Marketing & Communications

This Month @ Xavier October 2017


First-year College of Pharmacy students (P1s) sign their professional oaths at the conclusion of the 16th annual White Coat Ceremony, during which the neophyte students received their first professional uniform symbolizing ethical practice and signifying the beginning of their professional pharmacy educations.

XULA students, faculty, and staff pack a truck with hurricane relief supplies destined for Houston TX.

Division of Business students – Amanda Perry, Justyce Riggs, and Janella Jones – are all smiles after receiving their new jackets and collectively pledging to uphold the Division’s Code of Conduct during the 6th annual Blazer Ceremony.
Students from Dr. Mark Gstohl’s class on The Christian Life explored the Muslim religion (ISLAM) during a visit to the Abubakr Mosque in Metairie LA. The students were instructed to choose a religion and gain knowledge to present to the class. (L-R) Dr. Anwar Bashi, Nam Anh Tran, Arlysse Rodney, Dr. Syed Adeel Ahmed, Margaux Derricottee, Julacne Philips, and Kaiya Braham.

The annual UNCF Walk for Education will be held Oct. 14 at 8:30 a.m. at the Audubon Park Riverview. Faculty, staff, and alumni should join Team Xavier HERE. Students should sign up through Student Services.
The Fall Career Expo Internship & Job Fair will be held Oct. 03 from 11:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the Convocation Center. The event is free and open to all Xavier students and alumni. Visit HERE for more info. 


Join the Alumni Association for a day of food, fun, and golf while raising scholarship money for Xavier students Nov. 18 from 8:00 a.m. to 12 noon at the Joseph M. Bartholomew, Sr. Municipal Golf Course. Registration required. Visit HERE for more details.

Patrice Bell Mercadel

Bell-Mercadel Named New Chief
Marketing and Communications Officer

Xavier has announced that Patrice Bell Mercadel was appointed as the University’s first Chief Marketing and Communications Officer. 

Mercadel will oversee the university’s Marketing and Communications Department within the Office of Institutional Advancement and manage the overall strategic and creative direction of the university’s branding, marketing, and communications efforts. The Marketing and Communications Department will develop strategies to enhance XULA’s competitiveness by bolstering its brand, upholding its traditions, and expanding its visibility.

Reporting to the Office of the President and the Office of Institutional Advancement, Mercadel will work with schools, offices, and departments across the university to hone and communicate consistent messages to engage stakeholders, ranging from prospective students to alumni and donors.

Mercadel, a New Orleans native with deep ties within the local community, was most recently the Public Information Officer for Transdev, a global private company that manages operations of the public transit agency in New Orleans.

Visit HERE for more.


XULA administrators show off the University's new ADA compliant shuttle van.

New Handicap Accessible 
Van to Assist Students

Nothing but smiles were on the faces of Xavier faculty, students, and staff as the driver of a white 2017 Ford Transit van approached them in the driveway at the University Center. Finally they would get a bird’s eye view of the highly anticipated handicap accessible van.

It was surreal for Sierra Blanchard Hodge ‘17, who was instrumental in helping to acquire the much needed vehicle while serving as Student Government Association (SGA) president for two years.

“I realized we had students on campus with different abilities and one thing we didn’t have for them was transportation on a regular basis,” said Blanchard Hodge. “This is the only van with a wheelchair lift. I wanted to make sure that transportation wouldn’t be the reason a student couldn’t participate in a campus event.”

The van, which cost approximately $72K, was purchased as a result of the generosity of Xavier’s Board of Trustees and the Entergy Corporation, one of the nation’s top 10 utility companies.

The van comes fully loaded with 10 regular seats and accommodations for two wheelchairs. It has a V-6 engine, a higher roof and a slimmer body type than the three previous vans still being used to transport students. It operates with hydraulics and is capable of lifting up to 800 pounds.

l-r) Dr. Thora Bayer (chapter advisor) congratulates newly inducted members of the Xavier chapter of the International Honor Society in Philosophy, Domonique Lewis and Lauryn Hudson.


Xavier’s Muslim students celebrate Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice), which is observed by millions worldwide.


