Hampton U. examines the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

By Antoinique Abraham

The 34th Annual Black Family Conference incorporated its theme, "Roots & Wings: The Road to the Future Runs through the Past," into a panel discussion based on this year's selected read-in book, "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks," by Rebecca Skloot.

The panel discussion held on March 15, highlighted widespread issues concerning the black family.

Topics included were racism and discrimination, as well as individuals knowing their medical history.

Panelists included Denise Motley Johnston, human resources director for recruitment at Duke University; Karima Jeffery, associate professor in Hampton University's English Department; Fredda Bryan, breast cancer survivor with the American Cancer Society; and Phill Branch, assistant professor of English and Cinema Studies at HU.

"The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" is based on a poor black tobacco farmer, whose cells were taken without her knowledge or consent in 1951. This book tells the story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine.

Johnston used the acronym R.E.A.D.Y to place the book into different categories: Respect, Ethics, Acknowledgement, Dignity, and the ability to say "yes," she said, are all important factors that individuals should taken into consideration before allowing one to conduct research.

"Where is our voice in research projects?" said Bryan, regarding the necessity and importance of being involved in your medical process. "What is meant for good can be turned into bad and ugly."

Although HeLa – Lack's cells – became one of the most important tools in medicine, she remains virtually unknown and her family can't afford health insurance.

Questions of race were prevalent in many of the inquiries to the panelists. A common thread was, would this book be relevant if it was written by a black woman, or if Henrietta Lacks was a white woman?

According to Branch, if this story was written by a black woman, the content would be same yet the publishing would have been different and her story wouldn't have been heard.

The Hampton University Read-In was scheduled on March 27 and 28.

For more information about the Henrietta Lacks Foundation, visit rebeccaskloot.com or henriettalacksfoundation.org.

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

Scripps Howard Students Enjoy Third Annual Media Trip to Washington, D.C.

By Meagan P. Downing

Twenty-five students and five faculty members of the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications traveled to Washington, D.C. for its third annual media trip. Boarding the bus before sunrise, the students embarked on the trip, anticipating the opportunity to glean knowledge from and network with media professionals.

"I started the media trip three years ago, and I asked Professor [Sheila] Douglas to do all of the logistics," said Professor Rosalynne Whitaker-Heck, the Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs. "I thought it was important for the students to see professionals at work, and I also thought this trip would open the door for [potential] internships."

The first event consisted of two-panel discussions at Gannett USA Today. The panelists consisted of individuals in the media industry including columnists, editors, and producers. They encouraged the students by sharing their personal experiences and challenged them to be innovative and creative thinkers. They also discussed the importance of developing a personal brand by infusing excellence into all of their work.

Panelist Tory Hargro spoke about the difference between journalism as a hobby and a craft. He said, "Everybody can report, but not everyone is a good writer consistently. Everyone can take a picture, but not everyone can take a good picture consistently. Acts of journalism can be completed by everyone, but journalism as a craft can only be completed by journalists."

Dr. Kangming Ma enjoyed the session and appreciated the discussion about the importance of multimedia.

"Multimedia is very important. I observed that the discussions correlated with what I teach in my classes."

After leaving Gannett USA Today, the students dispersed into four groups and traveled to different locations including Bloomberg BNA, Hager Sharp, WTOP FM radio station, and WUSA TV 9.

Bloomberg BNA is a global business financial information news leader. Freshman broadcast journalism major Terrell Snead found the trip to be very informative.

"I learned that [Bloomberg] is a main source to professionals, such as lawyers or individuals who work for government agencies."

Hager Sharp is a public relations firm that specializes in topics such as health and safety. Professor Allie-Ryan Butler chaperoned the students who traveled to this location, and he is confident that the students were impacted by their visit.

"The tour guide was a Hampton alumnus, and I think that gave the students the chance to see themselves 10 years after graduation. And the discussion was consistent with Hampton's current mission to address health disparities in our community."

Ballah Boakai, a junior broadcast journalism major, traveled with the group to WTOP-FM radio station. He said certain elements from the discussion reinforced his knowledge about the operations of radio stations.

"I learned [that radio stations] work as a unit. Every job is somehow connected to another one and in order to work there, you really have to know how to do everything."

The students who toured the WUSA TV 9 received a tour of the facilities and news studios, briefing about the equipment and a question-and-answer period with producers.

Senior broadcast journalism major Lauren Kendrick said, "I'm getting ready to graduate, so it was really great to see how a TV station in a larger market is operated."

After touring the various media sites, the students enjoyed shopping and dining at the Chevy Chase Pavilion before returning to Hampton. The Media Trip was a success and a great opportunity for the students to enhance their knowledge. This trip was an opportunity for the students to network and be inspired. They were also enlightened by professionals who are employed in careers in television, newspaper, radio and public relations. The information and encouragement the students received during this trip will prove to invaluable assets that can be integrated into the classroom experience.

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

Hampton U. Lady Pirates take on No. 1 seed Stanford

By Kiara Dunston

Gutsy, resilient, well-coached, and constantly raising the bar is exactly how the Lady Pirates' Athletic Director Keisha Campbell described her team. For the third year in a row, the Lady Pirates have won the MEAC, and this year they're up against the No.1 seed, Stanford.

As many people gathered Monday evening in the Hampton University Student Center Ballroom to celebrate the Lady Pirates, those who've been there every step of the way spoke of their season thus far.

President William R. Harvey praised the Lady Pirates' accomplishments, as well as their athletic director and faithful announcer. DJ Vince, who DJs at every home game, expressed happiness for the girls.

Fans sat around in anticipation for ESPN to announce the brackets. Prior to the announcement, the Lady Pirates were introduced and congratulated. They were supported by their fellow men's basketball team as well as their cheerleaders.

The Student Center was packed and some fans had to stand or sit on the floor. Students and faculty accompanied the men's basketball team and the cheerleaders.

As ESPN began to announce the brackets, to most people's surprise, Hampton and Stanford universities were the first matchup announced; Hampton placed as the No. 16 seed and Stanford was seeded No. 1.

Most people were hoping to be a higher seed than last year's No. 13 vs. No. 4-seeded Kentucky, maybe earning some respect due to a consecutive conference championship season. But the Lady Pirates and their coaches made it clear that it didn't matter who they were matched up with.

The Lady Pirates will play Stanford at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, March 17 at the Ted Constance Center in Norfolk. The game will also be broadcast live on ESPN 2.

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