SU People


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DeMarquis Clarke |

Ripple Effect

DeMarquis Clarke likens the philosophy of the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) to his own view of the world. “I believe that problems in the world are based on people’s relationships with one another,” says the second-year doctoral student. “No one person is the problem.” Clarke puts this ideology into practice in the Syracuse community for 20 hours each week through an assistantship funded by Catholic Charities. In an effort to reach out to African American youth, he works with young boys in individual therapy sessions at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School. He also helps children, adolescents, families, and job seekers at Brighton Community Center. “It has been extremely rewarding,” he says. “This is the vehicle by which I can help change the community.”

Clarke says the MFT program in the College of Human Services and Health Professions gives him the opportunity to be a role model for a community whose members see few African Americans with doctoral degrees. In fact, the program’s commitment to diversity helped convince Clarke—who holds a bachelor’s degree from Tougaloo College in Jackson, Mississippi, and a master’s degree in MFT from the University of Southern Mississippi—to move north and pursue a Ph.D. degree at SU. “The program teaches tolerance, understanding, and difference,” he says. “It is a place where I can understand more about my blackness, my maleness, my class, and my relationships with other people.”

Professor Linda Stone Fish, MFT department chair, says issues of diversity are taught in the curriculum and infused throughout the program. “The department’s emphasis is on training therapists and scholars to challenge themselves through fostering relationships with others who hold various and diverse world views,” she says. According to Stone Fish, Clarke fits in well with this vision. “He is bright, curious, motivated, and passionate, which are all necessary ingredients for traditional academic programs. He is warm and emotionally present, which is necessary for practice,” she says. “What makes DeMarquis such a unique combination is his quest for knowledge about family therapy theory and about himself in regard to relationships, which is the backdrop to his overarching drive toward social justice.” Clarke also has a genuine desire to have an impact on the world, she says. “He will make a difference.”

Clarke is well on his way to fulfilling that prophecy. He expects to complete the MFT program in four years, and has set ambitious goals for his future. Building on his desire to be a role model for the black community, Clarke wants to start a marriage and family therapy graduate program at a historically black school. “I believe one reason there aren’t a lot of people of color in the field is because there are no marriage and family therapy programs at our historically black colleges and universities,” he says. Clarke also plans to establish a private practice and work at a Boys and Girls Club of America, an organization that provides programs and services for children, which he benefited from as a child. “It was a place where I could go and be with friends,” he says. “My hope is to give back to the organization.”

These goals underscore his ultimate intention, which is to facilitate change. “It’s a ripple effect,” Clarke says. “It starts with personal relationships and ends with the world.”

—Lindsay Beller



Susan Wadley | At Home in Rural India

Schmitt Shoots!!

Each year, anthropology professor Susan Wadley looks forward to spending time at her “second home” in Karimpur, a rural village in northern India. During a visit to India last fall, she treated a group of Karimpur’s young villagers to something they rarely experience—cheese pizza smothered in hot peppers. “I paid for a taxi, had them come to New Delhi, and took them to Pizza Hut,” says Wadley, Ford Maxwell Professor of South Asian Studies and director of the South Asia Center at SU. “They thought this was the greatest thing. As village kids, they would never eat in a restaurant.”

Wadley researched and studied social change in Karimpur for 30 years and documented the experience in her most recent book, Struggling with Destiny in Karimpur, 1925-1984. Much of her research focuses on women’s status issues and female neglect in rural India. Wadley has witnessed Karimpur women shift their priorities from marriage to education, resulting in a 10-year increase in the average age of women getting married.

While Western influences have introduced the village’s people to such offerings as birthday cake and pizza, many traditional customs remain. Indian women, for instance, are encouraged to maintain a healthy and somewhat “chubby” body type to successfully bear children, Wadley says. “One thing that’s intriguing about India is it has very different beliefs around a whole series of things that America and the West oppose.”

When Wadley made her first research visit to Karimpur in 1967, the village had a population of 1,400. Today the village has more than 3,000 inhabitants, but remains undeveloped in Western terms. For example, the nearest bank is 10 miles away. Wadley has enjoyed watching the village undergo various changes during subsequent visits, despite its often primitive living conditions. “I actually get along really well in poverty-stricken India,” Wadley says. “It is the misrepresentation of India that we find in the United States that constantly challenges me.”

These misrepresentations, she says, often concern the role of women in the household. Many Westerners assume that Indian women are oppressed and that Indian societies are so controlled by the caste system that individuals cannot act for themselves. “I’ve spent a lot of my career disputing those ideas in one way or another,” Wadley says.
Wadley became hooked on Indian culture in 1963 during a trip she took as part of her undergraduate work at Carleton College in Minnesota. “Studying internationally is important because it’s too easy for a person in any society to think that his or her way is the only right way to live,” she says. “The experience of seeing and living with people who have different lives and beliefs helps you recognize they are entitled to those beliefs.”

Although Wadley is primarily concerned with women’s roles in Indian culture, she has turned her attention toward oral traditions and folklore. She recently finished another book, Raja Nal and the Goddess: Inscribing Caste and Gender in a North Indian Epic, which examines Dhola, an epic that is partially sung and partially spoken by lower-caste, often illiterate men. The epic takes up to 30 nights to perform and honors goddesses and women. Wadley is the first scholar to write a book about Dhola. “The hero seems to be able to do nothing without his women,” she says. “He sits and cries on battlefields until they come and win his battles for him.”