A packed house attended the Mayoral Debate held in the University Center.
confucius houston
Four Chinese learning students joined Confucius Institute faculty/staff at the National Day Gala in Houston TX celebrating the 68th anniversary of the People's Republic of China. (Back row L-R)  Tuong Vy Nguyen, Serena Newberry, Yina Zhang, Jerrica Harris, Whitney Roth, Education Counsel Wang Yi, Haiyan Wang; (front L-R) Dr. Tao Yang, Chief Education Counsel Dr. Long Jie, and CI Director Yu Jiang
                               Tatiana Collins


Tatiana Collins, a senior psychology major at Xavier University of Louisiana, knows all too well the impact mental illness can have on a family. A close relative has been living with the stigma and shame associated with the disease for nearly three years. This real-life situation compelled Collins to find a platform through which she could help to raise awareness of the problem.

She secured the perfect opportunity at the Miss Black Greater New Orleans Pageant, where she was crowned queen.  Come December, Collins will compete in the Miss Black Louisiana USA Scholarship Pageant in Baton Rouge, La.

Since her pageant win, the 20-year-old New Orleans native has been making appearances and sharing her story to anyone who will listen, and she feels she can be more impactful with her message by winning it all at the upcoming pageant this winter.

“I’m honored to have this opportunity,” said Collins. “Mental health) is an issue that is near and dear to my heart. Mental illness is very prevalent in the black community, but it often goes unnoticed because people don’t seek help for it. hey don’t think that they need too. They don’t like to be judged.”

"I want people to understand that it’s okay to talk about it and get help.”

A regular on the Dean’s List, as well as member of the cheer-leading squad at Xavier, Collins said that preparing for the state pageant will not detour her from her main objective, which is to acquire a PH. D. in clinical psychology at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., upon graduation.

And she feels she is READY for both.

Collins is determined to finish strong, but she could use some help. Her pageantry fees run into the thousands and she’s looking for support from the Xavier community. If you can help, visit her GoFundMe page at Miss-Black-Greater-New-Orleans-2017. 


Victor Jones Esq. ’07 and his colleagues, all Xavier-educated judges and attorneys, interact with students at the Pre-Law Reception sponsored by the Office of Alumni Relations. Nearly 100 students were in attendance.


Nearly 100 Xavier students contemplating a career in law took advantage of a unique networking opportunity at the recent pre-law reception held by Xavier alumni – all of whom are either federal judges or practicing attorneys at prestigious law firms in Orleans and the surrounding parishes.

“I really appreciate that these professionals have come here to encourage us and to give us some notion of what it takes to become a lawyer,” said Ayanna Brown, a sophomore business major from Dallas, Texas.

The eventful evening, co-sponsored by Xavier’s Office of Alumni Relations and Office of Career Services, showcased the illustrious law careers of Xavier graduates who desire to see a pre-law curriculum developed for future students.

“This is almost a homecoming for us to come back and talk to students who are looking to become lawyers. We want to let them know it’s possible,” said Alejandro Perkin 99, a partner at Hammonds, Sills, Adkins & Guice Law Firm in Baton Rouge, La. “They can look at us. Touch us. Ask us questions that will hopefully motivate them to choose law as a career.”

Perkins shared his story about how he started out as a biology/pre-med major, but quickly changed to political science after attending classes the first day of school. Though he made the switch, he wasn’t sure law was it until he had an encounter with one of the law icons of the century – the late Johnny Cochran, who rose to fame when he successfully defended former NFL player O.J. Simpson in a widely televised murder trial in 1995.

“Cochran chose me to introduce him at a banquet,” related Perkins. “I was amazed by how down to earth he was and how he changed the whole game of practicing law for African Americans. From then on I believed I could do this."

Like Cochran, many of Xavier grads who attended the event have built meaningful careers and left a legacy of striving to balance the scales of justice.

The Honorable Karen Wells Roby’83 is the Chief United States Magistrate Judge for the United States District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana. She’s been in the position for 18 years.

The Honorable Brian A. Jackson’82 has served as the Chief United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana for the past seven and a half years. Prior to his appointment by former President Barack Obama, he practiced law for 25 years with the Justice Department and others in various locations, including Washington, DC.

The Honorable Ivan L.R. Lemelle’71is the Senior United States District Judge of the United States District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana. A practicing lawyer for nearly 50 years, he assumed senior judge status in 2015.

All four agreed that students were the real focal point of the evening.

“I want the students to know that there’s no better choice than coming to Xavier as it relates to getting a college education in any major, but particularly law,” said Perkins. “Xavier graduates LEAVE READY to go to any law school and be successful.”

“Having this reception is a really good first step,” added Roby. “It has always concerned me that there hasn’t been sufficient focus on the talent that is here at Xavier. I might be a bit biased, but my view is this: lawyers run the world. They are in every critical position in the country and Xavier students ought to be there.”

