Keystone Honors Academy at Cheyney U. Celebrates Annual Autumn Reception

Meghan Sowersby

November 17, 2016

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Dr. Mark C. Alexander, JD, the Arthur J. Kania Dean at the Villanova University Charles Widget School of Law, gave the keynote address at the Keystone Honors Academy Autumn Reception at Cheyney. He veered from his original topic and spoke about he Presidential election results instead. (all pictures by Isaiah Stratton)

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Cheyney University faculty, staff and students assembled in the great room of Carnegie Hall on Tuesday to celebrate the Keystone Honors Academy's Autumn Reception. The annual ceremony celebrates the accomplishments of honors students and allows them to network and gain insight from a featured presenter.

This year’s keynote speaker was Dr. Mark C. Alexander, JD, the Arthur J. Kania Dean at the Villanova University Charles Widget School of Law. An honored law professor, Dr. Alexander served for two decades as the Associate Dean for Academics at the Seton Hall University School of Law. He has been published in leading journals and is the author of several books concerning his areas of expertise which include constitutional law, criminal procedure, election law, and criminal law and the First Amendment. Dr. Alexander holds impressive international experience, having taught law in Spain for a year as a Fulbright scholar. In addition, President Barack Obama appointed him to serve on the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board from 2010-2014.

Cheyney University Interim President Dr. Frank G. Pogue warmly welcomed the crowd and emboldened students to keep learning, achieving and striving as they continue their college careers. Acknowledging the challenges that they may face, he stated that through their hard work and achievements, students “are preparing Cheyney and preparing [themselves] to be the leaders that we need.” Dr. Pogue congratulated the attendees for their many accomplishments and thanked faculty for their investment into the education of Cheyney students.

Associate Provost Dr. Tara E. Kent encouraged the audience to carry on making an impact in the educational sphere and the country. She addressed the uncertainty that students may feel in light of recent political and social events throughout the nation. “All of us on this campus understand you and value the way that you feel at this time, and we respect and cherish you as vital members of this community,” she said. “I’m grateful to be a part of an organization that values human diversity, and cherishes who we all are as a foundational part of this country, and this is our university's very mission and purpose.”

Mrs. Nicole Rayfield, Director of Student Programs for the Honors Academy then took the podium to recognize nine Academy students who have recently achieved exceptional accomplishments.

Junior William Sorrell was recognized for being one of 134 students nationwide selected to receive a spot in the RISE Ph.D. Prep Program. This intensive seminar, held at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA, is an initiative designed to help young men of color gain doctorates in their chosen field.

Senior Simone Pearson and Freshman Stephen Adansola were also honored for being chosen to attend the Cancer Biology Annual Retreat in Pittsburgh, PA.

Junior Tache Johnson was recognized for her work as the university's ambassador for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and for landing an impressive internship with IBM, a Software Engineering Company in North Carolina.

Sophomores Sam Owusu and Kwadwo Ofori were highlighted as well for working as part of a team of Cheyney students that traveled to Drexel University to participate in the 18th Annual Philadelphia AMP Research Symposium and Mentoring Conference.

Senior and Hospitality Major Stessie Pierre was congratulated on returning from her internship with American Cruise Lines, as straveling to various ports of call along the Southwestern border of the United States and the Mississippi River.

Meghan Sowersby was commended for being one of 10 students in the nation selected to study abroad in London, England during the summer of 2017 as Frederick Douglass Fellow in partnership with the Center on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) and the University of Pennsylvania.

Finally, Junior and 2016-2017 Miss Cheyney Anitra Jackson was acknowledged for not only winning third place in the AMP Research Symposium for presenting information on her previous internship at Temple University, but being named the only Pennsylvania State ambassador for the White House Initiative on HBCUs, thereby earning her the title of an HBCU-All-Star.

Dr. Mark C. Alexander then took command of the room and spoke about a topic that surprised, impressed and moved the entire audience. “The events of recent days have moved me to reconsider what I’m going to say here tonight,” he began. “We have elected a new President. The election was free and fair. Half of our country went one way, half went another. We are faced with anger and fear. So what do we do now in the face of this? We engage.”

He continued to explain his analysis of the current political and social standing of the country from the perspective of a law professor. He explored the various aspects that contributed to the election results and how to push forward as both college students and a united nation. Alexander addressed the disagreements that have divided the country, but noted that challenges such as these ultimately should inspire an analysis and reformation of flaws in the system. “You are leaders now and going forward," he explained, "so you need to engage now more than ever!"