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WHITE COAT CEREMONY: First-year College of Pharmacy students (from left) Courtney LeBlanc of Marrero LA, Teekay Nguyen of Baton Rouge LA and David Wilson of Englewood NJ sign their professional oaths at the 10th 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.

Volume 14 – Fall 2011

Did you know? - Post-Hurricane Katrina enrollment has hit yet another new high again this fall, thanks to a solid freshman class of 786 that met projected levels and 150 new transfer students. That pushed the university’s current overall enrollment to 3,399 students – ever so slightly higher than last fall’s figures. It continues a trend that has seen enrollment grow at a slow but steady pace in the six years since Katrina knocked down the student population to around three-quarters of its best pre-storm figures. - Xavier and Delgado Community College have signed a formal agreement of cooperation to work together to develop academic programs and other collaborations that would be of mutual benefit to both institutions. - University officials have met with representatives of the Universite NotreDame d’Haiti to explore ideas for a proposed collaboration that could involve exchanges of students and professors as well as the creation of a school of pharmacy and an expanded teacher certification program in Haiti. - Xavier and Hebei Normal University of Science and Technology (HNUST) have signed a cooperation agreement to promote Mandarin instruction at Xavier and support faculty and student exchanges between the two institutions. The agreement is an important milestone in the university’s efforts to establish a Confucius Institute at Xavier. continued on page 2

A publication for parents, students and prospective students of Xavier University of Louisiana

City girl travels the world Sometimes you just have to go with the flow. Just ask Markita Harris ’08, the self—proclaimed city girl from Buffalo NY whose has seen her life take some rather unexpected turns. Harris entered Xavier in 2004, just one year before Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. She was undeterred by the six-month setback and returned to campus to help with the recovery of both the city and the University. After earning her political science degree, Harris’ first stop was Baton Rouge LA, where she taught for three years at Brookstone Elementary and the Inspire Charter School under the Teach for America program. While there she simultaneously completed her master’s degree program in public administration at LSU. But Harris, who describes herself as “a bit daring, nomadic and curious”, was looking for much more. She hitched herself to star that would take her to faraway India, where she planned to teach at an International Charter school and explore “every inch of Asia from Thailand to Tokyo”, not to mention getting herself a taste of Europe and Africa as well. But after months of trying to make the dream happen – which saw her filling out mounds

Markita Harris ’08 with her class in Qatar of paper work, coughing up a goodly sum of cash, and spending countless hours trying to make sense of Indian bureaucracy – the wheels abruptly came off of her carefully laid plans. The company arranging the teaching assignments pulled the plug on the whole venture, leaving Harris jobless, homeless, and clueless. But just as quickly as the clouds of despair began to close in, another opportunity fell into her lap. Doha came calling. That’s the city of Doha, as in the Middle Eastern nation of Qatar, where she continued on page 3

Alum cherishes career, Xavier roots There were some confused looks on campus when Keith Smith ’83 returned to campus this summer as director of photography for a movie that was being partially filmed on campus. Heads turned to read his t-shirts, which sported names like “Leonard Drake” and “Carroll Mace”. Although meaningless to the vast majority of current campus residents, those are names undoubtedly familiar to University old-timers and alums from 1970’s and 80’s. Drake, a former assistant men’s basketball coach, and Mace, a long-time language professor, both are long-gone from Xavier – in fact, the former has since passed away. And yet their impact on Smith remains profound, and helps to illustrate the special bound that Xavier often inspires in its graduates. “Dr. Mace was very soft-spoken, gentle person who took a special interest in me despite the fact that I wasn’t even in his department,” said Smith, a communications major. “Coach Drake

to win the AFI distinguished student scholarship award. He went on to earn a Master of Fine arts degree. “Being at AFI really helped me to appreciate the education that I received at Xavier,” he recalled. “I was surrounded by talented people from all over the world, but it quickly became clear to me that I had the skills and the training necessary to succeed in a highly-competitive environment.” Smith began his film career as a camera assistant, gaining precious experience working for such well-known filmmakers as Oliver Stone (“JFK”), Rob Reiner (“A Few Good Men”) and David Koeppe (“The Trigger Effect”). Stepping up to cinematography, he has worked on a variety of projects, ranging from the independent film “Statistically Speaking” which aired on Showtime to a short film that was one of seven finalists for an Oscar in the live action short category. He has also served in various capacities on more

