20th Dec2013

Constance Harvey – Tougaloo College ’00

by Staff

Successful and a 6th generation Tougalooian, Constance Harvey shares with us why she chose an HBCU over a pwi, why she specifically chose a legendary college like Tougaloo College, and much more

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HBCU Alum, Constance Harvey, a proud graduate of Tougaloo College ’00 | Image Credit: Constance Harvey

Where are you from? How did you first hear about HBCUs?

Forest, MS. I am a 6th generation Tougalooian!

What made you choose an HBCU over a pwi?

I love the family feel.

How did you decide to become a student at Tougaloo College?

I followed in my Mother’s footsteps.

What professors at Tougaloo College left the most impression upon you as a student and/or person? What did they do that continues to mean so much to you to this day?

Dr. Olabode always told me that he expected so much out of me because I was somebody. This really comforted me because I was such a shy person. I always do my best and are comforted with his confidence in anything I ever do.

What is the story of your “experience” to date at Tougaloo College given its heralded status as a stellar and prestigious institution?

Tougaloo College provided me a gentle and accountable well rounded education. The lessons I learned like always keeping copies of important documents and always speaking to someone that you pass are still with me today!

How did your HBCU prepare you for a diverse workplace?

I was fortunate to participate in our Tougaloo/Brown University Exchange Program and I subsequently became super confident, made lots of friends, did exceptional in my classes and ended up attending Roger Williams Law School in RI until 911 happened!

How did your HBCU help you to transition into your careers workforce?

I gathered all the tools I needed to be the best, never settle for less, be a team player and never take “no” for an answer.

Where were the spots to go to if you wanted to cuddle with your boy or girlfriend?

The Co-op!

What were the best restaurants on and near campus? Which dishes did you enjoy the most?

Papa Johns and bumpers! Loved chilli cheese fries and Papa Johns pizza and wings on Hwy. 15,

Who was your College crush?

aced

How did you overcome your nervousness about going to college?

Read books and socialized!

What was your major? and Why did you choose it?

Political Science, Pre-law and Journalism because I wanted to be an international atty.

What was your proudest moment @ Tougaloo College?

Graduation

What was your saddest moment @Tougaloo College?

When a friend transferred to Rust!

What did you pledge? And why? And if not, why not?

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Constance Harvey, proud Devastating Diva of DST | Image Credit: Constance Harvey

Delta Sigma Theta because I am a legacy and the public service drives were awesome!

How were you positively active on campus? (e.g. clubs, SGA, etc.)

Law clubs and DST!

What and where were the historical places on campus?

The Brownlee Gym and Woodworth Chapel.

Are there any ghost stories involving buildings or spots on campus?

No

How many “firsts” did you have at college ? What were they? (e.g. first road trip, first job interview, first love, first “F or A”, etc.)

First f!

If you could speak to those family members that have risen but that live forever through you, what words would you speak?

Thank you for your investment to make this world better for me.

If you could only speak two sentences to the youth coming after you what would you say?

Enjoy yourself but leave the college in better shape that you found it!

What situation in your life made you feel like you had arrived into womanhood?

Passing classes with Grade A!

When and how did you discover your passion in life?

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Read the Passion Driven Life by Louis F. Vargas | Image Credit: Barnes and Noble

After Law school I read The Passion Driven Life!

What sports and/or extra curricular activities did you do in High School? And why?

Basketball, Madrigals, Chorale, Band and Girl Scouts to socialize and make friends.

What advice would you give high school students filling out college applications for the first time?

Be grateful and dream!

How do you deal with racism if you encounter it?

Shake my head and call on Jesus!

Whats your take on life (in the philosophical sense)?

We all are dealt cards. It is up to us to be grateful, play them wisely and to stayed prayed up in advance.

Questions about finding your passion in life? About completing your college application? Respectfully contact Constance!

Email Address: C.oliviaburwell@gmail.com
Website(s): Theoliviagroup.net
Company Info.: The OLIVIA Group

Off
07th Nov2013

Tiara Washington – Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO) 2013

by Staff

Tiara Washington, a proud HBCU Alum of SUNO (Southern University at New Orleans) shares her experience, first time experiences, favorite professors and much more!! Take heed!!

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Proud HBCU Alum, Tiara Washington – Proud Graduate of Southern University at New Orleans | Image Credit: Tiara Washington

Where are you from? How did you first hear about HBCUs?

Louisiana born and bred.

As a child, I attended the Bayou Classic for many years. Through this annual football game between Southern University and Grambling University, I learned about HBCUs and the HBCU culture.

What made you choose an HBCU over a pwi?

I started at Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO), but transferred to Tulane University because I felt Tulane had more to offer. However, once I arrived on Tulane’s campus, I felt like an ink spot in the crowd of pale faces. I could no longer share textbooks w/ friends, make copies of the chapters, and “rib” other students. The cost of Tulane’s tuition on my limited budget sent me back to SUNO.

How did you decide to become a student at Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO) ?

Many years ago, I traveled to a few HBCUs (Jackson State, Tuskegee, Alabama State, Clark-Atlanta, Norfolk State, and Hampton) for an HBCU college tour. When I stepped on the scene at Jackson State, I was ready to party. During the campus tour at Hampton, I was told students could not walk across the lawn, halter tops were not allowed in class, and students living on campus had to adhere to a curfew.

My rebellious spirit thought there’s no way I’m forking over loads of money for y’all to tell me what to do. Now that I’m an adult, I look back at that situation and realize Hampton was trying to provide structure and shape their students into becoming better young men and women.

