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When Nkosi Aberdeen ’06 (St. Joseph, Trinidad & Tobago) came to Lafayette he expected a diverse community but didn’t expect that students from so many areas of the world would have so much in common.

Aberdeen is president of CHANCE, Creating Harmony and Necessary Cultural Equality, and one of 16 current members of the student living group housed on the first floor of Ramer Hall.

“We have such an eclectic group of people here, it’s always something new. It’s always a new conversation, a new learning experience,” says the double major in anthropology & sociology and Africana studies.

“We’ve had people from so many different countries,” says Resident Adviser Jhenelle Andrade ’06 (Bronx, N.Y.), a native of Jamaica who has lived on the floor for three years. “ Students from Trinidad, Guyana, Tanzania, Pennsylvania, Jamaica – people on the soccer team, football team, pep band, choir, dance team. It’s more than unique.”

CHANCE members participate in numerous College-sponsored events and organize their own activities. “We really open up our doors and have the campus come in to see what the diversity is all about,” says Andrade, a psychology major.

Community service is a key focus area, Aberdeen says. “We try to do as much service as we can. When Halloween comes around we have some of the community children come up for trick or treat, for example. We have also raised money for causes like Hurricane Katrina victims.”

“You really have a pride when you live on the floor,” Andrade adds. “You want to represent your floor well, you want to really do well for your friends. We really do have a love for one another.”

Aberdeen agrees the influence of so many different types of people makes for an interesting learning environment.

“I think I may have learned more on those nights just sitting out in the common room and talking to everyone and learning from their backgrounds,” he says. “Those are really the types of things you can’t learn anywhere else. I’m sure a lot of people may never get that opportunity.”

Other members of CHANCE are seniors Sherisse Hatcher (electrical and computer engineering, New York, N.Y.), Larry Johnson (government and law/anthropology and sociology, Waldorf, Md.), Tia Kenan (English, Union, N.J.), Zane Ferguson (psychology, Kempton, Pa.), Jeffrey Sejour (neuroscience, Spring Valley, N.Y.), and Liam Yao (economics and business, Bronx, N.Y.); juniors Alfred Belton (chemistry, Washington, D.C.), Stephen Bruestle (math/economic history, Pennington, N.J.), and Jamie McFarlane (history, Freeport, N.Y.); and sophomores Taha Jiwaji (B.S. electrical and computer engineering/A.B. economics and business, Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania), Dora Johnson (international affairs, Yonkers, N.Y.), Mehdi Kheraj (international affairs, Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania), Jennifer Ricciardi (biology, East Hanover, N.J.), and Sandra Rodriguez (biology, Mendham, N.J.).

Aberdeen was invited to make a presentation on his honors research, entitled “The Golden Stool: A Study in the Efficacy of African Religious Symbolism,” at the 2006 Conference of the National Association of African-American Studies (NAAAS) and Affiliates Feb. 13-18 in Baton Rouge, La. He was the youngest presenter at the conference.

“I received positive feedback on my presentation from a number of professors and was invited to present my work in conferences in March and October,” he says, adding, “Speaking on behalf of the citizens of Trinidad & Tobago, I expressed sympathy and solidarity with the people of Louisiana who were deeply affected by the exploits of Hurricane Katrina.”

In addition to being president of CHANCE he is vice president of Lafayette African and Caribbean Student Association and Anthropology and Sociology Club.

Last January Andrade had first-hand look at the socio-cultural environment and natural resources that shape development and change in Kenya and Tanzania when she traveled to East Africa for the interim-session course Modern Sub-Saharan Africa taught by Rexford A. Ahene, professor of economics and business, and Kofi Asare Opoku, visiting professor of religion. She made a presentation on campus about similarities and differences she observed between East African culture and that of her native Jamaica.

“This trip was more than a class for me, it was almost like a pilgrimage to a home I never knew,” she says.

Andrade completed an independent study with Jamila Bookwala, assistant professor of psychology,in which she examined behavioral symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease over three illness stages and served interim-session externships in New York City with Craig Kaisand ’91 at BMO Nesbitt Burns Securities and with Vince Petitto ’89 at Pfizer.

Categorized in: Academic News