Passion and Diligence are Keys to Success

By Asia Rollins

HAMPTON, VA - A CBS News National Correspondent must deliver deliver accurate, meaningful news to gain the trust of viewers. For a black woman, the journey to being in front of the camera is very hard work.

Jericka Duncan told students at Hampton University on April 12 that her ability to effortlessly deliver news may look easy, but it requires a combination of passion and diligence, especially when life gets hard.

Duncan was the keynote speaker for The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) 2019 Region 1 Conference at Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

"When you find your passion you don't really look at it as a job," said the CBS News correspondent. "You want to get up in the morning."

Duncan's struggle and desire to be a face of representation for other African Americans inspire her, she said. Being in that role pushes her to do her best every day.

"You have to be focused and not let little things get in the way of what you desire," Duncan said.

Duncan's style of delivering news has allowed her to make a name for herself. While reporting, she likes to keep things simple. Duncan believes that truth, accuracy and multiple perspectives are keys to a great story.

Her ability to serve as a role model to younger aspiring students encouraged students at Hampton.

"One of the most inspirational things that Jericka said was being in the place and leading by example," said student Jordan Carter.

Duncan told students it is important for people of color to be represented in the newsroom and attain positions of power.

"There aren't many African- American journalists on the forefront of broadcast," said student Jaylen Harris. "There needs to be a change and I hope to do that in the future."

Family is Everything to KTAs

By Kennedi Jackson

Family will always support you, even when no one else does.

That was the key message for top communications scholars Friday during the induction ceremony into Kappa Tau Alpha (KTA) at the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

Your family "has the biggest part in getting you here," said Dr. Michael DiBari, a photography and visual arts professor who also teaches Senior Capstone.

DeBari was the keynote speaker at the induction into the nation's premier honor society.

The society invites only the top ten percent of junior and seniors. Some family members attended to support students.

"If I could impart anything, it's to remember your family and do good work," said DiBari who was inducted into KTA as a graduate student.

Dibari spoke of his own personal experience with winning a high school wrestling competition, and the significance of having your family recognize your achievements.

After the speech, students were presented with their certificates, pins, membership cards and honor cords, then said the KTA pledge in unison.

Afterward, students swarmed for pictures with their friends while cake was cut in the back of the room. Students said they were pleased to have an extra distinction on their resumes.

The atmosphere in the room was as expected of students receiving such an honorable distinction. Smiles could be seen all around the room. There was a small turnout of family and friends, but the ones who did come definitely made it known that they were there. They whooped when names were called to show how proud they were.

Kappa Tau Alpha is the college honor society that recognizes academic excellence and promotes scholarship in journalism and mass communications. Members are selected based on these qualifications. It is the seventh national honor society, founded at the University of Missouri in 1910. Their symbol is the key, a symbol for knowledge and communication. The organization continues on with new members here at our home by the sea, leading journalistic excellence for years to come.

1619-2019: SANKOFA!

On March 30 at 5 p.m., the Peninsula Fine Arts Center presents "Imagine Isabella," a live performance representing the spirit of an Angolan Slave girl from 400 years ago and a panel discussion of the exhibit of sculptures called "Cash Crop," which closes March 31.

By Lea Luellen

Hampton VA-- Sankofa is a Ghanaian word meaning "look to your past to guide your future." The Peninsula Fine Arts Center in Newport News is asking visitors to do just that. "African Art: Power and Identity," which opened January 18 and runs through April 28, includes sculptures, paintings, textiles, masks, and jewelry. The central exhibit, "Cash Crop," by sculptor and artist Stephen Hayes, reveals the power of the African Diaspora, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and its lingering effects over the past 400 years. ."

Hayes is a mixed media creator from Durham, North Carolina and a professor at Duke University where he teaches Art, Art History, and Visual Studies.

Though the statues have been called "graphic" by some, Hayes said the images represent a reality viewers need to grapple with

"The question is, what's too graphic for learning? It's about the transporting of people as goods and commodity and connecting it back to today and how we outsource our goods from one place to another, asking the question of who or what is the next cash crop. It's bringing a light to a past, and a light to a present," said Hayes during an interview after opening night at the fine arts center.

