The Sticky Sickle Cell Problem

by Emmanuel Agyemang

This painful disease disproportionately impacts African
Americans—and there is a simple way you can help.

About 1 out of every 13 African American
babies are born with sickle cell trait, and about
1 in every 365 are born with sickle cell disease
(Sickle Cell, MedlinePlus).

Sickle cell disease is a “group of inherited
red blood cell disorders whereby normally
healthy round red blood cells carrying oxygen
throughout the body are misshapen.” Sickle
cell patients have sticky red blood cells that are
C-shaped, in the likeness of the ‘sickle’ farm tool
(Sickle Cell, CDC). Because these sickle cells are
not fully shaped, they die early, causing a constant shortage of red blood cells. When
traveling through small blood vessels, they can
get stuck and clog the blood flow. This results
in excruciating pain for the patient and may
cause other serious issues such as infection
or stroke. In fact, sickle cell patients are
more prone to infections like pneumonia and
meningitis as well as bone infections (Infection
and Sickle Cell Disease, St. Jude).

The quality of life for sickle cell patients
is greatly hampered by the pain episodes they
frequently endure. Currently, the only cure for
sickle cell disease is a bone marrow transplant.
Bone marrow transplantation involves
replacing the abnormal stem cells in the bone
marrow with healthy cells from an eligible
family member. Alternatively, pain medications,
folic acid, or other vitamins help to manage the
disease by assisting the production of new red
blood cells. These over-the-counter remedies
are not always effective, as they fail to fully
mitigate episodes of severe and recurring pain.
Many patients are encouraged to drink plenty
of water, as dehydration has been linked to an
increased risk of flare-ups and nearly all must
find routines that help manage the pain.

Flare-ups, or pain episodes can occur, for
example, when sickle cells become trapped in
the blood vessels of the spleen and block blood
flow. Though not a cure, a blood transfusion
helps the trapped red blood cells move back
into the circulation and reduces the pain.
Without a blood transfusion, this phenomenon
can lead to enlargement of the spleen and
severe pain crisis that over-the-counter
remedies cannot solve. You can do your part to
help sickle cell patients by donating your blood
to be used in these transfusions. When the
sickle cell patients’ red blood cells block blood
vessels due to their sickle shape, healthy red
blood cells from transfusions help temper
the raging pain and fatigue that arises from
these events.

You can donate through the nearest
hospital or through American Red Cross Blood
Services. Blood transfusion is necessary for
the survival of sickle cell patients, and those
willing to donate their blood are much needed.

It is imperative that we try to help
sickle cell patients as much as we can, through
donating blood, providing accommodations
for them in schools and the workplace, and
providing them with mental health support.
The National Sickle Cell Advocacy Network
helps raise funds and awareness of the
disease. The Sickle Cell Disease Association
of America is a great forum for people to
educate themselves on the disease and current
initiatives helping sickle cell patients.

About Emmanuel Agyemang

Emmanuel Agyemang is an international student from Ghana
and a recent graduate of Bradley University with a degree in Political
Science. He has an interest in pursuing law in the near future.

About Sophie Liu 

Sophie Liu is a senior at Dunlap High School who has won numerous art prizes such as the Scholastic Art and Writing Gold Key Award and several honorable mentions. As someone who also values academics, business, and volunteering, she has participated in and led many activities in her community. Her volunteering contribution has awarded her the Gold President’s Volunteer Service Award. She is one of the club leaders of her school’s Interact Volunteering Club. During her summers, Liu has participated in several business camps such as Kelley Business’s Young Women’s Institute, where she has gained knowledge and experience in her passion. She also runs her own online art business where she creates commissioned art pieces and gains firsthand business experience. Liu plans to continue her love of business, volunteering, and art in college, where she will major in either Marketing or Business Analytics and minor in art.

Portraits of Peoria: Dr. Romeo B. Garrett

by Molly Deadmond

In a continuation of the “Portraits of Peoria”
series, this month we look at Dr. Romeo B. Garrett.

