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UCR, 7th Annual Black Graduation Ceremony

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On Sunday, June 8, 2008, over 100 students will participate in the Annual Black Graduation at UC Riverside. The ceremony will take place at the Student Recreation Center at UCR at 2:00 pm. The purpose of the Black Graduation is to recognize the accomplishments of graduating seniors of African descent. It is also a time for the students to celebrate their achievements with their family and friends. African Student Programs' mission is to provide a graduation celebration that is representative of African American and African tradition, heritage, culture, and legacy. Over the years, Black Graduations have become an essential expression of a rite of passage at many colleges and universities throughout the nation and for the past seven years, UCR has adopted the tradition. The theme of the 2008 Black Graduation is "Honoring our Heritage, Continuing the Legacy."

The Master of Ceremonies is a senior graduating with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, Mr. Johnathan Williams. The Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Mr. James Sandoval will also be present to congratulate the graduates on their achievements. Following Black Men Rising, a group of students from Vista Del Lago High School in Moreno Valley will present a poem. The program also includes various staff members, a dance tribute by West African dance troupe, "We the People" and Dr. Paulette Brown-Hinds delivering the Alumna Address.

Dr. Brown-Hinds earned her PhD in English Literature with an emphasis in African-American Literature & Culture from the University of California, Riverside, and has taught at various universities throughout the country including the University of Cincinnati, Pomona College, CSU San Bernardino, University of Redlands, and UC Riverside. She is currently an adjunct faculty member in the Department of English and Communications Studies at La Sierra University in Riverside. Dr. Brown-Hinds is the founder and managing partner of BPC Mediaworks, LLC, a media strategy firm she founded with her sister in 2004.

The keynote address will be given by Dr. Daniel Walker. He will deliver a powerful message. Possessing a doctorate (with distinction) in African American and Latin American History from the University of Houston, Dr. Daniel E. Walker is the Founding Director of the Gospel Music History Project and the Director of Research and Archive Development for the Gospel Music History Archive at the University of Southern California. The author of the book No More, No More: Slavery and Cultural Resistance in Havana and New Orleans, his writings on religion, history, and music have appeared in scholarly journals, newspapers, and national magazines. A consultant to California's Religion in American History Project, entities that have recognized him in the form of fellowships, awards, and grants include; the Louisville Institute, the Coro Foundation, the City of New York, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Texas State Historical Association, the Southern Conference on African American Studies, the National Parks Service, KGTV Television, the African American Public Policy Institute, the Historic Society of Southern California, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., and the Haynes Foundation. Dr. Walker currently serves as an associate professor of history at San Bernardino Valley College and a lecturer in the Ethnic Studies Department at UCR.

Dr. Walker holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from San Diego State University, where he was also student government association president, and a Masters degree in History from the University of California, Riverside. He is also an Associate Professor of History San Bernardino Valley College.

In addition to Dr. Walker's inspirational words, the program will include two senior addresses. Ms. D'Ixara Batani-Khalfani who is graduating with a B.A. in Economics Administration/Marketing, will open the graduation and closing the ceremony with her address will be Ms. Antoinette Smith, a senior graduating with a B.S. in Biological Science. Following the senior addresses will be a tribute in memory of the late LaTosha K. Wallace, a student who would have been graduating from UC Riverside this year with a degree in Sociology/Administrative Studies.

There are also awards being presented to two students who have excelled academically as well as in their personal lives. These awards are the Zeanissia Moore Awards and the J.W. Vines Foundation Award. There will also be an award presented for an outstanding faculty member chosen by the students. Graduating students will be presented with a Kente stole that were hand woven in Ghana.

Event parking is $5.00 in Parking Lot 24. For more information, please contact African Student Programs at (951) 827-4574. 

Mental Health Focus of Riverside Public Department Training

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Part II of II

By Mary Shelton

Det. Dennis Dodson, who works in the department's domestic violence division wore a smile that brimmed his face as he described his feelings about the class afterward.

What resonated for him was what one instructor said about the importance of establishing a rapport with a mentally ill person. One way to do that was to address the person by his or her name, a point which made an impression on Dodson. The reasoning behind this was because many mentally ill people experience auditory hallucinations and it is difficult for them to even hear the voice of a police officer issuing them orders to follow.  Dodson paired up with Sgt. Jaybee Brennan on a training scenario and Brennan accessed a notebook from the "daughter" to learn clues about the situation from what was inside of it.

Other officers off the record said that the class taught them skills that were useful, provided information that they did not know. Several were skeptical but still found elements of the course which impressed them. One popular component was the mental health panel which presented them with the opportunities to hear and question individuals who had dealt with mental illness or had family members who did.

