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Procrastination is Not Part of Joseph Seals’ Vocabulary

April 23, 2008

By NiCarla J. Friend
CCBP Student Intern

As spring semester 2008 winds down, many students, some for the first time all year, start thinking about what they'll do during the summer break, or if they are seniors, what comes after college.

Joseph Seals, a junior from Selma majoring in language arts, is the perfect example of a student who did not procrastinate about his future. He arrived on campus with a plan and immediately set about to build his experience portfolio.

For example during "National Veterans Awareness Week," last November, Seals set up a giant card display to encourage the campus to keep veterans in mind leading up to Veterans Day. Seals had been inspired to do something to for veterans after spending time at the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center and carried out his project under the guidance of UA's Community Crossroads Community Center.

 "A lot of the soldiers at the hospital are lonely and away from home, so I wanted to get people to give them the attention they deserve," Seals explained. "People don't know what it's like for them." While spending time with the veterans, Seals noticed that many had no family visitors and felt forgotten or unappreciated.

He decided to do something. With backing from students and staff at UA's Crossroads Community Center, Seals created a giant Veterans Day card and set it up in the Ferguson Center for people to sign and show their support and appreciation for local veterans. Later, he presented the card to the veterans at the VA.

But the project won't end there, Seals said. He wants UA students to do something unique for veterans each year. Almost immediately on completion of the Veterans Day card, he and other students began discussing ideas for next year, "so the project does not become a cliché," he said.

Crossroads Community Center, which recently celebrated its third birthday, leads students and others in the University community in programs that promote awareness, knowledge and understanding of different cultures. Each year scores of students work with African and Native American Heritage, the Intercultural Student Council, Sustained Dialog and many other programs. Dr. Beverly Hawk is director and Brice Miller is the assistant director of the Center.

Seals began his quest for career-building activities early, attending UA's Multicultural Journalism Workshop as a rising senior in 2004.

As a student assistant at Crossroads, as well as residential adviser at Burke East, president of the Intercultural Student Council, a member of the Residential Assistant Selection Committee, a leader in the 2007 and 2008 Hip Hop Summits, as well as several other activities, Seals has little spare time on his hands.

 "UA is what you make of it," Seals said. "You have to get involved and try new things."

In doing so, Seals proves it's never too early to be doing something, somewhere for someone that benefits others and helps secure your own future in the world of work. His long-term plans are to become a junior college teacher.

(For more about Crossroads Community Center, go to http://crossroads.ua.edu/)

Churches hold "roots" celebration with African, African-American neighbors

March 6th, 2008

By NiCarla Friend 
Contributing Writer 
Release on Receipt

Contact: Ed Mullins, Center for Community-Based Partnerships, 205-246-3334, lemullins13@aol.com

Holy Spirit and St. Francis Catholic churches joined forces for their 16th Annual African and African American Heritage Celebration during African American History Month.

The event, which dates to 1993, was held at St. Francis Catholic Church on the UA campus. Its purpose is to give members of the Tuscaloosa community who are natives of present-day African countries and Tuscaloosa area African Americans the opportunity to join with the members of the two churches and others by worshipping and dining together.

The celebration was organized to improve race relationships on the UA campus. Now the event brings different ethnic groups together for an event that starts with a performance by various choirs followed by a Mass and concludes with a feast where African and African American dishes are served.

Native Nigerians Dr. Yomi Wilcox and her husband, Tony Ojo, prepared all of the African dishes. From the first celebration, participants have used ingredients originally brought to the Americas by slaves.  

The preparation of one of the dishes, moi-moi, begins with removal, one at a time, of the eyes of black-eyed peas. The peas are then blended with corned beef and onions. Curry, cayenne and other seasonings are added. The mixture is then poured into packets of aluminum foil and cooked for approximately five hours. Another dish, obe ila, is a spinach and okra soup that is a descendent of gumbo, which comes from gombo, an African term for okra. obe iresi, jollof rice and adiye (stewed chicken) also appeared on the menu.  

This year's event, on Feb. 23, attracted over 160 people. "The [dinner] is an educational time for the community. A lot of people don't realize that a lot of the dishes we eat here originated from Africa," says Mary Snow, a member of Holy Spirit Church who plays an instrumental part in the celebration. She has helped cook at each celebration since the first one.  