Dr. Romeo B. Garrett was an author, military
veteran, and the first African American
professor at Bradley University. Born in 1910 in
Natchez, Mississippi, Garrett graduated from
Straight University (now Dillard University)
in New Orleans in 1932. He went on to study at
Bradley University, where he was the first of
three people to receive a degree in the master’s
program in 1947. He would go on to receive his
Doctorate in 1963 from New York University.

As a full-time sociology professor
at Bradley, Dr. Garrett worked to increase
student awareness of other cultures, especially
encouraging the study of Black history. This
enthusiasm stemmed from his younger years
where he recognized the lack of information about Black individuals in both historical
texts and the public eye. Garrett collected
and documented the accomplishments of
Black individuals in a variety of fields. This
collection started with a photograph of
American abolitionist Frederick Douglass—
whom Garrett’s grandfather had met in 1863.
Over six decades, Garrett amassed a collection
consisting of letters, photographs, books,
and artifacts that painted a more inclusive
picture of Black contributions. A sample of
his collection has been shown annually at
the Peoria Public Library, entitled “The Black
Experience in America.” Dr. Garrett retired
from teaching at Bradley in 1976, receiving the
status of Professor Emeritus.

Outside of academics, Garrett was a
member of the local chapter of the NAACP
and Urban League, as well as associate
minister of the Zion Baptist Church for nearly
40 years. Today, Garrett’s name lives on in
a scholarship bearing his name at our own
Bradley University and has allowed more than
400 students to attend since its inception in 1964. Bradley University also celebrates Garrett
Week every year during the third week of
April. During this event, Dr. Garrett’s legacy is
celebrated, and minority students are offered
additional networking resources. The Office of
Diversity and Inclusion at Bradley is located
in the Romeo B. Garrett Cultural Center, along
with space for student events, study areas, and
a conference room.

About Molly Deadmond

Molly Deadmond is a recent graduate of Eureka College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications. Born and raised in Peoria, IL, Deadmond has a deep love for her community, and hopes to contribute to making her hometown a better place for all. Deadmond is a lover of all things creative, with a special love for creative writing. She believes that art is a form of therapy and escape that anyone can enjoy, regardless of talent or skill level. She enjoys video games, nature, and spending time with the ones she loves.

Art by Aryanne Westfall

Ary Westfall is a junior Interactive Media major and Theatre Arts minor attending Bradley University. She is the social media manager for DAT, creates webcomics in her free time, and enjoys all forms of sequential art. Ary hopes to break into the comic world or find work in pre-production art for television. 

A Dune of Anticipation

by Izaak Garcia

Next month, a highly anticipated movie with a
star-studded cast will be released—here’s what
you need to know.

From sprawling desert oceans as far as the
eye can see, to fantastical, mystic creatures
dwarfing any rocket or ship, the upcoming
movie Dune is sure to create visuals that will
stay in the minds of audiences and critics alike.
The highly anticipated film from director Denis
Villeneuve (pronounced Deh-nee Vill-nuuv)
showcases numerous forms of set design,
CGI generated environments, and incredible
directing to portray an epic tale of a boy rising
to confront his destiny on a harsh planet, along with the obstacles and people that will
undoubtedly hinder his way. With fans of the
book (written by Frank Herbert) as well as
new discoverers of the upcoming film creating
a contagious hype around the movie, it’s no
surprise that many are predicting Dune will
do exceptionally well when it is finally released
in theaters.

Now, not every movie receives this kind
of attention, especially before it has even been
released, so what makes Dune any different?
For starters, it has an absolutely star-studded
cast, featuring Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya,
Oscar Isaac, Jason Mamoa, Rebecca Ferguson,
and many, many more. Not only are fans of
the books excited for this release, but each
actor’s fan followings have had their interests
piqued from recognizing many faces in this
collaboration—and this is by no accident. The
box office numbers of all kinds of movies can
be heavily impacted by the actors being cast in
them, no matter the genre. But casting isn’t the
only thing that goes into a big film such as
this one.