When I finally started college, I was a 22-year-old, GED recipient — translation: I was a non-traditional student. Many universities in the New Orleans area had certain admissions criteria and as a GED recipient I didn’t meet the basic criteria.

My ACT and GED scores allowed me to start at SUNO and Grambling without needing to take remedial courses. Since my dad is anti-Grambling (he graduated from Southern in 1976) and SUNO is in my hometown, it was the perfect fit for me.

What professors at Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO) left the most impression upon you as a student and/or person? What did they do that continues to mean so much to you to this day?

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Recognized for submitted proposals are: (standing, back row) Dr. Udeh, Dr. Tietzel, Dr. Hollis, (standing, middle row) Mrs. Washington-Edwards, Dr. Omojola, Dr. Kaltenbaugh, Dr. Adegboye, Mrs. Beaulieu, Dr. Jackson, Dr. Heon Kim, (front row) Dr. Elaasar, Mrs. Johnson, and Ms. Mims. Other awardees for the day included Dr. Lisa Mims-Devezin, Ms. Leatrice Latimore, Ms. Arkebia Matthews, Dr. Deborah Darby, Dr. Yu Jiang, Dr. Ronald Mancoske, Dr. Tchavdar Marinov, Dr. Mary Minter, Ms. Nina Muller-Schwarze, Dr. Joseph Olubadewo, Dr. Ibraham Ekaidi, Dr. Adnan Omar, Dr. Steven Welsh, Dr. Mary Vaughn, and Ms. Trichelle Harris. | All rights reserved by SUNOPR

Due to Hurricane Katrina, our campus was destroyed and the semester immediately after the hurricane, classes were held at a local middle school. My biology professor, Dr. Mims-Devezin, walked in class and told every student in the room that we had a difficult semester ahead of us, but we would get through it together.

Dr. Mims-Devezin didn’t treat us as ordinary students, we became her extended children and she expected greatness from each of us.

Dr. Helvie-Mason taught me how to communicate, not just in class and around campus, but how do do so in a way that would propel me to new dimensions in life.

What is the story of your “experience” to date at Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO) given its heralded status as a stellar and prestigious institution?

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Gloria B. Moultrie,
Vice Chancellor for Community Outreach/University Advancement | Image Credit: suno.edu

Upon returning to SUNO, I had the opportunity to intern with the Vice Chancellor for Community Outreach/Univ Advancement. Shadowing Mrs. Moultrie (SUNO graduate ’67) allowed me the opportunity to understand the important history behind Southern University at New Orleans.

Where were the spots to go to if you wanted to cuddle with your boy or girlfriend?

I didn’t have a relationship while attending SUNO.

How did your HBCU prepare you for a diverse workplace?

My preparation came from my mentor, Mrs. Moultrie. Before meeting Mrs. Moultrie, I was ratchet and a hot ghetto mess – maybe not the hot ghetto mess, but certainly ratchet. I was the girl with the heels, the hair weave, crazy eyelashes, heavy eye shadow and an attitude to match.

Mrs. Moultrie wasn’t afraid to mold me into something better. I became open to seeking/receiving feedback. She taught me how to make a mark at work without becoming a mark. From our conversations, I learned to use judgment about what I wear, what I say and what I do.

How did your HBCU help you to transition into your careers workforce?

While at SUNO, I was afforded the opportunity to attend the Thurgood Marshall College Fund Leadership Institute. The TMCF experience allowed me to meet/interview with Fortune 500 companies, polish my interviewing skills and craft my elevator speech.

Where were the spots to go to if you wanted to cuddle with your boy or girlfriend?

I didn’t have a relationship while attending SUNO.

What were the best restaurants on and near campus? Which dishes did you enjoy the most?

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Old Gentilly “Spicy Kitchen” | Image Cred: urbanspoon.com

SUNO is a small university (for now), with just over 3,000 students. We don’t have any restaurants on campus. To get the best bang for my buck, I would hit up Spicy Kitchen. Their soulfood is sooo delicious.

What were the chants heard most often at the sporting events?

::beat, beat, beat:: SUNO, SUNO
::beat, beat, beat:: You Know, You Know (and the would repeat multiple times)

Who was your College crush?

No one. Actually, I was falling in love with myself. Is this vain of me to say?

How did you overcome your nervousness about going to college?

I was never nervous about attending college. In fact, my mom drilled it in my head that I would attend college.

What was your major? and Why did you choose it?

Initially, my plan was to major in journalism and continue on to law school to become a criminal prosecutor. During my enrollment process I was told SUNO had just lost accreditation for journalism and no new students could be admitted to the program. So I spent several semesters just “winging-it” until I decided to go with General Studies because most of my credits fit into that particular program.

What was your proudest moment @ Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO)?

Finishing undergrad!!!

What was your saddest moment @ Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO)?

My line sisters and I getting the boot Fall 2012.

What did you pledge? And why? And if not, why not?

Throughout my life it was “understood” that I would pledge a particular organization. For some reason, many students and administrators assumed I was greek. Fall 2012 I decided to pledge a different organization from the one others expected me to pledge. Unfortunately, the line turned out to be unauthorized and we were kicked off for hazing.

How were you positively active on campus? (e.g. clubs, SGA, etc.)

Between Fall 2011 and Spring 2013, I managed to obtain in internship with the Vice Chancellor for Community Outreach and University Advancement, became the SGA Chief of Staff, then the SGA Vice President and I traveled to Minnesota, Kansas, Ohio, Kentucky, Jersey, New York, Denver and Baltimore.

In addition, I was named Who’s Who Among American Colleges and Universities and was a Thurgood Marshall Leadership Institute Scholar.

Where was the “yard” located?

The “yard” at SUNO consists of the green space in front of the cafeteria.

