Fictionalized or real, homecoming a chance to relive campus joys

By Kendra Johnson

Homecoming is a celebration steeped in history and tradition that brings students--past and present--together on their respective campuses to reflect on years past while anticipating their alma mater's future growth.

For the characters in Curtis Bunn's "Homecoming Weekend," homecoming is also a time to impress their former peers, revisit past relationships, and satisfy missed opportunities. In his novel, Bunn suggested that homecoming weekend for students who attended a historically black college or university is also a period of personal celebration as they reflect on their growth from adolescences to adulthood.

"[The HBCU is] the place that raised us from teenagers to adults," he wrote. "It's the place really where we matured and grew up. The school put its arms around us and hugged us when we were hungry or scared or uncertain. Homecoming is a celebration of all that."

Set on the campus of Norfolk State University, "Homecoming Weekend" chronicles the return of 10 alumni to their school. Each has their own motive for returning, but during their visit, they all hope to accomplish a similar goal: to condense and relive their undergraduate experience into two days.

As Hampton University alums prepare to return to their beloved "Home by the Sea," this weekend, some of them also hope to relive the highpoints of their undergraduate years.

Toiya Turknett, a 2012 graduate, said she is most excited to return for homecoming because she misses her friends.

"Some of the people I befriended during my time at Hampton have stuck with me since freshman year," said the Augusta, Ga. native. "We try to keep in contact on a regular basis, but it's really not the same since I don't get to see them everyday. This weekend I need to have so much fun with my friends that it lasts me until our next homecoming."

Turknett said that graduating earlier this year caused her to be propelled into adulthood, something she was sure she was ready for until it confronted her head on.

"Some days I wake up and say 'I don't want to do this anymore,'" Turknett said. "I want to wake up and not have a care in the world and not have to make adult decisions. Thank goodness this weekend is here because I can promise you I won't be making the mature decisions my parents would probably like me to make. This is definitely a 'what happens at homecoming stays at homecoming' weekend."

Edmund Dunn, 25, has returned to Hampton for two homecoming celebrations since he graduated in 2009. He will not attend this year's homecoming because he is not where he hoped to be financially, personally, or professionally.

"I wish I could come to homecoming this year, said Dunn of Chicago, "but it's like going home for Thanksgiving and being that family member that hasn't done anything with their life or doesn't have something good to say about themselves. Some people I graduated with are married with kids, or doing big things with their careers. I'm not. I don't want to be that family member. "

Dunn said he probably won't attend another homecoming celebration until five years have passed.

"I've put myself on a little five-year plan and hopefully it works out," he said. "Hopefully by then, when I come back, people will look at me like 'life's been good to him.'"

Deidra Tyler, 43, returns to homecoming every year because she said it fills a void she has harbored since she left Hampton. Tyler did not graduate from Hampton, at the conclusion of the fall semester of her junior year she withdrew from the university.

"That saying about college isn't for everyone isn't true," said Tyler of Richmond, Va. "There was no doubt college was for me, especially Hampton, but I had a lot going on at the time. My heart broke the moment my father drove me away from campus and I knew I wouldn't be coming back as a student."

Tyler went on to complete her undergraduate coursework through an online degree program. While her degree may have another school's name printed on it, Hampton, she said, will always be her alma mater.

"Life truly started for me the moment I stepped foot on this campus as a freshman," said Tyler. "A large portion of who I am was born on this campus, that's why I come back every chance I get. I love Hampton and I believe Hampton loves me and homecoming is the perfect time to display that love."

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

Homecoming weaves become on-campus hustle

By Olivia Lewis

The look of the Hampton woman, just like the university, is held to a standard of excellence. Though there is no rule book for hair, like there is for clothes in the dress code, Hampton women hold their own requirements for how hair should look.

With the stylistic help of their peers, Hampton women take a serious approach to their hair during the Homecoming season.

In the weeks leading up to Hampton's Oct. 27 homecoming, tweets across campus read, "Time to put in my homecoming hair," and "It's Hair-coming season."

The school paper, the Hampton Script, even published a story entitled, "The weaves are falling."

Whether it is blown out and curled, braided underneath for a sew-in, or hidden underneath a boisterous wig, hair is an essential part of the homecoming style.

