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Aggie Fest 2014

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Aggie Fest 2014. Photo by Alexis Wainwright.

Aggie Fest 2014

By Kelene Clark

JOMC Journal Contributor

            Every spring semester, at North Carolina A&T, students and people all around the world are eager for one of the most exciting weeks: Aggie Fest! Yearly, there are different events that take place which excites everyone to come out and enjoy the festivities. Whether it’s a fashion show, cookout, or concert, you are sure to have a good time. I recently caught up with SUAB president, Tamira Williams, to get an inside scoop on what will be going down at this years’ Aggie Fest.


Kelene: What is the date for this years’ Aggie Fest?

Williams: Aggie Fest will be April 7-12.

Kelene: What event can we expect to see during this week?

Williams: We are still finalizing all the events as of right now but, you can expect a lot of fun such as day time events, block parties, dorm step off, etc.. The full schedule will be out to the public at the end of this week or beginning of next.

Kelene: What’s going to make this year’s Aggie Fest better than the last?

Williams: Aggie Fest was gone for 10 years at one point in time, and now that it’s back we’re just trying to make sure that all of the events we have are fun for the students. We have a wellness wheel for the whole week and also a cultural fair that we would like all the students to take part in. Most importantly, we want our Aggies to have fun fun fun!

Kelene: How much money does Aggie fest bring into A&T?

Williams: Aggie fest is run by student activities and the special events committee program which means we try to focus more on events and activities for the students. All the money that is made goes toward more activities for students.  Aggie fest is not a revenue generating event, it’s just something for the students to do in the spring time.

Kelene: What is SUAB looking forward to the most during Aggie Fest?

Williams: We’re looking forward to the whole week overall, we’re excited for everything! SUAB just wants to make sure that the students are pleased overall and that our job was well done.


Aggie Cheerleaders

After my exclusive interview with Williams, I had an interview with a sophomore student, Tevin Mcgill, who has been excited for the upcoming Aggie fest.

Kelene: What are you expecting to see at this years’ Aggie Fest?

McGill: I’m expecting, for one, the block party of course because last years’ was so fun. And second, I’m expecting a big performer to show up for a concert.

Kelene: Which event would you like to see NOT happen, that happened at last years’ Aggie Fest?

McGill: I wasn’t into the fashion show to much so if they take that out, that’ll be good.

Kelene: What is something new that you would like to see at this years’ Aggie Fest?

McGill: I think they should come up with a field day, you know, like we had in elementary but games that are more for college students, like quiz bowls or races. Just something that everyone can compete in.

 Many people call Aggie Fest the “mini homecoming” because of all the activities and fun.  After my interview with Williams and McGill, I see that this year’s Aggie Fest is expected to be one heck of a time. Let’s just hope it’s what everyone expects. 

Human Race Walk

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 Rain failed to stop volunteers from throughout Greensboro, N.C. who showed up at the Greensboro Coliseum March 29 for The Volunteer Center’s 20th birthday celebration and “The Human Race” charity walk. As Ashleigh Wilson reports, two student organizations from North Carolina A&T State University took part in the celebration and walk. Photo by Ziris Savage. Slideshow by Ashleigh Wilson. Click the photo view a slideshow of the walk.


Life on a Minimum Wage … Barely

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Life on a Minimum Wage … Barely

By Debora Timms

JOMC Journal Contributor

            Brittany Chavis is a working mother earning minimum wage. She stood out in the cold Tuesday, March 18 with a small but vocal group representing NC Raise Up.

Chanting “We can’t survive on $7.25,” the group is working to call attention to the struggles faced by minimum wage workers in the fast food industry.

Chavis’ four children range in age from 3-years-old to 9-years-old. Her job at Burger King, she says, leaves her “barely scraping the money to get what they need … for necessities” and she is reliant on government assistance to survive. Chavis’ plight is similar to thousands of minimum wage workers across the nation.

President Barack Obama visited Central Connecticut State University this month to continue his push to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10. He stressed that Americans who work fulltime should not continue to live in poverty.  Calling it a central premise of America, Obama said it was good business sense to “build an economy that works for everybody, and not just some.”

Locally, this sentiment was echoed by Rep. Alma Adams, who also spoke at NC Raise Up’s protest. “Just working hard is not enough, especially if you don’t earn enough,” she said.


Adams believes that support for raising the minimum wage is support for families across North Carolina. “Raising the minimum wage will strengthen workers. Strong workers strengthen families. Strong families strengthen communities. Strong communities have strong businesses,” Adams said, adding, “Everybody wins.”

Politicians vary on the issue, but most Democratic candidates support the initiative. In North Carolina, raising the minimum wage may well play a pivotal role in deciding this year’s state elections, with an Elon University poll showing strong public support for the move.