What and where were the historical places on campus?

The Administration Building. This was the first building on our campus in 1959 when the university opened. In 2012, the building was renamed to the Emmitt W. Bashful Administration Building. It’s named after our first chancellor.

How many “firsts” did you have at college ? What were they? (e.g. first road trip, first job interview, first love, first “F or A”, etc.)

First trip to Mexico. First road trip with friends. First Spring Break –> cruise to the Bahamas.

If you could only speak two sentences to the youth coming after you what would you say?

1.     Be comfortable with who you are.

2.     You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. – Dr. Seuss

What situation in your life made you feel like you had arrived into woman or manhood?

Signing my first rental agreement along with paying my electricity bill, car note, insurance, taxes, and voting. All the crap I didn’t have to do while living with my mom.

What sports and/or extra curricular activities did you do in High School? And why?

I was lazy in high school and didn’t participate in much of anything except attending the dances.

What advice would you give high school students filling out college applications for the first time?

Follow your passion. If your ultimate goal is to become a scientist, social worker, artist, doctor, or whatever, attend a university with a strong program in your desired field and craft your work with excellence. Colin Powell once said, “Excellence is not the exception, it is a prevailing attitude.

How do you deal with racism if you encounter it?

Racism happens whether we see it or not and so does gravity. Gravity is meant to hold us down. But despite gravity, we hop on planes and build skyscrapers every day. I can’t control gravity no more than I can control my gender or the color of my skin.

Being a black American is who I am and if someone has an issue with that, it’s for them to deal with – not me. Black and white doesn’t matter if you understand green.

Whats your take on life (in the philosophical sense)?

Sometimes, you have to move laterally before you can move vertically.

College related questions? Respectfully contact Tiara using the contacts below!!

Social Networking Links (separate with commas): Twitter, LinkedIn
E: tiarayw2001@aol.com

Off
07th Aug2013

Journalist Curtis Bunn – Norfolk State University ’83

by Staff

Listed among the prominent alumni who graduated from Norfolk State University; Accomplished Journalist and Best-Selling Author Curtis Bunn gives insight into his HBCU Experience and the many milestones in his literary career to date.

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Accomplished Journalist and Best-Selling Author Curtis Bunn | Image Credit:: Curtis Bunn

Who introduced you to HBCUs?

I grew up in Washington D.C., and really did not like the snow and cold weather of the winters.

Washington, DC is Home to the African-American History Museum

So, my objective was to go to college in either Hawaii, California, Florida or Texas, just to avoid cold weather.

But I realized it would be difficult to see my family as often as I would have liked; So when a counselor at Ballou High School, mentioned Norfolk State to me, it aroused my interest.

I am the first in my family to attend college, and so there was no one to guide me and I was completely unaware of HBCUs. I took a visit to Norfolk State, which was only about three hours from D.C., and I fell in love with the place, the sense of family and heritage. Best decision I could have made.

As an accomplished author, what is your process when writing a new novel?

As a journalist who gets a rush out of writing on deadline, I usually find myself putting off writing the heart of my books until I am under some measure of deadline pressure. That’s when my mind is most active and I am most productive.

In general, I come up with an idea and flesh it out in my head first, for several days. Then I put the ideas down in my laptop. From there, I begin the story.

Usually, the opening line is floating around in my head for several days. I edit as I go. Meaning, if I write three chapters, before I start the next chapter, I go back and read the previous three. Not just to add more heart and soul to what has been written, but also to edit it for typos or any errors. Most importantly, I regain momentum as I go back over what was written.

It puts me back in that writing place, and I am able to go on with the next chapters in the rhythm of the previous chapters. When I know I am approaching the end of the book, I get a sense of excitement and sadness, too. Excited because I am really pleased and excited about what I have created, but sad because the characters I created in my book live in me, and so pretty soon I would be abandoning them, and that makes me a little sad.

What is the process to having ones’ thoughts turned into published novels like yours?

The process is different for everyone.

For me, my latest works have been published under Zane’s Strebor Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster/Atria. It’s been a true blessing for me because I have essentially just submitted my proposals to Zane and Strebors’ editorial director, Charmaine Roberts, and they have come back to offer me deals. No agent. No drama.

So, I’m blessed that Zane read and enjoyed my first novel, Baggage Check (2001), which was No. 1 on the Essence magazine best-sellers list). She went on to do amazing things in publishing, including Strebor. She and Charmaine seek out diverse, interesting talents, and so I had a pipeline directly to the decision-makers, making it much easier for me than it would be otherwise, I believe.

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Read “Baggage Check” the first chance you get! | Image Credit: goodreads.com

Why did you choose an HBCU over a pwi?

I was totally unfamiliar with HBCUs until a counselor suggested Norfolk State. He had heard it had a strong journalism program, and he knew I wanted to be a journalist.

What sold me on it was the feeling of family I got when I visited. There was a lot of pride in seeing thousands of young people who look like you aspiring to something greater. And there was a sense from the faculty and staff that they wanted to see you succeed.

My experience at Norfolk State was so profound and fun and life-changing that I wrote a book, “Homecoming Weekend,” (check out his interview with Rolling Out) as an homage or love letter to HBCUs in general and Norfolk State in particular.

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The One and Only “Homecoming Weekend” by Curtis Bunn | Image Credit: Curtis Bunn

What professors at Norfolk State University left the most impression upon you as a person and student?

Dr. Lawrence J. Kagwaa, who was the head of the Journalism Department when I was a freshman, was very influential.

He identified my potential and made sure I had no financial issues by granting me scholarships for my remaining three years that took care of all of my tuition. That was huge. My mom and dad had scraped together every penny they could muster to send me to Norfolk State.