Dr. Linda Dover, retired English professor from Stillman College and co-organizer, said the dinner would not be possible without the strong support from the two pastors, Reverends Gerald Holloway (St. Francis) and Jerry Deasey (Holy Spirit) and their respective church communities. "The food, the fellowship, and the people create the warm ambiance," she said.  

Dr. Estelle Ryan Clavelli, associate director of Community Education at the Center for Community-Based Partnerships at the University, found an opportunity at the dinner to announce the possibility of Tuscaloosa forming a sister-city relationship with Sunyani, Ghana, in West Africa. This would be the third sister city of Tuscaloosa. The others are Narashino in Japan and Schorndorf in Germany.  

By becoming a sister-city, Sunyani would begin formal exchanges with Tuscaloosa and continue to receive University of Alabama students who travel there during the summer months.  

The Tuscaloosa's Sister City Commission would welcome official visitors from Sunyani at a later date to determine future opportunities. Additional information about the exchange is available from Lisa Keyes, director of the Sister City Commission. She may be reached at 205-469-2183.

One shot at a time – Program helps students document life in Black Belt

January 21, 2008

Tuscaloosa News
By Adam Jones

LIVINGSTON | As a child, Destynni Burrell played outside a hunting lodge near her house. She never thought much of it until she was handed a camera and told to document life in the Black Belt.

"It's been there my whole life, but when I finally looked at it, I saw something more," said the Livingston High School student.

Burrell was one of 15 students from seventh to 11th grades in Sumter County selected to participate in "Black Belt 100 lenses," a project aimed to get teenagers to think about their culture and region by taking pictures of whatever they believed showed their life and community.

An exhibit of the pictures opened last week and will be on display at the Webb Gallery at the University of West Alabama through March 1.

The exhibit shows a broad range of life in the rural county near the Mississippi border. One shows a boy getting on the school bus just after dawn. Another is a black and white capture of two abandoned antique gas pumps.

There is a picture of a family gathered around the table at Thanksgiving, the turkey ready for carving. There is a pot of field peas, some not shelled, in black and white. Another shows smiling children in the back pews of their church before or after a service.

"This is an untainted version of what the Black Belt is because chil dren don't sugar coat anything," said Felicia Jones, with the Black Belt

Community Foundation, which sponsored the project along with the University of Alabama.

Elliot Knight, the University of Alabama graduate student who helped lead the project, said each student approached the project differently. Some went out with a more artistic eye hoping to show social issues, while others took shots of potholes or run-down structures in hopes of bringing attention to their community.

For Burrell and a few others, they stuck close to home.

"I went a lot of places to take pictures, but I realized the most beautiful things are near my house," she said. "The pictures they used were just a few feet from my house."

Kate Bonner, a student at Sumter Academy, said she nearly gave up on the assignment, but was encouraged to look harder by her mom.

"I took this as an opportunity to look beyond my little world of cheerleading and sports," she said.

Students were selected through guidance counselors and English teachers, and met with Knight and Whitney Green, arts coordinator for the Black Belt Community Foundation, to go over basic photography this summer. Given point-and-shoot film cameras, the students took color photos and met again to discuss why and how they selected their photos, Knight said. They repeated the project with black and white film.

"A lot of issues start to get exposed, and a diverse group can talk about things that might not normally get talked about," Knight said.

Samory Pruitt, vice president for community affairs at UA, said the project is planned to extend to 12 Black Belt counties. When finished, he envisions an exhibit that tours the state and the photos being bound into a book.

Reach Adam Jones at adam.jones@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0230

"Black Belt 100 Lenses" Reception Scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 17

January 17th, 2008

TUSCALOOSA "” Highway signs and vintage buildings, crop rows and fishing holes are some of the images Sumter County students have captured as part of a Black Belt documentary project.

On Thursday from 4-6 p.m., the fruits of "Black Belt 100 Lenses," a joint project of the Black Belt Community Foundation and The University of Alabama will be on display during a reception at the University of West Alabama's Webb Hall Gallery in Livingston. The public is invited.

The project brings together 7th through 11th grade students to document their communities in still photographs. The Sumter County pilot will be carried to other Black Belt counties, including Bullock, Choctaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Perry, Pickens and Wilcox.

"To celebrate the conclusion of the Sumter County pilot project, an exhibition will be on display at Webb Hall Galley at the University of West Alabama Jan. 17 until March 1," said Christopher H. Spencer, UA adviser for the project.