In December last year, The Economic Policy Institute released an updated analysis on the effect the Fair Wage Act of 2013, which would raise the minimum wage in increments to $10.10/hour by 2015, might have if enacted. Its report showed this level would allow a single, full-time minimum wage job to keep a family of three above the 2014 poverty line set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This reflects what minimum wage jobs provided throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

Nationally, the Congressional Budget Office estimates raising the federal minimum wage will lift the earnings of 16.5 million workers. It would indirectly impact another eight million workers as employers adjust their internal pay scales.

Allan M. Freyer, public policy analyst for the North Carolina Budget & Tax Center, a project of the North Carolina Justice Center, says about 753,000 current minimum wage workers, as well as an additional one million workers who earn above the current minimum, would see their wages increase in North Carolina. “Poverty wage jobs are the fastest growing sector” in the state and this boost in the income of minimum wage workers would also boost the local economy, said Freyer during a recent interview.

Not everyone agrees with this assessment. North Carolina Speaker of the House Thom Tillis called the move a “dangerous idea” and worried that setting an “artificial threshold” would drive up costs and ultimately harm jobs.

Dr. Mark L. Burkey, a North Carolina A&T State University economics professor,  said in an interview on campus, “both sides have data analysis to latch onto” and “there’s some truth in the middle.” Burkey points out there is a valid concern about the poorest among us and good intention in wanting to protect people. However, “you can’t convince me that by forcing a business owner to pay more he’ll hire more,” said Burkey.

Freyer disagrees. Workers with more money to spend will increase business’s customer base and income. The resulting economic growth will more than compensate for increased wages. Freyer cites another benefit. Happier, better paid workers are more likely to stay at the same job. Reducing employee turnover will lower business costs normally incurred to hire and train new staff. These productivity savings are important. So are higher skills levels because, he says, “skills are the heart of how you compete in the economy.”

Carolyn Smith is the State Director for Working America, a community affiliate of the AFL-CIO. She prefers to discuss it in terms of “a fair wage for fair work.” In North Carolina, Smith said when interviewed, 18 percent of people live below the poverty line. Costs continue to rise even though the minimum wage has not increased since 2009.

“Paying minimum wages to workers,” she adds, “is keeping them in poverty.”

Smith believes another key to improving the lives of minimum wage workers is to support the right to collective bargaining. Workers need someone to speak for them and to have their right to organize and collectively bargain recognize. This is not the case in states with right-to-work laws like North Carolina. Smith says cases of wage theft (employees being made to work off-the-clock) and issues regarding scheduling could be improved if employee’s right to unionize were recognized in North Carolina.

“Businesses are able to pay membership dues to the Chamber of Commerce who then organizes and lobbies on their behalf,” says Smith. “So why can’t workers have someone to speak up for them?”

Tyre Shoffner also spoke out. The North Carolina A&T State University student is a junior majoring in agribusiness. He also works for McDonald’s. Shoffner illustrated how little the minimum wage works out to by breaking it down to its worth per minute – just 12 cents.

“It’s a real struggle,” he said, to keep up with school while trying to earn enough to cover his bills and student loans.

Shoffner and Chavis said that typically schedules are given out only a few days in advance and are subject to change on short notice. Chavis is “not allowed to work more than 25 hours in a week,” and getting a second job would be hard. Without a set schedule, her hours vary week to week.

The Rev. Nelson Johnson is pastor of Faith Community Church and executive director of Beloved Community Center of Greensboro. He believes raising wages is critical, and encourages everyone in the community to stand in support.

“The current minimum wage,” he said, “is far from sufficient.”

Johnson added that it “diminished the dignity of a person” to work, yet still have to ask for public assistance just to survive.

Internship Vs. Co-Op

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Tips to Obtain an Internship or Co-Op

By Kimbery Fields

Managing Editor

The JOMC Journal

As the semester winds down, many students are exploring their options with jobs, internships and co-ops. What is the difference? Where should you go? Why should you obtain one of the three?

Students hear the words, but not all students know the difference between a co-op or internship.

Pamela Basheer

Pamela Basheer, assistant director of experiental learning, works in the Office of Career Service  at North Carolina A&T where she has assisted students  for 11 years with internship and co-op opportunities. Basheer says that while there are a few differences between a co-op and an internship, the two main differences are length and income. A co-op usually lasts six months and is paid, while an internship is an average of three months and can be either paid or non-paid.

Regardless if you choose an internship or a co-op, Basheer says they are both very important as it allows you to “test-drive” a career along with obtaining work experience and becoming more competitive in the post-graduation job market.

“Through these experiences students can clarify their career interests, develop professional skills and strengthen self-confidence,” said Basheer.” Internships enhance classroom learning and provide students with references and contacts in their field.”

So how do you know if an internship or co-op is right for you? Does this apply to your major?