In addition to writing about Dhola and teaching classes at SU, Wadley organizes speakers for the South Asia Center, and advises graduate students. Last fall she curated an exhibition at the Lowe Art Gallery that included the work of two Indian artists. “I like the variety of my work,” she says. “I like being able to focus on social change and rural economics one day and rural tradition and popular arts the next.”

óCori Bolger


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Eboni Britt | Go-Getter

Eboni Britt carries the concept of multitasking to the extreme. On top of working in the Office of Human Resources, driving her young daughter to dance classes and soccer games, and caring for her new baby, she aspires to begin a master’s degree program in public relations at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. And, just for fun, she works a few hours a week at a local clothing store. “I get antsy when I have too much free time on my hands,” Britt says.

Born in Philadelphia and raised in Colorado, Britt relocated to Syracuse in 2000 with her husband, Dwayne, and 3-year-old daughter Essence. However, before the family moved back East, Essence was diagnosed with a malignant tumor, known as a neuroblastoma, when she was only 14 months old. Britt immediately immersed herself in exhaustive medical research on this rare form of childhood cancer. Armed with expert knowledge and a positive attitude, she relentlessly sought appropriate treatment protocols, battled with doctors over risky drug therapies, and helped her daughter fight back to a full recovery. “I prayed on it and then followed my instincts,” Britt says. “Life’s hardships have strengthened me to be a person who can take on many things.”

Britt’s ability to handle various responsibilities is a distinct advantage in her work as a staff development specialist in the Office of Human Resources. Among her duties, she administers the reward and recognition program, coordinates career development and training workshops, organizes the Corporate Challenge 3.5-mile run, and conducts monthly orientation sessions for new employees. “I enjoy staff orientation in particular because it gives me a chance to help new employees understand why Syracuse University is such a great place to work,” says Britt, a graduate of Regis University in Colorado Springs. “The best thing about working at SU is that you have an opportunity to study whatever your heart desires—anything you can think of is available at the University and attainable through remitted tuition benefits.”

Mark Coldren, director of organizational development in the Office of Human Resources, describes Britt as vivacious and driven. “We often tease her about being ‘sassy,’” Coldren says. “When Eboni sets her sights on something, she goes out and finds a way to get it. I’ve been most impressed with her staff orientation work. She is a natural in front of our new staff members and provides a genuine enthusiasm as to what it means to come and work at the University.”

óChristine Yackel


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Karma Parsons |

The Right Chemistry

When Karma Parsons ’03 first encountered chemistry in high school, it proved to be a real challenge. But, like oppositely charged particles that attract, Parsons and chemistry soon bonded, and today she flourishes in the discipline as a scholar, tutor, and campus leader. “Chemistry was the first class in high school that was a struggle for me,” says Parsons, a chemistry major in the College of Arts and Sciences. “I had to get over several hurdles. I worked really hard and finally it all clicked. I realized chemistry wasn’t just a bunch of random equations. I saw all the connections and understood why it was relevant.”

Parsons has been on the fast track to a career in chemistry ever since. Last spring, the Montdale, Pennsylvania, native was selected from among 1,155 students nationwide to receive a Goldwater Scholarship. The $7,500 award, named in honor of the late Senator Barry M. Goldwater, recognizes outstanding students in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering.

This isn’t the first time Parsons has been recognized for her academic excellence. The SU chemistry department faculty honored her with the George A. Wiley Award for Organic Chemistry in her sophomore year and the Willem Prins Award for Physical Chemistry last year. “She is one of the best students I’ve had,” says chemistry professor Michael Sponsler, who recommended Parsons for the Goldwater award. Although Parsons takes her studies and grades seriously, Sponsler says she doesn’t compete with classmates. He has seen Parsons assist classmates informally during labs and more formally through a tutoring program run by Alpha Chi Sigma, the professional chemistry fraternity, of which she is vice president.

Classmate and fraternity president Ryan Lewis ’03 says since Parsons headed up the organization’s recruitment process a year ago, the club has grown from 12 to 32 members. “Karma’s very enthusiastic about chemistry and Alpha Chi Sigma, and she spreads that enthusiasm to everyone she’s around,” Lewis says. “She’s approachable and great at getting people involved.” Under Parsons’s leadership, the organization has not only grown in numbers, but has also become more active on and off campus and has initiated such projects as establishing a chemistry program for local Boy Scout troops, Lewis says.

Although Parsons says she is proud of winning academic awards, she gains a greater sense of accomplishment from the personal growth she has experienced at Syracuse. “I have become more independent, more willing to meet people and try new things,” she says. “I’ve become a campus leader, which I never thought possible at such a big school. I have overcome my tendency to be shy. SU has really allowed me to flourish.” Parsons credits her success to the outstanding support and training she’s received from professors. “They’re absolutely awesome,” she says. “They’ll set up extra office hours or help the entire class with difficult assignments.”

Winning the Goldwater Scholarship has infused Parsons’s already motivated personality with even more enthusiasm and drive. “My goals for senior year are to finish my honors thesis and graduate summa cum laude with all those nice acknowledgments next to my name,” Parsons says. She’d also like the campus community to recognize the name and volunteer work of the chemistry fraternity. “We do a lot of science outreach with cool experiments to show local kids that science is fun,” she says.

By encouraging youngsters, Parsons hopes to inspire them to pursue a path similar to her own. “There’s a massive shortage of chemists,” she says. “There will always be a need for them because the basis of everything in life is chemistry.”

After earning a Ph.D., she hopes to become a professional chemist and someday tackle such major environmental problems as finding renewable energy sources or creating materials that would safely store radioactive waste while it disintegrates. “I have my sights set high,” she says.

—Margaret Costello





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