After seeing the students' determination to keep up their hair, sophomore business entrepreneurship major Julius Nash of Los Angeles found a way to make some money. Charging $45 and $50 a head he has done as many as five heads a day during the weeks leading up to homecoming.

"I'm completely booked," Nash said. "I have another one tonight at 10, in the morning at 9, another at 12, and one more before coronation at 4. I'm definitely booked, there is no more squeezing in."

In high school, Nash did hair after school and saw the need for an on-campus hair stylist once he began his freshman year at Hampton. "I would go from dorm lobby to dorm room. I made a stop at McGrew, and then I'd go to Moton, and then DuBois," Nash said. "I still do, but now I'll do it at my house in the Harbors as well."

Nash's hustle has given him a brand name on campus. After he finishes their hair, Nash asks students to tweet about their new hair and post a picture on Instagram.

So far, this brand advertising has worked. His clientele spreads throughout campus from the Ebony Fire dance team, the cheerleaders, the Terpsichorean dance team, and the everyday student.

Social media may have helped spread the word about this on-campus hustle, but it's the finished product that keeps the girls coming back for their homecoming weaves.

"Two of my friends had previously gotten their hair done by him last year, and I thought it looked really good. So I decided to save some dollars and try him," said Jasmine Pleasant, a 4th-year, 5-year MBA major from Los Angeles. "I was very satisfied with the service. He didn't take long, was prepared, and knew what he was doing."

Though Nash's service has grown to become a year-round job, he said homecoming is the busiest time of the year. "I never sleep, like ever. I pull all-nighters," Nash said. "Because, yeah, it pays bills. That's money towards my tuition."

With a lack of sleep and squeezing in as many girls as possible for homecoming, Nash said it's more than worth it: "It's always rewarding at the end to see the look on the girls' faces and they're thinking, 'Oh my gosh, I'm beautiful.'"

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

Hampton U. Scripps Howard School 10th Anniversary celebration

By DaReinn Stevens

HAMPTON, Va. – On Thursday, the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications will celebrate its 10th Anniversary. Many students, faculty and distinguished guests are eagerly anticipating this commemorative event.

Professor Allie-Ryan Butler, co-event coordinator for the event, has been working diligently to make sure the celebration and evening gala go smoothly. With help from the students and others, Butler has planned an event that is expected to bring money into the school for student scholarships.

Butler has been charged with selecting and furnishing the location and ensuring all guests who attend the fund raiser enjoy the evening festivities.

Students and faculty will be in attendance, and professors have canceled classes so that students are able to attend the various workshops and seminars held throughout the day.

"I hope that we will continue to raise the bar to focus on our digital media initiative to continue to foster the creative genius in our students," said Butler, "and to not only become the best black school of journalism and communications but the best school in journalism and communications."

The gala will be held from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. on the 14th floor of the Hampton University Harbour Centre, located at 2 Eaton St. Tickets for this event are available for $150 each and can be purchased online.

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

Town-hall debate churned smoke, not fire, said HU viewers

By Maulana Moore

HAMPTON, Va. – Education and jobs were issues that college students at Hampton University were looking to see addressed during the second presidential debate on Tuesday.

This time, President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney went head to head in a town-hall style setting, answering questions from an audience of undecided voters at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.

"I did not like the town-hall style at all," said Domanique Jordan, a broadcast journalism major from Fort Washington, Md. "It seemed like the questions were rehearsed or planted in the crowd."

She was focused on jobs for future graduates and the cost of tuition.

"If college is expensive, degrees won't be given," said Jordan. "No degree, no job."

The debate was characterized by both candidates challenging each other on hot-button issues in more of a conversational dialogue than in the first presidential debate.

Shauntell Myles, 24, and a chemistry graduate student from Petersburg, Va., said while the dialogue was more aggressive and engaging, she didn't get anything from the debate.

"I feel like if you really wanted to know who to vote for, you'd have to do it on your own," Myles said. "These debates aren't helping."

Hampton University held its second presidential debate watch party, which attracted about 100 students, about half the size of the overflow crowd Oct. 3 inside the Student Center Theatre.

At the same time, a watch party – open to the public – was held in downtown Hampton at the Crowne Plaza hotel.