Did you know? continued from page 1

- The phrase of the year on campus is “Pardon Our Progress”. Two new buildings – a Convocation Academic Center (which will house the University’s first modern indoor assembly center and sports arena) and the St. Katharine Drexel Chapel (the University’s first free-standing house of worship) – are currently under construction. Another already existing building – formerly a residence hall – is being transformed into the modern St. Joseph Academic and Health Resource Center. - Xavier was singled out as one of the nation’s best institutions for undergraduate education by The Princeton Review in its annual college guide publication, “The Best 376 Colleges” guide. The University was also included among the nation’s “best and most interesting colleges and universities” in the 2012 edition of the Fiske Guide to Colleges, and was tied for the No. 5 spot among all 79 Historically Black Colleges and Universities HCBCUs) in the 2012 edition of “Best Colleges” by U.S. News Media Group. - Forty-six XU graduates were accepted into medical, dental, podiatric medicine, veterinary medicine, optometry, podiatric medicine, chiropractic, public health, and other health administration programs this fall. In the fall of 2010, there were 359 XU graduates in graduate or professional schools in those fields.

OUR MAN IN HOLLYWOOD: Keith Smith ’83 (second from left), director of photography for the upcoming movie On the Seventh Day, gets camera and crew ready for the next shot. Some scenes for the film were filmed on campus and in nearby Gert Town, giving the proud alum a chance to revisit his alma mater. was just the opposite, he was very demonstrative and outspoken, but he helped me mature both on and off the court.”

than a dozen other feature films as a principle photographer, A-Cam Operator and assistant director of photography.

“They didn’t have to do that; it was just the kind of people they were,” he said. “I owe them a great deal.”

“On the Seventh Day”, an independent film starring Blair Underwood and Sharon Leal, and directed by Emmy-winning director Neema Barnette, represents his first major shot at director of photography. Expected release is early 2012. In that new role, he’s responsible making the overall look of the film match the director’s stated vision. That involves setting the style of the film by making the correct choice of cameras, lenses, framing, lighting, etc., etc. It’s a daunting task, but one he relishes.

Smith, a four-year basketball letterman on Xavier’s powerhouse basketball teams of the early 1980’s, was just as focused when it came to his career goals. Most notably, as a senior he snared an internship with the local cable station as a videographer, which led directly to his being hired as a news photographer for WWL-TV, the city’s most respected news team. In 1989, Smith was accepted into the prestigious American Film Institute (AFI) in Los Angeles CA, where he became the first cinematography fellow


“I find it just incredible that I have the opportunity to do this,” Smith. “I honestly love what I do, whether I am focusing on the creative or technical side of the business.”

- Fifteen undergraduate students were to participate in the 2011-2012 Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program, which is designed specifically to help students who wish to pursue a Ph.D. Participants attend semi-monthly seminars featuring guest speakers and topics of importance for prospective Ph.D. students. Select McNair students travel during the year and conduct research internships in the summer. - Thirty upperclassmen have been named Rousseve Scholars for the 2011-12 school year. Students selected for the honor generally represent the top ten (or more) students in the senior, junior and sophomore classes based on their academic performance the preceding two semesters. Each recipient receives a full tuition scholarship and a book allowance. Derrick Bradley, a P3 pharmacy student from Ringhold LA, was one of 260 students nationwide to receive an Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, which is awarded to underclassmen who are actively engaged in service projects that address the unmet health needs of underserved individuals and communities. One student NOT on campus this year is senior Abigail Hyndman, who was the winner of the 2011 Miss Universe British Virgin Islands pageant during the summer. As Miss continued to page 3

Did you know? continued from page 2

British Virgin Islands she was awarded a full four-year scholarship and other prizes, plus the opportunity to represent her territory in the worldwide 2012 Miss Universe Pageant next year. She plans to return to finish her degree. Adia Wallace, a sophomore philosophy major from Jackson MS, was named to the Kemper Scholars Program’s Class of 2013. Designed to prepare students for leadership and service, the program offers annual scholarships of up to $10,000 a year as well as stipends while serving internships at major nonprofits in the Chicago IL area. Junior biology/pre-med major Blake Gray of DeSoto, TX and junior psychology/premed major Janay Tyler of New Orleans spent 10 weeks in Ghana (Africa) conducting ethnobotany research under the auspices of the Minority Health Disparity International Research Training (MHIRT) summer program through San Diego State University. Three XU students participated in Behavioral Health internships at various sites last semester under an HBCU Mini Grant from the Morehouse School of Medicine, including junior political science major Jarvis Lewis of Luling LA, senior biology major Brandy Davis of Springfield LA, and junior biology major Brittney Lewis of Harvey LA. Senior chemistry/pre-med major Keishondra Sampson of Baton Rouge LA participated in an intensive eight-week research program in Brigham Women’s Hospital and the Harvard Medical School’s Summer Training in Academic Research and Scholarship Program in Massachusetts this past summer. Junior business major Loic Didavi of Contonou, Benin, playing his first tennis tournament for Xavier, defeated Florida A&M’s Levan Clark 6-4, 6-4 to win the men’s singles A-flight of the HBCU National Championships. Freshman English education major Catherine Fakler of Phoenix AZ set a school record for the 6,000 meter run (24 min., 10.3 sec.) at the LSU Invitational cross country meet, held in Baton Rouge LA. She finished 16th out of 76 runners in the race. P3 pharmacy student April Green of Homer LA was named co-recipient of the Edith Hambie Outstanding Fellow Leadership award at the Ferguson Fellowship at the Centers for Disease Control this summer. Junior biology premed major Courtney Royal from Kenner LA has been granted early acceptance into the University of Rochester Medical School via its Early Assurance Program.

