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Legacy, Looking Ahead the Focus of 120th Founders Convocation

By Brian Howard | University Communications

GSU President Rick Gallot

GSU President Rick Gallot

Grambling, La. – November 2, 2021 – Grambling State University continued its celebration of 120 years of educational excellence today with the Founders Convocation at the Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center.

Grambling State alumna Dr. Dana A. Williams, dean of the Graduate School at Howard University, served as the convocation speaker as GSU President Richard J. Gallot, Jr., and University of Louisiana System President Dr. James Henderson provided remarks to highlight the event.

Over the last 120 years, the University has been identified under several names – The Colored Industrial and Agriculture School, The North Louisiana Agriculture and Industrial School, The Louisiana Negro Normal and Industrial Institute, Grambling College and now Grambling State University.

In the midst of changes to its name over the years, Gallot said that the University has experienced the best of times and on occasion, some unpleasant times.

“We have endured two World Wars, the Korean Conflict, Wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. We’ve sustained the Great Depression, the great recession, the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 and of course the COVID-19 pandemic,” Gallot said. “We’ve encountered discrimination, segregation and Jim Crow. In spite of it all, we continued to rise. In our 120 years, we’ve seen our country transform from the Pony Express and telegrams to instant messaging and 5G. We’ve seen our country put a man on the moon and emergence of electric and autonomous vehicles. We’ve advanced from card catalogs and volumes of encyclopedias to the digital library and ‘hey Siri.’ Together, through it all, we continue to rise, and rise, and rise.”

University of Louisiana System President Dr. James Henderson

University of Louisiana System President Dr. James Henderson

Henderson, who has been a longtime supporter of the University, spoke about the rich tradition and legacy that Grambling State has had over the years, but is focused on what’s ahead.

“I am really focused on what’s next for Grambling,” Henderson said. “It’s about this whole family, the ‘GramFam,’ and the way they’ve risen above so many challenges to achieve excellence. That’s how you define Grambling. I couldn’t be more excited about it’s future under the leadership of my dear friend Rick Gallot and certainly the  extraordinary faculty and leadership team.”

GSU alumna Dr. Dana A. Williams, dean of the Graduate School at Howard University

GSU alumna Dr. Dana A. Williams, dean of the Graduate School at Howard University

Williams earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Grambling State in 1993, and was the highest-ranking student in her graduating class.

“Founders Day this year invites us to reflect on the Founders vision, to celebrate 120 years of achievement, and to commit a new high level of excellence,” Williams said.

Williams, who earned a master’s degree in African American literature and continued her education to earn a doctorate in English with an emphasis in African American Literature at Howard University, said she wondering what the theme would be to commemorate this history year.

“Each fall under President Gallot’s administration, I wait with bated breath to see what the theme will be for the year,” Williams said. “As we mark this 120th year since our founding, it is so fitting that we remember that we rise together.

“The word rise can be used as a verb or a noun,” Williams continued. “In old and middle English, the verb means to move upward, especially from behind the horizon. As a noun, rise refers to increase in power or influence. It can also refer to a piece of land that slopes upward. “

Williams shared the journey of Grambling State University and the legacy the institution has, but left one final remark to commemorate Founders Day.

“For 120 years, Grambling has moved upward and emerging with vigor and with grace from beyond the horizon,” she said. “We will not shirk in our duty to respond to the needs of any and all who call upon us and even those who do not know they need us. We are Grambling and we rise together.”

Deloitte Announces $250,000 Master of Accountancy Scholarship Program With Louisiana Tech and Grambling State Universities

Scholarship will help increase diversity within the accounting profession

NEW YORK – Oct. 27, 2021-  Today Deloitte announced the creation of a $250,000 scholarship program to help fund the cost of tuition for students from Grambling State University who are seeking a Master of Accountancy (MAcc) degree from Louisiana Tech University’s College of Business. The announcement further showcases the global professional services organization’s commitment to increasing diversity within the accounting profession.

As previously announced last fall, Louisiana Tech University and Grambling State University — a long-standing HBCU located five miles from Louisiana Tech’s campus — signed a memorandum of understanding that provides an accelerated pathway for Grambling students to achieve a degree that is not provided at their undergraduate institution. This agreement allows Louisiana Tech and Grambling to provide their shared students with the education, resources and support they need to sit for the CPA exam and launch successful careers.