"Cash Crop" includes 15 life-sized statues that represent the estimated 15 million slaves brought to the colonies during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. The statues are bound with shackles from their necks to their feet. Their backs are each attached to a wooden board, which shows how bodies were packed during the slave journey, representing the treatment of slaves as goods and commodities instead of human beings. All 15 statues are connected to a large wooden pallet.

"The pallet represents today and how our goods come from these third world countries. The slave ship plan reminds me of a sweat shop in a third world country. If you take the roof off, it looks like they packed people inside with just enough room to produce as many goods as possible," said Hayes in an interview with The Guilfordian, the student newspaper for Guilford College.

Hampton students who attended the opening said they were affected by the exhibit.

"The piece itself showed years of progress from the entry as property to the current state as prosperous. I was emotionally involved by just looking at the chained necks of the sculptures...it made me feel like me, myself was in captivity," said Josiah-Belfon Valentine, a Hampton University student.

During the opening, Hayes wore locks past his shoulders with a T-shirt saying, "There is a King in all of us." He related his work to America today, to symbolize the evolution of slavery from 400 years ago to 2019.

"You see, this is what art is about, creating a rush of emotion in individuals that causes us to think and feel," said Julianna Sarr, owner of Elixir Art Gallery in Hampton, VA.

Sarr is a multimedia artist who will be Using Hayes' Cash Crop as a backdrop for her first performance art piece, "Imagine Isabella" at the arts center on March 31st. After the interactive performance art piece, a live panel will discuss the effects of African enslavement and diaspora on America today.

Hayes has been touring the 15-piece ensemble since 2010. Its permanent home is the National Museum of African American History and Culture in D.C. It will be on loan to the Peninsula Fine Arts Center until March 31st.

The larger exhibit that includes Hayes' work, entitled African Art: Power & Identity, is part of a region-wide celebration of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans. About twenty arrived at Point Comfort near Jamestown in 1619.

Opening Convocation speaker advises students to 'listen and learn'

HAMPTON, VA – Graduating seniors waited for their final Convocation Sunday at Hampton University. The weather, clear and sunny, seemed as bright as their futures.

When the school marshals finally gave the signal they marched in single file to Ogden Hall, the intimate auditorium that held so many memories.

There Hampton alumnus, healthcare pharmaceutical strategist and co-founder of #HamptonNation, Calvin L. Butts Jr. delivered his keynote address. Butts shared three points with students.

Hard work is never enough. Never settle and be comfortable. Always keep working, Butts said.

Butts has studied university president William R. Harvey's business tactics and advice, which has helped shape Butts to become the leader he is today. Butts was inducted last year to Hampton University's inaugural Alumni Forty Under 40 because of his continuous hard work and determination.

"The person next to you is working hard too. You must be creative and show the world that you are different," he told the students.

Although Butts urged students to work harder than the people around them, he also believes networking is just as important.

"Partnership can be valuable if you choose the right people, but you guys don't have to worry about that here at Hampton," Butts said.

Butts said he relied on those relationships in order to succeed after graduation. One of his many successful LLC's is profitable because he partnered with a former classmate who he viewed as friendly competition.

Butts chose to attend Hampton University because of the people he could meet here. He was convinced to attend after he saw his name on an envelope pasted on the window of the Administration building. When he opened it, he saw that he had been accepted and knew immediately he would accept.

Some seniors in the audience were inspired by Mr. Butts' success.

"One day I will own a real estate agency and hopefully deliver the keynote address at a opening convocation ceremony like Mr. Butts did earlier on today, " said senior finance major Gerald Campbell.

Finally, Butts urged students to listen and learn.

"Listen to your peers like you have to listen to your wife when she is speaking," Butts said. "If you find something you are good at, keep trying to be your best at it."

Some students took Butts' advice to heart.

"Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success," said graduate student Brandon Meekins.

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

From the 757 to the NFL and back again

Story and Photo by Butch Maier

There are those who floor it on their way out of town.

No looking back. Not even a split-second glimpse at the rearview mirror.

Then there are those who could not look themselves in the mirror if they turned their backs on the places where they grew up.

"From the 757 to the NFL," a July 13 panel at Hampton University's Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications, might as well have been called "From the 757 to the NFL and back to the 757."

Three prominent pro football names from the Hampton Roads area code – Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, former Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Mike Vick, and former New Orleans Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks – returned to share stories and words of wisdom for area high school football players. Pictured here: From left, Aaron Brooks, Mike Tomlin and Mike Vick.

