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Volume 12 – Spring 2011

Danielle Jones

Jennifer Thomas

From Xavier to Afghanistan It’s pretty safe to say that while growing up, Jennifer Thomas ’98, never thought she was following a path that would one day see her staffing an armed forces medical unit in a faraway foreign land. That’s not the stuff that little girl’s dreams are made of. But for this U.S. Navy Lieutenant and physician, the journey she has taken has made her real dreams become a reality. The military punched her ticket into the medical profession. “Joining the military was not something I had considered while I was at Xavier” said Thomas, “but I wanted to go to medical school, and the opportunities the Navy offered in the medical field and the fact that they paid for my medical studies, made it a deal too good to pass up.” “Now having lived through it the past 10 years, I can honestly say I wouldn’t change any of the experiences I have had,” she said. “I feel like I am a part of history.” Thomas earned her medical degree in psychiatry at the Howard University College

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

Two-sport student-athlete takes her game to Med School There are student-athletes and then there are student-athletes. Some are average students, excelling in athletics; others excel in academics, but are just average athletes; while still others are those rare individuals who excel in both areas. Danielle Jones is one of the latter. A senior biology-premed major, Jones graduated in December. Due to a combination of earned precollege credits, summer school and internships, she finished up her college degree credit requirements in just three-and-a-half years. However she crammed a wide variety of experiences into somewhat abbreviated time-frame. A member of the Gold Nuggets basketball team for three years, she became a rare two-sport letterwoman for the University by joining Xavier’s fledgling volleyball program this semester. She participated in two prestigious summer research programs at Ivy League institutions. She worked as a volunteer with the several local organizations, including the Audubon Zoo and the Jesse Owens Recreational Center, and was involved in various green light and recycling projects. “Danielle impressed me with her ability to merge athletics with academics without neglecting either one,” said biology professor Sister Grace Mary Flickinger S.B.S., Xavier’s Faculty Athletics Representative and Jones’ academic advisee since she arrived as a freshman. Jones, who prepped at Episcopal High School in Baton Rouge, played basketball at XU for three years, but decided to forego her fourth year of eligibility when she realized last spring she would be completing her academic studies early. As fate would have it, however, the University announced it was reviving its dormant women’s intercollegiate volleyball program for the 2010 fall semester. At the same time she continued to maintain the highest academic standards, earning a spot on the Dean’s List every semester and being named recipient of a Rousseve Academic Scholarship, an honor reserved for the University’s top 10 students in each class.

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She was also recognized nationally as a Daktronics-NAIA Scholar Athlete.Jones made sure her summers were equally productive. She has spent the last two years conducting basic research in neurology, ecology and evolutionary biology under the watchful eyes of professor mentors at both Harvard and Yale Universities.

of Medicine and then spent four years in the National Capital Consortium Psychiatry Residency Program, primarily working at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda MD.

“There is a lot to be said for leaving your comfort zone (e.g. Xavier) and putting what you’ve been learning all these years to the test in an unfamiliar environment,” she said. “I think participating in those programs has helped make me a more complete candidate for medical school.” Medical schools seem to agree. Jones has been accepted for fall 2011 into such prestigious institutions as Johns Hopkins University, Emory University and Tulane University. Jones has not yet decided which medical school she will attend, but wherever she eventually matriculates to, she is in it for the long haul. She aspires to become a reconstructive plastic surgeon – a specialty that will add a seven-year residency to the traditional four years of medical school. Jones’ interest in the area is personal. As a child she had a staph infection that left her with noticeable scarring under her lips. It wasn’t until high school that she was able to have scar vision surgery, and it changed her life. “I still remember how self-conscious I felt; I didn’t want anyone to see me, to go out in public, or have my picture taken,” she said. “There are a lot of people out there who have more serious physical and emotional problems than I ever had to deal with, and I want to be able to give them a chance to improve their self-perception.”

