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November 15, 2012

By Brian W. Carter

Sentinel Staff Writer

 

The Southern California Alumni Club #6 (SCAC6) held its 31st Annual Mardi Gras Jazz Brunch recently at the Proud Bird Restaurant. The event was developed in honor of Xavier University and to raise funds for scholarships. SCAC6 president, Anthony Sharp, who recently accepted another term as president over the club, explained the Mardi Gras’ importance.

“The purpose of this event is first and foremost to provide financial support to Xavier,” said Sharp, “to raise scholarships for students that are from the Los Angeles area and to more so, raise awareness about HBCU’s (Historical Black Colleges/Uni­ver­sities).”

He continued, “As we’ve seen…they’re trying to close the doors of our HBCUs, so it’s up to all of the Alumni Chapter, both here locally as well as all over the country to, not only raise funds but to continue to raise awareness of this issue.”

The SCAC6 is very committed to supporting XU and its students. Sharp is an alumnus with his undergraduate, graduate and experience gained from working on XU’s campus.

“We’re striving to at least [get] 20,000 or more [members] at this fundraiser every year,“ said Tracy Cummings, vice president of SCAC6.  “It’s exciting and we’re raising funds for scholarships… that’s what makes it okay as far as our blood, sweat and tears.”

“This is definitely an event we look forward to each and every single year to raise money for the school that’s dear to my heart,” said Sharp. “It’s up to (SCAC6) to continue to support the efforts of Xavier and Dr. Francis… whose leadership is bar none.”

Dr. Norman Francis is the president of Xavier University and takes the title seriously. He is very proud of the HBCU that he represents and has an urgent message for youth.

“This is a time to remind all of our children, our grandchildren, our nieces and our nephews, that [they’ve] got to be prepared as well as they can be,” said Francis. “Anybody who believes race, creed, color and gender don’t matter, I got news for them—it does matter.”

He continued, “If you don’t recognize that you’ve got a problem and don’t deal with it, you’ve got a greater problem.”

Francis holds the title as one of the longest sitting presidents of a university in the U.S. since 1968. A man committed to educating Black youth, Francis is responsible for the university’s growth physically, spiritually and academically.

“It’s always a happy time for me,” said Francis. “I don’t have a lot of time to spend, but I make sure that I try to [show up] here every year.”

“I just saw a lady with a little baby and I said to her, ‘I got an application that I want to give the [baby],” said Francis.

“This is a wonderful event,” said Dr. Kenneth St. Charles vice president Institutional Advancement at XU. “We get a chance to go around and see alumni from different parts of the country and this event is the one we always come to because so many of the alums truly appreciate what they [received] from Xavier.”

“We have a lot of strong support from Los Angeles,” said Kimberly Reese director of alumni relations at XU. “So, it’s always good to come back and see people…supporting [XU].

“We really love it.”

The Jazz brunch was well attended by Xavier alumni, friends and family, who partied New Orleans-style to music from live band, Gumbo Child. Later, everyone enjoyed a hearty brunch and participated in an auction with prizes, which included original paintings, the latest I-Pad, and gift certificates to the Proud Bird, Post & Beam and other prizes.

Based in New Orleans, Louisiana, Xavier was founded by Saint Katherine Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and to this day is the only historically, Black Catholic University in the United States.  It was started as a high school in 1915, and later added a four-year college program in 1925. It was established to educate African-Americans and Native Americans. Xavier, to this day, is a predominantly African-American university, but is open to all ethnicities.

The university offers 47 major undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. It’s accredited by numerous organizations and colleges including the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, American Council of Pharmaceutical Education, the Louisiana Department of Edu­cation, and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) just to name a few.

Dr. Francis encouraged alumni and guests to support youth in pursuing a higher education and had this to say:

“I’d love to have you all to come to Xavier but if you don’t come, make sure that you’re prepared to be educated—technically and literally, competent to handle the technology of today and tomorrow.”

According to the U.S. Department of Education, Xavier has maintained the ranking of first place in African-American students earning undergraduate degrees in biological/life sciences and the physical sciences. It has one of the best pharmacy programs in the nation producing African-Americans with Doctor of Pharmacy degrees. Xavier is also known for placing African-American students in the top medical schools. In 2010, the institute was awarded 504 degrees and alumni ranked up to 20,000. 

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