Because financial aid packages will not transfer from institutions in Louisiana, senior accounting majors at Grambling State are required to self-fund their coursework at Louisiana Tech. Prior to Deloitte’s scholarship program investment, scholarships and graduate assistantships were primarily funded by Louisiana Tech alumni in order to lift the financial burden for these students.

“The scholarships from Deloitte will be a game changer on multiple levels and we are thrilled to team with Louisiana Tech and Grambling State through this program,” said Stephen Metoyer, chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer, Deloitte Tax LLP and graduate of Louisiana Tech University. “By eliminating the financial barrier many students face when seeking access to higher education, not only do we anticipate helping to diversify and grow the regional accounting workforce, it is our earnest hope that many graduates of this program will go on to become tomorrow’s leaders of the accounting profession, fueling the long-term change we are seeking. This investment complements other bold initiatives we are undertaking, including our Making Accounting Diverse and Equitable (MADE) and Deloitte Tax Scholars programs.”

“We are truly grateful for Deloitte investment in this innovative pathway to our Master of Accountancy,” said Dr. Chris Martin, dean of Louisiana Tech’s College of Business. “Our collaboration with Grambling — and now Deloitte — is a testament to the importance of investing in shared student success that will benefit the field by providing highly qualified accounting professionals who will diversify the field. We look forward to expanding this model to other HBCUs in the future to continue to increase diversity of thought and opportunities in the accounting profession.”

Grambling State University to Commemorate 120 Years During Founders Day Celebration 

Dr. Dana A. Williams, GSU alumna and dean of Howard University graduate school, to speak for convocation

Dr. Dana A. Williams

Dr. Dana A. Williams

GRAMBLING, La. – October 27, 2021– Grambling State University will hold its Founders Day observance Nov. 1-5 and honor the historic moment in 1901 when the historically black university was founded. Traditionally GSU has held the observance beginning in September but this year’s celebration begins Nov. 1 because the date will mark 120 years of educational excellence for GSU.

“The planning committee has developed events that honor the history of Grambling State University and convey our rich legacy to the next generation,” said GSU President Rick Gallot. “We have overcome so many obstacles in the past and continue to face numerous present-day challenges. So, it’s fitting that the theme is ‘Together We Rise’ because it is our strength in unity that has fueled our journey thus far.”

He said the Founder’s Day observance will continue to be held in November moving forward because it is imperative that the celebration be aligned with the day the institution opened its doors.

The celebration will begin Monday, November 1 at 8 a.m. with the tradition of laying a wreath on the bust of Charles P. Adams at Lee Hall on Grambling State’s campus. In addition to a proclamation signed by the Mayor of Grambling, LA, a time capsule will also be buried for unearthing at the 150th anniversary in 2051.

A 120th birthday celebration will take place immediately afterward in McCall Dining Hall and will feature the University Choir and a portion of the World Famed Tiger Marching Band.

On Tuesday, November 2 at 11 a.m., Founders Convocation will be held in the Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center where Dr. Dana A. Williams will serve as the speaker.

When she earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Grambling State in 1993, Williams was the highest-ranking student in her graduating class. She taught briefly in the Madison Parish public school system, before moving to Washington, D.C., where she attended Howard University. She earned a master’s degree in African American literature and continued her education to earn a doctorate in English with an emphasis in African American Literature.

Williams has served as faculty member in the departments of English at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and at Howard University. She became chair of Howard’s Department of English in 2009. In 2016, she was nominated by President Barack Obama to serve on the National Humanities Council and was named dean of the Graduate School at Howard in 2021.

Williams has published extensively in African American literature as an author or editor. In addition to her book projects, she has published articles in reviews and journals.

The remainder of the week will encompass historic displays by university departments and an online campaign, #ThisIsGrambling, that will feature testimonials submitted by alumni and supporters. Those wishing to participate can send video or audio, no longer than 60 seconds in length to communications@gram.edu. Commemorative shirts will be worn on Friday, November 5 and can be purchased at the University Bookstore.

About Grambling State University
Grambling State University, located in Grambling, Louisiana, is a historically black university that was founded in 1901. The institution has been accredited by SACSCOC, 13 associations, and in all programs required by the Louisiana Board of Regents. A member of the University of Louisiana System, Grambling State University has the academic strengths of a major university with the benefits of a small college. Offering 43 undergraduate and graduate academic programs, the 590-acre campus is home to world-class athletics, an internationally renowned marching band, and vibrant student life that enable our scholars to grow and learn in a positive environment. For more information, visit gram.edu.