NFL writer Jason Reid of The Undefeated, an ESPN-run website, moderated the 90-minute-long, live-streamed event at the Scripps Howard Auditorium.

Tomlin was born in Hampton and attended Denbigh High in Newport News. Vick and Brooks are cousins from Newport News. Vick starred at Warwick High after Brooks made his mark at Ferguson High.

The three have not lost sight of their origins.

"It's as simple as paying it forward for me," Tomlin said. "I love this place. I'll always come back here. It's an awesome feeling to see that 757 guy."

He pointed to dozens of teens in high school jerseys and added, "I can't wait to see you guys."

The impact of football on Tomlin's life can't be understated.

"It was a vehicle for me and I'm sure for all of us to get out, get educated, do productive things and stay off the streets," he said.

Brooks faced similar circumstances. He seeks to offer hope and encouragement to others.

"There were strong challenges, but we prevailed," he said, mentioning his early housing struggles.

Vick will be inducted into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame in September. It seems astonishing now, but when he left the 757 for Blacksburg, it took time for him to adjust to the college game.

"I really didn't know if I could play college football for four or five months," said Vick, who finished third in the Heisman voting as a redshirt freshman in 1999 and sixth during an injury-marred sophomore season. "There were times early in my career when I wanted to pack up and come home."

Brooks, who starred at the University of Virginia, had no such learning curve upon his arrival in Charlottesville.

"The competition I experienced in the 757?" Brooks said. "I felt like I owned the campus."

He went on to own the distinction of being the quarterback who led the Saints to their first playoff victory, defeating the defending Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams in 2000.

There is one distinction Brooks could do without.

Reid asked the panel if society would ever stop viewing quarterbacks who happen to be African American – such as Vick and Brooks – as "black quarterbacks" and view them simply as "quarterbacks."

"I would hope so, but until that day comes, I think it's going to be difficult for white America to accept us," Brooks said. "We don't run around saying we are a 'black quarterback.' ... It's just a stigma that's been placed on us that has been very hard to shake."

As a Pro Bowl QB, Vick had no difficulty shaking defenders early in his career.

What advice did he have for those looking to follow in his footsteps on the field?

"At the end of the day, you just have to chase greatness," Vick said. "Either you want it or you don't.

"Everything's not going to be perfect. Everything's not going to go your way." For Vick, who served 18 months in federal prison for his role in a dogfighting operation, setbacks on the field also were educational.

"Through the losses, I found out how much I truly loved the game," he said. Vick was NFL Comeback Player of the Year with the Eagles and was thankful Tomlin brought him to Pittsburgh for the final season of his career.

That was several years after the coach tried to persuade Brooks to join the Steelers.

Tomlin told him, "You'll be with a great family."

Brooks, who had children by this point, responded, "I know, but I've got my own family."

Still, Tomlin had to ask.

"I'm unashamed about my affinity for guys from the area," the coach said. "Just knowing where they are from, what they are about. There's a hardening, just being from this place."

There also are hard times for NFL coaches. Even ones with stellar records. Such as the time last season when three-time All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown live-streamed Tomlin's locker room speech on social media.

Reid mentioned how that's not an easy situation.

"It's not," Tomlin said. "But I'm not gonna trade him."

Laughter filled the Scripps Howard Auditorium.

Reid also brought up how Tomlin has been called just a "rah-rah" head coach – even after a Super Bowl title and a second conference championship.

Unfair criticism?

"It is, but not unexpected," Tomlin said. "We're compensated to be judged – even unfairly." Tomlin added that "it's tougher on my mom than it is me. I've had to convince her not to call in and represent me on talk shows."

Hampton University President William Harvey kiddingly asked Tomlin why he didn't follow in his father's footsteps at Hampton – opting instead to star as a receiver at William & Mary.

That still didn't keep Dr. Harvey and the university from presenting Tomlin with a framed honorary HU jersey to match ones given to Vick and Brooks.

How's that for a welcome-home gift?

Hampton U. film fest focuses on African-American identity

By Destin McMurray

On Thursday, Hampton University will hold its first annual Film Festival from April 6-7. The School of Liberal Arts is the host.

