steve sartori
Professor Roosevelt Wright Jr., left, meets with society members Nicole Saunders, Chris Rose, Antoinette Carr, and Yolanda Arrington.

Not long ago, the Black Communications Society (BCS) was on the verge of vanishing at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. But BCS avoided such a fate when students took a proactive approach last fall toward reviving the organization, founded in 1976 by African American Newhouse students. "We want to make sure BCS remains active," says BCS events coordinator Shontay Robinson '01, a television-radio-film management major.
      Newhouse professor Roosevelt Wright Jr., who has been BCS's faculty advisor since its inception, is pleased with the students' work to rebuild the organization. "BCS is important to Newhouse," Wright says. "It allows students to interact and explore issues of the African American experience in mass communications."
      As part of the students' efforts, Yolanda Arrington '00, a broadcast journalism major and vice president of BCS, processed the paperwork to register a National Association of Black Journalists chapter at SU. Latonya Chenault '99, a television-radio-film major, developed a BCS web site. BCS president Christopher Rose '99, a television-radio- film management major, began compiling an alumni directory for organization members to use as a networking resource.
      In honor of Black History Month, the group organized a communications roundtable in February. "We talked about what it's like to work as black professionals in the media," Rose says. The panelists, culled from several local media outlets, shared professional perspectives and addressed issues such as racism in the workplace, the positive and negative images of African Americans in the media, and being a minority manager of professional mass media.
      Wright says it's crucial for Newhouse students to have the chance to meet African American leaders in the communications industry, and BCS can offer those opportunities. To keep the momentum going, Wright encourages the group to think innovatively and pursue such events as two-day media seminars, which were organized by BCS in the seventies and eighties. Those events featured high-profile African Americans in the media like Bob Johnson, CEO of Black Entertainment Television; and SU trustee Ragan Henry, the first African American to own a VHF television station.
      Members also realize the potential impact BCS can have on their own lives as they prepare for careers in the media industry. "We know as communicators and as African Americans that we have a responsibility to the media," says BCS member Antoinette Carr '01. "We're striving to be better communicators."
                                                                                                                                                —KIMBERLY BURGESS



Many first-year students feel isolated and out of place when they begin attending a major university like SU. Those feelings are magnified for students from low-income families, who may lag behind their peers in social and academic skills. The Empowering Students to Learn, Care, and Succeed in Nursing (ESL-CS) Summer Enrichment Program gives such students a head start on their college careers, offering seminars that foster personal and academic growth, and for-credit classes.
      Now in its third year, the six-week program is run in conjunction with the Summer Start Program sponsored by the Division for Student Support and Retention. The latter program introduces students to various aspects of campus and academic life.
      Nicole Braun '02, who participated last summer, says the experience made for an excellent start at SU. "I got a chance to get my math and writing skills to the level SU demands," she says. "I also met most of the staff people I now deal with on a regular basis. As a commuter student, I don't have as many chances as residents to get close to other students. The program helped me develop good relationships with the nursing students who were there."
      Another of last year's students, Megan Montgomery '02, says she settled into campus life much faster than she would have without the program. Weekly seminars helped give her a boost over other incoming nursing students. "I took classes that others are now struggling through," she says. "It was hard at times, but it brought me into my freshman year with a high GPA to build on."
      Nursing professor Bobbie Jean Perdue, who directs the program, says activities focus on three areas: an introduction to anatomy and physiology skills; personal health and health promotion; and making connections with people in the College of Nursing and throughout the University. Some of those connections are made during a retreat with the college's Community Advisory Board in the third week of the program. "These are primarily human resources people and advance practice nurses, minority nurses in the community," Perdue says of the board members. "They spend time sharing tricks of the trade with the students, what kinds of things will be good for them, and also forming a bond with them so they can be their mentors."
      The program is part of a three-year, $650,000 grant Perdue received to work on retaining low-income students in nursing. "It focuses on helping students to not just survive, but thrive," Perdue says, "so they can become nurse leaders who improve health care." With the grant ending this year, Perdue is trying to secure additional funding to continue the program.
      Perdue says the program levels the playing field for low-income students so they can receive the full benefits of an SU education. "Our program allows the students to come to the University and feel a part of it to begin with," she says.

                                                                                                    —GARY PALLASSINO

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