 

National Science Foundation Awards $499,500 to Grambling State University

Researchers will address security concerns of medical devices connected to internet 

GRAMBLING, La. – October 26, 2021 – The National Science Foundation has awarded a $499,500 grant to Grambling State University. The Department of Computer Science and Digital Technologies will use the funding for a project titled “iMed-Sec: Exploring Hardware-Assisted Solutions for Energy-Efficient Low-Overhead Security and Privacy for the Internet-of-Medical-Things”. 

The project will address the security concerns of physical devices that are connected to internet. 

“The combination of a network of physical devices embedded with electronics, Internet connectivity, and sensors, that can communicate and interact with others over the Internet is known as the Internet of Things (IoT). An IoT-based framework for the healthcare industry is called the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT),” said Dr. Babu Baniya, a GSU assistant professor and the principal investigator for the project. Dr. Vasanth Iyer, a GSU assistant professor of cybersecurity; along with Dr. Bibhudutta Rout, and Saraju Mohanty of the University of North Texas are co-principal investigators. 

The security of implantable medical devices and wearable medical devices is one of the major concerns of IoMT, in addition to medical data privacy. 

“Imminent threats to the safe use of IoMT include the vulnerability of IoMT-devices to hacking,” Baniya said. “The project will undertake research to explore hardware-assisted security with low-overhead, energy-efficient solutions for the IoMT. The uniqueness of the iMed-Sec project is a unified multilayer effort involving devices, circuits, and systems for robust cybersecurity.” 

The goal is energy-efficient protocols for IoMT device cybersecurity and the creation of IoMT cybersecurity course materials (such as modules, training materials, and syllabi) ) to boost various STEM undergraduate curricula. It will provide training to students in smart healthcare paradigms, thus serving the national interest. It will also broaden the participation of historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) students in STEM education and research. 

About Grambling State University
Grambling State University, located in Grambling, Louisiana, is a historically black university that was founded in 1901. The institution has been accredited by SACSCOC, 13 associations, and in all programs required by the Louisiana Board of Regents. A member of the University of Louisiana System, Grambling State University has the academic strengths of a major university with the benefits of a small college. Offering 43 undergraduate and graduate academic programs, the 590-acre campus is home to world-class athletics, an internationally renowned marching band, and vibrant student life that enable our scholars to grow and learn in a positive environment. For more information, visit gram.edu. 

Grambling State University World Famed Tiger Marching Band to Perform at Halftime of Las Vegas Raiders Game on Sunday

Las Vegas Raiders Press Release | Raiders.com/media |  @Raiders  | @Raiders_PR

Grambling State University World Famed Tiger Marching BandHENDERSON, Nev. –  October 21, 2021 –  The Grambling State University (GSU) World Famed Tiger Marching Band will perform at halftime during Sunday’s Las Vegas Raiders game presented by Twitch at Allegiant Stadium.

The Tiger Marching Band has provided its unforgettable entertainment around the world and at Super Bowls, presidential inaugurations, world-famous parades, in movies, television commercials and on recordings.

“We’re certainly grateful to the Raiders organization and Mark Davis for inviting the World Famed Tiger Marching Band to perform at the Raiders game this weekend,” said GSU President Rick Gallot, noting that World Famed has performed in more Super Bowls than any other band or entertainer. “We’re thankful that they’ve given us yet another opportunity to perform for not only an NFL crowd but for a worldwide audience. Go Raiders!”

In 2019, history was made as Dr. Nikole Roebuck was hired as the first female band director in school history, and only the third in the history of HBCUs. “The band is excited about our upcoming performance for the Raiders,” said Roebuck. “To be the first marching band to perform at an NFL game in Las Vegas is another first for the band. We are looking forward to bringing the house down with our high-energy packed show. Look out Vegas, the World Famed is coming to put on a great show!”

The Grambling Tiger Marching Band will be traveling to Las Vegas on Allegiant Air, naming rights partner and official airline of the Las Vegas Raiders. Grambling is the alma mater of six Raiders Alumni – Pro Football Hall of Famer Willie Brown, Al Dotson, Andrew Glover, Albert Lewis, Willie Williams and Nemiah Wilson.