Today she is serving as active duty staff psychiatrist at the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth VA, but for nine months during 2010 she served as an integral part of a multinational medical unit at the Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan. “Our unit was responsible for outpatient services, consult-liaison and emergent care to NATO forces” said Thomas, who supervised a staff of five clinicians and four support personal providing psychiatric services in group and supportive therapy, and pharmacotherapy. “It could be very hectic over there at times, but being able to help your colleagues get through some rough times is a very rewarding experience,” she added. For her service overseas she was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal. Thomas has two years left on your military obligation, and she up for re-deployment overseas in September. Now back at her current station in Portsmouth, Thomas supervises seven residents in an outpatient psychiatry unit that services active duty military who have just returned from overseas deployment in Afghanistan and Iraq.

HAIL MISS XAVIER: Jade Young, a P1 pharmacy student from New Orleans (Ben Franklin High), is congratulated by XU President Norman Francis after she was officially crowned Miss Xavier 20102011 at the annual University Ball and Coronation.

As for the future, Thomas said once she leaves the military, she is thinking about applying for the U.S. Surgeon General’s Public Health Service Corps, a federal agency comprised of 6,500 uniformed public health professionals whose mission is to protect, promote, and advance the America’s health and safety.

Xavier Receives SACS Reaffirmation Xavier’s regional accreditation has been reaffirmed for another 10 years by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) according to President Dr. Norman C. Francis.

CLOSE UP AND PERSONAL: Dr. Bertice Berry (center) – successful author, lecturer, educator, entertainer and comedienne – visits with Maikiya Ball, a freshman biology/ pre-med major from Compton CA (Palos Verdes Peninsula High) and James Barnes, a freshman engineering major from Waggaman LA (Archbishop Shaw High) after addressing a much wider campus audience in the final installment of the Fall Speakers Series.


The University was found to be fully compliant with all 86 SACS standards and requirements, including its new campus-wide Quality Enhancement Plan “Read Today, Lead Tomorrow” designed to encourage all members of the Xavier community to become more active and engaged readers. The announcement follows an exhaustive twoyear self-study performed by the University and an external review by an independent site visit team appointed by the Commission. The reaffirmation process and self-study are required at 10-year intervals.

Freshman Applications

Up For Fall 2011

As the University’s priority deadline of March 1 fast approaches, the XU Office of Admissions reports that freshman applications 2011-2012 term are running 33 percent higher than last year. That’s music to the ears of XU Dean of Admissions Winston Brown, who attributes much of the increase to a growing national interest in the University’s varied offerings. “Applications from Louisiana students are up, but we are seeing more dramatic increases in applicants from throughout our region and across the country,” said Brown. “Because of the increased competition for admission slots, it is more important than ever for high school students who are serious about attending Xavier to apply as early as possible.” This year’s pool of applicants shows a distinct preference for the online application. Online applications have increased from 62 percent last year to 81 percent for the Fall 2011 class. Xavier is in its inaugural year of membership in the Common Application. Meanwhile, enrollment at the University for the Spring 2011 semester holds steady at 3,217 students. This number includes 123 new or returning undergraduates. Brown said this is evidence that enrollment is expanding in spite of the tough economic times. “A Xavier education remains a coveted experience,” he said. Interested students should apply online at www.xula. edu/admissions.

In Case You Missed It Christopher Gillard, a P4 from Vacherie LA (West St. John High) and Ifeanyi Onor, a P4 from Nigeria – were among the top 10 finalists at the 15th annual ASHP National Clinical Skills Competition, held in Anaheim CA. A record 109 teams participated in the event, during which students demonstrated their skills by assessing patient information and current therapy, identifying and prioritizing drug therapy problems, identifying treatment goals, and recommending a pharmacist’s care plan. Carita Winn, a senior chemistry/pre-med major from Natchez MS (Natchez High), has been accepted into medical school at the University of Mississippi and the University of Texas-Galveston. Chante Calais, a senior biology/pre-med major from Breaux Bridge LA (Cecila High), has been accepted into the University of Rochester School of Medicine. Brittaney Hill, a senior biology major from Memphis TN (Memphis Catholic High), has been accepted into dental school at Meharry College. Kordell Hunter, a senior biology/pre-med major from Opelousas LA (Southern Lab High), has been accepted into the University of Rochester School of Medicine.