I could not get any financial aid and we knew nothing of student loans. So, Dr. Kagwaa’s leadership in the department and financial help was immeasurable. The students that left the largest impressions were Leon Carter and Derek Dingle. Leon was my editor when I arrived and he was tough and smart and funny and encouraging. He made me a journalist.

He’s a big-time editor at ESPN New York after being an award-winning Sports Editor of the New York Daily News.

Then there is Derek T. Dingle (in video above), who came in when I did.

Derek’s talent and seriousness and commitment to becoming a journalist drove me. We have fun and created great memories. But what I remember the most was us writing great stories and growing as journalists and young men while putting our all into our student newspaper, the award-winning Spartan Echo.

What did they do that continues to mean so much to you to this day?

They showed the way, in different forms. Dr. Kagwaa was a leader who cared about the students. Leon was advanced for his age and understood the value of managing people.

Derek was smart and talented, but also serious about what he wanted to achieve. All those elements seeped into me and helped me to round out into the journalist and author that I am.

What “first” or brand new life experiences did you have while attending the one and only Norfolk State?

The biggest was living away from home. I never went to an overnight camp growing up. We couldn’t afford it. I remember when my father, mother, sister and one of my brothers, Eddie, dropped me off at NSU. I got settled into the room and my little brother sat on the bed and cried. He was seven. He didn’t want to leave me.

That’s when it hit me that I would be on my own. And I knew then how I handled that “first” would determine my life. If I went buck wild and just partied and hung out, I would have a sketchy future. But if I partied, had fun, embraced growing up and did what I needed to do in the classroom, I could have an amazing experience. I had an amazing experience!!!

I had as much fun as anyone, but (most of the time) was disciplined enough to get my work done and grow as a potential young journalist, too.

How did the National Book Club Conference come to be? Why did you found the conference?

In 2001, I traveled a lot to meet with book clubs about my first novel, Baggage Check.” It was such a great experience, each one of them. I’m sure if they hated the book, it would not have been so much fun. But they enjoyed it and we enjoyed each other discussing it.

It just hit me one day that most people do not get a chance to sit down and converse with the authors of books they have read. It was then that I said to myself, “Someone needs to create an event where readers and authors come together for two days and have a succession of book club meetings.” Then I decided that I would be that person.

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The Book Club Spotlight of NBCC : The Readers Journey Network of South Jersey | Image Credit: Nationalbookclubconference.com

And so the 2003 NBCC was the first and we have been going strong since. This year will be the 11th-annual NBCC. And not only that, but I have taken a group to Ghana, West Africa (2007) and South Africa (Johannesburg and Cape Town) last year. Both were incredible experiences.

We noticed on your Facebook page your recent success with Strebor Books/Simon & Schuster, what are your upcoming novels “The Old Man In The Club” and “Seize The Day” about?

The Old Man In The Club is a book that will reveal why this man, Winston Thomas, at 63 has such an interest in pursuing young woman and partying with people less than half his age. We’ve all seen that guy and wondered, “What is he doing in here?” Well, my position is that it’s not just about being a dirty old man pursuing young women. Things happened in his life that brought him to that place, and those things are interesting, sad, funny, and empowering.

Seize The Day is about a man who learns he has terminal cancer, and instead of submitting to chemotherapy that MIGHT prolong his life by a few months, but DEFINTELY would make him feel terrible, he instead decides to live out his life and mend relationships, build new ones and take in the waning days of his life.

In as many words as you need, share with us your HBCU Experience at Norfolk State. How did you overcome your nervousness about attending NSU? What was your major? and Why did you choose it? How were you positively active on campus? (e.g. clubs, SGA, etc.)

I overcame nervousness with the help of my first roommates, Bruce Lee, Curtis West, Tony Coleman and Tony Brown. They didn’t know they were doing that, but we became fast friends; Had a great time playing Spades, Backgammon, joking with each other, playing basketball. . . you name it.

Having good people in my room helped me ease into college life and away from any nervousness I might have had. . . I knew I wanted to be a journalist when I was 13, and one of the reasons I chose Norfolk State was because of its journalism program. Best decision I could have made for my career.

Norfolk State set everything in motion for me. . . I was a reporter, Sports Editor, Associate Editor and Executive Editor of the Spartan Echo, our campus newspaper over my four years at Norfolk State.

I was MVP and leading scorer of the Intramural Basketball League. I pledged Alpha Phi Alpha at Norfolk State, Epsilon Pi chapter of the first and greatest fraternity for black men.

How can HBCU students and alumni get involved with the National Book Club Conference and possibly assist you in future literary research?

The website is www.nationalbookclubconference.com. Students and alums can first support by attending the event. Registration information is on the site. Also, I am reachable through the site for any volunteer interests anyone may have.

When will “The Old Man In The Club” and “Seize The Day” be available on the market?Where/How can fans of your work purchase these great novels?

The Old Man In The Club will be released in the fall of 2014 and Seize The Day in 2015.

My next book, The Truth Is In The Wine, will be released on October 8th of this year.

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The Truth is in the Wine by Curtis Bunn | Image Credit: bookish.com

It is about a man who tries to save his troubled marriage by taking his wife, mother and mother-in-law on a Thanksgiving trip to Napa Valley. While tasting the wine, though, people begin revealing secrets better left untold, secrets that challenge relationships and test moral values.

What were your top 3 proudest moments @ Norfolk State University?

The first moment came when I saw my name above my first article as a freshman. That was a proud moment, a moment that pushed me to do more and more, which led to my second proud moment.

