|JADE ROMAIN: Language is No Barrier
Every once and while, life throws you a curve ball; but it’s not always a bad thing. Such was the case for an unsuspecting Jade Romain, whose experience overseas last summer turned out to be a whole lot different than she expected.
A senior speech pathology major from Los Angeles CA (St. Mary’s Academy), Romain traveled to Africa expense-free at the invitation of close friend, Teresa, director and founder of Full Circle Learning, an international non-profit which provides educational services to community schools in developing countries around the globe.
Told she would be teaching “character development” to pre-K/kindergarten students (ages 2-7) in an area of Lusak, Zambia known as Chibolya, she was shocked to find herself in a situation where none of the children spoke any English. Needless to say Romain had failed to brush up on her Bemba, Tonga, Nyanja, or any of the scores of other languages was spoken by the locals.
|Senior Jade Romain in Chibolya, Zambia
Introduced only as the “new teacher”, Romain struggled early on to teach 60 children the alphabet, shapes, colors, numbers, and other such rudimentary skills with no educational materials other than what she had brought along herself, in a community school classroom with no desks, no chairs, and no windows – just holes in the wall for ventilation.
She found herself among the poorest of the poor. She remembers spending the whole first night crying.
The real challenge was trying to motivate children who rarely had enough to eat and who endured the most rudimentary of living conditions,” said Romain, pointing out that families in the area routinely shared the same scarce sanitation facilities and water resources. “Even with organizations such as Children’s International providing some relief, on Mondays I’d have half the class out because they had eaten no food the whole weekend.”
Undeterred, however, Romain persevered and is proud to say that by the time she departed three months later her “babies” were well on their way to mastering some of the basics of the English language.
But that wasn’t enough for her. She and a colleague approached government officials and consulted with the local U.S. Embassy, and the end result was creation of the Khondanani Project, a certified national organization dedicated to bringing educational resources to the nation’s community schools. The Project has partnered with Children’s International, which has agreed to help with distribution.
“There is a dire need of educational materials for both the children and the teachers,” said Roman, who pointed out the native “teachers” are in fact non-paid volunteers who themselves seldom have even a high school education. “The teachers are there because they love the children, but they really have no sense of curriculum or of effective teaching methods.”
Since returning to New Orleans, Romain has made some outreach to local public and private schools to acquire their surplus and otherwise unneeded educational materials, and has begun to outline plans to appeal to individuals for funding. The Project is awaiting official U.S. certification that would qualify it for corporate and federal funding.
Meanwhile Romain, who will graduate in May, is completing her clinical practice at the Lusher School this semester and busily applying for graduate school. But a return to Zambia is also definitely in her immediate future.
“I am anxious to get back to Chibolya and bring the community schools the things they need to be successful,” she said. “But I also note that there is no speech pathology or audiology presence in the country, and that’s something I’d also like to help change.”
|RAVEN HOLMES: A Compelling Attraction to Public Health Sciences
It is altogether fitting that Raven Holmes will be among the first graduates from Xavier’s new Public Health Sciences program when she walks across the stage next May. She’s been on the front lines for community health for quite some time.
A senior from Washington DC (Walter Johnson High in Bethesda MD), Holmes arrived at Xavier in 2009 with the sole intention of getting into medical school. And where better than XU, which is first among the nation’s colleges in the number of African American graduates who go on to complete medical school.
But during those intervening years that singular ambition was taken on a detour. First there was a death in the family that compelled her to attend college in Maryland for a full year [she returned to New Orleans upon realizing that XU was where she really wanted to be], followed by an overseas summer internship that altered her career focus. Lastly there was Xavier’s decision to offer a new major in Public Health Sciences (PHS) in 2012.Not that she has forsaken her original goal – she still plans to go to medical school and specialize in obstetrics. It’s just that her passion has been redirected towards working in a community setting, amongst the poorest and neediest of the world’s populations. She envisions
|XU President Dr. Norman C. Francis, senior Raven Holmes, and the Endowed Chair in Public Health Sciences Dr. Regina Benjamin
herself one day working for an organization like Doctors without Borders, an international medical humanitarian group which provides independent, impartial assistance in more than 60 countries to people whose survival is threatened by natural and man-induced phenomenon.
As a transfer into the fledgling PHS program, Holmes is in a unique position with relationship to medical school. Prior to entering the program, she had already taken several science courses not specifically required for the PHS degree, but pretty much considered sine qua non for medical school admission.
