The National Merit® Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) has recognized St. Mary’s Dominican High School seniors Brooke Babin, Katherine Ellis, Christina Rareshide, and Abi Scanlan as Finalists. They were among 16,000 high scorers, representing less than one percent of the nation’s high school graduating seniors, who qualified as Semifinalists earlier this year. All Finalists will be considered for National Merit Scholarship Awards to be offered in 2023.
NMSC, a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 specifically to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program. United States high school students enter the National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT)/NMSQT® which serves as an initial screen of more than 1.5 million entrants each year, and by meeting published program entry and participation requirements. Scholarships are underwritten by NMSC with its own funds and by approximately 400 business organizations and higher education institutions that share NMSC’s goals of honoring the nation’s scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.
In the Research Lab at St. Mary’s Dominican High School, the Biology II Honors students performed a lab on a bacterial transformation. Biology teacher Mrs. Janine Koenig said it is a technique commonly used in Biotechnology to introduce new genes into living bacterial cells.
“The bacteria incorporate the plasmid genes into their cells and express the proteins the genes code,” she explained. “The plasmid genes used are coded for ampicillin resistance and green fluorescent protein (jellyfish gene). These are common marker genes used in Biotech. We are calculating their transformation efficiency statistically.”
Lab results showed that all lab groups transformed their bacteria successfully.
“We’ve got the responsibility to live up to the legacy of those who came before us by doing all that we can do to help those who come after us.” Michelle Obama
I think all of us can appreciate those times when we are able to reflect on our individual heritage and honor our contributions to society. Each February, I look forward to celebrating Black History Month and honoring my African American heritage and its contributions. Growing up in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s, I remember the familiar names that were lifted up in February—such as Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, Marian Anderson, Rosa Parks, and Dr. Martin Luther King. But it was during my college years in the 70’s, in my Black history courses, that I broadened my historical perspective of Black history and the contributions of African Americans to American history. It is as the actor, Morgan Freeman once said, “Black history is American History.”
Since 1987, I have maintained a ritual of obtaining a copy of the African American History and Heritage Calendar published by the Josephite religious order. The Josephites are a religious order of priests and brothers committed to serving the African American community. The “Josephite calendar,” as it is commonly called, is printed as a resource, and distributed in December of each year in predominately African American Catholic parishes. The calendar features Black art, and each day lists names, significant dates, and accomplishments of African Americans. I would always get two calendars—one for home and one for my area at work. I continue that practice today. Each year, I enjoy learning new facts from the Black Heritage Calendar. This month, a couple of new facts I noted include learning about: Charlotte Ray, 1st African American woman lawyer to graduate from Howard University Law School in 1872; Rebecca Lee Crumpler, 1st African American woman to receive an M.D. degree in 1864; and Debi Thomas, 1st African- American woman to win a medal (figure skating) at the Winter Olympics-1988 Calgary Canada.
Representation is important. It means a lot to be able to reflect on your heritage and to see “someone who looks like you” reflected in various roles in society. One of my favorite photographs of former President Barack Obama, captures the moment where he bends forward to allow a little Black child to touch his hair, “to see if it was like his hair.” Another inspirational story is that of Misty Copeland, the ballerina who in 2015, became the first African American female principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre. Copeland has shared with other young Black girls and their parents, what it is like to be “on a journey as a dancer who is young, Black and different.” Black representation in all walks of life is important. It helps to inspire the dreams of our younger generations. Representation was important to the discernment of my own vocation as a religious sister. A picture of Sr. Thea Bowman, FSPA, hung in my office along with my other religious and family mementos. I was, also, deeply influenced by seeing and connecting with Black religious women through the National Black Sisters Conference (NBSC).
Remembering the importance of representation, I am grateful to celebrate during Black History Month 2023, the six Black candidates for sainthood, Sr. Thea Bowman, FSPA, Mother Mary Lange, OSP, Mother Henriette DeLille, SSF, Fr. Augustus Tolton, Julia Greeley and Pierre Toussaint. Their stories are compelling and their cause for sainthood is becoming more generally known within the Church and Catholic religious circles. Albertus Magnus College, a sponsored ministry of the Dominican Sisters of Peace, recently began a series about these six candidates called, Saints Among Us: The Road to Sainthood. I invite you to click here to enjoy the first segment of the series presented by Dominican Sisters of Peace Candidate, Shingai Chigwedere.
I am grateful for another opportunity to celebrate Black History Month and the African American Heritage. For me, it is an inspiring time that also reminds me of God’s continued faithfulness. I end with this hopeful quote from Sr. Thea Bowman, FSPA:
“God’s Glory is revealed because we love one another across the barriers and boundaries of race, culture and class.”
May we always strive to reveal God’s glory in this way.
These are two of the latest victims of overzealous police action. Some say police brutality.
Both men were African American, but the men who killed Mr. Nichols were also African Americans and part of an elite police unit that never seemed to have seen this kind of behavior coming. If the videos are to be believed he was fleeing from the officers, probably gave them a lot of smack talk, and was frustrating their efforts to restrain him, even after being tased. Critical point….was he armed? No proof has been found that he was. So a well-trained, elite squad could not capture him. All of the officers have pleaded not guilty. Hard to understand.
Anthony Lowe had stabbed a man on the street and police were called. Mr. Lowe had a 12-inch butcher knife and was wielding it at the white officers who responded to the call. Mr. Lowe was an African American paraplegic and was fleeing the officers, not in his wheelchair but on his “legs”. These officers were in fear of a disabled man with a knife as they aimed their guns and fired. Hard to understand.
Videos, from body cams and other devices, in both of these situations, showed clearly what was happening and left little to the imagination. An unarmed man was fleeing police who could not otherwise completely restrain him, and a knife-wielding man was running away on his crippled legs and could not otherwise be apprehended without injury to one or all of the officers. There seemed to be no other response that the officers could have made. Hard to understand.
This is the state of our country. I think of this every time our older African American boys come to the center. Some of them have “hair trigger” temperaments and thus could fly off the handle with the least provocation. Those same boys are on medication for various disabilities, e.g, ADHD, ODD, general anger management. Some have seen people gunned down right in front of them, relatives and strangers. What does the future really hold for them? Hard to understand.
A few days ago, two of those boys returned to the Peace Center after being away for some months, and just knowing they could see this place as a safe place even for an hour or two was hopeful for me. They need more safe spaces in our cities, and more people to let them know they can live good lives. Without violence? Well, that remains to be seen.