Because of my work on the school paper and my internship at the Virginian-Pilot newspaper, I had three job offers to be a journalist before I graduated: The Winston Salem Journal, The Virginian Pilot and The St. Petersburg Times.

I took the job as a news reporter at the Times, and later worked in Washington, D.C, at The Washington Times for 1 1/2 years, 11 years in New York at Newsday and the New York Daily News and 14 years at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. My third proudest moment was graduating. I am the first in my family to do so, and that was special. I’m proud to say that my son, Curtis Jr., is a 2005 graduate of Norfolk State!!!!

What have been your proudest moments in your career since graduating from the halls of Prestigious Norfolk State University?

The birth of my children, Curt and Gwen, 21, tops anything, everything.

Professionally, it is hard to say. A lot a great things have happened to me in my career and I thank God for that. I have won national awards as a journalist, covered the Olympics in Seoul, Korea and Australia, covered Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant at the height of their careers, covered Super Bowls and NCAA Final Fours and World Series and Sugar Ray Leonard and Mike Tyson and on and on.

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Curtis Bunns’ Article on Kobe Bryant with the Atlanta Black Star | Image Credit: Atlantablackstar.com

I have written books that were bestsellers and loved by thousands of readers. That’s pretty heady stuff.

If you had to speak two sentences of wisdom to the youth. What would they be?

Find your passion, that one thing you’d REALLY enjoy doing. Then pursue it with a dogged determination.

Questions about becoming a best-selling author? Want to gain more insight on maximizing your HBCU Experience? Respectfully reach out to Curtis!

Facebook | Email: curtisbunn[AT]yahoo.com

Off
08th Jul2013

Lester Holmes – Wilberforce University ’99

by Staff

Journalist, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity member and Founder/Owner of PULL Magazine Lester Holmes, Speaks with us about his journey from Pittsburgh to the Halls of Wilberforce University ” the oldest private, historically black university” in the United States of America. 

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Lester Holmes looking dapper | Image Credit: Lester Holmes

Why did you choose an HBCU over a pwi?

My main motivation was my desire to leave Pittsburgh. I love my hometown but I needed change.

I didn’t believe the change I needed would have come from me attending the University of Pittsburgh or Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) I wanted to experience something different. I also wanted the opportunity to learn more about my culture and also to learn more about myself.

Where are you from? When you were younger who introduced you to the greatness that is HBCUs?

I’m from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Born and raised (Go Steelers!). I first heard of HBCU’s by watching a show called “A Different World.” I wanted to go to Hillman.

How did you decide to become a student at Wilberforce University?

Felt Like Home

Feel free to elaborate… To be truthful, Wilberforce wasn’t my first choice. I had my mind set on going to Hampton. However, Hampton was out of my financial reach.

My second choice was Grambling State, but that’s a long way from home, especially on Greyhound.

My third choice was Wilberforce. I visited the campus and it was very rural but you could tell that it was a historic place. And as they say, the rest is history.

Which professors at left the most impression upon your academic and personal life? What did they do that continues to mean so much to you to this day?

It’s hard to choose just one. There were several that left a positive impact on my life.

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Dr. Tanya M. Morah, Associate Professor of Communications at Wilberforce University | Image Credit: Facebook

Dr. Tanya Morah, taught me that laziness will not be rewarded or tolerated.

Professor Barnes taught me the “X’s and O’s” of journalism, but the one person who really left an impact is Dr. James Arthur Williams, then Professor of Choral Music at Wilberforce.( I was a member of the Wilberforce University Choir.)

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Dr. james arthur williams, now an Adjunct Professor at the University of Dayton | Image Credit: udayton.edu

Dr. Williams wasn’t afraid to challenge you. He held you accountable. He challenged you to be your best at all times.

If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have traveled the country performing in front of people like Bryant Gumbel and Sec. Colin Powell. We performed in Cairo, Egypt. I’m grateful for those opportunities, provided by a HBCU.

What is the story of your “HBCU experience” at Wilberforce University?

Wilberforce is my family. There isn’t a day that goes by where I’m not in communication with someone affiliated with Wilberforce.

That “family” experience is unique to HBCU’s. I think you would have to attend one to fully grasp the concept of the family bond we have with one another.

I grew up there and I became a man on that campus. Wilberforce gave me the marketable skills necessary to compete in the workplace with anyone.

What was your major? and Why did you choose it?

My major was Mass Media/Communications with an emphasis in Journalism.

I always wanted to be a journalist in print media.

How did you overcome your nervousness that first year?

I wasn’t nervous at all. I was a kid from the West End of Pittsburgh living out a dream.

What were the chants heard most often at sporting events?

You should have been a Bulldog

What were the best restaurants on and near campus? Favorite dishes?

The best restaurants were in the dorms. We had guys who would cook 7-course meals on hot plates and sell them.

Our campus is located in this little town called Xenia, Ohio. But the places to eat were Perkins, Ponderosa and a buffet resturaunt we went to every Sunday.

I just can’t remember the name.

Who was your college crush? Where were the spots to go to if you wanted to cuddle?

She knows and that’s all that matters.

It would be unfair for me to divulge that information. No sense in tipping off the current administration. The current students on campus have the right to cuddle in peace.

How were you positively active on your college campus? What about in high school?

I was active in several groups and organizations.

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Xi Chapter
2nd Vice-President, Student Government Association
Wilberforce University Choir
“The Mirror”-Wilbeforce University Newspaper
WURS 88.1.” Wilberforce University Radio
Black Male Coalition

If you could only speak two sentences to the youth coming after you what would you say?

Remember that you are the caretakers of a powerful legacy. Honor that legacy by being the best individual and student you can be.