XULA President Dr. Reynold Verret opened the event, stating how important it was for current students to see distinguished alumni who have used Xavier as a springboard to significant success. XULA President Emeritus Dr. Norman C. Francis ‘52, who was the first Black law student admitted to the then-segregated Loyola University New Orleans School of Law, followed, emphasizing the versatility of a Xavier degree and the University’s longstanding commitment to its mission – preparing graduates to assume roles of leadership and service.

Jackson concurred, with this caveat for the students.

“A Xavier education will provide you with countless opportunities; however, you have to be prepared to seize those opportunities.”


Xavier premed students interested in orthopedic surgery as a specialty received a first-hand look at the profession during a Sawbones Orthopedic Bioskills Workshop presented on campus by orthopedist Dr. Christopher Marrero ’87 and Nth Dimensions Education Solutions, Inc.


Hammering, sawing, and drilling could be heard throughout the Norman C. Francis auditorium as a Xavier-educated orthopedist demonstrated to a group of premed students exactly how to mend broken bones during the Sawbones Orthopedic Bioskills Workshop for Premeds.

According to Dr. Christopher Marrero ’87,  one of several physicians who participated in the event, the workshop is one of the best approaches in helping indecisive students determine if a specialty in orthopedic surgery is something they should consider.

“I had mentors that reached back to help me and gave me advice, so I feel obligated and I actually enjoy helping youth navigate the path to their careers,” said Marrero, who practices general orthopedics with emphasis in sports medicine, adult reconstruction, and trauma for the LSU Health Healthcare Network.

During the event, small groups of students would rotate at each of the four available stations every 15 to 20 minutes. Most received one-on-one attention either from the orthopedists or residences. Students learned how to handle surgical equipment in an orthopedic surgical setting using makeshift bones.

This is the third year for the workshop presented by Nth Dimensions Education Solutions, Inc. The non-profit was founded in 2004 by orthopedic surgeons working collaboratively with academic institutions, community surgeons and the industry to address the need for more women and underrepresented minorities in orthopedic surgery.

“We maximize opportunities at HBCUs like Xavier,” said Christin Zollicoffer, Nth Dimensions’ director of strategic partnerships and one of the coordinators of the workshop. “We want students to see surgeons who look like them so they can see themselves as surgeons one day.”

Fellow alum Quo Vadis Webster ’00 ‘10, Xavier’s director of the premedical program, credited other Xavier alumni with encouraging Nth Dimensions to bring the Sawbones workshop to campus.

Marrero was one of those physicians who advocated for the partnership. He said left Xavier READY for his profession and he felt that incorporating the sawbones workshop into the training of future medical students is advantageous to their medical careers.  “The experience not only allows our students to explore this specialty (orthopedics) as a career option, but it affirms that Xavier graduates are poised to pursue a range of medical practice areas,” said Webster.


Xavier is once again receiving national accolades as one of the best universities in the country. Most notably, XULA is ranked as the best value among southern regional colleges and universities in the 2018 edition of “Best Colleges” by the U.S. News Media Group.

In what is a new category for the publication, “Great Schools, Great Prices”, the guide made a determination of what colleges and universities offered the best value for the money as based on each school’s academic quality and its net cost of attendance for students who received the average level of need-based financial aid. Xavier was ranked No.1 in its grouping, heading the list of only 15 schools that qualified for the Southern Region.

Xavier is also listed as No. 5 among the 72 Historically Black College and Universities (HBCU) – up from sixth in last year’s listings. Among all U.S. colleges and universities, U.S. News ranked Xavier 25th out of 135 schools in its grouping of the “Best Regional Colleges – South”, again up two spots from last year.

A total of 74 schools were included in this year’s HBCU listing. The top five consisted of Spelman, Howard, Hampton, Morehouse, and Xavier. To qualify for the U.S. News ranking, an HBCU must be so designated by the U.S. Department of Education, must be an undergraduate baccalaureate granting institution that enrolls primarily first year, first-time students, and must be included in the guide’s general survey.

The Southern Region grouping consists of 12 states in the southeastern United States. Schools are considered regional colleges and universities if they offer a full range of undergraduate programs and some master's programs, but few doctoral programs. Another criterion is that they draw the majority of their students from surrounding states.

The complete U.S. News report can be found HERE.

HOMECOMING 2017 NOV. 15-19

Alumni from across the country will return to campus Nov. 15-19 to celebrate Homecoming 2017. Plan now to be that number!