"Many of the movers and shakers of Hampton were there including Rep. Bobby Scott, news crews, judges and HU professors," said Destiny Durant, a senior marketing major from Springfield, Va. and Crowne Plaza hotel employee. "Everyone was cheering for Obama."

As the third and final presidential debate Oct. 22 nears, Election Day does, too.

The candidates have 18 days to win over those key, undecided voters.

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

HU watches Biden and Ryan face off in feisty VP debate

By Naja McGowan

HAMPTON, Va. -- Vice President Biden and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., came prepared for battle. And it definitely showed.

The two wasted no time getting to the issues in their uncharacteristically combative 90-minute televised debate Thursday. Biden and Ryan verbally sparred on everything from the state of the economy to military spending.

The two consistently interrupted each other and Biden, seemingly making up for President Obama's lackluster first-debate performance last week, rebutted with tenacity, smiled incredulously, and even chuckled at some of Ryan's responses.

"We should not be imposing these devastating defense cuts," Ryan said of the U.S. policy in the Middle East. "When we show that we're cutting down on defense, it makes us more weak. It projects weakness. And when we look weak, our adversaries are much more willing to test us."

To which Biden rebutted "With all due respect, that's a bunch of malarkey ... not a single thing he said is accurate."

According to a CNN poll the debate winner was Ryan 48%, Biden 44% with the margin between the two candidates within the polls' five-point sampling error.

The results didn't accurately express the thoughts of a few students at Hampton University. Turnout was light compared to the 200-person over-capacity student center theater crowd who attended last week's presidential debate.

"I definitely think that Biden took this one," said Isidra Myricks, a junior public relations major from New Jersey. "Ryan was supposed to bring the facts Romney was missing in the presidential debates. He just didn't deliver a believable message to me."

"Biden took this one for me," said Erin Govan, a senior political science major. "He was really feisty and the things he said made sense. I don't think that Ryan or Romney has the middle classes' best interest in mind like they say they do."

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

Supporters wait in rain for Romney’s first Va. Peninsula visit

By Kendra Johnson

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – Rain and a daytime high of 55 degrees were not enough to deter supporters of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney from gathering Monday outside at Victory Landing Park for the GOP candidate's first visit here.

Plans to move the event to an indoor venue were to be made Sunday evening; but as of that night, despite the National Weather Service's forecast for 60-percent chance of rain on Monday, a representative from Romney's campaign told the Daily Press that plans to have the nominee speak outside were still in place.

Cheryl Townson, 57, said while weather conditions were less than ideal, she felt it necessary to attend the rally for moral support.

"It's not fun being out here in the cold and rain, but I'm pretty excited to see [him]," the Newport News native said. "He has a plan for this country, and I believe in him."

Monday's rally was the first time Townson attended an event for the candidate. Conflicts of time and distance kept her from being present at his other Virginia events.

Security staff member Randall Miller, 42, said while he does not support Romney, the candidate's ability to draw a crowd despite the unpleasant weather conditions is impressive.

"I've already made up my mind who I'm voting for," Miller said. "But, this guy can clearly bring in a crowd. If nothing else, I'll give him points for that."

Miller said he wished plans had been made to move the event inside because he feared getting sick from standing in the cold rain.

"Obama or Romney, I don't care who's speaking, I don't want to get sick for anybody," Miller said. "Some lady brought her kids out here, I'm not knocking anybody for who they support, but you [have to] be smart about some things."

Along with the woman and children Miller saw walking towards the area of the speech, nearly 300 other people were in attendance, including someone wearing an angry Big Bird costume and holding a sign that urged Romney to focus his energy on repairing Wall Street than eliminating "Sesame Street."

The event was free to the public and began at 5 p.m. and Romney was expected to deliver a speech on foreign policy.

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

Hampton U. fans anticipate getting thrills they want at gala

By Brian Sprowl

The Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute hosted its first annual Gala of Hope on Friday, Oct. 5. The event took place at the Hampton Roads Convention Center from 6:30 to 11 p.m.

This year, the gala had Philadelphia International Records artist Eddie LeVert of the O'Jays. LeVert is known for '70s hits such as "Darlin' Darlin' Baby," "Family Reunion" and "Give the People What They Want."