The inaugural festival was launched last year. During this week's festival there will be film screenings and panel discussions that focus on the complexities of African-American identity.

Two well-known Hampton University alumni from within the film industry are to be reunited during this festival. Robi Reed, an Emmy award-winning casting director/producer/vice president, president of talent and casting and original programming at BET, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in speech communication and theater. Ruth Carter is an Emmy-award winning and two-time Academy Award-nominated costume designer who also graduated from Hampton. Her most recent work will debut in Marvel studio's "Black Panther" movie.

"I'm both excited and inspired by this year's film festival," said Trayonna Hendricks, a senior journalism major from Chesapeake, Virginia. "With our theme being 'From Hampton to Hollywood' I can't help but see myself in the guests and panelists."

At 10 a.m. the film festival opened with a screening of "Tanna."

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

Michael Eric Dyson Returns to Hampton U. for Obama book read-in

By Kiana-Alexis Salley

The Hampton University School of Liberal Arts and Education invited Michael Eric Dyson, Ph.D., to present his book "The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America" as the selection for the 2017 university read-in. The event is Wednesday, March 22 in Ogden Hall.

The opening 6 p.m. session will be a discussion with Dyson and a Q&A opportunity about the reading. This event is free and open for the public.

The book touches upon how former president-elect Barack Obama's biracial ethnicity affected not only his presidency and the nation's identity, but his accomplishments and successes through his two terms. As Dyson sheds light on the black power structure and racial division, the book emphasizes the "damning indictment of our quest for real democracy and true justice."

As some anticipate their first read-in of the semester, others are familiar with Hampton U. tradition. Shonda Buchanan, assistant professor and former chairman of the Department of English and Modern Foreign Languages, has attended all read-ins since 2004 and finds that this event "creates an important discourse that needs to be had for this campus' population as it illuminates issues of cultures and politics." She awaits what she calls the "informative, dynamic, and fun" experience.

Differing from previous HU read-ins, it is a surprise that a non-fiction book was offered this season. Other read-ins have featured fictional works from other authors.

There is to be a re-order of more copies of "The Black Presidency" to the William R. Harvey Library on campus during the week of the event for students, faculty, and staff members.

Dyson is a Detroit native, but is no stranger to Hampton's campus. Last May, Dyson was the commencement speaker. Dyson earned his BA at Carson-Newman College, and his MA and Ph.D. in religious studies at Princeton University.

As a two-time award winner for the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in non-fiction in 2004 and 2006, his foundation of analyzing the socio-economic status of the African-American community and their roles within the government has educated people across the globe.

For more information regarding the Read-in and discussion, call 757-727-5421.

Blacks in STEM: ‘Why can’t we just be diamonds?’

By Atira Kennedy

In a society that debates the value of HBCU's -- Historically Black Colleges and Universities -- these institutions generate the most STEM graduates, Claudia Rankins of the National Science Foundation said Thursday March 16 at Hampton University's Black Family Conference.

Rankins, Ph.D. and former Hampton U. School of Science dean, said HBCUs produced twice as many Science, Technology, Engineering and Math bachelor degrees per 1,000 students than so-called predominantly white institutions [PWIs] in 2014.

"HBCUs were and always are at the forefront of social justice," she said. "HBCUs overproduce in engineering degrees."

With only 15 accredited engineering departments at HBCUs, Rankins said here focus has been geared toward the success and development of the programs. To assist, the NSF began a "GEAR UP Program" that is very popular at Howard University. The students accepted into the program spend 10 weeks abroad learning different aspects of science and engineering.

Other programs include the "Hampton Nano Club" and the "REU Program" (Research Experience for Undergrads). Each program provides the eligible students with money towards their schooling such as $34,000 stipends, and $5,000 for summer training work. An additional $12,000 allowance goes towards the student's school. This 10-week paid internship program is offered to majors in the STEM fields and the social sciences.

Back in the late 1800s said Rankins, HBCUs opened its doors to anyone, including women and Native Americans. HBCU's were and still are at the forefront of social justice and change, said the speaker. HBCUs – 107 institutions – compromise about 3 percent of the nation's higher learning and in 2014, said Rankins, they enrolled about 9 percent of all African-American undergraduate students.