Sunday’s performance by the Tiger Marching Band adds to the notable list of halftime entertainment during Raiders games at Allegiant Stadium in 2021. Rap icons twice entertained at Raiders halftime in 2021 with Ludacris on October 10 and Too $hort and Ice Cube at intermission of the Raiders’ regular season opener on September 13. At halftime on September 26, Raiders Legend and Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2021 inductee Tom Flores, was honored and presented with his Hall of Fame ring. Lifelong Raiders fan and entertainment superstar Carlos Santana put on a stirring two-song set at halftime of the August 14 game, the first with fans at Allegiant Stadium.

Grambling State University Among 10 HBCUs to Benefit from Peloton X Beyoncé Partnership

Fitness facilities to be provided Peloton Bikes this fall 

Photo credit: Daniel Sannwald

NEW YORK – October 20, 2021  – Peloton, the world’s leading interactive fitness platform and Beyoncé, the most-nominated female artist in GRAMMY® history, have announced the newest installment of the Peloton x Beyoncé Artist Series, Peloton’s most extensive Artist Series to-date. The Peloton x Beyoncé Artist Series offers 17 classes with 72 hours of content streamed globally from Peloton Studios New York and the new Peloton Studios London.

To complement the live programming, daily on-demand classes will allow members to curate a well-rounded Peloton x Beyoncé experience at their own pace and convenience across nine modalities including Cycling, Tread, Tread Bootcamp and off-equipment offerings such as Strength, Barre, Stretching, and an Outdoor Run and Walk — making the series accessible for anyone with no hardware necessary. This powerful lineup will include classes in three languages, English, German and Spanish, a first for Peloton. The global event kicks off with a Two-for-One Ride live from the new Peloton Studios London. Every Peloton x Beyoncé Artist Series class can be accessed on the Peloton App which new Members can try for a free 30-day trial period

Additionally, Beyoncé and Peloton will expand their social impact partnership by providing the fitness facilities of 10 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) with Peloton Bikes this fall. This initiative builds on Peloton and Beyoncé’s shared commitment to provide access to best-in-class fitness, inspiring this generation of HBCU students to source their power, physically and mentally, through movement. Thousands of students redeemed gifted Peloton digital memberships at the onset of the partnership, ensuring students can enjoy Peloton’s library of content on-and off-equipment.  Partner schools include: Grambling State University, Bennett College, Clark Atlanta University, Hampton University, Howard University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, Spelman College, Texas Southern University and Wilberforce University. Peloton will continue to pursue long-term recruiting partnerships across the internship, undergraduate and graduate levels while also shining a light on HBCU students.

“The Beyoncé Artist Series allows you to mentally draw deeply from internal and external places of power and this is the soundtrack that will transport you,” said Peloton’s Head of Music Gwen Bethel Riley. “We are honored to have designed a new series of classes that elevate movement and music on the Peloton platform. This empowering message will motivate our community to show up for each other and for themselves.”

To learn more, please visit news of continued partnership.

About Grambling State University
Grambling State University, located in Grambling, Louisiana, is a historically black university that was founded in 1901. The institution has been accredited by SACSCOC, 13 associations, and in all programs required by the Louisiana Board of Regents. A member of the University of Louisiana System, Grambling State University has the academic strengths of a major university with the benefits of a small college. Offering 43 undergraduate and graduate academic programs, the 590-acre campus is home to world-class athletics, an internationally renowned marching band, and vibrant student life that enable our scholars to grow and learn in a positive environment. For more information, visit gram.edu.

Grambling State University Enters into Partnership with ProTrain, a Leader in Continuing Education 

Left to right: Dr. Rory Bedford, Michelle Hopwood and Miloni Perera

GRAMBLING, La – October 14, 2021 – Grambling State University’s Office of Continuing Education and Service-Learning has partnered with ProTrain, a leader in continuing education to bring quality training to GSU students and the community that meets national, regional, and local requirements leading to careers in high demand fields. Served industries include: healthcare; information technology; business and leadership; and industrial and skilled trades. Course offerings are ideal for both career entry and career advancement opportunities.

The partnership offers various programs for individuals, corporate, and government including Military Tuition Assistance (TA), Military Spouses Scholarship (MyCAA), Wounded Warriors, Veterans, Vocational Rehabilitation, and those that are Unemployed or Underemployed (WIOA).  While all persons who desire to retool or enhance their current educational skills can take advantage of the resources available through the Office of Continuing Education and Service-Learning, the ProTrain agreement provides special opportunities and financial assistance for the military community.

