Camping Out for Haiti
Times' Reporter Recalls Life in Liberia
Angela Renaud EdD, dean of the John Hazen
White School of Arts & Sciences, heard New York
Times reporter Helene Cooper on the radio talking
about her recent memoir detailing her family’s
flight from Liberia to the United States. Learning
that the author’s career in journalism began at
The Providence Journal and knowing Rhode Island
is home to the second largest Liberian population
in the United States, Renaud decided “The House
at Sugar Beach” was the perfect book for the first
Campus Reads project.
During the 2009–10 fall and winter terms,
Cooper’s book was incorporated into many arts
and sciences classes. A group of volunteers, led by
English Department chair, Donna Thomsen, developed
a month-long exploration of Liberia open
to the entire campus community that included
film, theater, group book discussions and an art
exhibit. Former Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.)
spoke at The Yena Center about overseeing the first
election held in Liberia after a decade of civil war.
Through photographs of the time, Chafee cited the
passionate spirit of the country’s people and their
hope for a peaceful future.
A lecture by Cooper in February was the
culmination of Campus Reads. She read passages
from her memoir, including those on her 1987
journey to Rhode Island to start her first job after
college. “I feel like I’ve come home in so many
ways,” said Cooper to an audience of students,
faculty, staff and members of Rhode Island’s
Liberian community. She happily greeted those
waiting patiently in the long line to have their
copies of “The House at Sugar Beach” autographed.
above: New York Times reporter Helene Cooper spoke at Xavier
Auditorium in February and autographed her book for a student.
Local Motors Founder Maps Highway to Success
The bottom line for John “Jay” Rogers? To make cool cars. That was the driving force
behind Local Motors, in Wareham, Mass., a custom design car manufacturer with a twist.
Car designs are determined by vote of an online community. Just hearing the passion
when he speaks is a giveaway that Rogers, who came to the campus in February as the
Distinguished Visiting Professor for the School of Technology, is a car buff. Perhaps it is
in his genes.
In 1901 Rogers’ grandfather co-founded Indian Motorcycle. Yet Rogers’ own career
path took a number of interesting turns — banking, specialty medical equipment, the
Marines at age 27 — before he followed his heart to the car industry. He financed his
dream with his “go to hell fund” — money he
had saved so he would have the freedom to tell
an employer “where to go.”
Known for its “Rally Fighter,” Local
Motors produces customized vehicles suitable
for the Baja 500 or a weekend romping
around the desert. This is a company with a
mission: Lead the next generation of automotive
manufacturing, design and technology by
revolutionizing the industry with gamechanging,
efficient vehicles and an unprecedented
standard of customer service.
Rogers’ advice to the students? It is never
too late to do what you want to do.
“Now, more than ever, a JWU education is a wise investment.
Classroom knowledge combined with directed work experiences
provides the foundation for our graduates to build a career in
their chosen field of study.”