Yes. Basheer says internships and co-ops can benefit all majors seeing as they provide valuable career-related experience, professional development, self-confidence, a medium to apply classroom lessons to real life, make students more marketable and help build a network or professionals among other benefits.

No one wants to go into their career field blind let alone an internship or co-op. Basheer provided a few tips to help navigate you from obtaining an internship or co-op to possibly turning that position into your profession.

  • Clarify your goals in order to maximize your experience.
  • Research companies or industries you are interested in including the location, housing options, transportation and income or lack thereof.
  • Know if an internship or co-op is a degree requirement.
  • Develop a professional resume.
  • Network and stay in contact with faculty, staff, friends and join professional networks.
  • Set aside time each day or week to apply for opportunities and remember the application requirements and deadlines.
  • Search for opportunities at networking events, career conferences and fairs, information sessions, websites such as and and also follow employers on social media including LinkedIn.
  • If you are contacted for an interview, research the interviewer and employer, participate in mock interviews, and send thank you letters immediately after the interview.
  • If you secure the internship or co-op, send another thank you letter and state that you understand all the requirements like start date and work schedule, let the Office of Career Service know you have accepted the internship or co-op and enroll in the correct co-op course, and in order to receive academic credit, make sure you talk to your advisor or department chair.
  • During your internship, it is important to remain professional at all times, have a positive attitude, always do your best and take initiative.

Just because the internship or co-op is over, the relationship you have established with coworkers or employers do not have to end. Basheer says that a week before students leave their site, they should meet with their supervisor and thank them for the opportunity and talk about how much you have learned from this experience. Once the student is home, Basheer recommends sending a formal thank you letter reiterating your appreciation.

To help get you started, the Office of Career Services provides a variety of interdisciplinary programs, services and resources to help prepare A&T students for a successful career including personal and professional development. Some of those services are a career assessment test, career fair, counseling, etiquette dinners, a job posting database, newsletters, on-campus interviews, resume development and workshops. For more information visit the Office of Career Services website at and be sure to log-in to AggieLink to take advantage of all the services the office has to offer.


Choose Your Cheesecakes By DeZign

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Savory desserts are favorites at parties, weddings and other events

By Mija Gary

JOMC Journal Contributor

With more than 15 different flavors of cheesecake, Cheesecakes by DeZign brings its customers the ultimate dessert experience. Tracy Springer, the owner of the Greensboro, N. C. -based Cheesecakes by DeZign, spent three years perfecting her cheesecake strawberries and other cheesecake recipes.

Today Springer’s savory desserts are so successful that they are the highlight of girls’ night out gatherings, weddings, bachelor parties, birthday celebrations, and more.

Cheesecakes by DeZign feature an array of custom flavors.

“When I want to treat family, friends or colleagues to gourmet desserts I always call Cheesecakes By DeZign,” said John Rich, a Greensboro, N.C.  business executive. “I love the quality, presentation, free delivery and knowing that expectations will always be exceeded.”

Springer found her love for cheesecake as a young girl when she ate Sara Lee cheesecakes with her mother.

“We would let them thaw and eat them cold and frosty,” Springer said. “That’s how I always liked them.”

After venturing off  to college at N.C. A&T, Springer’s best friend would make her cheesecake when they were both visiting home. Springer is originally from New York, but she has lived in Greensboro for more than 10 years.

“We didn’t have a lot of money so we would cut it in half.  I would eat one half and she would eat the other,” Springer recalled, laughing.

Established in February 2009, Cheesecakes by DeZign began with just cheesecake strawberries, which are strawberries filled with cheesecake and covered in graham crackers. Initially, Springer made her secret recipe for family and friends and the strawberries turned out to be a huge hit. People began to approach her and ask for the strawberries.

After three years of perfecting the cheesecake strawberry and two flavors of cheesecake recipes, Springer began to sell her treats. The strawberries are accompanied by an almond flavored mini-sized cheesecake and two bite-sized lemon cheesecakes.

“I didn’t think the strawberries were enough, and I only had a few different flavors of cheesecake,” Springer said. “I wanted my customers to design their own flavor and I would create the cheesecake that they desired.”

Hence, Cheesecakes by DeZign was established.

Upon establishing Cheesecakes by DeZign, Springer faced many challenges in the process. She worked a full-time job and made cheesecakes the rest of the time.

“It was like a part-time thing I would do during the holidays or when someone would approach me,” she said. “The most difficult thing was time. It was very tiring because I had a family and children. It was a lot harder when I went into it full time.”

Yet, Springer was determined to succeed despite the financial strain she encountered when starting her business.

“Yes, it was expensive,” Springer added. “I was using my own personal money at first, but I’m still working on it on paper, in my mind and talking to others. Whatever I make, I put back into the company.”

Tracy Springer, owner of Cheesecakes by DeZigns, stands with one of her signature homemade desserts.

Time management is another challenge for Springer who, along with owning her business, is its sole employee.