Activities scheduled for the Reunion Weekend include the distinguished alumni concert, the Jazz Ensemble concert, the joint student/alumni Celebration on the Yard, alumni receptions for specific academic departments and other special groups, the Alumni Mixer, the Alumni After Party, the tailgate brunch, the Homecoming Gala, and much, much more.


“More” includes three events that are open to the general public: the annual Scholarship Benefit Concert and Distinguished Alumni Awards featuring comedian Lavar Walker ’02 and head-liner Tony! Toni! Tone!, Friday, Nov. 17, at 8:00 p.m. in the Convocation Center;the Alumni Challenge  Golf Tournament, Saturday, Nov. 18 at 7:00 a.m. at the Joseph Bartholomew, Sr. Municipal Golf Course; and the Gold Rush basketball game vs. Huston-Tillotson, Saturday, Nov. 18, at 1 p.m. in the Convocation Center.

The reunion classes ending in “2” and “7” are celebrating their respective anniversaries, but ALL alumni are encouraged to attend. Visit HERE to register online, or call (504) 520-7575 or 1-877-WE-LUV-XU.

library talk

Kevin Dolliole ’78, Director of Aviation at Louis Armstrong N.O. International Airport, returned to campus to deliver a XU Library Talk.


Kevin Dolliole ’78 positioned himself to be the next ‘JR Ewing’ in the oil and gas industry. However a little nudging and persistence from his future mother-in-law sent him on a path in aviation that propelled him to unimaginable heights.

Dolliole told his story during a presentation hosted by Xavier’s library staff called XU Library Talks, covering his more than 40 year career in aviation where he now serves as director of aviation at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, an appointment just shy of three months.

He is now responsible for completion of a new world class north terminal worth nearly $1 billion. Projected date of completion is February 2019. The 972,000 square foot terminal will feature 35 gates, a 2,190 parking spot garage and a ground transportation staging area. New Orleans is considered the second fastest growing airport out of the top 60 in the country.

Dolliole’s illustrious career began when Tullos Flint, who worked in Xavier’s Registrar’s office at the time and who eventually became his mother-in-law, persuaded him to interview with Eastern Airlines at a career day fair. At the time, he was a junior majoring in business and wasn’t particularly interested; but went anyway, becoming the only student hired by the airlines.

He would spend the next 13 years with Eastern until it folded. He then made a lateral move to airport management that provided an opportunity for him to be an airport director eventually. He also acquired an MBA from the University of New Orleans.

Prior to his new appointment in New Orleans, Dolliole served as director of airport at St. Louis Lambert International Airport and Aviation Director at San Antonio International Airport.

 “Xavier was the perfect situation for me as a college student and I definitely left ‘READY’,” he said. “I’m proud to say I’m a graduate of Xavier and it’s refreshing to know that the university is well known around the country.”                                 

Students, faculty and staff at the XULA Campus of The Chicago School of Professional Psychology enjoyed Waffles And Southern Chicken to celebrate TCSPP’s 10-Year reaffirmation of regional accreditation by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.


The Chicago School of Professional Psychology – which launched its Clinical Psychology program at Xavier 2015 and just enrolled its third cohort of students in fall 2017 – recently received a 10-Year reaffirmation of regional accreditation by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Ten years is the longest accreditation term possible from WASC Senior College and University Commission and demonstrates TCSPP’s institutional effectiveness and integrity.

“This achievement is a testament to the excellence of our programs and how our graduates are uniquely positioned to enact positive change in the world,” said President Michele Nealon, Psy.D. “The accreditation process is a comprehensive one, made even more rigorous by the application of it on all of our campuses. The diligent dedication of our staff, faculty and students to our mission and vision has made this possible.”

The Program is in the process of seeking American Psychological Association accreditation. Prospective students should call 1 (800) 721-8072 or visit the Chicago School of Professional Psychology Web site HERE. TCSPP faculty and staff will also be at the XULA Annual Grad Fair Oct. 19 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the University Center Ballroom to speak with interested students.



  • Darryl Brown, a junior political science major from Burtonsville MD (Washington Latin High), was awarded an Ortique scholarship by the Greater New Orleans Louis A. Martinet Legal Society at the organization’s annual Scholarship Brunch.

  • Bryan Redmond, a senior psychology/premed major from Memphis TN (City University School for the Arts) was introduced as a member of the new class of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) All-Stars honored during the opening ceremony of the annual White House Initiative on HBCU’s summit in Washington DC. A total of 62 college students were selected for the program based on “their dedication to academics, leadership, and civic engagement”. The students will serve as ambassadors to the initiative for one year and act as a liaison between their school and the White House, providing outreach to their fellow students.