“ProTrain is proud to serve our military and their families in helping them achieve their educational goals,” said ProTrain Chief Operating Officer Kevin M. Smith, a retired U.S. Army colonel.

The partnership also provides an affordable solution for students seeking in-demand careers.

“When we began working on this agreement, we wanted to make sure that we could meet the needs of both the community and the student body as it relates to career readiness,” said Dr. Rory Bedford, director of Continuing Education and Service-Learning. “We are excited that our partnership with ProTrain expands our course offerings towards our goal.”

He said that participants will be able to retool and gain important training to enhance and further their careers in an online format. In addition, students can earn a degree and add certifications that place them in a position to be more marketable than those who do not have certifications.

“When we approached Dr. Connie Walton, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, she worked in concert with us to make sure that the courses and agreement met guidelines provided by the University of Louisiana System,” Bedford said. “President Rick Gallot and the University of Louisiana System recognized the value of the partnership and approved the agreement.”

ProTrain Chief Executive Officer Betty L. Gardner said that education is the key to our future.

“It is the one gift that we can give ourselves that neither the economy nor other forces can take from us,” she said. “Our communities and society continue to benefit from the quality education with which we reward ourselves. ProTrain provides the real-world employer with relevant, highly sought after, training for real people. Education is the bridge to your future.”

Over the past month, Bedford, Miloni Perera, Michelle Hopwood, and others have been meeting with representatives from ProTrain to receive training to launch the program. It officially launched on the GSU website on October 1, 2021.  Access to course information and payment methods are available at https://gram.theknowledgebase.org/  or email hopwoodm@gram.edu or pereram@gram.edu.  For additional information, please call 318-274-2553 or 318-274-2118.

About Grambling State University
Grambling State University, located in Grambling, Louisiana, is a historically black university that was founded in 1901. The institution has been accredited by SACSCOC, 13 associations, and in all programs required by the Louisiana Board of Regents. A member of the University of Louisiana System, Grambling State University has the academic strengths of a major university with the benefits of a small college. Offering 43 undergraduate and graduate academic programs, the 590-acre campus is home to world-class athletics, an internationally renowned marching band, and vibrant student life that enable our scholars to grow and learn in a positive environment. For more information, visit gram.edu.

BMF producer/writer Randy Huggins among alumni to be featured at entertainment panel Oct. 14

Other panelists include Atlanta film/entertainment director & GSU student filmmaker

Randy Huggins

Randy Huggins

GRAMBLING, La. – October 13, 2021 – Among this week’s homecoming events at Grambling State University is an intriguing panel which promises an insider’s look into the entertainment industry. The October 14 GramFam Lights, Camera, Action Entertainment Panel will be held at 2 p.m. in the Nursing Building Auditorium.

The event will feature GSU alumni including executive producer/creator/writer Randy Huggins (BMF on STARZ),  current GSU student Kayla Sullers (Power Book IV on STARZ) and actress Angela Davis (P-Valley on STARZ) The panel will be hosted by GSU alumna Cardellia Hunter, director of film and entertainment for the city of Atlanta.

The theme for this year’s homecoming is “Homecoming 2021: Unapologetically ____ – A Homecoming Your Way”. Panelists are expected to discuss how they pursued their entertainment careers their way.

Randy Huggins is the creator, writer and showrunner of the upcoming STARZ’s drama “BMF,” and an executive producer along with Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson. Huggins was a consulting producer on “Power Book II: Ghost” and spent the two seasons on the FOX drama, “Star.” He also served as a consulting producer on BET’s “The Quad” and was the showrunner of BET’s “Rebel,” which he executive produced with John Singleton (Boyz in the Hood).

Huggins also wrote on the first three seasons of the STARZ hit drama “Power “and later served as the show’s co-executive producer. He launched his writing career on FX’s police drama “The Shield,” where he served as the writers’ assistant for four seasons and earned a “story by” credit for the episode titled, “Cutthroat.” That same year, he joined the writing staff of “The Unit” and went on to become the executive story editor on STARZ’s first scripted drama, “Crash.” Then, he became a co-producer on NBC’s medical drama, “Trauma.” Huggins also served as a producer on ”Criminal Minds” and wrote three episodes.