Questions on completing your college application? Want to learn how to make the most of your HBCU Experience? Ask Lester!

Twitter | Facebook | Pull Magazine

Email: lesterholmes[AT]pullmag.com

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09th May2013

Tommy Meade Junior – Central State University ’14

by Staff

Central State University student and HBCUBuzz.com author, Tommy Meade Junior speaks with us about his HBCU Experience and gives us insight into how he came to arrive at the great halls of Central State.

Why did you choose an HBCU over a pwi?

I chose to attend a HBCU over a PWI because the former seemed more like a challenge and plus, watching the film Stomp The Yard encouraged me to be around successful people who looked like me instead of being everyone’s “black friend”.

What city are you from? Who introduced you to the greatness of HBCUs?

I was born in Dayton, Ohio (Home to the Dayton African-American Institute) and grew up there and in Knoxville, Tennessee where I picked up some southern charm.

How did you decide to become a student at Central State University?

Felt Like Home

Feel free to elaborate…

Like many other colleges, Central State feels like home. But the difference between a HBCU and a PWI for a black student(based on my experiences) is that a HBCU and its mass body welcomes you as family.

Which professors are leaving the most impression upon your academic and personal life? What do they do that continues to mean so much to you to this day?

An English professor now specialist at the university by the name of Conrad Zagory continues to leave a good impression on me. Funny, warm and helpful, I think that every minority college student need someone like him around.

What is the story of your “HBCU experience”?

Though I’m not the first person in my family to attend a HBCU [one of my uncles went to Morehouse], I am and will be the first person in my immediate family to attend and graduate from college. At the top of my head, the best lesson I’ve learn so far from my HBCU experience is not to limit myself because of my skin color.

What is your major? and Why did you choose it?

My major is Journalism and I chose it because Comm Majors run the yard. Everyone knows this to be true.

Tommy Meade Junior - Central State University 14-1

Students discussing their strategy and approach for their show idea. Photo Credit: Centralstate.edu/

Where is the “yard” located?

Wilberforce, Ohio, home of…well, there’s not much here. But, the name “Wilberforce” comes from a white man named William Wilberforce, an English politician, philanthropist, and a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade.

How many “firsts” have you had at college ? What were they? (e.g. first road trip, first job interview, first love, first “F or A”, etc.)

Good one. I had my first love at college…women..

I also used some lessons from Sex Education while in high school at college for the first time too.

How are you positively active on your college campus? What about in high school?

Currently I serve my campus as a member of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc., Alpha Mu Chapter, NAACP, National Association of Black Journalists and Student African American Brotherhood.

I’m also a Student Ambassador and a English tutor for incoming students at Central State.

If you could only speak two sentences to the youth coming after you what would you say?

Live YOUR life, be you, and be successful doing it. It’ll work out for the best long term.

Questions about Central State University? Just ask Mr. Meade, Jr., COME ON AND NETWORK!! 

Email: tommymeade87[AT]gmail.com
Twitter: @tommymeade_
Facebook: Tommy Meade Jr.
Online Business: HBCUbuzz.com

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20th Mar2013

Nick Birdsong – Florida A&M University ’06

by Staff

Mr. Birdsong was kind enough to share his HBCU experience in an interview with us, after a brief conversation on Twitter. Enjoy his words of wisdom and take heed.

 

Where are you from? How did you first hear about HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities)?

I’m from Tampa, Fla. I have four older sisters and an older brother. Our family used to attend the Florida ClassicFAMU‘s annual rivalry game against Bethune-Cookman when it was still played in Tampa. We’d always sit on FAMU’s side, cheer for the Rattlers and of course the Marching 100. So, that was my first association with HBCUs.

What made you choose an HBCU over a pwi?

Honestly, I didn’t look at it like I was choosing an HBCU over a PWI. I considered going to USF (University of South Florida) but FAMU was the right fit for me.

Integration laws forced me to go to a high school 25 miles away from our house in St. Petersburg, Fla. (I moved there for high school after my parents divorce was finalized.)

The high school I attended was 85 percent white and the county we lived in had the lowest graduation rate for black males in the country. Now, I didn’t know that at the time but it really wasn’t a determining factor. FAMU was just a great school even when compared PWIs.

How did you decide to become a student at FAMU?

I actually didn’t want to attend college until my senior year of high school. My plan was to graduate college to get my mom off my back and sell drugs (even though I’d never done it before).

One of my former church members was a FAMU alumnus and a huge advocate for the school.

Long story short, he talked me into going on a visit to FAMU with him during the fall of 2001. We toured the school, went to a football game (FAMU vs. Southern) and afterward we got to meet some of his daughter’s friends, all of whom were students at the time. Mind you, in St. Pete, we lived across the street from the biggest trap (drug house) in the city and no one who lived on my block was even talking about going to college.

On that visit, I got to see kids who looked like me but were a year or two away from their MBA or going to law school or getting a job in corporate America; and they helped me to see that I could do the same thing.

After that, I was sold. I found out that I basically had to get nearly all As my senior year to be admitted into FAMU’s School of Journalism and Graphic Communication and I went out and did it.

And I can’t lie, once I saw the women that were on FAMU’s campus (we happened to sit right by one of the modeling troupes at the football game) and compared them to the ones in high school and the general citizenry of St. Pete, I was like ‘Man, I’m doing whatever I have to do to become a Rattler!’.

What professors at FAMU left the most impression upon you as a student and/or person? What did they do that continues to mean so much to you to this day?

Dr. Natalie King-Pedroso -I took her in two or three honors classes in English and never got an “A”. She didn’t grade everyone on the same scale.

