9th Annual African/African American Heritage Reception

By Victoria Joshua

February 27, 2013

Ensuring the importance of unity, truth, and compassionate service for all, Dominican faculty and students have commemorated collectively to celebrate Black History Month all throughout February.

On Feb. 15, students gathered to remember the historical contributions of the Tuskegee Airmen at a showing of the film “Red Tails”, and on Feb. 18, the Black World Studies club encouraged students across campus to share their talents in a performance showing in the Social Hall.

Though Black History Month may be coming to an end, the African/African-American Heritage Reception on Feb. 22 reminded the Dominican community that the celebration and remembrance of the African diaspora extends beyond the 28 days allotted to it.

On Feb. 22, several Dominican students, alumni, and faculty members gathered in the Social Hall for the 9th Annual African/African-American Heritage Reception to honor the recipients of the Christopher Little Memorial Grant. The student recipients of the grant this year included Grissel Blackmon, Janaie Burnside, TraLisha Davis, Danielle Eubanks-Brady, Ambrell Gambrell, Adome Gebre, Clinee Hedspeth, Maia Martin, Brianna Mitchell, Carissa Perry, Jasmine Puller, and Shaquile Read.
The Christopher Little Grant is awarded to Dominican students as a celebration of his exemplary life. Little, a scholar-athlete and 1991 graduate of Rosary College, was a voice for the black community before his untimely death in 2007. Little served as president of the African American Students Association, family educator, and third-grade teacher in the Chicagoland area. He also fulfilled his dream of working in the sports arena in 2004 when he became a certified representative of the NBA and NFL and established KBM Sports and Entertainment.

“The Christopher Little Grant paid off more than half of the cost for my summer classes,” Read said. “I’m grateful for the help.”

At the beginning of the reception, Sr. Mary Clemente Davlin welcomed those in attendance with a warm prayer, followed by speeches from student representatives of the Black Student Union and Assistant Dean for Academic Success, Robbi Byrdsong-Wright. Dean Jeff Carlson also spoke on behalf of President Donna Carroll, reminding students and alumni that the reception is an evening of community, where they should look to one another for help in pursing the university’s mission statement as well as personal goals.
“We need your help,” Carlson said. “We need you to be guest presenters in our classes. Our students look to you. As for students, look around. Share your hurts and your hopes. These are Rosary Alumnus, [and] they came back for you.”

Patricia Ann Askew, a Dominican alumna of 1977 and member of the National Association of Black Accountants, was presented the 2013 African/African-American Heritage Award. The annual award is given to Dominican alumni who remain committed to the university’s mission.  After receiving her award, Askew recalled her experience at Dominican as a place where she was welcomed with open arms.

Askew had an essential message for all students in attendance, but one especially for black students.

“We all have the same concerns,” Askew said. “People are willing to help if you open your mind to it. Education is the bottom line, and if I can do it, everyone in this room can.”
The final event for Black History Month at Dominican will be “The Role of Diverse Populations in Personalized Medicine”, a lecture presented by geneticist and founder of National Human Genome and African Ancestry Inc., Dr. Rick Kittles. The event will be held on Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. in the Martin Recital Hall.