Born and raised in Detroit, Huggins received a bachelor’s degree in history from GSU. He worked as a fifth-grade teacher in Detroit before relocating to Los Angeles.

Cardellia Hunter,

Cardellia Hunter,

Hunter is a 15-year entertainment industry veteran with experience in music, television and film production. As the director of film and entertainment for the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office, she serves as the liaison to the state film office and collaborates with other city stakeholders on film and workforce development initiatives.

Some of Hunter’s favorite films that she has worked with include the Fast & Furious franchise, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and Baby Driver. She has received numerous accolades from her peers, including the Locations Manager Guild International Award for her work on the film Baby Driver.

Kayla Sullers

Kayla Sullers

Hunter was acknowledged with an award by her alma mater Grambling State University, Office of Alumni Affairs as a 2019 GramFam Influencer. She graduated from GSU with a bachelor’s degree in marketing.

Kayla Sullers is a native of Chicago and a rising senior at GSU majoring in mass communication with a minor in marketing. Her work as a filmmaker has been recognized by the Chicago International Film Festival’s CineYouth, Museum of Science & Industry’s Black Art Exhibition, and many more publications. She’s worked on the sets of Empire, Candy Man 2021, Snowfall, Power Book FORCE, and others.

About Grambling State University
Grambling State University, located in Grambling, Louisiana, is a historically black university that was founded in 1901. The institution has been accredited by SACSCOC, 13 associations, and in all programs required by the Louisiana Board of Regents. A member of the University of Louisiana System, Grambling State University has the academic strengths of a major university with the benefits of a small college. Offering 43 undergraduate and graduate academic programs, the 590-acre campus is home to world-class athletics, an internationally renowned marching band, and vibrant student life that enable our scholars to grow and learn in a positive environment. For more information, visit gram.edu.

 

GSU and Coca-Cola celebrate 100 years

by Jessieca Carr | Ruston Daily Leader

GRAMBLING, La. –  October 13, 2021 – There are very few times when two entities can remain together for a century. However, in the case of business partnerships, it is truly a testament to dedication when two institutions can join forces to improve the lives of many generations. Grambling State University and Coca-Cola have pulled off that feat.

“To know that at the sunset of this partnership will mark almost 100 years, that says something,” said Tisha Arnold, university director of communications for GSU.

“How many times can you say that an HBCU (Historically Black College and University) has partnered with an organization like Coca-Cola for nearly a century?”

The 120-year-old university and the popular beverage company started their partnership when the Biedenharn family founded the Monroe Bottling Company. The company began in 1912 and was owned and operated by the Biedenharn family, UNITED Coca-Cola bought the company. Somewhere in the transition from the company’s inception to 1920 when the soda drink enterprise took over, Grambling State became a major partner.

“You just do not get the gratitude that comes from Grambling at other places,” said Keith Biedenharn, Sales Center Manager for The Coca-Cola Company. “I want to thank Grambling for that. I want to thank Coca-Cola team in Atlanta, North America and Michael and his team for putting this together. It was a lot of work behind the scenes. Investing in Grambling is an investment in the kids, staff, school, and brand. It is also an investment in the future.”

The partnership has been beneficial to GSU as it has been able to provide opportunities for students to obtain internships, job opportunities, and support for the university’s 13 intercollegiate athletic programs. Inaugural Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Trayveon Scott spoke about how the partnership has paid dividends to the student-athletes and his department. He also talked about the help and dedication that the university has received from Michael Braxton, senior manager for Multicultural Marketing/HBCU at The Coca-Cola Company.

“I’m very excited and privileged to thank Coke for all of your efforts and commitment, not only to Grambling State University as an institution but Grambling State University athletics,” said Scott. “Mr. Braxton’s commitment to branding that Coca-Cola emblem and that ‘G’ is something that I appreciate thoroughly in our relationship.”

After he was introduced, Braxton said the beverage behemoth was happy to be continuing its partnership with the storied institution.
He also said they were excited about the things that were going to be happening soon as the partners begin to make more plans. Student Government Association President Cameron T. Jackson shed light on the academic and material benefits that the campus gained because of the partnership. Jackson said Grambling students loved the products, and it was one of the biggest things that the student body took pride in.

“We just had our new Coke facilities that were built on behalf of athletics,” said Jackson. “Building that speak numbers and that really puts so much energy into our students and our student body.”

Gallot said GSU’s relationship with Coca-Cola is extremely meaningful.

