Monday, April 13, 2015

HU alum talks law with students

HU alum talks law with students   

(Left to Right: Dr. Eric Claville, Melissa Chastang '11, Dr. Amee Carmines)
Hampton,Va. - The Hampton University School of Liberal Arts welcomed back recent graduate Melissa Chastang, Class of 2011, to give current students some insight into the world of law. 

Chastang an English major during her time at HU, is a 2014 Harvard Law School graduate. She spoke in front of a group of 80 students from both the English & Modern Foreign Languages department and Pre-Law Institute in the Hampton University Library Meeting Room. In her speech she gave those students advice on what to expect when making the transition from undergrad to law school. 

Chastang’s visit to her “Home By the Sea” was organized through her former advisor Dr. Amee Carmines, associate professor of English.   

Chastang addressing Pre-Law Institute students 
"I hope my visit encouraged someone to apply to a school or a program or a scholarship that they hadn't considered before,” said Chastang. “As Hamptonians, we are capable of pursuing and achieving so much - we just have to make the decision." "When I got to Harvard, I realized many people there had never heard of Hampton University,” said Chastang. “I wanted to come speak to our students to let them know that they can change that.” 

Chastang is currently a practicing associate at the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld, LLP in Washington D.C. One major part of Chastang’s presentation to the students is that upon graduation they become ambassadors of HU and need to embrace that role. 

“Melissa Chastang gave an outstanding talk about her transition from the undergraduate degree in English to her stellar performance in the law school at Harvard University,” said Carmines. “She challenged current students to follow in her footsteps and claim their places at the ivy league schools, making Hampton University and all HBCUs more visible. We could not ask for a better advocate for the value of a Hampton education than Ms. Chastang.”

- Matthew A. White '10 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

HU biology students travel to Brazil to conduct research in Atlantic Rainforest

HU biology students travel to Brazil to conduct research in Atlantic Rainforest 

Eight Hampton University biology students traveled to the Iracambi Atlantic Rainforest Research Center and to Rio Pomba, where they conducted research on sustainability and conservation from Jan. 5-23. 

The students on the trip were sophmores Brandi Adams, Rebecca Castro, Zenquia Miller; seniors Ashanti Bernateau, Pamela Cameau, Shalanda Grier, Crystal Smitherman and December 2014 graduate Carena Miles.

The first week of the program focused on learning Portuguese, where the HU students explored Rio de Janerio, traveled to Rio Pomba, communicating with locals, and learning about the culture from a group of Brazilian students from the local IF Sudeste-MG campus.

During the second week of the program both HU & IF Sudeste MG-Rio Pomba students studied topics including sustainable communities, reforesting, bird watching, bio-construction and environmental management. Learning took place both inside and outside the classroom, between lectures and presentations. 

"I learned that the purpose of the conservation of forestry is to track development," said Smitherman. "This experience has humbled me and given me an appreciation for the rainforest and all that it contributes to the ecosystem. It is important that we all learn about conservation in the rainforest, in order to protect our world and the environment."    

In the third week of the program the HU students traveled to the IF Sudeste-MG campus where they learned about sustainability, how students conduct research in the forest and how the students in Rio Pomba are preserving and rebuilding the rainforest. 

The trip was sponsored by the Washington Baltimore Hampton Roads-Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (WBHR-LSAMP), which focuses on increasing the number of underrepresented minority students involved in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).   

"My favorite part of the experience was the interaction with other students that were so open to learning about our culture and language as much as we were to learning theirs," said Castro. " This experience opened my eyes to new possibilities for careers."

- Matthew A. White '10

Monday, March 2, 2015

HU Conference Explored Four Tiers of Hip Hop

Hampton University students artwork auctioned at the beginning of the conference
Hampton University’s School of Liberal Arts hosted the first annual Art of Hip-Hop conference on Feb. 11 - 12. This year’s theme was “Do You Still Love H.E.R (Hearing Every Rhyme)?” The conference extended over the course of two days, with the first being a silent auction built on one of the four tiers of hip-hop, graffiti. The artwork featured many artists who have made a lasting impact on the industry since it began over 40 years ago. Patrons were given the opportunity to listen to hip-hop music from different decades as they enjoyed the work of HU students.

