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Xavier University of Louisiana 1 Drexel Drive New Orleans LA 70125

STEM Teaching Force

Non-Profit Organization U.S. POSTAGE PAID New Orleans, La. Permit No. 387

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Volume 20 | Spring 2014

A publication for prospective students of Xavier University of Louisiana, their parents, and High School counselors

trained to work with students in urban high needs schools and districts, highly knowledgeable in STEM content areas, and culturally sensitive to special needs of the inner-city community. “Xavier is delighted to have been selected to join this elite group of organizations and foundations committed to training 100,000 STEM teachers over the next ten years,” said Xavier President Dr. Norman C. Francis. “STEM literacy and the importance of ensuring that our nation is fully prepared to address the current STEM teacher shortage is a national priority and one that we at Xavier stand ready to address.” “We especially look forward to collaborating with the growing number of more than 150 partners currently in the network in order that we can share our own STEM successes while learning new and innovative practices and concepts that will help ensure America’s leadership in this critical area,” he said. More and better-trained STEM teachers are essential to prepare America’s students to fully participate in our democracy and to understand and respond to complex national and global challenges. To compete in the global marketplace and provide opportunity to all young Americans, all students – not just those fortunate enough to attend certain schools— must have basic STEM skills and knowledge. Xavier is one of nearly 200 100Kin10 partners unified by a single, ambitious goal: to prepare all students with the high-quality STEM knowledge and skills to equip them for success in college and the workplace. With 65 percent of its incoming freshmen focusing on a STEM discipline, XULA has perfected the model in successfully guiding and educating minority STEM students.

Yves-Yvette Young, a senior psychology major from St. Paul MN, is congratulated by XU Provost and Senior VP for Academic Affairs Dr. Loren Blanchard after receiving a student community service award during the 28th annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Week for Peace Celebration for her leadership role in the University’s MAX service program and numerous other activities.

Did You Know? Chinedu Echebelem, a junior chemistry/ premed major from Dallas TX (Duncanville High School), was named a 2013 DaktronicsNAIA Scholar-Athlete. One of the catalysts behind the Gold Nuggets volleyball team’s three-year unbeaten streak in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference, she was the only athlete from the GCAC among the 391 national recipients. To be considered for the award, scholar-athletes must maintain a minimum grade-point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale. Catherine Fakler, a junior English education major from Phoenix AZ (Xavier College Prep) was selected Runner of the Year on the 2013 All-Louisiana women’s cross country team. She is the first female runner from a non-NCAA Division I school to receive the honor. Back in November she recorded

FLYING HIGH: Zachary LA sophomore Morris Wright goes in for a fast-break shot against a trailing defender during the Gold Rush’s 62-54 win over rival Dillard in the annual Crosstown Classic, which drew nearly 3,000 fans to the XU Convocation Center. The men’s/women’s doubleheader was preceded by a free tailgate block party.

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:

Xavier’s highest-ever finish (68th) at the NAIA National Championships. Jesslyn Magee, a junior biology/premed major from Corona CA (Centennial High) and a LS-LAMP (Louisiana Alliance for Minority Participation) scholar, worked on a project with the LSU-Shreveport School of Medicine focusing on cortical thickness in the brain convexity in multiple sclerosis. She is currently working in the lab of Dr. KiTani Parker-Johnson (pharmacy) investigating pharmacological interventions to inhibit triple negative breast cancer cells. Erika McClain, a senior chemistry major from Jacksonville FL (Wolfson High) and a LS-LAMP (Louisiana Alliance for Minority Participation) scholar, currently has two publications under review in the Journal of Undergraduate Research relating to her research focusing on the production of Cytochrome p450 suicide inhibitors under mentor Dr. Maryam Foorozesh (chemistry). Javon Mead, a McNair Scholar and senior accounting major from Gonzales LA (Baton Rouge High), has been invited to participate