Many non-HBCUs collect funding from the government and additional help from other sources, so Rankins turned the attention to the schools in need. "Diversity helps the community," said Rankins. She believes that every student that attends an HBCU should be provided with the same opportunities and resources as other colleges and universities, especially because of their value and quality. She is willing to put forth the additional effort to make new opportunities available for students who have open minds to accept them.

"Why do we have to be diamonds in the rough," said Rankins, "why can't we just be diamonds?"

Kelsey Crimiel and Kaelyn Lowe contributed to this report. The writers are students in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

STEM mentor Isaiah Warner of LSU to close Black Family Conference

By Timia Whitsey

Hampton University's 39th annual Black Family Conference is set to end on Friday, March 17, but not without a bang. The conference aims to celebrate the many achievements of black families and explore the developments that have propelled the families' progression in society.

At 9 a.m., the final day of activities will consist of a student research symposium poster session led by the School of Engineering and Technology, a talent show and a luncheon featuring closing keynote speaker, Isaiah Warner, Ph.D.

Warner is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute professor dedicated to engaging undergraduate students in science. He currently serves as a professor at Louisiana State University and was recently named the 2016 Southeastern Conference Professor of the Year. Warner's determination to help students reach their full potential just as others did for him during his childhood drove him to not only teach, but also pioneer a mentoring program for first-year science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) students.

"At points in my life when I've been in a quandary, there have been people showing me the way, and without them I wouldn't be where I am today," said Warner.

To continue the legacy of mentorship that essentially birthed Isaiah Warner's career and love for science, he designed his program to ensure that it comes full circle. After STEM students receive assistance in their studies, they are expected to guide other students in need.

Warner's impact reaches more than just his own students. His devotion to the youth makes him fit to share his teachings with aspiring scientists across the country.

In fact, some of Hampton U.'s own STEM majors anticipate Warner's appearance at Friday's luncheon and appreciate the time that he set aside to impose his wisdom on students.

"It's great that Isaiah Warner is coming to speak at the Black Family Conference," said Brian Hicks of New Orleans, who is in 5th year of the 6-year pharmacy program. "It means a lot to me that he cares enough about our future enough to come talk to us."

Through workshops, dialogue and entertainment, the Black Family Conference intends to help individuals gain life-changing knowledge that will improve the community.

Friday's series of events and closing speaker serve as the cherry on top of an inspiring and informative 3-day event.

The student is a writer in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

Limb regeneration doctor inspires students at Hampton U. confab

By Montana S. Crider

Hampton University is hosting its 39th annual Conference on the Black Family from Wednesday, March 15 to Friday, March 17. This year's conference seeks to explore the developments of technology and increase public recognition of how technology affects us all and the generations to come. The theme, "Design 101: Black Families Rising Up!" will acknowledge attributes, the work and research done by African-Americans in the STEM fields -- science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- along with Hampton students.

The opening ceremony took place at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Ogden Hall, with Cato Laurencin as the keynote speaker. Laurencin is an expert in limb regeneration research, and serves as a professor at the University of Connecticut.

Once serving as dean of U. Conn's School of Medicine and the vice president for Health Affairs at the university from 2008 to 2011, he has currently taken on more roles as the chief executive officer of the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science, the director of the Institute for Regenerative Engineering, and the director of the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Center for Biomedical, Biological, Physical, and Engineering Sciences at the University of Connecticut.

Laurencin is one of only three practicing orthopedic surgeons in the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, and was the first Orthopedic Surgeon to achieve University Professor level rank in the country, according to his biography on the U. Conn website.

"Science, engineering, and technology are fields where most African-Americans feel they do not belong or will not strive well, so to see a black man who has held his head high through times where he may have been shot down is inspiring," said Gibril Ghee, a sophomore kinesiology major from Atlanta.

"I am a biology major, hoping to go into dental, but it is harder to stay afloat when there are not many people on your side once you get into the real world," said Lauren Brown, a sophomore biology major from Burlington, North Carolina.

Laurencin, and many people like him, are changing and opening a path for students of color. His achievements give students of color hope, and encourages them to set forth on a path that many do not think is for them.

Hampton University's Conference on the Black Family shed lights on families and individuals who make a change and inspire those who wish to follow their path. "I hope to meet more and more people like Laurencin because they are such an inspiration, even for me, an accounting major," said Morgan Harris, a junior from Hartford, Connecticut.

The student is a writer in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

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