THEY ALSO SERVE: Kaitlyn Gaddis, a junior speech pathology major from New Orleans and chair of Mobilization at Xavier (MAX), accepts a Student Community Service Award from XU President Norman C. Francis during the 25th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Week for Peace convocation.

ON THE RISE: Work continues unabated on the new St. Katharine Drexel Chapel. When completed in early 2012, the octagon-shaped, energy-efficient spiritual center will accommodate upwards of 400 visitors and house 11,000 square feet of space to include a sanctuary, sacristy, meditation room and garden, day chapel and bell tower.

Tasha Johnson, a senior biology major from Cincinnati OH (St. Ursula Academy), has been accepted into medical school at Morehouse College. Courtney Lee, a senior biology/pre-med major from Harvey LA (John Ehret High), has been accepted into medical school at Southern Illinois University. Steve Morgan, a senior biology/pre-med major from Gray LA (H. L. Bourgeois High), has been accepted into the University of Rochester School of Medicine. DaJonitta Richmond, a senior chemistry/pre-med major from Tomball TX (Klein Oak High), has been accepted into medical school at the University of Texas-Galveston and Meharry College. Daphanie Taylor, a senior biology/pre-med major from Garland TX (Garland High), has been accepted into medical school at the University of Texas-Galveston. Kristen Walker, a senior biology/pre-med major from Baton Rouge LA (Denham Springs High), has been accepted into the University of Rochester Medical School. Ashley Williams, a senior biology/pre-med major from Hiram GA (Hiram High), has been accepted into the masters of medical science program at Drexel University.


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Xavier Joins HHMI Science Education Alliance Xavier is one of twelve schools and the only HBCU to be named a 2011 member of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s (HHMI) Science Education Alliance. Fourteen others will join as associate members. “The Department of Biology at Xavier is very excited about being awarded a full membership to the Science Education Alliance of the HHMI and as a member of Cohort IV, is looking forward to participating in the inquiry-based teaching initiatives,” said Dr. Shuba Kale Ireland, Professor and Chair of the department. Xavier and the other schools will begin offering an innovative course from HHMI’s Science Education Alliance (SEA) that will give students hands on research experience in an elective course.

tools to enable them to do better in other science course work as well.” While some participating schools offer the course as a substitute for their introductory biology laboratory, at Xavier the course will be an elective. Biology majors must choose 15 hours of biology electives in their program. In the first term, the students isolate phages (a group of viruses that infect specific bacteria) from locally collected soil. Given the diversity of phages, each one is almost certain to be unique, and the students get to name their newly identified life form. They spend the rest of the term purifying and characterizing their phage and extracting its DNA.

“This will be a small group of students doing very hands-on, intensive research,” said Dr. Joseph Ross, XU Associate Professor of biology and one of the program coordinators.

Between terms, the DNA samples are sequenced at one of several research centers across the country. In the second half of the course, the students receive digital files containing their phage’s DNA sequence. The students then learn to use bioinformatics tools to analyze and annotate the genomes.

“This is a direction we have wanted to move some of our courses to for a while,” he said. “It is a very effective technique to immerse students in research. We have of course done hands on before but nothing like this. This course will give them

The 12 schools joining the SEA were – Xavier, Brown University, Carthage College, College of St. Scholastica, Georgia Gwinnett College, Johns Hopkins University, Montclair State University, Ohio State University, Ouachita Baptist University,

Southern Connecticut State University, University of Florida and Washington State University – were chosen through a competitive application process. They will offer the course beginning in Fall 2011.

EXPLORE XAVIER Open House March 1, 2011 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.

For more information or to submit an online application for admission, please visit the Xavier website at

Office of Admissions Phone: (504) 520-7388 Toll Free: 1 (877)-XAVIERU Fax: (504) 520-7941 Email:

Eye on Xavier - Spring 2011  

Eye on Xavier Spring 2011 issue for prospective students and parents

Eye on Xavier - Spring 2011  

Eye on Xavier Spring 2011 issue for prospective students and parents