One of the members of the panel which was provided by the Jefferson Wellness Center in Riverside hoped that police officers would take one message from him out into the field with them.

"I am not my diagnosis," Fred Lex, who has Bipolar Disorder, told the class of 30 officers and one journalist, "I am an individual."

The officers gained some insight into what goes on inside the mind of a mentally ill person who is hearing "voices" through an exercise that was introduced at a conference in Memphis, Tennesseee. Wearing headphones which played voices which were alternatively grandiose and persecutory, they performed exercises like following directions and talking to groups of people about the training it took to become a police officer.

What is usually easy became much more difficult.

Afterward, many of them took away some understanding of why it was so difficult for mentally ill individuals to process their commands let alone follow them.

The training made a large impression on one particular officer, according to the department and that was Officer David Bartlone who after he took the training, put it to use out in the field. One individual he encountered wrote a letter to the police department about that experience. Bartlone dropped by his home to check on him and discovered that the individual had no utilities, food or money. Barlone showed up again the next day with enough food, water and supplies to help him for a long time, the letter stated.

"As important as those supplies were, the understanding and compassion that he showed towards my situation meant even more. He claimed he was just doing his job, but I believe what he did for me was more than that. The extra effort that he made is what made such a huge impression on me," stated the individual in his letter.

Department representatives said they had talked to Bartlone and he had cited the training program as his inspiration for the actions he had taken with this individual. For one thing, the training taught him to be able to find and access resources available for people and to connect people in the communities with those resources.

The crisis intervention training is run out of the department's personnel and training division, which started creating the program in 2006 after researching different models used in other cities and counties. The police department created its own training program which received POST certification in the summer of 2007 and started training first officers who it felt would provide extensive feedback on the course material including members of the Riverside Police Officers' Association safety committee, according to Blakely. Since then, there's been one course held monthly and the department's training has generated interest in other nearby law enforcement agencies who have asked to send representatives to attend the training.

Officer Erik Lindgren, who works in the department's personnel and training division explained what he had learned through his own experiences dealing with mentally ill individuals out in the field, and all the times he had driven to the intake facility to 51/50 a mentally ill individual. Now, he plays a critical role in the process of implementing the training, a role he's embraced.

The tour of the intake facility called simply "The Place" provided many of the officers the opportunity to visit and learn about areas of the center that they had never seen in all their trips there, and the questions asked about its operations were many. Most of them had never been past the lobby of a facility that appeared larger on the inside than from the outside.

As promising as the future looks in mental health intervention for the Riverside Police Department, the budget picture, particularly that involving Riverside County, is not as promising. It is possible that the program might lose several key instructors from the county's mental health departments if the county cuts its expenditures involving mental health. The new pilot team program which is scheduled to begin this summer has received funding for the next fiscal budget year. Several officers who had shared their opinions about the training urged community members to keep pushing for it to continue.

The budget picture for the fledgling program became only somewhat clearer in a meeting held by several city council members who have been receiving periodic updates on the new training.

At the May 19 Public Safety Committee meeting, Councilman Andrew Melendrez asked questions about its future given the budget crises at nearly every level of government. Capt. Mike Blakely had told the committee that out of the department's 395 police officers, about 212 had received the training as well as two dispatchers. All employees who interfaced with the public would also be taking the training, he said.

An update was also provided to committee members on the upcoming pilot team program, a process that Asst. John De La Rosa said was "so far very successful". He added that the department plans to eventually add another training program focusing on the handling of "excited delirium" cases.

Gloria Negrete McLeod Named Honorary Member Of FHA-Hero

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California FHA-HERO named State Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-Chino) an honorary member of the organization in a ceremony held Wednesday, May 14 at the State Capitol.

"We're grateful for her efforts supporting legislation that would provide more staff and more resources for Home Economics Careers and Technology Education," said Janice DeBenedetti, state FHA-HERO adviser. "Our students and teachers have benefited greatly from her leadership."

The awards presentation was conducted by the six state officers for California FHA-HERO: President Emily Mastrolia of Antioch; Vice President Cody Nore of Oroville; Secretary Darryl Johnson of Concord; Treasurer Bethany Stanton of Lake Isabella; Historian Bridget Deaton of Angels Camp and Reporter Sarah Rosendahl of Chino.