"Anyone from Alabama "” especially from small towns or who just want to see how photography can have an impact on people and communities "” will want to visit the exhibition", said Whitney Greene, Black Belt Arts Initiative coordinator and co-director of the project. "It's amazing how well these young people have captured the culture and challenges of the Black Belt through their photography."

In addition to the students' work, local artist Linda Munoz will have several works on exhibit. Munoz was commissioned to create artwork using the students' photographs as inspiration. Pieces on display include a quilt and a glass mosaic that represents many of the students' themes.

Elliot Knight, a graduate student in American Studies from Opelika, who is also an intern at the Center for Community-Based Partnerships, has been one of the principal instructors for the project that uses photovoice, a research technique that blends grassroots photography with social science to record and reflect community strengths and problems.

"I have enjoyed working with the students," Knight said. "Their dialogue surrounding the photographs has been as powerful as the photographs themselves."

Contact:   Christopher H Spencer, Associate Director, Community Development at 205-348-7374 or chspencer01@ua.edu.

Retired UA Journalism Professor Receives Multicultural Recruiting Award

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. "“ Dr. Ed Mullins, a retired University of Alabama journalism professor, is recipient of the 2007 Robert P. Knight Multicultural Recruiting Award for helping create a more diversified journalism workforce.

Mullins received the award from the Scholastic Journalism Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication in a Washington, D.C. meeting Saturday, Aug. 11, 2007.

Monica Hill, scholastic journalism director at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, presented the award. Like Mullins, Hill is a former director of UA's Multicultural Journalism Workshop, which celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2008.

"It is gratifying to see our good work recognized by this award," Mullins said. "For the second time, our workshop and related activities are seen as among the nation's best."

In 1999, then journalism instructor and MJW director Marie Parsons also won the Knight Award in recognition of her work.

Mullins was dean of the UA College of Communication and Information Sciences when the workshop was founded in 1984. He has worked as a teacher for each of the 24 workshops and will serve as volunteer director for his fourth workshop in 2008.

In notifying Mullins about the award, Hill wrote, "This award is for your years of devotion to multicultural recruitment and for your leadership of others who have followed in your footsteps."

"Diversity in the journalism workforce is a critical issue for a democracy," Mullins said.

Plans are under way for a reunion of MJW alumni, teachers and directors as part of the 25th anniversary workshop. "This is an impressive group, people who have made their mark in a tough profession," Mullins said. "We look forward to having a large number of them back on campus."

Mullins, who retired this year, continues to be active in teaching at UA's Knight Fellows Teaching Newspaper Program in Anniston and on campus as MJW director and volunteer with the Center for Community-Based Partnerships.

"˜This is a wonderful recognition of the many years that Ed has put into developing and sustaining MJW," said Dr. Loy Singleton, dean of the College. "It is also a great distinction for this College."

The College of Communication and Information Sciences is among the largest and most prestigious communication colleges in the country, having graduated more than 12,000 students and ranking among the top institutions in the country in the number of doctorates awarded. Communication graduates have earned four of the six Pulitzer Prizes awarded to UA alumni.

UA’s CCBP Awards Program to Honor Campus and Community Partners

April 23, 2007

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. "“ The University of Alabama Center for Community-Based Partnerships will hold its first honors luncheon Friday, April 27, at the Sheraton Four Points Hotel in Tuscaloosa, beginning at noon.

The keynote speaker will be Dr. Arthur N. Dunning, vice president for public service and outreach and associate provost at the University of Georgia. Dunning oversees one of the nation's most comprehensive outreach operations. The former UA faculty member has been a key adviser to Dr. Samory T. Pruitt, UA's vice president for community affairs and executive director of the Center for Community-Based Partnerships, known as CCBP.

In his remarks, Dunning will trace the development of UGA's outreach efforts and explain how they have changed both campus culture and the state. In his seven years at the University of Georgia, Dunning has mobilized human and fiscal resources to address the challenges of connecting his university to needs of citizens and communities.

Awards will be made in four categories: distinguished service, outstanding student-initiated project, outstanding faculty/staff-initiated project and outstanding community-partner initiated project.

"These outstanding projects and individuals connect the outreach mission of the University to its teaching and research functions while serving the needs of our local community, the state of Alabama, the region, the nation and the world," Pruitt said. "They operationalize our motto: Engaging Communities and Changing Lives."

Winning projects will receive funds to be used in future projects or to extend current ones, Pruitt said. All of the nominated projects involve faculty, staff, students, curriculum and formal research, Pruitt said.