Some may be surprised to learn Denis
Villeneuve’s Dune isn’t the only adaptation
that has been made from Herbert’s book
written in 1965. What people might not know
is that the first ever adaptation was released
in 1984, directed by David Lynch. That film did
very poorly at the box office, not even making
enough money to cover the budget spent
making the film and receiving mixed ratings
from audiences and critics alike. But this is
precisely why fans are so excited about Denis
Villeneuve’s Dune. Villeneuve’s reputation
precedes him, with visually stunning movies
such as Arrival, Sicario, and Prisoners. Not to
mention that when Dune premiered at the
Venice Film Festival in Italy on September
3rd, it received an 8-minute standing ovation
from the audience, applauding both Villeneuve
as well as the phenomenal cast. Along with
the director and main cast, applause and
praise were also given to the composer, music
producer, and film scorer, the renowned
Hans Zimmer.

The legacy of Dune has been a long
time in the making, and in less than a month,
it will finally arrive. Now that you have the
backstory on why there’s so much hype around
Dune, there’s really only one more piece of
information for you to learn. Dune comes out
in theaters all over America on October 22nd,
2021, and it will surely not be a film to miss.

About Izaak Garcia

Izaak Garcia is currently a freshman at the University of Southern California, majoring in Cinema and Media Studies with a minor in Applied Cybersecurity. He has played soccer with FC Peoria, Dunlap, and Richwoods for over a decade combined. Garcia has also played tennis for 4 years, securing a spot on both junior varsity and varsity teams. Along with this, he has competed with the Richwoods Worldwide Youth Science and Engineering team for Biology and English for 2 years and earned multiple awards for the school. Garcia is also heavily involved with the arts. As a multi-instrumentalist, he has played the saxophone for 8 years and piano for 2 years. During his junior year of high school, he was involved in theater at Richwoods as stage crew and manager. He helped with two productions and was being trained to be stage manager for senior year before the COVID-19 pandemic impacted school. Outside of school activities, Garcia is involved in Jack and Jill of America (an organization for young African American men and women to serve the community). He served as his chapter’s treasurer during his freshman year of high school. Along with Jack and Jill of America, he enjoys coding, learning new languages, and playing video games.

About Terri Silva

Terri Silva is a 20-year-old sophomore at Bradley University pursuing a major in Television Arts with a minor in Interdisciplinary Film Studies. For Silva, art is a hobby in addition to a potential career, and she takes it very seriously. Silva thrives when she tells stories in all forms: drawings, films, writings, and more. Silva thinks of herself as a creative mind that wants to share ideas with others, while also taking in what they have to offer as well.

The Future of the Successful Generation: Does it Still Lie in Test Scores?

by Rasheedah Na’Allah

With data to back up their decisions, many
universities are no longer admitting students
based on standardized testing scores.

You may have noticed that many universities
have made the decision to go “test-optional”
for the graduating classes of ‘21 and ‘22.
Some assume that COVID-19 has been the
outlying factor behind these decisions, when
in actuality, COVID has been the shield
distracting from other issues long affecting the
testing systems. Data shows that standardized
testing has high amounts of racial and classist
bias, holding students of color and poverty
back from reaching their highest potentials.

Studies indicate that standardized
college entrance tests are not good indicators
of student intelligence or college performance
due to variables in family income and racial
disparities. COVID added to these issues
causing large gaps in student learning at
all levels. A New York Times article notes,
“According to the College Board, which
administers the SAT, 55 percent of AsianAmerican test-takers and 45 percent of white
test-takers scored a 1200 or higher on the SAT
in 2019. For Hispanic and Black students, those
numbers were 12 percent and 9 percent.” Gaps
like these correlate to the inaccessibility of
private coaching, test prep, and test center
availability within residential areas.