“At the moment, it’s just me,” she said. “ It’s really hard work, especially when it comes to marketing, promoting, shopping for ingredients and supplies, cooking, delivery, preparation for baking, baking, cooling the cheesecakes, and decorating the cheesecakes.”

Despite the often tough times, Springer has overcome adversity through self motivation and encouragement.

“I had to get out of the mindset of telling myself ‘no’ and start pushing myself to go to the next step and the next level,” she said.

In the future, Springer aspires to have a brick and mortar shop, but, as of now, delivery is included for customers living in Greensboro and surrounding communities. She runs her online business from her home, and she is currently looking for a commercial kitchen.

“I love partnering with Tracy and CBD when we serve her delicious desserts to clients, volunteers and staff of various non-profit organizations in the Greensboro metro area,” Rich said. “Tracy’s sense of community is an important dimension of how she approaches doing business.”

Springer is direct in her advice to others who plan to start their own business.

“There is so much advice to give!” Springer said. “Learn from your mistakes and seek feedback from customers and people you trust. I’ve learned that not only can your product turn someone off, but so can your interaction with them.

“You have to work on yourself to build a better person,” Springer continued. “Everyone is born with a gift; you have to know what your gift is and tap into it. You have to know what is best for you. If you change the way you think about something, you will change the way you approach it. Life is about change. Don’t give up on your aspirations or dreams. Turn your aspirations into goals and work to reach those goals.”

“America needs black  business women,” Rich added. “CBD founder, Tracy Springer, epitomizes the very best in entrepreneurial spirit in our community. She is an important role model for all of us.”



The 22nd Annual NABJ Multimedia Short Course

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The 22nd Annual NABJ Multimedia Short Course

| North Carolina A&T State University | March 19-22, 2014

Critique Time During the NABJ Short Course.


By Ashleigh Wilson, JOMC Journal Contributor and Editor

From March 19-22, the Journalism and Mass Communication Department at North Carolina A&T State University hosted its annual NABJ Multimedia Short Course program that featured professional reporters, producers, and other renown journalists who focused on training students to become better journalists.  As Ashleigh Wilson reports, West Virginia University student Diane Jeanty shared how this intense workshop has given her a glimpse into the “real world” of being a journalist.



By Alexis Wainwright, JOMC Journal Contributor



By Bonnie Newman Davis, Endowed Professor of Journalism, NCA&T State University

Which female celebrity inspires you and why?

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By Tiffany Blackwell

Tyra Banks was born Dec. 4, 1984 in Inglewood, Calif. Banks, once one of the “mean girls” in school, soon found herself on the other side of the “social food chain” when she experienced a massive growth spurt, which left her tall, gawky and skinny. Faced with teasing and bullying throughout high school, Banks was taught the true meaning of kindness in which she turned over a new leaf on how she treated others.

By the age of 17, Banks outgrew her awkward stage and blossomed in the curvy model that we know today. Her first attempts to find a modeling agency ended with harsh discrimination. In 1990, while still in high school, Banks landed a modeling contract with Elite Modeling Agency. Elite offered to send Banks to Paris, where she then prospered as a model. By the

Tyra Banks

mid-1990’s Banks began to gain weight. Not willing to starve herself like some of the other models of her time, Banks decided to come back to the United States where she became a swim suit/lingerie model which was more excepting of curvy models.

After her modeling career, Banks took on many projects such as “America’s Next Top Model” in which she encouraged plus sized models and healthy eating habits for models and “The Tyra Banks Show” in which is discussed topics that dealt with women’s rights, health and overall empowerment of women.






By Samera Wlue

A woman who inspires me is Angelina Jolie. Besides the fact that she is an amazing actress who has graced many red carpets and has won numerous awards, she is also a caring mother, a loving wife, and the ultimate humanitarian. Angelina Jolie began her acting career at a young age. She starred in her first movie at age 7 alongside her father Jon Voight, but her big break didn’t come until 1993 when she was cast as the leading lady in the movie Cyborg. It was from that she began to take Hollywood by storm. After kissing her brother at the Oscars, wearing a vial containing then-boyfriend Billy Bob Thorton’s blood, and admitting to drug use Angelina was labeled the “Hollywood Wild Child”, a title that has long been forgotten.

         Nowadays, the only drugs Angelina comes in contact with are the one’s she gives to medics to help sick children in India and other third world countries. After first becoming aware of the extent of the problems people around the world faced when she filmed “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” in Cambodia she decided to become a missionary. Seeing the suffering of the people in Cambodia led her to contact the United Nations to ask for information about how she could help aid in Cambodia as well as other ravaged countries. It wasn’t long after that she was taking trips to countries such as Tanzania, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Chad, India, Sierra Leone, and numerous other countries helping refugees, sick children and torn families. Her most inspirational moment came in 2013 when she underwent a double mastectomy after finding out she had the cancer gene in both breast. After the surgery she told People magazine “Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness. On a personal note, I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity. I am still a woman and so are the millions of other women who experience the same thing.”