Instead, she graded you based on what she thought your potential was. She told me I could be great and unless I put everything into achieving that, I wasn’t going to get an A from her. She taught me that excellence is a personal pursuit and never to judge myself by anyone else’s standard.

There were others but she sticks out the most.

Where were the spots to go to if you wanted to cuddle with your girlfriend?

Funny question.

Typically, you’re encouraged to stay on campus as a freshman and move off-campus after that at FAMU. That’s what I did.

I had a girlfriend back home as a freshman which was cool because girls on campus really weren’t checking for me too hard. Folks just did what they did.

If you wanted a nice walk and talk with your significant other, most folks,. back then hit up Lake Ella. However, mostly, it was your typical come over and watch a movie type vibe at least for me.

What were the best restaurants on and near campus? Which dishes did you enjoy the most?

On-Campus: The Cafe, especially on fried chicken day or the Orange room. On Set Fridays, this student ministry sold barbecue plates with baked beans and unlimited lemonade for like $3. One of my boys and I used to skip class and post up while eating and see what was to be seen on Fridays all the time. And of course, every Rattler knows about the legendary Soul Train who sold overpriced juices and snacks on campus, but you could’t help but patronize him in the 100-plus degree weather while you’re walking clear across campus.

Near campus: A spot called O’leans cafe right across the street from campus had the best soul food.

What were the chants heard most often at the sporting events?

There were too many, especially at football games. We’d play the section games and of course, ‘Gigalo’, ‘I got my hands up high, my fee down low and this (insert dance of your choice) (is how I) ‘Gigalo’.

We found the one and only “FAMU Dance” as well

We also called opposing players out of their name on their walk to the bench at basketball games. There were a few others that were popular but I’m not going to type the words. One of the most popular ones was simple, Leader: I go to… Crowd: Florida. Agricultural and Mechanical.University. October 3rd, 1887. What!!!

Who was your College crush?

I had more than one but they shall forever remain nameless (Jay-Z voice).

How did you overcome your nervousness about going to college?

I played AAU basketball and had gone on quite a few trips. So, I wasn’t really nervous about going away to school. I was more nervous about staying in. Once I got the hang of it and figured out how it all worked, I was over that.

What was your major? and Why did you choose it?

Journalism. I chose it because I’d always done well in English class in high school and I could write fairly well. I thought I wanted to major in business but I could only get admitted into the program provisionally and I was horrible at math.

I went to a summer journalism program the summer before I enrolled and it helped make for a smooth transition that fall.

What was your proudest moment @ FAMU ?

Graduating with no debt.

What was your saddest moment @ FAMU ?

Seeing one of my best friends leave school after first semester my sophomore year. We came in together and rolled really tight. It would have been great to be able to finish with him.

How were you positively active on campus? (e.g. clubs, SGA, etc.)

I guess I wasn’t. If it didn’t pertain to my major so I could advance professionally or making money to pay my tuition and expenses, I didn’t do it. I worked for The Famuan, the student newspaper and magazine, and Journey magazine but that’s about it.

Where was the “yard” located?

At FAMU, it’s called The Set and it’s right across from the girls dorms, outside the student services center, post office, SGA offices and TV room.

famu-on-the-set-1

The “Set”

What and where were the historical places on campus?

They were all over. We had a museum called the Black Archives on campus full of artifacts. Great resource and source of pride.

Are there any ghost stories involving buildings or spots on campus?

I don’t know about any ghost stories.

How many “firsts” did you have at college ? What were they? (e.g. first road trip, first job interview, first love, first “F or A”, etc.)

I had some firsts but I don’t know if I could categorize any of them like that. It was my first time out on my own. So, I had all a lot of the experiences that went along with that. First apartment, first roomate, etc. Nothing too exciting.

If you could speak to those family members that have risen but that live forever through you, what words would you speak?

Thank you.

If you could only speak two sentences to the youth coming after you what would you say?

For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ our Lord. (Romans 3:23, 6:23)

What situation in your life made you feel like you had arrived into woman or manhood?

I don’t think I’ve fully arrived at manhood, but I’m pursuing it.

When and how did you discover your passion in life?

I think I’m really just coming into that discovery. A good tip is to follow you bents. What do you like to do? Where do you like to go, discuss. What are you good at? That stuff should give you a clue.

What sports and/or extra curricular activities did you do in High School? And why?

I played basketball and tennis. I grew up doing both, loved it and was good at it.

How do you deal with racism if you encounter it?

It really depends on the situation.

Whats your take on life (in the philosophical sense)?

I believe life is about glorifying the one true God of the Bible and enjoying Him.

Meet Nick Birdsong

Works with Alabama Media Group

famu-nick-birdsong-alum

famu-nick-birdsong-alum-twitter

famu-nick-birdsong-alum-instagram

FAMU Social Networks | Info

FAMU Website, Twitter, Facebook

FAMU on Wikipedia

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20th Mar2012

Self-Publishing Advice from Successful Author and CEO Audrey McKay

by Staff

What was the catalyst in your life that made you author your very first book? and What was the publishing process like? What is the key to successfully promoting a title?

I was on a business trip in California, where I was born, several years ago. As I was leaving I heard the announcer call for “Andrea McKay” in the airport. For some reason, people have had trouble with “Audrey” for most of my life, and a lot of people end up calling me something like Adrienne or Andrea.

I got up to check and make sure they weren’t calling for me (they weren’t) but it started me to thinking…what if I had a sister in California that I knew nothing about.

For some reason, the thought stuck with me, for years, until I finally started writing the book, Enough Good News. (Save $500 a Year on Textbooks)

It took a few more years before I got to the point where I was ready to publish. I opted to self-publish, for a few different reasons.

