UC4A News - Winter 2018

The quarterly update from UC's African American Alumni Affiliate

In this issue:

  • Message from Dr. Bleuzette Marshall,Vice President of Equity, Inclusion and Community Impact
  • Onyx & Ruby Gala Celebration
  • Alumni Spotlight: Torie Wiggins
  • Student Spotlight: Alberto Jones

Happy New Year, Bearcats!

Are you ready to experience the best 2018 has to offer? Here’s to a prosperous and healthy year.

I’m excited to begin this year with the announcement and celebration of our Onyx & Ruby Gala honorees. A little more than 10 years ago, a group of friends and I reflected on our college experiences and the people who made an indelible impact on our lives. As we reminisced, we had a burning desire to say “thank you” in a big way; hence the creation of the Onyx & Ruby Gala.

The Gala was designed to highlight individuals who open doors, set a standard of excellence, and use their impeccable skills and talents to create opportunities for a better tomorrow. They play critical roles in shaping the personal and professional development of thousands of students and young professionals. In addition, these alumni are visionaries and avid supporters and leaders of their communities.

Outstanding in their own right, our Onyx & Ruby honorees are exemplars for current and future alumni to emulate – giving of their time, talent and treasure to ensure our university community not only has an enriching campus experience, but also a place to call home.

Please join me February 24 as we pay tribute to members of our Bearcat family for their unyielding devotion and service. Your attendance will be mean more than words can say. Plus, you’ll have a wonderful evening reconnecting with alumni and enjoy the company of our dynamic students. So don’t delay. Get your tickets, find an outfit, and bring your friends. Let the celebration begin!


Dr. Bleuzette Marshall, A&S ’92, CECH ’01, CECH ’09
Vice President of Equity, Inclusion and Community Impact
University of Cincinnati

Congratulations to the 2018 Onyx & Ruby Honorees!

It is with great pleasure that we announce the recipients of this year’s Onyx & Ruby Awards! Our selection committee received over 30 nominations this year. All of the nominees are deserving, but the following seven individuals’ work for our alma mater and in the community stood out above the rest:

  • Honorable Michael B. Coleman, A&S ’77, former mayor of Columbus (OH)
  • Dr. Ryan Marable, Pharm ’13, pharmacist and public health advocate
  • Judge Fanon Rucker, Law ’96, Hamilton County Municipal Court judge
  • Dr. Vanessa Allen-Brown, Associate Professor, UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services
  • Annette Echikunowoke, A&S ’17, current Bearcats indoor Track and Field national champion
  • Dr. Monica Posey, CECH ’99, President of Cincinnati State Technical and Community College
  • Bakari Booker, DAAP ’93, educator in Houston Public Schools

Read more about this year’s cohort of honorees.

Alumni Spotlight: Torie Wiggins

Torie WigginsThis actress and Atlanta native has worked with many movie and entertainment giants – from Robert Redford to Danny Glover to Mariah Carey. And with all of her success, her most meaningful role has roots right here in Cincinnati. Read more about Torie Wiggins (CCM, ’02) and the advice she would give to young actors breaking into the industry.

Name: Torie Wiggins

UC College: College-Conservatory of Music, 2002

Title, Employer: : Professor – Department of Theatre, College of Creative Arts at Miami University (Oxford)

Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio

Campus involvement:
I was Artistic Director of Black Arts Collaborative, member of Shades of You (fun fact: I co-wrote the mission statement and song), and active in Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. - Beta Eta Chapter. I was also a resident advisor for Calhoun Hall.

What ultimately led you choose to continue your education at the University of Cincinnati?At the time, it was one of the highest-rated theatre schools in the country, and I wanted excellent and competitive training. The talent-based scholarship sealed the deal.

Bearcats have seen you many places, from the stage to the silver screen. What was your most rewarding performance to date? My one-woman show Your Negro Tour Guide, based off of the column by Kathy Y. Wilson in the City Beat. It’s the thing I’m most proud of. Close second would be another solo show, Twilight: Los Angeles 1992, a show based on the aftermath of the LA riots after the Rodney King verdict.

As a black person in the performing arts – specifically a black woman – what advice would you give to others who may want to pursue a similar career path? You have to know your worth. If you believe you’re the best, you’ll be among people who are, because they believe it too. Those are the people who are successful. Mediocrity won’t cut it in this business. If you’re working hard at your craft, and you KNOW you’re good, don’t let anyone tell you anything less!

Outside of your studies and other obligations, where was your favorite place to hang out on or around campus? The McDonald’s in Tangeman and Mr. Jim’s for breakfast!

What advice would you give a freshman who is just starting their college experience? Get involved! The great thing about college is the entire experience, not just the classes. It’s the perfect place to become a well-rounded citizen of the world. Join organizations, clubs, councils – get out and connect with people, and you’ll have those relationships for life.

Student Spotlight: Alberto Jones

JonesWith approximately 600 active student organizations available, there are a many ways a student can get involved in co-curricular activities. But only one student – every two years – is chosen by the Governor of Ohio to serve his or her fellow student on the highest level of UC’s governance. Click her to read how this Dayton native is making the most out of his opportunities to lead in a very meaningful way.

Name: Alberto Jones

UC College: Arts & Sciences, Journalism, 2019

Hometown: Dayton, Ohio

What student groups do you participate in?
I am the president/co-founder of the revived UC's Association of Black Journalists, president of UC's Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and Editor-In-Chief of the United Black Student Association's Noir Magazine, the black student digital magazine.

The diverse opportunities UC has to offer both academically and professionally. I've had so many great opportunities in my collegiate career where I have gained skills that I will take with me throughout life.

As the student representative on the UC Board of Trustees, what ways do you hope to impact the student experience at UC?As the Undergraduate Student Trustee, I hope to impact the student experience at UC by helping to build students into student leaders. The university exists for its students and from student activism, there has been a lot of impact on the UC community. I believe that being a student leader prepares you for life. There are many UC alumni, who were once student leaders, that are now impacting the world.

What are your career goals My ultimate goal is to become a multimedia journalist and a motivational speaker in the future. I dream of one day having my own talk show and building a media empire like Oprah Winfrey. As a journalist, I do believe that I'll be able to advocate for others by telling their stories, but I also plan to attend law school. I believe that a law degree will give me a bigger platform to advocate for people, without sanctions. Many people advocated for me; now it's my turn to do the same. I believe those who have a voice must speak for the voiceless.

What makes you proudest to be a Bearcat? I attend a university that has poured into me academically, personally and professionally. With the prestigious education I have received from UC, I know I'll be able to take the world by storm. And most importantly I'll be able to educate, empower, and enrich the lives of others, as UC has done for me.


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