By Shequetta Nixon

Dana Elaine Owens, better known as queen Latifah, was born March 8, 1970 in Newark, NJ.  Latifah is a singer, actress, model and talk show host.  She won a Golden Globe award in 2008 for best performance and  2 BET awards for best actress in 2003 and 2008.  In Latifah’s early life she attented a Baptist church and played the position of a forward on her high school basketball team.  At 10 Latifah dealt with the divorce of her parents and during this time she grew a close bond with her mother, Rita Owens.  At the age 8, she was given the nickname “Latifah” meaning delicate and kind in Arabic.  Latifah’s early life took a turn when she was molested at the age 18 and tradgey occurred later when her brother was a motorcycle accident in 1992, “Drinking a bunch of alcohol, numbing myself was how I coped”, Latifah told Celebrity fitness and health examiner, Samantha Chang.

Queen Latifah

The start of Latifah’s career began when she formed an all-girl rap group, this soon led to a contract with Tommy Boy music in 1988.

Today Queen Latifah is known for her rapping and acting skills.  She won a Grammy in 1994 for her song and performance of U.N.I.T.Y.  “The Queen Latifah” show is a talk show she created first in 1999 until 2001 then started the show again in 2013.  The show consists of topics of topics of discussion and interviews with celebrities.  Latifah has learned to respect her curves as a plus-size woman and speakes to other women and young girls that deal with the same issues as her.  Queen Latifah has overcome obstacles in her life to be the strong and succesful woman she is today.  Defeating the stage of depression and realizing she had great talents to offer allowed people in America to enjoy her film and music work today.




By Debora Timms

      There is much you can admire about the British actress Emma Thompson. Her career in television and film has earned her critical acclaim and peer recognition, including Academy Awards and the British equivalent, BAFTAs. Thompson has even made history by becoming the only winner ever to have won an Oscar for both acting and writing.

The film “In The Name of The Father” was what first brought Thompson to my attention. I loved her performance in it. Since then, I will watch a movie just because Thompson is it.

Emma Thompson

I find Thompson’s personality in interviews to be genuinely engaging. I am charmed by her English wit and her English accent. There is something about the genteel sound of her voice juxtaposed with her sometimes wickedly cheeky comments that I find hilarious.

What I admire most; however, are the many ways Thompson uses her notoriety to promote causes she supports. She is a Greenpeace member and a patron of the Elton John AIDS Foundation. She acts as an ambassador for ActionAid – an anti-poverty charity. Thompson also advocates for human rights around the globe. She has spoken out and recorded public service announcements to raise awareness of the modern day slavery of human sex trafficking.

I feel a connection to Thompson’s desire to make the world a better place and to speak out. It is the same feeling that drew me to begin my studies in journalism.


Click this link to hear Debora discuss Emma Thompson 140319_002



By Alexis Wainwright

Gabrielle Union, an American actress and former model, was born on October 29,1972 in Omaha, Nebraska. Gabrielle Union is more than just a sexy body, she is an intelligent women that many people are unsure of due to her familiar roles played in popular movies and TV shows such as: “Bring It On”, “Breaking all the Rules”, “Family Matters”, “Moesha”,” Saved by the Bell”, “Bad Boys II” and “Think Like a Man”.

Gabrielle Union

Not many people know Gabrielle Union’s personal life and what she went through. At age 19, in 1992, she was attacked and raped at her part-time job in a shoe store. The attacker turned himself in and was sentenced to 33 years in prison. Union then turned her tragedy into an opportunity to help others. She became an advocate for survivors of assault. That is something astounding yet heart breaking, to see a women go through a terrifying situation but then come out of it and start to help others who struggled in similar situations.

While Union was studying in her senior year she interned at the Judith Fontaine Modeling & Talent Agency to earn extra credits, clients were disappointed that she ended up being a behind-the-scenes employee. But when invited by the agency’s owner, she then was a working model and began to pay off her loans. Later the agency found out she could act and her first job was made without any headshots! Union is a graduate of UCLA with honors and a degree in sociology. Union is something more than what people assume from first looks. Union also became an ambassador in the Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s Circle of Promise, and even ran in the Global Race for the Cure in Washington, D.C. in honor of a friend, Kristen Martinez, who died of breast cancer.

It’s inspiring to see a women with beauty and brains, especially in her most recent work, “Being Mary Jane”, where she plays a successful TV news anchor and an all-around powerhouse. It is great seeing an African American actor who has a degree, got her education and worked to pay it off. Union plays so many roles in movies and TV shows that not only entertaining but inspire audiences.