So, why are colleges ditching test
requirements? Many colleges realize
the difficulty placed on students during
the pandemic and vow to look at college
applications with a more holistic approach.
The former president of Princeton University
and student advocate William Bowen states
in a report that “high school grades may
have a more incremental predictive power of
college grades and graduation rates.” Not only
will this increase more applications from a
diverse pool of applicants, but it will also give
students a chance to let other aspects of their
applications shine through, such as essays and
recommendation letters. The Los Angeles Times
also reports that “Among 1,807 UC Riverside
students with GPAs of 3.75 or higher and SAT
scores above 900 — the 32nd percentile —
outcomes were not so different between those
with higher and lower-end SAT test scores. [For
example,] The six-year graduation rate for those
with SAT scores between 900 and 1090 was 81%
compared with 83% for those with SAT
scores between 1100 and 1600, the highest
score possible.” A test score may not
communicate the hard work students do
to reach these successes.

Although standardized test-taking may
never be completely eliminated in college
admissions, there are many things students,
parents, and teachers can do to ensure each
student has an equal chance of getting into
college and accelerate once there. There are
many positive effects a mentorship can have
on a disadvantaged student. Exploring these
resources can help level the playing field
for students and parents who feel behind in
college preparations. If professionals take
it upon themselves to aid and mentor the
disadvantaged, a positive effect can be had on
the student’s motivation and passion which
benefits the student whether inside or outside
of the testing room. Taking these initiatives
will make a stark difference in any student’s
life and increase the chances of success and
professionalism in our generation.

About Rasheedah Na’Allah

Rasheedah Na’Allah is a senior at Dunlap High School in Peoria, Illinois. She is the youngest of her 3 siblings and enjoys the benefits of being the “baby of the house.” Her Nigerian and Muslim upbringing has led her to be resilient and outspoken in her beliefs. Rasheedah is a dedicated student who is a part of the National Honors Society and loves to be active in her community. She planned a diversity assembly at her school in front of the entire student body, formed an extensive research project on racial disparities and inequities in the education system, and has been appointed into the Peoria County Board’s Racial Justice and Equity Commission. She has also served as Dunlap’s representative to engage and network with young state leaders attending the 2020 Illinois Senator Youth Leadership Council. Rasheedah is the founder of her school’s Muslim Student Association, leads in foreign language club, and is a strong member of the color guard team. Outside of school, she enjoys volunteering and regularly posts on her cooking page through social media. She started her own book club and enjoys reading and discussing books by BIPOC authors. She hopes to pursue Business, Health, and Wellness during her college years and is extremely honored to write for the Giving Voice Initiative.

About Adrien Vozenilek

Adrien Vozenilek is a freshman at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville. They are currently double majoring in Psychology and Art. Adrien’s art is focused on their family and Italian heritage. They hope to work as an art therapist for LGBTQIA+ youth. You can find their Instagram at @a_vozenilek.

The World

by Kamia Fair

My Name is Kamia, last name Fair born in 04.
An African American girl who comes from a city
Of violence and poverty, this is where I’m from.
Poetry keeps my mind off the stressful world,
I love poetry and poetry loves me,
Poetry gives me freedom of speech with a lil rhythm.

The world, the stressful world
I live on south side of Peoria
The world full of violence, young boys
Getting killed every time you blink
This the world I live in.

The world the stressful world, getting ready for
Bed shots we hear we all get down in fear,
But it’s like music to gangsters’ ears
The world the stressful world.

Poverty, low income single moms
Doing all they can with no help,
Family men feeling the need to sell drugs
To take care of his family because
He can’t get a job, cause of course
Nobody wants to hire a black man and a felon
The world the stressful world.

The name is Kamia, last name Fair born in 04
An African American girl who comes from a city
Of violence and poverty, this is where I’m from
I’m not ashamed but I do wanna be
better than this stressful world.

About Kamia Fair

Kamia Fair was born and raised in Peoria, Illinois, and is a senior in high school at Manual Academy. Fair loves nature and R&B music. She has many personalities—one is a free spirit and another is closed in and shy. She loves anything that has a true meaning. Fair’s book is her voice and freedom. She likes to write about things like her past, present, and future, as well as the things she lives around. What inspired her to start writing poetry was trauma that happened in her past. It began as an every day journal, to finally bringing it out her inner self. Fair hopes to bring more people like herself from her community to write— or at least more people from her community to read what she speaks, and hope for it to inspire them and hope for them to hear her voice to feel where she is coming from.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

by Kianna Goss

This month, join others in the fight
against breast cancer.