2008-09 State FHA-HERO Officers. From left to right are: Brittany Stanton, Treasurer, Kern Valley High School, Lake Isabella; Cody Nore, Vice President, Las Plumas High School, Oroville; Emily Mastrolia, President, Deer Valley High School, Antioch; Darryl Johnson, Secretary, Mt. Diablo High School, Concord; Bridget Deaton, Historian, Bret Harte High School, Angeles Camp; and Sarah Rosendahl, Reporter, Chino High School, Chino.

DeBenedetti also noted that Negrete McLeod has arranged visits to the State Senate chambers for state and regional FHA-HERO officers, and has issued two proclamations highlighting the contributions FHA-HERO has made to society. Both of the proclamations are displayed in the FHA-HERO headquarters office in Sacramento, DeBenedetti said.

FHA-HERO is a student leadership organization for students enrolled in home economics courses in California high schools Regional Occupations Programs and some middle schools. These courses prepare students for careers in three employment sectors, which are Hospitality, Tourism & Recreation (which includes Culinary Arts); Fashion & Interior Design; and Education, Child Development & Family Services.

Home Economics Careers and Technology Education, part of the California Department of Education, oversees the FHA-HERO program.

Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod
FHA-HERO is part of a national organization formed more than 50 years ago, which was formerly known as Future Homemakers of America, but is now called Family, Career and Community Leaders of America.

The "HERO" portion of the state organization's name reflects a change in focus, as it stands for Home Economics Related Occupations. Although most if not all FHA-HERO members will pursue careers outside their home, California organization leaders opted to keep FHA part of the name because of widespread familiarity with the organization.

UCRSees Demand

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Nearly 5,000 freshmen and 555 transfer students have declared their intent to register for classes at the University of California, Riverside, this fall, an increase of about 20 percent when compared with the previous year.

As of May 23, UC Riverside had 4,828 Statements of Intent to Register (SIRs) from first-time freshmen and another 555 from students who want to transfer in from other colleges.

James Sandoval, vice chancellor of student affairs, said UCR expects to enroll about 4,300 new students for fall 2008.

Image"This year's strong increase in SIR rates is a powerful recognition of UC Riverside's status as a campus of first choice for students, parents and high school teachers and counselors," said Sandoval. "We encourage students from an early age to make a commitment to college and take the classes they need to be eligible for the UC system. We are always very proud when the campus they choose is Riverside."

Sandoval said one encouraging statistic is the growing number of students from Northern California who are choosing UCR. "This fall our numbers from that part of the state will be up by about 32 percent," he said.

In January, University of California officials announced that 21,496 freshmen applied to UCR and 4,568 transfer students, which is the largest application pool in the history of UC Riverside.

The priority SIR deadline was May 1 for incoming freshmen, but forms are still coming in and being considered. The SIR deadline for transfer students is June 1.

8th Annual Riverside Juneteenth Celebration

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The 8th Annual Riverside Juneteenth Celebration will take place on the first Saturday in June. This kickoff celebration for the month will take place on June 7, 2008 at a new location, Bobby Bonds Park, 2060 University Ave., Riverside at 12 noon to 6:00 p.m. The event's normal location of Bordwell Park will be undergoing renovation and upgrades during this time period.

The historically free family oriented event will feature historical presentations, a mini museum (including the Ashanti Kingdom of Ghana/The Afro-Mexican Connection), film screenings (The Life and Times of Marcus Garvey presented by the Cultural Education Project), book signings by Trisha Thomas, community agencies (information on saving your home from foreclosure), giveaways, food and merchandise vendors, wonderful entertainment and a mini concert.

For more information, vendor applications, sponsorships and audience participation, log on to the website at www.RiversideJuneteenth.org  or call 24/7, 877-752-1619.

JUNETEENTH is a holiday that celebrates the Emancipation of African Americans from slavery but has come to signify much more. It is celebrated in June, the month that the last African Americans were informed of their Emancipation.

On September 22, 1862, during the Civil War (1861-1865), President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. The Proclamation took effect on January 1, 1863. The Civil War ended in April 1865. Following the end of the War, US Government officials were dispatched to order southern states to comply with the Emancipation Proclamation and by June they arrived in Texas.

On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger, representing the United States Government, landed at Galveston Texas and issued a general order from the President of the United States that declared that all slaves were free.

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration of the ending of slavery. What began as a Texas holiday to celebrate Emancipation, became a holiday celebrated throughout the US. Today, Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. It is a day, a week, and in some areas a month, marked with celebrations, guest speakers, picnics, and family gatherings. It is a time for reflection and rejoicing. It is a time for assessment, self-improvement, and for planning the future.

Juneteenth has come to symbolize for many African Americans what the 4th of July symbolizes for all Americans: FREEDOM.

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BVN National News Wire