UDC alum balances healing food and culture
UDC alum tambra Raye stevenson
PHOTO: Nativsol Media
Few things unite people with their heritage the way food does. That’s one reason why Tambra Raye Stevenson, a University of the District of Columbia (UDC) alum, founded NativSol Kitchen, a Washington, D.C.-based endeavor that ties wellness with tradition. Stevenson’s work has been featured in publications like the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, and BET.com. Her accolades include being named National Geographic’s 2014 Traveler of the Year, and the 2014 Nutrition Hero by Food and Nutrition Magazine. Stevenson credits her success to her in-depth education, including the completion of a two-year program at UDC’s Center for Diet and Nutrition where she served as president of the school’s Student Dietetic Association. She also attributes her ongoing success to her desire for justice and passion for preserving African cultural traditions.
“Studying at UDC helped me get back into the community,” said the Oklahoma native. She adds that it gave her time to explore new ideas and being in a public institution helped her recognize pressing community issues. During her two years at UDC, she was so adamant about her focus on nutrition that one grad gave her the moniker “hippie nutritious person,” a nickname she mentions with a laugh. According to Stevenson, her pursuit of food activism is an extension of her late father. “My eyes almost water up thinking about it,” she says, as she remembers how he encouraged her childhood curiosity.
After her father’s sudden death in 2007, Stevenson went through a period of grief and she was left with a pressing question: “Who am I?”
Her father had been working on the family’s genealogical history. As a way of honoring his legacy, Stevenson vowed to continue his work. “It was a way of reconnecting where we left off,” she says. In 2010, Stevenson used DNA-testing service AfricanAncestry.com to trace her family’s lineage. The results showed that her heritage could be traced back to the Fulani tribe of Niger and Nigeria. “I have no words to describe the feeling,” she says about the discovery. “It added a layer of foundation to who I really am.”
New social light opens up for the UDC’s international community
RASHED MOHAMED,UDC ENGENEERING STUDENT
PHOTO: MIRCHAYE SAHLU
When engineering student Rashed Mohamed first set foot in the US from Egypt, he was overwhelmed with excitement to start the brand new chapter of his life. He had heard that American colleges were diverse, but he was soon confronted with an unpleasant surprise due to the lack of the campus social life at UDC. “I was expecting an interactive community with active events as well as active exchange programs,” Mohamed noted. “I felt so isolated. It was my first time coming to a Western country; I struggled with the language and with acquainting myself with the lifestyle.”
However, things are now changing for the better with the reactivation of the International Student’ Association. The association, with its motto “Diversity, Diversity, Diversity”, held its first meeting on Sept. 29, 2014, where international students had the opportunity to meet others like them.
The university welcomes over 2500 international students each school year, but has never had an active social network. The lack of attention and failure to interact has left international students isolated in a country where they are perfect strangers – living far away from their homeland and their families.
Mohamed wasn’t the only one who felt the isolation, Lucia Chavez, a junior, felt the same when she first came to UDC from Peru. “I was excited, but later on, I started noticing how terribly lonely I felt. I, neither, had family nor friends here,” she continued. “Whenever I tried to interact with others it felt as though they already had their own inner circle,” Chavez explained. She adds that with the association being activated again, it gives international students “hope to acquaint ourselves with others and form a circle.”
It was Timothy Kaberia, a native of Kenya and the University's International Student Services & Immigration Coordinator, who took the initiative to reactivate the association. “I felt like the international students’ presence should be felt on campus and the only way to do that is through such an association,” Kaberia explained. He added; “The main focus is to get international students integrating to the overall university community and this association will create opportunities for students to showcase their activities, interact with each other and give them an outlet to vent their frustration.”
What UDC students have been up to
ATTENDEES OF DR. AKOSOA MCFADGION'S CAMPUS EVENT
PHOTO : CHARIS HUMPHREY
This fall has boasted a great amount of informative and encompassing events for our university. While the recent launching of the new RSS feed e-news serves as a new platform for circulation.
Miss University of the District of Columbia Toi Glover hosted an event called the “Brown Bag Lunch and Learn Social” on December 9, 2014. “The purpose of the brown bag luncheon and learn social is to bring awareness to the student body and community on financial literacy such as saving money and what to do after undergrad”, said Glover. Glover is one of the most active event planners at the university.
Meanwhile the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. sponsored multiple discussions in December. Discussions focused on topics such as domestic abuse, love and relationships and a GPA awareness study hall. “Time management and education work hand in hand, so it was beneficial to get students to come together and study for their upcoming finals”, explained Eric Gray Jr, who is the Omicron Gamma Chapter president of Omega Psi Phi. The domestic abuse discussion featured Akosoa McFadgion, a professor, researcher and activist for Violence Prevention.
Jay Morrow drives student engagement as the university’s webmaster, controlling the university’s social media platforms. Michael C. Rodgers, vice president of Institutional Advancement at UDC controls “enews”, which is a mass email that gets sent to every student at the university. “Enews is an excellent communication tool for the campus community. Students can make contributions to our campus enews by going to the enews website for instructions and information about how they can share information with the campus”, said Dr. Epps who is the vice president for Student Affairs. Any student looking for some publicity for their approved UDC event should go through Morrow or Rodgers.