are pleased with the University’s Progress. Admissions had projected an incoming freshman class of 775, so "getting 781 through the door is a very encouraging sign that the Xavier brand is still strong among those who seek a quality education" according to Winston Brown, Dean of Admissions. “After Katrina we set out on a five-year plan to gradually grow our freshman class back to a sustainable level of around 800 new students each year,” he added. “We are pretty much on that schedule,” he said.
President Obama Wows Xavier Audience The Xavier campus has seen its share of dignitaries over the years (including world leaders and the Pope), but a new milestone was set this past month when President Barrack Obama chose the university as the site to deliver his Hurricane Katrina five-year observance speech.
An enthusiastic group of New Orleanians (including XU staff and students), as well as a host of national media and other White House invited guests, gathered in the University Center Ballroom to witness the historic event.
Miss Xavier 2010-11, Jade Young, a junior chemistry/pre-pharmacy major from New Orleans (Ben Franklin High), was accorded the honor of introducing the President. In his remarks, much of which focused on the effect the storm had on the Gulf Coast region and the progress that has been made since then, Obama praised the university – and in particular XU President Norman C. Francis – for its own recovery efforts. “And we see that here at Xavier. Less than a month after the storm struck, amidst debris and flooddamaged buildings, President Francis promised that this university would reopen in a matter of months,” said Obama. “Some said he was crazy. Some said it couldn't happen. But they didn't count on what happens when one force of nature meets another.” “And by January – four months later – class was in session,” he added. “Less than a year after the storm, I had the privilege of delivering a commencement address to the largest graduating class in Xavier's history. That is a symbol of what New Orleans is all about.”
PRESIDENTIAL VISIT: (above) President Barack Obama delivers his Hurricane Katrina Observance speech on the Xavier campus to an enthusiastic crowd that included XU students; (left) Miss Xavier, Jade Young, was accorded the honor of introducing the President.
Qatar Pharmacy Pavilion
Open for Business
The official ribbon-cutting for the Qatar Pharmacy Pavilion wasn’t until this past month, but the new five-story expansion has been open since August providing students and faculty with access to high-tech teaching and research labs, plus two large auditorium-style lecture halls and other amenities. Connected to both the Library Resource Building and the existing College of Pharmacy building, the new Pavilion faces the University’s I-10 boundary to the north – dramatically changing the footprint of the campus. Its opening has significantly enhanced Xavier’s ability to sustain its increased enrollment growth while drastically improving the overall quality of the academic programs and research endeavors. And while the most visible of the campus improvements recently completed or currently underway, the Qatar Pavilion is just one of many projects recently completed or currently underway. Construction has already begun on a world-class chapel to be erected in honor of the university’s founder Saint Katharine Drexel and, nearby, a previously idle building is being transformed into a new Student Services Center. Elsewhere, modular housing units – replacing university-owned houses in the neighborhood that were damaged during the hurricane – are going up in several locations, while a new 111-capacity parking lot has been completed. Across campus, multiple major renovation projects are underway to renovate the university’s Art Village and to upgrade offices housing several academic departments. And that’s not all: a new Convocation Center is next up and already on the drawing board.
READY FOR PRIME TIME: The official ribbon-cutting for the Qatar Pharmacy Pavilion wasn’t until October, but the new five-story expansion has been open since August providing students and faculty with access to high-tech teaching and research labs, plus two large auditorium-style lecture halls and other amenities.
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Tuskegee Selects XU Alum President For more than four decades Dr. Gilbert Rochon ’68 and Dr. Norman Francis ‘52 have had two things in common. Both are XU alumni and both can trace career milestones back to 1968 when Rochon was finishing up work on the first of his three academic degrees and Francis was beginning his tenure as president at Xavier. Now they have three things in common: both are college presidents. Rochon joined that elite rank of higher education administrators when he was named the sixth president of Tuskegee University in September.
“As we reviewed and evaluated Dr. Rochon’s education and professional experience, it became evident that he has been preparing thoroughly [without aim-
A native of New Orleans, Rochon calls Xavier “the crucible for my interdisciplinary development”, noting that not only did he receive a quality education as a student but that he practically grew up on the campus due to the fact that his mother, Ursula Carrere Rochon Jupiter, was supervisor of the chemistry laboratories for 32 years, while his father, Gilbert Rochon, Jr. ’45, graduated from Xavier in pharmacy.
“I am respectful of what has gone on before at Tuskegee and hope to build upon those achievements and its great heritage,” said Rochon, who officially takes office next month. “I consider it an honor to follow in the footsteps of such leaders as Booker T. Washington (Tuskegee’s founder) and Dr. Benjamin Payton (who has served as its president since 1981).” Ironically, Rochon didn’t actively seek the position. Rather he was one of 20 candidates recommended to the university by a national search firm. Nevertheless, once he looked into the situation he found it lined up perfectly with his own talents, experience and interests. “I can see so much potential at Tuskegee,” he said. “The university is primed for a great leap in technology, and is poised to make great strides in public health and in community involvement.” Tuskegee apparently agreed with that assessment.
And indeed it is. Rochon will be moving from Purdue University, where he currently serves as a senior research scientist at the Rosen Center for Advanced Computing and director of the Terrestrial Observatory at Purdue University, a satellite ground station which collects real-time data on the earth from orbiting satellites for a multitude of applications. Additionally he served as associate vice president for collaborative research and engagement.
Rochon ing for it specifically] for the presidency of Tuskegee University,” said Dr. Andrew Brimmer, chairman of the Tuskegee board of Trustees. His resume is very impressive.”
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