Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Xavier University Graduate and Scholarship Recipient Pays It Forward

Speech pathology graduate’s experience teaching in Africa inspired her to take action

Growing up in Los Angeles with her single and often-unemployed mother (her birth father essentially abandoned the family and her stepfather was later sent to jail on drug charges), Jade Romain experienced firsthand all of the physical and emotional hardships that living with the barest of necessities implies.  Thankful for the scholarship that enabled her to attend Xavier University; she can empathize with those who have similar struggles and strive to help them.

But Romain was still shocked to find herself among the poorest of the poor when she arrived in Chibolya, Zambia, in partnership with Full Circle Learning, an international nonprofit that provides educational services to community schools in developing countries. “The real challenge was trying to motivate children who rarely had enough to eat and who endured the most rudimentary of living conditions,” said Romain, pointing out that families in the area routinely shared the same scarce sanitation facilities and water resources.  “On Mondays I’d have half the class out because they had not eaten the whole weekend.”

Undeterred, Romain persevered and is proud to say that by the time she departed three months later her “babies” were well on their way to mastering some of the basics of the English language.  But that wasn’t enough for her.  “There is a dire need of educational materials for both the children and the teachers,” said Romain.  So upon returning to New Orleans, despite her rigorous academic schedule and student clinical practice, Romain created the Khondanani Projects, a certified organization and partner of Children’s International dedicated to bringing educational resources to community schools.  Romain secured surplus educational materials from local public and private schools and will ship them this summer to community schools in Chibolya.

In August, Romain will begin the Master of Science degree program at Columbia University in New York, specializing in speech and language pathology and serving her residency in the some of the more destitute parts of New York City, where such health services are not readily available.  Ultimately, however, her thoughts take her back to Africa.  “I am anxious to get back to Chibolya and see that community schools get the things they need to be successful,” she said.  “But I also note that there is no speech pathology or audiology presence in the country, and that’s something I’d also like to help change.”

Romain graduated with over 550 fellow students at the Xavier University of Louisiana commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 10 in the Convocation Center on Xavier’s campus.  Speaker and noted actor and activist Blair Underwood was awarded an honorary degree at the commencement, along with retiring Tulane University President Dr. Scott Cowen and New Orleans educator, activist and community leader, Sybil Haydel Morial ‘52.  Contact Jade at jadecromain1@gmail.com.

About Xavier University of Louisiana

Xavier University of Louisiana is a private, liberal arts co-educational institution offering over 40 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs as well as a doctor of pharmacy degree.  Xavier is the only historically Black, Catholic university in the United States and draws students from 39 states, Washington, D.C., Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and eight foreign countries. The University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Its respective programs are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, the National Association of Schools of Music, the Louisiana State Department of Education, the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. Also, Xavier’s chemistry program is approved by the American Chemical Society. For more information, visit www.xula.edu.

Source: Press release

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