in the highly-competitive Accounting Diversity Consortium hosted by the Wake Forest University School of Business. Kaylan Rogers, a junior elementary education major from Rosenberg TX (Lamar Consolidated High), was named recipient of a Boyer Teacher Scholarship , which is awarded annually by the Ernest L. Boyer Center to undergraduates who have demonstrated their commitment to education and to emphasizing community and service. She was awarded a $1,500 scholarship. Two Engineering LS-LAMP Louisiana Alliance for Minority Participation) scholars – Jamere Maxwell, a senior chemistry major from Baton Rouge LA (McKinley High), and Jami Blouin, now pursuing an advanced degree in engineering at the University of Miami – have filed a provisional patent on a new invention: the “Solar Powered Turbine Photobioreactor”, which acts to lower CO2 emissions while also growing algae for biofuel production. The team, under mentor Dr. Kristy Brumfield (biology), is currently seeking collaboration from other engineering programs in order to advance the work on this project.

Psychology Major Receives

MLK Service Award Yves-Yvette Young, a senior psychology major from St. Paul MN, was honored for her community service during the 28th annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Week for Peace Celebration. Young, whose passion for children and love of people has fueled her zeal for community service throughout her years at Xavier, was recognized for emulating the true spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and for embracing the Xavier’s mission of leadership and community service. Young’s penchant for involvement became obvious as early as her freshman year, her volunteer work with the Girl Scouts at Xavier and the Hunger Coalition earning her a reputation of “always going the extra mile.” The next year she served as Outreach Day Project Coordinator,

organizing cultural enrichment and educational activities for youth 6–12 years. A MARC Scholar, she has served as a Peer Dean (orientation leader), XU Love freshman mentor, Orientation Community Service Chair, and on the MLK Week of Peace Committee. Embracing her passion to serve and capacity to lead, Young is now in her second year as co-chair of MAX (Mobilization at Xavier), keeping tabs on over 250 volunteers, 10 programs and 15 project coordinators. “I just try to lead by example,” she said. “Encouraging others and showing the way to keep the Xavier tradition, and my purpose, growing strong.

Xavier Named Partner in 100Kin10 National Network to Grow STEM Teaching Force Xavier has been accepted as a partner in 100Kin10, a multi-sector network addressing the national imperative to train 100,000 science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teachers by 2021. Xavier is the only university in Louisiana and the only HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) nationally in the collaboration. As part of its commitment to 100Kin10, Xavier will provide hands-on professional development for 225 STEM teachers (including elementary) through workshops and site-visits led by STEM professionals, with activities that are culturally sensitive to the community and students with special needs. In addition, the University will also prepare 110 teachers (50% will be elementary) who will be continued on page 6

Volume 20 | Spring 2014

U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer

Helps ‘Build the Builders’

Tamorah Hawthorne ‘11 at Home for Girls in Philippines

Helping abused children, working on their recovery, coaching them to find their strengths and move on has always been the way of life for workers at the Home for Girls in Iloila, Philippines. But a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer has taught them to love their job and at the same time love themselves. Home, a center for young girl victims of abuse managed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Region VI, is the place of assignment of Xavier graduate Tamorah Hawthorne ‘11 since September 2012. In that period, she has carved her place in the hearts of the staff and residents. “I thought it was about time to also give attention to the workers who help the children. So I, along with social worker Roqueta Aquio, thought of implementing the “Building the Builders Project,” said Hawthorne. “We wanted a project that would positively affect the lives of the residents (refers to girl residents of the center) and that is investing in the staff through staff development.” She illustrated the importance of the project into a flowering plant in a pot. “It’s like the pot is the center, the soil is the