Martin G. Crystal (2012) issue of O.The Oprah Magazine

Gabrielle Union’s Aha! Moment

Pizzello Chris (2013) Associated Press

Gabrielle Union’s ‘secret dream’ comes true with new role

Tiauna (2006) Internet Movie Database

 Gabrielle Union Biography



By Diane Dake

Meryl Streepis the most decorated actress of our time. She has taken on roles in all different aspects of film from drama, to comedy, and even romance. She is truly a prime example of what I want to be as a producer. I want to be able to create an image to the public that reflects my ability to be flexible with my talents. Sometimes she can go unrecognized because she plays the far opposites at times. In her newest movie “August Osage County.” she plays an old lady with bad habits and no filter and in It’s complicated she was more spunky and free spirited. In “Mama Mia,” she showed that same type of spunk bringing in her musical talents ,and this was the first time I’ve seen Streep play that kind of role.

Meryl Streep

She studied at Yale and other credible institutions which paved the way for her success as an actress. Another reason I adore Streep is because she isn’t arrogant about her work. She is humble as I hope to be when I am able to get to a place that she is at being widely known as the greatest actress of our time.




By Liliane Long

Celebrating Women, Then and Now

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At age 24, Amber Micole Koonce has taken by storm the world of activism. 

The daughter of Donnie and Masherill Koonce, Koonce graduated from Providence High School in Charlotte in 2008, and went on to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where her passion for giving a voice to underrepresented groups led her to pursue a B.A in public policy, African and Afro-American studies, and entrepreneurship.

“From a very early age I’ve run into situations where I felt treated unfairly because of my race, I’ve been able to take my hurt and to turn it into something positive,” said Koonce.

While at UNC, Amber worked with incarcerated and at-risk youth across the world, conducting research everywhere from London to Ghana.

“Not enough attention is being put on youth who are already slipping through the cracks,” she explained.

While mentoring incarcerated girls in Ghana during the summer of 2009, Koonce noticed that many of them were carrying dolls that did not resemble their dark skin and kinky hair – features which she admired in the girls.

“One [woman] told me that she aspired to marry a white man so her kids wouldn’t look like her,” Koonce recalled.

It was then that Koonce understood why women in Ghana were discontent with their bodies so she started BeautyGap, which promotes a standard of beauty unique to women of color by collecting and shipping dolls of color to children of color around the world.

Currently the nonprofit entity delivers dolls of color to orphanages in Ghana, Kenya, Haiti, and the Philippines.  Koonce’s efforts through BeautyGap earned her recognition by Glamour magazine as “the social entrepreneur” in a list of the top 10 college women of 2011.

After returning from Ghana, Koonce became co-chair of the Campus Y’s criminal justice awareness and action committee, which seeks to enhance student awareness of issues in the criminal justice system through volunteer projects and activist efforts. Through this organization, she mentored incarcerated juveniles to ease their transition from detention centers to school systems.

The following summer, Koonce analyzed the implementation and effectiveness of juvenile rehabilitation programs in the Scotland Prison System.

When she returned, she used her experiences to create a photography exhibit called “Behind Bars,” which displayed the troubles of incarcerated youth through images from detention facilities in Ghana, Scotland, and North Carolina.

In 2012, Amber Graduated from UNC and earned the 2012-2013 scholarships from the Henry Luce Foundation in New York City.

The scholarship funds a year of living and learning in East and Southeast Asia for resent graduates. During her tenure in Asia, Amber was stationed in the Philippines, were she conducted research on Asian Juvenile rights in hopes of extending her understanding of children’s rights and social welfare policies.

Overall, her involvements have earned her countless awards including the Girl Scout’s Young Woman of Distinction Award in 2010 and the Pearson Prize for Higher Education in 2011. In 2011, Koonce became the youngest individual appointed by the governor to serve as a board member for the North Carolina Council for Women and was named by The Root as one its 2012 Young Futurists, an annual list spotlighting the top young African-American leaders and innovators of the future. 

Koonce recently returned from Haiti, where she and her mother worked to collect and deliver BeautyGap dolls to Go Haiti Orphanage. In the future, Koonce hopes to earn a law degree and master of public policy dual degree and become an international children’s rights attorney for UNICEF.

However for now, she continues to work to improve the lives of many.

 By Liliane Long




Staten Island, N.Y.

Every year, millions of immigrants come to the United States seeking educational opportunities, job opportunities, and a better quality of life.

Beatrice Davis came to the United States when she was 7 years old, at the height of the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis. She had an accent, thick and heavy, one that would crowd a room. She said it was that accent that set her apart from the rest of her counterparts.

Beatrice Bucker was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico on Sept. 2, 1955 and raised in Staten Island, N.Y. after she came to the United States in 1962.

Davis currently is a lab administrator for Staten Island University Hospital, a position she has held for 10 years.  She has a doctoral degree in biology.