THE RIGHT FIT: Enthusiastic members of Xavier’s incoming Freshman class – (front row, L-R) Edwin Scott and Jerren LeBlanc, and (back row) Meagan Williams, Kimberly Feast, Quenisha Thomas, Moira Kirk, Taylor Reuther and Ivory Bibbins – proudly display their new Class of 2015 baseball caps following the annual “capping” ceremony, part of the week-long New Student Orientation program.

City girl travels the world

continued from page 1

“Everything happens for a reason,” said Harris. “I am in Doha for a reason. It may be 30 years later when I figure it out, but I know there is one.”

Despite some language and cultural differences, Harris has settled into her new surroundings. “The kids love me and I love them,” she said. “They are so well-behaved, interested and eager to learn.” Harris also has nothing but good things to say about Qatar, which she has just begun to explore. “To my surprise, everything is written in both Arabic and English,” said Harris, who has also observed that almost no one who lives there is from the Middle East, but rather lots of foreigners (like herself) from all over the world. “Even though things are written in English, not everyone here is fluent in English. I secretly plan to learn some Arabic while I’m here.”

In the meantime, things are going swimmingly.

There she goes planning again.

is currently working as a Kindergarten teacher. Miraculously her resume had gotten passed on to the principal of an international school there, and the rest is history. “Let’s just say the person with the plan finally went with the flow,” she said, explaining the sudden turn of events to fans of her internet blog. “My plan for India didn’t work out and that’s when I realized life isn’t my plan to make. It’s beyond me.”

EXPLORE XAVIER - Open House | February 9, 2012, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. For more information or to submit an online application for admission, please visit the Xavier website at

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Xavier Prep Co-valedictorians Have Campus Seeing Double

Megan and Melissa Riley When Megan Riley decided to attend Xavier, her sister Melissa was quick to follow. Or was that Melissa who decided and Megan who followed? Actually, there’s no telling, because unless you know them real well, you can’t tell them apart either looking at them or talking to them. Megan

and Melissa are, of course, twins; but they are very special ones. The new freshmen are graduates of Xavier Prep (New Orleans), where they were covaledictorians. That little feat earned them both full St. Katharine Drexel tuition scholarships.

we don’t want to overwhelm ourselves.” It also has something to do with the rigorous college curriculum. “We’ve been really busy,” added Megan. “It seems like we have to write a paper every week.”

Talking to the duo produces a lot of echoes, as you tend to get the same, simultaneous answers from each. Best part of going to college? “Living on our own” (they share a room in Katharine Drexel Residence Hall). Most difficult part of college? “Time management” (e.g., learning how to allocate their free time between studying and hanging out with friends). Graduate school in your future plans? An unequivocal “Yes”.

Both have enjoyed their college experience so far, and both credit taking advantage of Xavier’s concurrent studies programs and participating in New Student Orientation with making the transition from high school to college easier. “Concurrent studies gave us a head start in seeing how college works,” said Megan. “And we made a lot of new friends during orientation.”

Yet there are some subtle differences. Although they are both teacher education majors, Megan plans to focus on special education, while Melissa’s preference is early childhood education. And they swear their friends can tell them apart with no problem. Although the twins were extremely active in high school, they are easing into the myriad of Xavier offerings. “That can wait until next semester,” said Melissa. “Right now we’re just trying to adjust;

And the favorable impression is mutual. “I had the pleasure of meeting Megan and Melissa when they were seniors at Xavier Prep and was excited then about the prospect of having them in our program,” said Dr. Rosalind Pijeaux Hale, Chair and NCATE Coordinator in the Division of Education. “But I’m even more impressed now that they are here. They are serious about their work, are doing well in their classes, and are regular participants in the activities sponsored by the Division. It’s a pleasure to have them here.”

Eye on Xavier - Fall 2011