staff and the flowers are the children. For the flowers to blossom beautifully, the soil must be rich,” she said. The project implementation began with the retreat conducted in September at Alobijod Cove Resort in Nueva Valencia, Guimaras. The goal of the activity was to renew, energize and have a venue for bonding among the staff. Topics included personal assets, team building, vision, mission and goal design, self-care, positive and objective feedback and personal baggage. It was followed by the three-month staff development series with the goal of increasing professional and technical skills of the staff. Training sessions were conducted during monthly staff meetings. Discussed were Effective Communication strategies for authority figures, development of the Why-Igniting Passions and Conflict Resolution. At this point, project implementation is on its third stage which is the creation of a Home for Girls training team, a group that will coordinate and facilitate future staff development activities. Rosalina Lorque, center head, was quoted saying, “We are thankful to Ms. Hawthorne

for helping us and giving a part of herself to us. We value so much her contribution to the center and the optimism and improved ties will be maintained. This will be her legacy to us … that even after her assignment ends the efforts for the development of the staff are sustained.”

Optometry student leads at local,

Samford Law Professor Uses Lessons of Civil Rights Movement to

Devin Sasser ‘11 was a determined child. When most 6-year-old boys wanted to be a baseball or football player, the Dallas native was adamant that he someday enroll in law school and become a lawyer. By age 11, he’d moved past that and set his sights on a health-science field.

Wendy Greene ‘97 says effective teaching is more than lecturing; it is engaging students in the subject matter through different methodologies so that the learning has personal meaning and application to students’ daily lives.

American civil rights history. “One of the great things she’s done is help us get tied in to the [Birmingham] Civil Rights Institute, which is an invaluable resource, not only for our students but for everyone else in the community,” says Carroll.

From an early age, Wendy Greene knew she wanted to be a lawyer.

Wendy B. Scott, a North Carolina Central University law professor

national levels

Fight Current Day Racial Inequality

“If you talk to my mom, she would say I’m her child who had too much focus at too early of an age,” he says, laughing.

Inspired by the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and the stories of her parents’ participation in student-led sit-in demonstrations for civil rights, Greene learned as a young girl that the law could be a force for bringing about social justice.

Now 25, Sasser is getting closer to his goal as a third-year optometry student at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. And his ambition hasn’t waned a bit.

The civil rights struggle in the U.S. “just motivated me to think about being a lawyer and how the law can make such positive changes in our lives, and also how it can be a negative,” says Greene.

In addition to his class and clinic workload, Sasser serves as newly-elected president of the American Optometric Student Association, which represents more than 6,400 students attending the 23 schools and colleges of optometry throughout North America. He also holds leadership positions in the UMSL Student Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity and the National Optometric Student Association.

In addition to recognizing the law’s influence while growing up, Greene saw firsthand the positive impact that teachers had within her hometown of Columbia, S.C. The examples of her parents, grandmother, aunts and uncles, who were educators, planted the idea that she could combine teaching and law into a career.

In the simplest terms, he described the organizations in this way: AOSA helps students, SVOSH helps people in other countries and NOSA helps the St. Louis community.

She further said that the project is wellappreciated by the staff as it gave focus to them to become “change agents and mentors” to the children whom they serve.

Being involved beyond the classroom appeals to Sasser because he wants to avoid complacency and be able to grow within his profession. Networking has been a huge plus too.

For Hawthorne, being assigned at Home is a blessing. “I feel proud and lucky to be a DSWD and Home for Girls volunteer. I truly feel blessed to be assigned at Home for Girls. All of the staff and residents are amazing and a pleasure to work with. Working at DSWD Home for Girls Field Office VI is a dream come true. I know even after my service they will live in my heart forever,” she said.

“I’m meeting so many people,” Sasser says. “Just a couple days ago we were in D.C. where we were doing a Congressional advocacy conference (on student loan relief for optometrists who practice in areas devoid of health-care services), and I had a chance to meet with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). It’s something I never thought I’d be able to do. In the short time I’ve been at UMSL, it’s been a crazy ride – just awesome.”