Honoree Freedom Williams with conference coordinator Idonia Barrett and Dana Hubbard
Frederick “Freedom” Williams, who attended HU in the late 80’s was chosen to be the honoree of this year’s conference. Freedom Williams is the former front man and co-founder of the international multi-platinum selling group C&C Music Factory. He sold over 8 million records and has written children’s books. He has also written history chapters and screen plays. Honored by receiving his work, Williams spoke to the audience of students on his success and how he struggled to remain humble through the experiences as well as stay connected to his roots, which helped him to become the person he is today.

Day two was full of events and panel discussions targeting the current state of hip-hop and the development of the culture. There were debates on the state of rap and how it ties into the hip-hop community, if at all. Another topic explored was the role of women in the industry and how they have been demoted to being video vixens and degraded subjects of rap lyrics. Radio personalities, Dominique Da Diva and Paris Nicole spoke on their oppositions to how women are viewed within the industry but also maintained their stance that it will always be popular on the radio because it is what sells.

Hampton University students showcase the evolution of hip hop over the decades 
The panelists were questioned on how we as a community are able to change the views of the public, and who will be the future of hip-hop. “Don’t be afraid to be yourself. It is important that you find out what your purpose is and go for it. Be cautious of what you listen to. Listen responsibly,” said Dominique Da Diva. It all starts with one person, one trailblazer, someone who doesn’t conform to the mainstream view of what hip-hop is.

The conference ended with a showcase of hip-hop through the decades. HU students performed in scenes portraying the evolution of hip-hop. From its origins in the Bronx, NY in the 1970’s engulfing its four tiers, The DJ; The Emcee; Graffiti; and Break Dancing.  Hip-hop has always been more than just a genre of music; it is a culture and lifestyle.

-Sechemelia Lewis ‘15
-Daisha Roberts '15

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Highest ranking African American at Bank of America addresses business students

Highest ranking African American at Bank of America addresses business students
Dean Dr. Sid Credle poses with Finale Norton and Victor K. Branch of Bank of America. 

The Hampton University School of Business welcomed back one of its own, alumna Finale Norton '85, Bank of America Senior Vice President, East Retail Contact Center, Executive Customer Service Contact Center and Victor K. Branch, Bank of America Senior Vice President, Richmond & Hampton Roads Market Manager.
"We are always delighted to have an alumnus come back," said Dr. Sid Credle, Dean of the Hampton University School of Business. "Mrs. Norton is of the highest ranking African-American at Bank of America, her connection back to Hampton is great. And we are desire to maintain a long lasting relationship between our institution and the bank."
Norton and Branch with student tour guides.
Norton's visit to her alma mater was a part of the business school's Leader Application Program (LAP) where Norton and Branch spent the day touring campus and speaking to several groups of students about how her time at HU prepared her for the business world both socially and professionally.
"One lesson that Hampton taught us while I was in school was the importance of knowing how to carry yourself in a business setting," said Norton. "There have been several instances where I have attended events and I have been the sole minority in attendance. And because of the education and training at Hampton, I was prepared to show my peers I was not intimidated." 
Norton and Branch addressed approximately 150 students, where they discussed their day to day responsibilities at Bank of America, opportunities at Bank of America, as well as providing knowledge based on experience they've gained in their almost 30 years in business. 
Bank of America Senior Vice President Finale Norton & Victor K. Branch receive copies of "Banjo Lesson" from HU Business students (pictured from left to right) Alayah Saunders, Brielle Lewis, Ayanna Donovan & Tomas Tekle.
"Having the opportunity for Fortune 500 recognized power of Bank of America to visit our 5-year MBA program was a phenomenal experience, " said Jamal B. Bailey, 4th year 5-year MBA major. "The representatives shared great insight of their growth and development throughout their tenure and presented the inner workings of a company which consists of ample growth/promotional opportunity as well as an interest in a high level of diversity."
"We gained an understanding for the inner workings of Bank of America and how they value their customers," said Clarke LeGrand, 3rd year MBA Major. "Bank of America really wants to focus on improving customer relations because they want to be the kind of bank that grows with its customers from college all the way to buying our first house." 