Following the luncheon, attendees are invited to attend an open house at the Cannon House, 824 4th Avenue, the home of CCBP, next door to the Sheraton. Special guests of the open house will be students participating in P.A.S.S. (Preparing Alabama Students for Success), a School of Social Work project.

CCBP began in 2006 as an initiative of the Office of Community Affairs. It mobilizes the resources of the University to address problems identified jointly by community and academic partners. Its purpose is to engage communities, expand the classroom and laboratory, and promote better education, health, economic and cultural opportunities for all Alabamians.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is in the midst of a planned, steady enrollment growth with a goal of reaching 28,000 students by 2010. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.

UA Announces First Class of New Parent Leadership Academy

September 17th, 2007

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. "“ The inaugural class of The University of Alabama's new Parent Leadership Academy was introduced Thursday night at a kickoff ceremony at UA's Child Development Research Center.

Those present for the ceremony included Dr. Samory Pruitt, UA vice-president for community affairs; Dr. Sandra Ray, member of the Alabama State Board of Education; Dr. Joyce Levey, superintendent of the Tuscaloosa City Schools; and Dr. Frank Costanzo, superintendent for the Tuscaloosa County Schools.

The Parent Leadership Academy, a joint initiative of Tuscaloosa city and county public schools, the UA Center for Community-Based Partnerships, and faculty in UA's Colleges of Education and Human Environmental Sciences, is a year-long certificate program that aids in developing the leadership potential of parents in the West Alabama area.

2007-08 class members are: Amanda Bearden, Cottondale Elementary; Scottie L. Burden, Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary; Jesse Dixon Jr., Woodland Forrest Elementary; Bryan K. Fair, Rock Quarry Elementary; Donnie Grill, Woodland Forrest; Felicia Gross, Arcadia Elementary; Ingrid Holemon, Arcadia; Robin Holmes, Taylorville Primary; Spike Howard Jr., Faucett-Vestavia Elementary; Roderick Johnson, Matthews Elementary; Elizabeth Lucious, Martin Luther King; Stacie Lunsford, Taylorville; Shanon Lyles, Crestmont Elementary; Dwight Monroe, Rock Quarry; Faye Perry, Oakdale Elementary; Tena Phifer, Crestmont; Juandalyn Smith-Swoope, Oakdale; Brandi Sturdivant, Cottondale; Robin Thornburg, Faucett-Vestavia; and Marie Washington, Matthews.

"These are parents who are active in the schools and represent the best of the best," said Pruitt. "Our hope is that they will continue to remain active in schools, will become more aware of the challenges facing other parents and schools, and will inspire and actively recruit other parents to become more involved."

Similar programs, Pruitt said, have begun across the country. The Tuscaloosa program is believed to be the first in Alabama.

"We see this as a wonderful opportunity to collaborate, educate, and expand the capacity of our school children's parents with support from The University of Alabama, their school system, and community members. Through respect, commitment, creativity, and safety, we see our families totally engaged in the lives of their children, networking with other parents, building a firm foundation for the success of our future…our children," said Levey.

"This Academy will prove to be an excellent resource to build parent leadership as we strive to improve the academic success for all students," said Costanzo.

For more information on the Parent Leadership Academy, contact Dr. Estelle Ryan Clavelli at 205/348-7367 or estelleryan.clavelli@ua.edu.

Open-Air Market on Sept. 13th, 2007

Sept. 13, 2007

Bring Home-Grown Produce, Blues to Ferguson Plaza

Contact: Christopher H. Spencer, 205-348-7374, chspencer01@ua.edu

Homegrown Alabama will bring an open-air market to the Ferguson Center Plaza on The University of Alabama campus Thursday, September 13, from 3-6:30 p.m.

This is the second on-campus farmers market hosted by Homegrown Alabama in collaboration with the Ferguson Center, the Office of Community Affairs, and the Alabama Farmers Market Authority.

Homegrown Alabama is a student-led group that seeks to educate students about the value of local produce, as well as to foster partnerships between local farmers and the University.

"The market is an excellent opportunity for students to interact with area farmers and support our local economy," said Christopher H. Spencer, associate director for community development in the Center for Community-Based Partnerships, which helped organize the event.

Fourteen farmers and vendors from the Tuscaloosa-Northport area, the Black Belt and elsewhere around the state will participate. Produce for sale includes sweet potatoes, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, grapes, melons, peaches and okra. Jars of home-prepared honey, jams and jellies, fresh pastries and eggs and plants will also be for sale. 