- Courtesy of May Castillo, Regional Information Officer - Republic of the Philippines, Department of Social Welfare and Development

His biggest campus leadership role so far is as member of the AOSA Board of Trustees. He represents UMSL. “When students at our school tell me of

Devin Sasser ‘11, a third-year optometry student at UMSL, holds leadership positions in several local and national student organizations.

concerns, I’m able to bring that to the national board,” he says. “It’s really quite awesome that we’re able to make change to better our education and experiences as optometry students.” One of NOSA’s big events is an annual Easter egg hunt for the visually impaired in the courtyard facing the Thomas Jefferson Library entrance at UMSL. This year, Sasser even dressed up in a bunny suit and braved the unseasonably hot spring day in head-totoe faux fur. Through SVOSH, he helps clean and prepare eyeglasses that are sent to people in developing countries. Organization members also go on mission trips. Sasser hopes to fly to Ghana next year to deliver optometric services to the African country’s residents. “That’s probably the most rewarding of the organizations because you’re able to bring something to people who probably won’t ever have the opportunity to get that

service,” he says. Sasser chose UMSL to pursue his optometry degree because he felt the faculty and students were supportive and encouraging – something he says he didn’t feel at other universities. He says he loves St. Louis, but after this year, Sasser, a self-described “Southern boy,” will likely return to Dallas for fourth-year rotations. It’s the last step en route to completing his degree. Sasser then hopes to complete a yearlong residency, perhaps at a veterans affairs hospital in New York, before returning to the South. He might then work for a couple of years at a hospital to gain further experience before branching out into a private practice. Regardless of his path, Sasser remains as fervent about his future now as he was as a young aspiring lawyer.

- Courtesy UMSL Magazine (Ryan Heinz) - Photo by August Jennewein

Since 2007, after joining the faculty of the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University, Greene has pursued the law school teaching career she dreamed about as a youngster. As a tenured professor of law and director of faculty development at Cumberland, the South Carolina native has gained national recognition for her writing and research on topics related to race, gender and discrimination. Greene has won awards at Cumberland for her teaching and research. Among the topics she has taught and written about include racial and gender inequality in the workplace; workplace grooming codes; comparative slavery and race relations law; historic and contemporary racial determination cases; multiracialism and the law; critical race theory; and race and gender in legal academia. Greene’s research has been recognized for her advocacy for greater protection against racial discrimination stemming from the enactment and enforcement of workplace grooming codes. She has published three articles, “Title VII: What’s Hair (and other RaceBased Characteristics) Got to Do with It?”, “Black Women Can’t Have Blonde Hair … in the Workplace”, and “What Not to Wear in the Workplace: Hijabs and Natural Hair,” in legal journals. “[Greene has] been certainly one of the intellectual leaders on the faculty,” says John Carroll, dean of the Cumberland School of Law. ”Her publications are nationally recognized. I think probably, of all the people on our faculty, she is the most sought-after speaker at national forums.” With Samford University’s prominence in Birmingham, Ala.’s social, cultural and intellectual life, Greene has pursued law school and community service interests that reflect the city’s historic place in

Wendy Greene ‘97

and former Tulane University law school faculty member, commends Greene for the initiative and foresight she showed while working as Scott’s research assistant during her law school years at Tulane. “Even as a student [Greene] had started developing a scholarly agenda and would talk to me about it,” Scott says. “She had a plan. She executed that plan, and she’s become a very prominent person in the profession already.” Greene says that, as an undergraduate at Xavier University of Louisiana, she took the opportunity to explore a wide variety of topics in literature and history that interested her. Although she considered the idea of earning a Ph.D. in literature, Greene came to understand that she could pursue her interests, such as the history of slavery in the Americas, as a law school student and eventually as a law professor. “Basically, I took a lot of courses and did a lot of writing and researching on these issues when I was an undergrad,” she says, “and I figured there was a way to be able to transfer all of these things I was interested in to law school.” Through her time at Tulane and at The George Washington University law school where she earned a master’s degree, Greene pursued the research and writing interests that continue to inspire her current scholarship.

- Courtesy Diverse Issues in Higher Education (Ronald Roach) - Photo courtesy DIHE

Eyeonxavier spring2014  
Eyeonxavier spring2014