Publishing Process

One of which was I was sure traditional publishers weren’t ready for a book that contained the “sinner’s prayer” and the topic of porn addiction in the same volume. Looking back, it was the best decision for me.

I have complete autonomy over my work and the process was fairly easy after a little research.

Image Credit: Two Shoes Publishing House & Productions

I used the companies CreateSpace.com and Lulu.com to publish the paperbacks and I stuck with Amazon and Barnes and Noble to handle e-book distribution. Independence sounds great, and it is.

I’m able to control everything, but that also means I have to deal with everything a traditional publisher would handle like marketing, but it works for me. Writing is something I love.

Title Promotion

Marketing is a completely different animal. Promoting a title successfully requires a lot of research and networking. People can’t buy your book if they don’t know it’s out there, so getting your name out to the public is key.

 

If you had to narrow it down, what would be your top 7 Do’s and top 7 Dont’s for authors out there?

Top 7 Do’s:

1. Do create a professional product.

2. Do get feedback from people you trust.

3. Do listen. Realize that you don’t know everything and take any constructive criticism to help you better your product.

4. Do network. There’s a lot to learn and networking can help you get the information you need.

5. Do use services available to you. With the recent boon in self-publishing, there are several avenues you can use to help promote your book.

6. Do make yourself available to your readers. Set up a webpage and social networking accounts.

7. Do set the price of your books appropriately. Most readers aren’t willing to spend $12.99 to try out an e-book from a new author. Of course you can set the price where you’d like, but if it doesn’t sell at that price, consider revising your prices.

Top 7 Dont’s:

1. Don’t just throw something together and think it’s ready for publication just because you’re finished. Everyone knows it’s difficult to catch your own mistakes. Get someone to proof your work.

2. Don’t ignore what people are saying about your work. If someone says something you wrote doesn’t make sense, go back and elaborate that section of the book. It’s likely that other readers will feel the same way.

3. Don’t overlook advice from others who’ve gone ahead of you. I write fiction, so I look for advice from authors like J.A. Konrath and Amanda Hocking who’ve made millions by self-publishing their own works.

4. Don’t be socially ignorant online. Know the basics of using Twitter and Facebook. ReTweet and reply to others when it’s appropriate.

5. Don’t just expect people to come flocking to you once you’ve finished your book. Continue to get your name out there.

6. Don’t ignore sites like Goodreads and Shelfari. Use every tool available to you to promote your book.

7. Don’t be surprised when haters pop up out of your close circle of “friends” or family. Not everyone is going to be happy that you’re moving up.

 

Given your alumnus status from Spelman College, how much of what you experienced while at Spelman was used to write your college themed book, “The Re-Mix”?

audrey-mckay-spelman-college-006

I walked across the stage to receive my degree from Spelman in 1991, but I came in with the class of 1990, and I attended my 20th reunion a couple of years ago.

During that reunion, I met a guy that I had not known in school and we exchanged numbers and started talking.

Things weren’t exactly clicking for me, and I started thinking that I wouldn’t be having this problem if it had been one of the guys I’d hung out with in college because we wouldn’t have to get to know each other.

That thought led to other thoughts that produced the book.

I’m a great advocate of using what you have and since thoughts tend to randomly pop into my head (a lot), I use them.

In this case it worked for me and “The Re-Mix” was born.

 

 

As an author, what is your process when you begin on a new literary work? Do you have any unique rituals that you follow? (eg. Write your synopsis at a certain location in the office, eat a specific breakfast until completion, etc.)

I have no process.

Sometimes, I don’t even write a synopsis. I just let it flow when it comes. Sometimes I write out an outline, but it’s not always the way it works for me.

Sometimes I hear the characters speaking to me. I’d heard others say that before and thought it sounded pretty crazy, but it happens. Sometimes I just sit down and plow through it.

I think it’s important to find your style as a writer and stick with it. Don’t feel like you have to stick to someone else’s schedule to be successful, you’ll be miserable. Just do you and tell your story the way it comes to you.

 

How do you cure writers block when it rears its unwelcomed head?

🙂 Funny you should ask, because I’m going through it now. I have a book scheduled to be released for my Christian Fiction series this summer, and I’ve probably gotten down all of a few pages. One thing I’m not doing is stressing myself out about it.

I just let my mind wander to it here and there and ideas eventually start coming. At the moment, I’m reading my last book in the series. I think by the time I finish that book, and with the ideas, that have already come, I’ll start writing in the next week or so. Hopefully.

 

What made you create the name “Two Shoes Publishing House” for your publishing company? What does it mean?

Two Shoes is an old nickname of mine. I believe there was some song or movie out in the late sixties where “Goody Two Shoes” was used. I have no idea how, but it stuck and my family, especially the older relatives still call me Two Shoes, or Two or Two-ie.

Two Shoes Publishing House & Productions; Image Credit: Two Shoes Publishing House & Productions

Naming the company Two Shoes just felt right, besides, it had a better ring to it than Audrey’s Publishing House.

 

Since you are the CEO and owner of your own publishing company, what is the procedure to be followed by those journalism majors who want to share their literary works with the public? Where can they send their manuscripts to in an effort to strengthen your company and themselves?

At the moment, I’m the only writer at Two Shoes, and based on tax and business laws, I likely won’t be bringing on other writers for several years. I will, however, gladly accept articles or short stories from guest-posters for my blog, assuming it falls in line with my mission (clean entertainment).

And, if anyone were interested in starting his or her own company, I would be more than happy to help with any advice I can offer. I think if you have the ability to write, now is a great time to establish yourself and start your own business.

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