  • Camren Sewell, a freshman biomedical engineering major from Cincinnati OH (La Salle High), broke the school men's cross country record for 6,000 meters Saturday with a time of 20 minutes, 8.1 seconds at the LSU Invitational. The previous record was 21:08.

  • Megan Washington, a senior biology major, was featured in the Baylor University News Clips as the first Baylor student to participate in the new Xavier-Baylor domestic exchange program. The program was established as means of introducing students of both schools to new educational opportunities and creating an awareness of different institutional and cultural perspectives. Visit HERE for the article. 

  • Four juniors – Nicholas Hall, a biology/premed major from Shreveport LA (Capt. Shreve High); Rachel Hitchens, a biology/premed major from Zachary LA (Zachary High); Ericka Scott, a biology/premed major from Florissant MO (Incarnate Word High); and Brittany Strauss, a psychology/premed major from Houston TX (Cypress Falls High)—have been granted conditional acceptance into University of Rochester School of Medicine, via the Early Assurance Program, for entry in 2019. Students accepted through Rochester's program are not required to take the MCAT.

  • Two student-athletes – Charlene Goreau, a sophomore business major from Toulouse, Francie; and Catalin Fifea, a junior sociology major from Bucharest, Romania – won women’s and men’s singles titles, respectively, for Xavier at the HBCU National Tennis Championships, held in College Park GA. Both are returning NAIA All-Americans from last season.


  • Katrice Albert ’94 has been named to the newly created senior position of executive vice president of inclusion and human resources for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). She previously served as vice president for equity and diversity of the University of Minnesota system and is the founder of the Third Eye Consulting Group LLC, a diversity management firm.

  • Gwen Brown MA ’92, a motivational speaker and certified personal trainer in Silver Springs MD, has published her first book, Never Give Up: A Guide to Being Resilient, which was inspired by the journal of personal stories she wrote in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It is available on

  • Emmanuel Burke, Jr. ’88 served as the music director for the live theatre production of Once on This Island at Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre’ in New Orleans.

  • Dr. L’Issa Gates ‘03, who specializes in pediatrics and preventative medicine at Ochsner Health Center for Children in New Orleans, has been named a Role Model by the Young Leadership Council.

  • The Honorable Vivian Guillory ’75 will deliver the keynote address at the Southeast Louisiana Legal Services 50th Anniversary Program and Reception.

  • Dr. Rosalind P. Hale ’69 has joined the staff of the XULA Office of Alumni Relations as a volunteer, where she share her institutional knowledge, creativity, and energy in support of alumni activities.

  • Crystal Moore ’07 has been named a White House Fellow for 2017-18 and will work in the White House Office of Public Liaison.

  • Dr. Alexis Stokes ’05, who recently earned a Doctorate of Education degree with a concentration in higher education leadership and policy from Vanderbilt University, has received a post doctorate administrative fellowship from the Harvard University John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

  • Dr. Kyshun Webster ‘99 has been named an associate professor of education at the University of Holy Cross in New Orleans.


  • Dr. Regina Benjamin ’79 ( Times Picayune Endowed Chair in Public Health Sciences) has been named to the Board of Directors for Proteus Digital Health, which specializes in digital medicines therapy.

  • Dr. Cary Caro (Business) was the featured expert on the subject of credit cards for new businesses at See it HERE.

  • Dr. Maryam Foroozesh (Head, Chemistry) has received official notification that the Xavier Department of Chemistry has been named a recipient of the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) 2017 Stanley C. Israel Award for Advancing Diversity in the Chemical Sciences for the Southwest Region. She will accept the award at the ACS Southwest Regional Meeting in Lubbuck TX later this month.

  • Dr. David Lanoue (RosaMary Professor of English) gave a paper, "Translating Haiku: Where Spirit Meets Letter," at the Haiku North America conference in Santa Fe NM.

  • Torian Lee (Director, CIIP) participated in a panel discussion and presentation on Diplomacy and International Education in NOLA as part of the Friends of the Cabildo Lecture Series.

  • Dr. Biljana D. Obaradović (Head, English) had a new poem, “Found Her…”, pubished in the Nasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic  Anthology of Subversive Verse, edited by Grace Bauer and Julie Kane, and published by Lost Horse Press.