- Matthew A. White 

Monday, February 16, 2015

HU Welcomes BET's The Book of Negroes' Star to Campus

HU Welcomes BET's The Book of Negroes' Star to Campus

Hampton University and BET presented an early screening of BET’s newest mini-series “The Book of Negroes,” starring Aunjanue Ellis, Cuba Gooding, Jr., and Louis Gossett, Jr. on February 4 in Ogden Hall. Leading actress Ellis answered questions in a panel discussion following the screening.

Audience had very thought-provoking questions for Ellis during the Q&A afterwards.
The mini-series, based on Lawrence Hill’s novel, “Someone Knows My Name,” tells the dramatic journey and life of Aminata Diallo (played by Ellis), a young West African girl, abducted from her village and sold into slavery in South Carolina. It further shares a side of history that many people are unaware of.

“Our understanding of [Black] participation in the Revolutionary War begins and ends with Crispus Attucks being the first to die on the American side,” said Ellis, “but this series captures the stories behind Blacks fighting on the British side during the War for Independence and then being promised freedom and safe passage to Nova Scotia.”

Such history is voided in many textbooks and classrooms, and it is imperative that we learn of these stories beyond slavery, and get a better grasp of “Black History being a World History.”

"Our history isn’t just something to put on a document or in a photograph on the wall," said Ellis, the SAG-award winning actress for her role in “The Help,” “but it is something that we need to live by and forever learn from.”
Ellis posses with good friend Dr. Charrita Danley, HU Executive Assistant
to the President, and HU President Dr. William R. Harvey.

The mini-series is different from most slave narratives because it is told from a woman’s perspective—and one that can easily be described as a feminist.

Ellis describes her character Aminata Diallo as both a revolutionist and feminist, especially the jaw dropping moment when she stands up to then-president George Washington about slavery, leaving him utterly speechless.

“Aminata embodied both a feminist and revolutionist at the same time and that is something very powerful for us to recognize,” said Ellis. “Those two concepts are nothing new and definitely did not start in the 60’s, but a lot sooner than we were taught to believe.”

A celebration of black love (1783) showcased during the series, is something Ellis finds pride in because it shows a black man and black woman loving each other shamelessly.

Ellis believes the series will create controversial opinions and statements, but “you should never shy away from controversy because it invites dialogue and feeds an intense curiosity to understand the actual facts,” she said.

Students and staff pose for a picture with Ellis on Ogden Hall's stage.
“The Book of Negroes” is an actual hand-written document that listed Black passengers leaving New York to Nova Scotia on British ships in 1783. It gave their name, age, physical descriptions, and status of being freed or slave. Aminata was commissioned to write it.

During the Q&A, Ellis was asked how she viewed the similarity and difference between this series and other shows like Scandal and Empire.

“I celebrate the success of those shows along with their creators and actors because it’s entertaining and fun, but those shows don’t do what this series does,” said Ellis. “This isn’t to say that they aren’t relevant or valuable, instead I am saying that there is space for all of it, but we have to demand it. It’s our responsibility.”

Slavery is a dark chapter, but Aminata’s triumph over adversity and not drowning in everything that she was exposed to will allow viewers to learn about an untold side of history that they can grow from in addressing today’s modern struggles.

“The Book of Negroes” premieres on BET Monday, Feb. 16 at 8 p.m. EST.

-Gianina Thompson