GSU Professor, Students Involved in Research to Study, Monitor Coronavirus in Southern U.S.

Outreach event “Health Starts at Home” will be held today, 9 a.m.- 1 p.m. in Nursing Building

GRAMBLING, La. – Oct. 13, 2021 – Dr. Paul Kim, an associate professor of biological sciences at Grambling State University, is on the frontline of research related to the coronavirus and its impact on underserved communities.

“We’re working on two projects to respond to COVID-19,” he said, explaining that one focuses on tracking disease through wastewater from sewer systems while the other involves sequencing the virus to better understand how it evolves and spreads.

Two undergraduate students are assisting with the work while faculty from the School of Social Work are helping with outreach. The first outreach event is the “Health Starts at Home” forum that will be held today from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Nursing Building.

The Research

The first project, which began in April 2021, involves monitoring the level of coronavirus in wastewater to get a sense of how much COVID-19 is in the community. The second project involves a collaboration with LSU Health Shreveport and Louisiana Tech to form one of the four Rockefeller Regional Accelerators for Genomic Surveillance.

Genomic sequencing allows health officials and scientists to study prolonged outbreaks, understand behaviors that spread COVID-19, and map coronavirus clusters.

The other regional accelerators are the Broad Institute of MIT/Harvard, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and University of Florida/Central Florida.

“As we’ve all seen with Delta, the coronavirus mutates and can create variants that pose a risk to public health,” Kim said. “By sequencing the genome of viruses collected from patients, we have a chance to detect the next variant as it emerges, before it spreads out of control. “

The goal of the accelerator is to increase sequencing volume and representation in the southern U.S. because these states tend to lag behind other regions in viral sequencing, Kim explained.

“We believe that the same factors driving other health disparities are at work here which is why we’re focused on equitable sequencing,” he said.

The Findings

“We find very low levels of SARS-CoV-2 in the city of Grambling wastewater,” Kim said. “Often the level is below our limit of detection.”

This was also the case at GSU during the summer when few students were on campus. However, since the start of the fall semester, there has been an increase and this increase correlates with the number of cases in the student health center.

“Over the past two weeks, we’re seeing a decline in viral load that mirrors the decline in cases in Louisiana and throughout the U.S. – with the exception of a few states,” Kim said. “We have partnered with free clinics and campus clinics to sequence SARS-CoV-2 from their patient specimens and to share that genomic data with researchers through a database called GISAID EpiCoV.”

The result has been more data that can be used to monitor the coronavirus.

“As of today, there are 112 viral sequences from Lincoln Parish shared on GISAID since the start of the pandemic. Our group is responsible for 93 of those,” he said. “That’s significant considering that we started in late July 2021. Most of those sequences are from the LSUHS Emerging Viral Threat lab but recently GSU started sequencing the coronavirus in my lab and we now have sequences from 18 specimens uploaded to EpiCoV.”

The Importance of the Work

“Wastewater-based epidemiology may be a useful tool for tracking infectious disease, particularly COVID-19 because many cases are asymptomatic or so mild as to go unreported.” Kim said.  “It’s data that our campus administration can use to make informed decisions.”

He said that “sequencing the virus helps us to understand the disease, how it evolves, and spreads. Our work helps ensure that the virus is being sequenced from a population that reflects the ethnic and geographic diversity of the U.S.”

Mathematical models have estimated that scientists need to sequence 5% of positive cases to detect an emerging variant early.

“Before our work, only 0.43% of cases were being sequenced in Lincoln Parish,” Kim said. “Now it’s approximately 5.2%. We’ve accomplished this through a grassroots effort involving free clinics and small university clinics and labs with a modest budget. We think that this can serve as a model for other communities to start their own genomic surveillance programs.”

He said a major motivation for him is to involve GSU faculty and students in this work.

“As an underserved community, it’s one thing for others to come and serve us, but another thing for us to have an opportunity to do the research and the work ourselves,” Kim said. “I have two undergraduate students (Lescia Valmond, Madgrie Francis) working in my lab on these projects. Dr. Elise Reed and Dr. Gayberyl Wesley in the School of Social Work are developing the outreach component of the Regional Accelerator.”

This morning’s  “Health Starts at Home” outreach event  is the first of many.

“We’ll be taking lessons from this event to do more events in the community outside GSU to increase awareness, promote vaccination, and collect specimens for sequencing,” Kim said.