Davis originally planned to use her degree to be a pharmacist. “I thought that was the life I wanted,” she said. “But I asked myself how much fun I would have working behind a counter counting pills all day.”

Although she is an established professional, she still maintains her sense of humor and remains down to earth.

“It keeps me young,” she said laughing.

Her daughter, Helen Davis, says that her mother is the light of their household. “She has a really giving spirit, she is very optimistic, and that’s what we love about her.”

With her personable personality and hardworking spirit, Davis decided she wanted to be more hands on with her degree and actually work with patients, which led her to a career at the job she has currently. As a professional, there are still some problems that she sees within her field of work.

“There is a communication barrier between staff and patients. When it all boils down, hospitals are businesses that thrive on caring for sick people. The medicine we give them is how we make our money. But, we as a staff, have to educate and help dispel the myth that going to the doctor is a death sentence.”

Although Davis has established a solid career, the road has not always been easy. Being an immigrant, she struggled to adjust to American culture as a child. The time at which she came to America definitely put a strain on her experience.

“I came to America as Spanish speaking immigrant,” she recalls. “Everyone automatically thought I was Cuban, and everyone feared and hated the Cubans at that time. It was hard to get people to like me, and understand that I wasn’t Cuban, nor did I support the Cuban cause.”

Although Davis was an immigrant with an accent, she says it does not define her. She learned English perfectly in a two year span, and has excelled in school since she was enrolled. “I wanted to prove to everybody that I was not a lost cause,” she says. “Yes, I could only speak Spanish at the time, but I was determined to prove everyone wrong and do better than the American students. My immigrant status does not define me.”

Today, Davis works with New York City’s Office for Immigrants, a group that helps immigrants coming into that area transition into American life and obtain citizenship. She says that she connects with every immigrant, no matter their race.

By Jazmyn Archibald





Richmond, Va.


It all started in the second grade when her teacher brought her a gift she would never forget.

I adapted a love for reading when my second grade teacher bought me a set of colorful illustrated books, said Nikkea Smithers, an author and publisher. Since then, I’ve always wanted to create my own story that would remain, long after I am gone.


A native of Connecticut, Smithers graduated from Bullard Havens Regional Vocational Technical with a diploma, and a cosmetology license. She began as a shampoo girl before advancing to a stylist at Kathys Hair to Impress salon in Bridgeport, Conn. But it was in the second grade when Smithers found her passion for writing.


As a youth, I wasn’t very attentive in church and my mother advised me that I needed to find a way to keep myself engaged, Smithers said. So I took the time to write down the sermon, which turned into me developing short stories, hymns and poetry. To this day, I believe starting that way is what helped me infuse messages into my work.


Smithers, named an Essence Magazine best-selling author in October 2006 for her novel, Sweet Dreams, is a poet, publisher, and motivational speaker. Since then, she has written more than 10 books. Her first published book, Reflections of a Woman, is a blend of freestyle poetry that dives into womens issues.

In her second published book and first novel, Gold Diggin’”, Smithers focuses on the everyday struggles people face to find the “gold” within themselves. Some of her other publications include “Your Husband or Mine?” “Domestic,” “The Mystery of Amore’s Demise,” We didn’t have a lot of money so we would cut it in half I would eat one half and she would eat the other and Keith’s Story. The stories and genres in her books are limitless, and she strives to encourage her readers through her writing.


I make it a point to drive a message in everything I write, she said. I live off of positive energy. I want to be known as someone who inspired people to be believers and truly think for themselves. Therefore, whether I am writing with the intent to discuss love, drama or culture; I will always strive to educate the masses and keep it positive.


Smithers currently lives in Richmond, Va., where she established an accounting career working for large companies such as Bank of America and Wachovia, now Wells Fargo.

I do so much personally, at times it is hard to find the time to truly get the chance to just sit down and write. I’ve had to get creative to ensure I get many task done, Smithers explained.


When she is away from her desk, Smithers manages Dewon, an up-and-coming R&B artist in Richmond, Va.

Nikkea is a hard working woman who wears many hats, Dewon said. Even though her load is heavy, she always keeps her word.

 Smithers is also the producer of a local television show The Heart which premiered Feb. 15, 2014. Smithers enjoys volunteering and giving back to the community. She often speaks at several high schools in Richmond, and has created a free poetry course that she teaches to promote literacy and creativity in youth.

 Smithers is direct in her advice to others seeking to realize their future.

Stay true to what you believe and make sure to do your research, she said. It can make or break a writer. Knowing what your objectives are and how to get there is important to achieve ultimate success!