She also possesses a lot of other intangibles that would be considered highly desirable. Her real world, hand-on experiences include a malaria research program internship at prestigious Johns Hopkins University, research on the impact of Vitamin A on pregnancy and infant growth in Bangladesh as part of another Hopkins project, and teaching health education to high school students through the Louisiana Public Health Service. And, by the way, she is quite fluent in French.
Here at Xavier, Holmes is the founder and co-president of GlobeMed, a group that seeks to educate and train student advocates for global health equity by partnering with a grassroots organization overseas and building strong long-term relationships. XU’s GlobeMed partner is the Food and Rural Development Foundation in Buea, Cameroon, and the group is currently raising the funds necessary to promote a good hygiene and safe sanitation project there.
“Just as in many rural areas of the world, too many people in Cameroon are becoming ill unnecessarily because they do not have access to safe drinking water or a place to bathe free of contamination,” said Holmes, who expects to be part of student group that travels to work on-site next summer. “Our hope is to raise enough funds to construct a community latrine and to raise awareness in these communities about how important sanitation is to their health.”
|THOMAS WALKER: The Lights Come on in Paris
Paris is often referred to as “the City of Lights”. That’s precisely the effect it had on junior political science major Thomas Walker, who had a “light bulb” inside his own head click on while studying abroad in the French capital last spring.
Back in 2012, Walker, who hails from Los Angeles CA (Frederick Douglas High), was floundering around as some sophomores are prone to do – not really sure about what he wanted to do and looking for some catalyst to ignite his passion. Much to his surprise, he found it one day when he wandered into one of the XU Center for Intercultural and International Program’s (CIIP) Study Abroad Fairs.
“I had given some thought to studying abroad before, but it wasn’t until I talked with the reps at the fair and to (CIIP director) Mr. (Torian) Lee, did I realize that it was really a feasible option,” he said. “In fact I was shocked how easy the process was.”
Not the least among the surprising facts he learned about studying abroad: the cost of the program, which included a place to stay and most of his meals, was pretty much the same as his regular Xavier tuition would have been. His only real additional costs were for travel and some incidental living expenses.
|XU junior political science major
Thomas Walker in Paris, France
And as a result of his four months attending the American Business School in Paris through the International Study Abroad (ISA) program, Walker is no longer a floundering soul. He is, in fact, excited about his future, which he now envisions including law school and a career in international relations.
But he’s not idling away his time at Xavier either. Since returning he has become very active on campus, among other things, serving as an Ambassador for the CIIP and the Career Advancement Center. He finds he is much more focused academically as well.
While in France, Walker picked up academic credits in the areas of political science, psychology, art history, and, of course, French. He was surprised by two things: how easy it was to pick up the language, and how hard art history turned out to be.
“Paris is a great city to study art history – I got to visit the Louvre and numerous other great galleries and museums,” he said. “But it was a really difficult course to get through.”
Walker attributes his rebirth to the self-dependency he acquired abroad. Living with an older couple in the city several miles from the school, he was forced to learn how to get around on the Metro, to learn the language, and to learn how to make his own decisions. “There’s a nine-hour time differential between Paris and Los Angeles,” he laughed. “There was no calling Mom for some quick advice.”
Having taken stock of himself, Walker is ready to take on the world.
|AFFORDING A QUALITY XAVIER EDUCATION
A Xavier education is well worth the investment that families make.
The University takes great pride in the quality of its academic programs. The value-oriented educational environment and the many positive influences provided through the campus life programs supplement the formal classroom experience. A Xavier diploma is one that is recognized nationally and, indeed, around the world. XU graduates are prepared to compete for positions in the work-force and slots in graduate, medical and other professional schools.
Xavier administers a broad array of financial aid programs, including scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study to assist in meeting a student’s demonstrated financial need. In addition, programs are available for families who do not demonstrate financial need but who are interested in investigating various education financing options such as a monthly payment plan, the Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loan and the PLUS Loan for Parents. ROTC programs provide yet another alternative for some students. Many families combine two or more of these programs to help manage their financial obligation.
What is “Financial Need”? It’s the difference between the estimated cost of attendance for a school year and the estimated family contribution. The estimated family contribution is based upon the information the family provides annually on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Factors such as income, assets, liabilities, family size, number of family members in college, age of parents, and private school costs for other children are considered in determining a family’s financial strength. The University assumes that all families will contribute to educational costs to the extent that they are capable.
What’s the first step? Students should submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at www.fafsa.govas soon as possible after January 1st using the Xavier Code of 002032.
Call the Office of Admissions at 504-520-7388 for more information.