  • Dr. Florastina Payton-Stewart ’99 (Chemistry/CAT Kellogg Endowed Professor in Teaching) has been named a member of the Advisory Committee to the Director’s Working Group on Diversity, which provides regular advice to the National Institute of Health (NIH) Director on effective strategies to enhance the diversity of scientists in biomedical research, including individuals underrepresented nationally in biomedical research, and to reduce disparities in research awards from diverse applicants underrepresented nationally in biomedical research.

  • Dr. Michael White ‘76 (Languages) was featured in two major national publications in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, retelling his experiences with Hurricane Katrina in 2005: the New York Times “The Struggle After the Storm” and the Chicago Tribune’s “Clarinetist Dr. Michael White's Rebirth after Hurricane Katrina”.


(L-R) Imani Reid, Kensley Villvasso, and Mariah Tate left their mark on the Harvard University campus during the Ivy League school's FACETS summer program.


This past summer, a total of 12 undergraduate students from among the nation’s colleges and universities were chosen to participate in the prestigious Fostering Advancement and Careers through Enrichment Training in Science (FACETS) summer program at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Three of them were from Xavier.

That achievement says a lot about Xavier’s reputation for getting students READY for the next level in their studies and careers, but it also says even more about the three public health major themselves.

Meet Imani Reid and Mariah Tate, a pair of seniors from Chicago IL and sophomore Kensley Villavasso of New Orleans. The trio was recommended by adviser Dr. L. Faye Grimsley, XULA Associate Professor and Head of Public Health Sciences, who said she selected students she knew had an interest in research and who would be successful in the program.

FACETS is a program that takes a holistic approach to cultivating the next generation of scientists by offering coursework and research and networking opportunities with the overall goal of increasing participants’ competitiveness for graduate school admission. Harvard funds each participant’s total costs and provides each with a stipend.

For eight weeks, Reid, Tate, and Villavasso delved into research and lab testing, involving air pollutants and purification, early life phthalate exposures and its effect on childhood obesity, and mitochondrial mutations and DNA repair.

Their assignments played a crucial role in advancing the graduate research studies in environmental health and science being conducted at Harvard.

Reid worked on a group project evaluating reductions in PM2.5 and VOCs with ‘smart home’ air purification in Boston residences. Her job was to determine if the purifier was effective in reducing harmful air matter.

“I realized that environmental health is much more than taking water samples,” said Reid, who is a licensed practical nurse with an interest in public policy and administration and a passion for social justice and minority health disparities. “I did extensive research and writing, and had amazing opportunities for networking.

Tate worked exclusively with a faculty member and mentor on conducting a systematic literature review of early life phthalate exposures and indicators of childhood obesity to identify research gaps for future studies. She discovered that prenatally, urinary phthalate metabolites are detectable in pregnant women.

“I enjoyed the experience,  learned a lot, and got a stronger sense of the graduate school atmosphere,” said Tate, who plans to pursue a Master’s degree in public health, before venturing into medical school to become an obstetrics gynecologist.

For her part, Villavasso found herself enmeshed in cancer research involving mitochondrial mutations and DNA repair. The objective was to use mutations from the mitochondria to assess how environmental factors affect DNA damage and repair. She said ultimately the analysis should lead to a better understanding of the relationships among DNA damage, DNA repair, mitochondrial mutations and cancer risk.

“I really feel participating in this program will help me decide where my passions lie in terms of public health,” said Villavasso, who plans to pursue an MD in plastic surgery and a Master’s in public health.

Dr. Grimsley agrees. “It opens the door for opportunities that would not otherwise be open,” she said. “Harvard is world renown. The students have an opportunity to gage their preparations against other students from institutions from around the country. We feel strongly that our students come prepared and are capable of doing the work required at a Harvard.”

This collaboration came about when Dr. Grimsley met Dr. Robert Herrick, Harvard University’s Senior Lecturer on Industrial Hygiene while the two worked on research projects in the past. Both thought it would be a good idea to establish some type of relationship to encourage Xavier’s public health majors to participate in a master’s or PH D program at Harvard in public health.

“One of the things we found is that really talented undergraduate students don’t know all of the possibilities available within public health,” said Herrick. “FACETS is an ideal  avenue to reaching those students.”

All three students agreed that their Harvard experience was an eye-opening and life-changing experience, but because of their Xavier background they felt they were more than READY for the challenge it presented.

They were delightful students,” said Herrick. “Each was different from the other, but the one thing they all had in common was a passion for public health and making people’s lives better.”

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