October is the month our society shines
light on actions to help those with breast
cancer. This month, sporting events, big brand
collaborations, local events, and fundraisers all
put breast cancer awareness front and center.
But for the individuals suffering from breast
cancer, they fight and deal with this disease for
much, much longer. So, will our fight for social
impact end when October ends? No.

Breast cancer awareness facts according to the
National Breast Cancer Foundation Inc.

  • 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop breast cancer in her lifetime.
  • This year, an estimated 43,600 women will die from breast cancer in the U.S.
  • Although skin cancer is most common for Americans overall, breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women. It is estimated that in 2021, approximately 30% of all new cancer diagnoses for women will be breast cancer.
  • There are over 3.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.

Individuals Impacted by Breast Cancer
Growing up, a friend of my grandmother’s, Rita,
would light up the room with her presence.
Rita used to make jokes and enjoy a hot pot
of coffee while talking with my grandma.
Suddenly, she did not seem like herself. That’s
when my grandmother told me that Rita
had been diagnosed with breast cancer and
her doctors recommended a mastectomy
(removal of an entire breast). Rita refused.
At a young age, I did not understand the
dreadful impact this had on Rita’s physical
and emotional well-being. However, now I can
see how the constant doctor appointments,
toll the disease takes on your body, and the
life altering diagnosis can affect a person. Rita
is still fighting today, with the support and
encouragement of my grandmother every time
they talk on the phone.

Breast Cancer Awareness Campaigns
Many companies and organizations bring
awareness to breast cancer during October

  1. Panera Bread Pink Ribbon Bagel
    This campaign started because Sue Stees,
    a Panera Bread franchise owner and
    survivor of breast cancer, was looking
    for ways to support women also fighting
    this disease. A portion of Pink Ribbon
    Bagel sales benefit local breast cancer
    organizations near each Panera location.
  2. Stella McCartney’s: A Letter to My Loved Ones campaign This 2020 campaign captured twelve women with diverse backgrounds and a range of different ages to show their scars, share their stories, and words of encouragement as they wear the Stella McCartney post-mastectomy bras. Portions of proceeds from specific items were donated to the Stella Cares Foundation, which has been contributing to breast cancer awareness since 2014.

This was a powerful video for me because
Rita might have felt the same way as these
women: sharing how their children gave
them the courage to keep fighting and about
their struggle with confidence after their
mastectomy. My grandmother’s encouragement
could be the reason Rita is still fighting. It goes
to show how we never know/understand the
lives of others until they share their stories.

What You Can Do
This month, wear pink, the chosen color for
bringing awareness to breast cancer, and post
those pictures on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter,
or any other media platform with the hashtag #breastcancerawarenessmonth. You can also donate or volunteer to help organizations/companies in your community supporting
awareness. After October ends, I will continue
to admire Rita and find ways to support the
cause or educate others and encourage you to
do the same, because survivors like Rita need to
see that they are not alone in their battles.

About Kianna Goss

Kianna Goss is a senior at Bradley University, majoring in journalism with a double minor in sociology and advertising with public relations. The importance of community involvement is to use your voice. Kianna’s voice is one of the strongest platforms she has, and utilizes it through her writing. Being a Black woman, Kianna often writes to give a voice to the Black community to gain control over the media that portrays them in a negative way. Kianna is a writer with different form expressions. She has written poetically, through blogs, newspapers, and opinion pieces. Kianna always looks for more opportunities to grow as a writer and person. Kianna is currently the social media director for Her Campus, works as a peer mentor for Bradley’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and is a team leader/caller at the Bradley Fund. Being able to explore her creativity is what she loves most about Bradley. The Communications department is molding her into the journalist she aspires to be.

About Faith Marie

Faith Marie is a homeschooled senior in high school who dreams of being an artist entrepreneur one day. She fell in love with creating at a young age and now experiments with all kinds of mediums. You can find her on Instagram at @faithmariedraws.