Alabama Blues Project, featuring Debbie Bond and Radiator Rick, will perform during the market. Homegrown Alabama, with help from the Alabama Farmers Market Authority, will sell "Buy Fresh/ Buy Local" t-shirts and tote bags. Bama Dining will provide a drink kiosk.

Partners for the event include the UA Office of Community Affairs, Ferguson Center, Bama Dining and the Alabama Farmers Market Authority.

Homegrown Alabama, formed in 2005, has about a dozen student members from varying academic majors and colleges. Homegrown's advisers are Carl Bacon, director of the Ferguson Center, and Mildred P. Switzer, instructor of human nutrition and hospitality management.

Key student planners are Keri Coumanis, Molly McNutt, Clay Morrison, Sierra Perkins and Andrea Mabry. The students are either members of Homegrown Alabama or currently enrolled in Nutrition and Hospitality Management 490, an independent study course in the College of Human Environmental Sciences.

"These students have worked diligently throughout the summer and the first few weeks of fall semester to ensure that a fall farmers market would take place," Spencer said.

To learn more about Homegrown Alabama's mission, or to become a member, visit www.homegrownalabama.org.

Inaugural Class for UA’s Parent Leadership Academy to Kickoff Sept. 13

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. "“ The inaugural class for The University of Alabama's new Parent Leadership Academy has been selected, said Dr. Samory Pruitt, UA vice-president for community affairs.

Known as PLA, the academy is a year-long certificate program that aids in developing the leadership potential of parents in the West Alabama area. It will kickoff its program Thursday, Sept 13 at 5:30 p.m., with a reception and opening session at the Child Development Research Center on the UA campus.

2007-08 class members are: Amanda Bearden, Cottondale Elementary; Scottie L. Burden, Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary; Jesse Dixon Jr., Woodland Forrest Elementary; Bryan K. Fair, Rock Quarry Elementary; Donnie Grill, Woodland Forrest; Felicia Gross, Arcadia Elementary; Ingrid Holemon, Arcadia; Robin Holmes, Taylorville Primary; Spike Howard Jr., Faucett-Vestavia Elementary; Roderick Johnson, Matthews Elementary; Elizabeth Lucious, Martin Luther King; Stacie Lunsford, Taylorville; Shanon Lyles, Crestmont Elementary; Dwight Monroe, Rock Quarry; Faye Perry, Oakdale Elementary; Tena Phifer, Crestmont; Juandalyn Smith-Swoope, Oakdale; Brandi Sturdivant, Cottondale; Robin Thornburg, Faucett-Vestavia; and Marie Washington, Matthews.

"These are parents who are active in the schools and represent the best of the best," said Pruitt. "Our hope is that they will continue to remain active in schools, will become more aware of the challenges facing other parents and schools, and will inspire and actively recruit other parents to become more involved."

PLA is a joint initiative of Tuscaloosa city and county public schools, the UA Center for Community-Based Partnerships, and faculty in UA's Colleges of Education and Human Environmental Sciences.

Similar programs, Pruitt said, have begun across the country. The Tuscaloosa program is believed to be the first in Alabama.

"PLA has strong support from local schools and the state board of education," said Pruitt, "as well as from community organizations."

"A child’s first teacher is in the home," said Joe Morton, Alabama superintendent of education. "The Parent Leadership Academy is designed to actively engage parents and educators to become active partners. By working together, family, school and community partnerships will be created and strengthened."

"We see this as a wonderful opportunity to collaborate, educate, and expand the capacity of our school children's parents with support from the University of Alabama, their school system, and community members. Through respect, commitment, creativity, and safety, we see our families totally engaged in the lives of their children, networking with other parents, building a firm foundation for the success of our future…our children," said Dr. Joyce Levey, superintendent of the Tuscaloosa City Schools.

"This Academy will prove to be an excellent resource to build parent leadership as we strive to improve the academic success for all students," said Frank Costanzo, superintendent for the Tuscaloosa County Schools.

For more information, contact Dr. Estelle Ryan Clavelli at 205/348-7367 or estelleryan.clavelli@ua.edu.

For interviews, contact: Dr. Samory Pruitt, 205-348-8375, samory.pruitt@ua.edu; Dr. Estelle Ryan Clavelli, 205-348-7367, estelleryan.clavelli@ua.edu