HBCU Businesses

This week on Historically Black Friday – The Yin and the Yang

This week on Historically-Black Friday we ordered and received our order of pecan pralines, from Rose Mary’s Pralines.

The Yin.

Rose Mary's Pralines

I’m not a huge candy guy. I think the only time I’ve ever had pralines was in ice cream. But with Valentine’s Day approaching and having read the history of the recipe and seeing the beautiful photos I had to give them a try. The first word that comes to mind is decadent. They’re on the luxury end of the candy spectrum according to taste, and are absolutely made to be shared.


Urban Fiction Receives a Gem with A.D. Wright’s release of “I Live: A novel without Heroes”

I Live: A novel without heroes has the natural allure of sex, love and violence, as found in most mainstream urban fiction novels, but with a subtle twist.

Available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, the story begins with a young man in transition, both figuratively and literally, returning to his old neighborhood after spending several years in prison due to a questionable arrest.

Entertainment Sports

Can Hampton beat Duke?

You get your bracket and fill it out. Lets face it, the easiest pick is the number 1 seed beating the 16. It’s a no brainer. But one day, David will sleigh Goliath. Is this the year?


[Black History] A Brief History of Hampton University

The year was 1861. The American Civil War had shortly begun and the Union Army held control of Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. In May of that year, Union Major General Benjamin Butler decreed that any escaping slaves reaching Union lines would be considered “contraband of war” and would not be returned to bondage. This resulted in waves of enslaved people rushing to the fort in search of freedom. A camp to house the newly freed slaves was built several miles outside the protective walls of Fort Monroe. It was named “The Grand Contraband Camp” and functioned as the United States’ first self-contained African American community.

Campus Life

Hampton University Proton therapy center treats its first pediatric patient

It’s been ups and downs for the Semlers since Reagyn Semler, now 10, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2005.

Wednesday was a little bit of both. The family from London, Ohio, just west of Columbus, celebrated the last day of Reagyn’s treatment at the newly opened Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute. But saying goodbye to the staff they saw almost daily wasn’t easy.

“I will miss my doctors and everybody here,” Reagyn said.

“I’m going to start to crying,” mother Carol Semler said. “It’s bittersweet. I’m excited to go home, but we’ve been here so long. This is like our family now.”

The last day of treatment included gifts donated by local businesses and a serenade by radiation therapist Mike Freeman, who dressed up like Alan Jackson and sang “Gone Country.”

Reagyn was the first pediatric patient to be treated at the cancer treatment center, which opened in August. A 200-ton cyclotron spins protons, which are found inside the nucleus of atoms, at 60 percent of the speed of light and beams them into treatment rooms.

The center initially treated prostate cancer patients but is now branching out to treat other tumors. Radiation oncologist Dr. Allan Thornton expects they’ll treat pediatric patients from all over the world.

Reagyn was diagnosed with a brain stem glioma, a type of central nervous system tumor, in 2005. Every year, about 3,800 central nervous system tumors are diagnosed in children, making them the second most common childhood tumor after leukemia. Brain tumors account for about 21 percent of all childhood cancer up to age 14, according to the American Cancer Society.

Her parents knew something was wrong when Reagyn kept exhibiting flu-like symptoms and didn’t have any energy. Then she lost muscle control in her eyes. Her parents took her to eye specialist, who saw fluid buildup and called for an immediate MRI. The scan detected the tumor.

Reagyn was admitted to the hospital that night and underwent emergency surgery to put a shunt in to drain fluid from her brain. The tumor was inoperable because of its location — in the part of the brain that controls balance, heart rate, swallowing and breathing, Thornton said.

The shunt relieved the pressure and swelling and doctors closely monitored the tumor. In 2008, it started growing again, and the family met Thornton, who was then with the Midwest Proton Radiotherapy Institute in Indiana. But it stopped growing and they shelved treatment.

In September, it started growing again. Reagyn came to Hampton Roads Nov. 9 to undergo treatment five times a week.

Reagyn also went to Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters in Norfolk for chemotherapy. Chemo will continue for about a year soon after she returns to Ohio.

Because there are only eight proton therapy treatment centers operating in the U.S., few other children’s hospitals have this kind of resource nearby, said Dr. Eric Lowe, a CHKD pediatric oncologist

Until now, CHKD had to refer patients to proton therapy centers elsewhere.

“It’s absolutely huge,” Lowe said. “The advantage is it hopefully gives you a more focused radiation rather than having the collateral damage. Where that matters is in small spaces. Who has small spaces? Kids.”

Reagyn’s mom, dad and little sister were around for her treatment. Her three other siblings stayed in Ohio with grandparents.

“She’s doing great, other than being a little tired and her appetite decreasing. She hasn’t had any of the other symptoms she could have had,” Carol Semler said. “You can look at her and not even know she has it.”

Reagyn’s mother remembers what it was like to hear her daughter had an inoperable brain tumor.

“It felt like someone just stuck a knife in me. You go to the hospital and you see these kids with life-threatening illnesses and you never think it’s going to be you,” Carol Semler said.

“I was scared,” Reagyn said of first learning she had a brain tumor. Now, “it’s not as scary as it was when I first heard.”

She’s looking forward to hanging out with friends and seeing her cat, Angel, which her parents got her when she first got sick.

Reagyn likes gymnastics, cheerleading and swimming, but Thornton told her to take it easy the next few months. He’ll work with her doctors in Ohio and monitor her progress.

“We would expect the tumor to shrink over the next six months until it is only scar tissue,” Thornton said.

Though the tumor was inoperable, it was a grade that was treatable, Thornton said.

“She has a very, very good prognosis,” he said.

Campus Life

Hampton University launches National Center on African American Marriages and Parenting

Seventy-two percent of black babies are born to unmarried mothers today, according to government statistics. This number is inseparable from the work of Carroll, an obstetrician who has dedicated her 40-year career to helping black women.

“The girls don’t think they have to get married. I tell them children deserve a mama and a daddy. They really do,” Carroll says from behind the desk of her office, which has cushioned pink-and-green armchairs, bars on the windows, and a wooden “LOVE” carving between two African figurines. Diamonds circle Carroll’s ring finger.

Campus Life

HU President Dr. William R. Harvey Responds to WSJ Article Criticizing HBCUs

A recent Wall Street Journal article by Jason Riley questioned the relevance of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in today’s society. He complained about President Obama’s conventional approach to HBCUs and opined that “instead of more subsidies and toothless warnings to shape up”, the President and federal government ought to “…remake these schools to meet today’s challenges.”

I cannot speak for the President of the United States, but I have spoken to him about HBCUs. An ardent supporter of historically black colleges and universities, President Obama understands and appreciates their value to the nation and the world. The facts justify his support, i.e., representing 4% of all American colleges and universities, HBCUs conferred over 22% of all degrees awarded to African Americans. With only 13% of African Americans in higher education, these colleges awarded nearly 30% of all undergraduate degrees earned by African American students in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines; 50% of all bachelor’s degrees in teacher education received by African American students; and 85% of Doctor of Medicine degrees acquired by African Americans according to statistics compiled by the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education.

Campus Life

Hampton University Opens $225M Cancer Center

Hampton University (HU) has ushered in a new era of cancer treatment in Virginia with the recent opening of its $225 million Proton Therapy Institute. After three years of construction, the institute has gone into action to deliver on its promise of providing life-saving therapy. This is the first proton therapy center connected with a historically black university and the only one of eight in this country not connected with a medical school.