LeVert is not unfamiliar to the Hampton crowd. He was a performer at President William R. Harvey's 25th anniversary gala in 2003.

"He is an awesome entertainer," said Joy Jefferson, HU vice president of external relations. "He caters to the age of the crowd, and meets their needs." People were still buzzing over that performance, said Jefferson, and looked forward to his return to Hampton.

Individual tickets for the event were $250, while tickets for couples are $450. Proceeds earned at the event are to go directly to the treatment of cancer patients and to further cancer research.

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

Hampton U. students staged digital town hall with other HBCUs before debate

By Jalisa Stanislaus

HAMPTON, Va. -- Thirty minutes before the first of three 2012 presidential debates began, the Hampton University Student Center Theatre Wednesday overflowed with students eager to hear the debate between President Barack Obama and form Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

"This is the first year that I could vote, so it's a big deal," said Evangela Mathews, a freshman biology major from Prince George's County, Md. "I want to be involved and pick the best candidate, not just because he's black and because it's what everyone else is doing, but I want to have my own reasons."

Mathews said she looked forward to hearing information about college students, health care and what both candidates can do for the country.

Over 200 Hamptonians packed into the theater and discussed their expectations during an online live chat with students from Norfolk State University and Morehouse College in Atlanta. Students from the three schools also discussed voter registration efforts on their campuses.

"I'm excited to hear both candidates and their views," said Mark Landry, a junior political science major from Upper Marlboro, Md. "I need to listen more to what Romney has to say because I need to know that if he wins, he'll do good things.

"It should be a good debate. I'm excited."

At 9 p.m., both candidates appeared on the movie screen, televised from the University of Denver. The HU crowd rose to their feet with excitement.

Hampton students then sat, swelling with anticipation to hear what would be said.

When the event ended, Landrey said "After the debate, many tried to make it seem like Obama was not ready or serious about the debate. They also made it seem like Romney was superior and had better ideas. I don't think Romney did well because everything that he talked about was not backed up with details about what he thinks can happen in the future or what he could implement himself.

"I don't think there was a clear winner, because we already know what President Obama is capable of. Based on the debate, I don't think Romney is prepared for the presidency. "

What was one of the most memorable parts of the debate?

"The most memorable part of the debate was when Mitt Romney called Obama out on his presidency. He made a statement about Obama not getting much done in the past four years. That stood out to me because everyone knows that Congress has been denying most of his proposals."

The final leg of election season had officially arrived.

The correspondent is a senior at the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

Hampton U. students pack movie house to watch presidential debate

By Ashley Pettaway

Photo by Caleb Jackson HAMPTON, Va. -- Just four years ago, anxious Hampton University freshmen gathered in the student center atrium to watch the historical debates that would ultimately help determine the 44th president and first African-American president of the United States.

Wednesday was no different as the new freshman class came together to watch what would be another eventful night in the world of politics.

"This presidential election means a lot for our future as students who are trying to get jobs. There's a lot at stake," said Ronnell Chatmon, a senior political science major from Chicago. "That's why it's important for us to get acquainted with these candidates that will impact our decisions like staying in school, getting a job, and finding other career opportunities. Depending on what candidate we choose, this election can turn in our favor."

Like many of the upperclassmen that showed up to the event, Chatmon encouraged his peers to be as informed as possible about the presidential candidates. Students who packed the 150-plus seat theater appeared to be very enthusiastic throughout the course of the 90-minute debate broadcast from the University of Denver.

"It's interesting to watch the dynamic of the debate when both candidates are speaking," said Freshman Erick McCleary, a freshman from Ohio. "President Obama made really good points while [former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt] Romney seemed more adamant about getting his point across."

When the event ended, McCleary said, "During the debate you could see our president trying to hold back, but towards the end you could see moments where he started fighting back and making contrasting statements between the two plans."

"I didn't feel disappointed or angry about the debate because it was really Romney's time to show and prove himself," said Chatmon. "There are still two more debates left. President Obama didn't hammer away at Romney in order to save his best for last. Romney was prepared for the debate just like he was for his interview on CBS a couple of weeks ago.

" There were so many low expectations for Romney that anything he can do to make himself look good is positive for him.

"However to me there is no real winner until fact checking takes place."

The correspondent is a senior at the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.