By Mija Gary



NABJ R3 Conference Highlights Diversity and History

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Charleston Conference Highlights Diversity and History

The trip to the NABJ Region III Conference in Charleston, S.C. was truly an experience like none other. It was a pleasure to hear from so many professionals in the journalism field and to ultimately get the opportunity to take in their advice and constructive criticism. The conference helped introduce me to other student journalists from other schools, which I appreciate because I was able to relate to other students on different aspects of journalism and communication. I also enjoyed viewing Charleston’s nightlife as well as it’s rich culture. Our visit to Magnolia Plantation and Gardens was an historical visit that I will honestly never forget. I can’t wait to see what the National NABJ conference this year in Boston has to offer as well!

Yasin Temple

Journalism and Public Relations Major

NCA&T State University

Dedrick Russell, T.J. Holmes and Gayle Hurd during the Region III Conference March 7-9 in Charleston, S.C.


Attending the NABJ Regional Conference in Charleston, S.C. was very interesting and impactful. I was able to listen and receive advice from professionals who are working in the industry. The Resume Critique workshop was very helpful as I was able receive feedback on making myself more marketable in this industry. Also, during this Charleston trip, we visited the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. It was very interesting to learn about history in other places. I also found that journalism can be used and practiced anywhere you go. Asking questions during the tours allowed myself as a journalist to practice my skills such as follow up questions. I was able to use my skills outside of A&T’s campus. Experiencing this trip opened my mind to see things in a different way and has benefited me as I am aspiring to be a journalist.


Micha Caldwell

Broadcast/Multimedia Major

NCA&T State University


The Magnolia Plantation and Gardens tour that followed our participation in the Region III NABJ Conference was not only enlightening, but also an eye opener for me as an African American. It makes me want to trace back my family lineage and learn more about my descendants.

Diamond Young

Journalism and Public Relations Major

NCA&T State University


Batter Up for Better Career

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“Diversity of thought is key,”says William T. Rolack Sr., senior director of workforce strategy, diversity and strategic alliances for Major League Baseball. “Diverse teams yield results over a homogenous team.”

Let’s Talk Baseball, Let’s Talk Diversity

By Shantelle Stotts

JOMC Journal Contributor


In a world of different people from various backgrounds, cultures and beliefs, it only seems logical that these differences are reflected, particularly in baseball.

“Diversity of thought is key,” said William T. Rolack, Sr., senior director of workforce strategy, diversity and strategic alliances for Major League Baseball. “Diverse teams yield results over a homogenous team.”

Rolack recently spoke to NCA&T students an upcoming event that will highlight the importance of diversity amid America’s rapidly changing demographics. The  Diversity Business Summit, a two-day event that will take place April 14-15 in New York,  allows job seekers and entrepreneurs the to meet with the MLB’s Club at the major and minor league level.

Rolack said that he wants to see more African Americans in MLB because African Americans are disappearing from a sport that once symbolized close communities. To mend the gap, Rolack visits A&T and other HBCUs to share MLB opportunities available to African-American students.

“My role is to drive diversity in the office,” said Rolack. “Every position in baseball should have a diverse slate of candidates, meaning every organization, community or entity should be outreached to when we have a position open. If human resource leaders cannot find a diverse slate, they contact me and I contact organizations that can give me diverse candidates. And this is not for just executive positions; this is all positions including internships.”

Rolack also wants more HBCU graduates to become senior directors or senior vice presidents in the MLB.

“The opportunity and growth experiences are there it is just a matter of students understanding that baseball is another valuable option for their career,” said Rolack.

Rolack is a graduate of South Carolina State and has a master’s degree in business administration from Long Island University. He was named “40 Under Forty” by The Network Journal Magazine in 2007, and an honoree of The Long Island Business News in 2008. He is also a member of the National Urban League and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.

“Because I am an HBCU graduate, I know that there is considerable hidden talent,” said Rolack. “I have also had much success with hiring HBCU graduates (who now have) human resources career. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I feel that it should have that breadth of talent from HBUCs as well.”

Rolack not only wants students to think in broader realms, but he also wants them to think “with affirmation.”  He encouraged A&T’s to start saying “what they are going to do, not what they want to do, and to begin building their brand.

 “The best part of touring HBUCs is meeting students who are serious about their craft, doing what they need to do to be the best, striving to really make a difference, and moving forward in their careers and what they plan to do after graduation,” Rolack added. “Understanding the legacy of why ‘we’ have attended HBCUs and the legacy of creating the best of the best… Having that base from an HBCU, building the confidence in this particular environment, and seeing that it is still a part of the legacy is very exciting to me.”

When: April 15, 2014

Where: New York, N.Y.

Special Effects: Jackie Robinson Day, April 15. Special screening of the movie, “42”

In Attendance: Jackie Robinson’s widow, Rachel Robinson, and Jackie Robinson’s children, Davis and Sharon.

Extras: Registered participants can attend the Yankees vs. Cubs game where Robinson and Nelson Mandela will be honored.

More: To register for the 2014 MLB Diversity Business Summit go to

Registration Deadline: March 15.  For other internship opportunities go to