NEW ORLEANS (October 31, 2019) – Dr. Walter Kimbrough, university president, has revamped his PODUS group despite the demise of his Brain Food lecture series, selecting 32 freshmen for the 2019-20 school year.
PODUS, which stands for the President’s Organization of Dillard’s Up-and-Coming Superstars, was established to help freshmen develop leadership qualities and to build a relationship with the president. The Brain Food events offered freshmen an opportunity to plan, participate and network in these events. They were responsible for presenting the programs, greeting guests, hosting the speaker, etc., along with engaging with the speaking during each lecture.
When Kimbrough announced the Brain Food series would end with the appearance of poet and author Jericho Brown this semester because of a fall-off in audience turnout, it seemed that PODUS also would end.
However, the president said he reconsidered disbanding the group and, instead, restructured it. This year, he said, the organization “will spend more time on leadership development, hopefully launching a mentor program to keep past PODUS members involved, as well as serve as ambassadors for campus events and visitors.”
The group now will support off-campus visitors, host events on- and off-campus, partnering with other organizations, and develop further leadership qualities through mentorship from Kimbrough as well as former PODUS members.
Some 34 freshmen participated last year. This year, 34 students sought membership, less than any other time because of the timing the call went out during the semester, and 32 were selected. The group’s first event was set for Oct. 29 and will include old and new members.
Kimbrough said he wanted applicants to possess “a good foundation and leadership qualities.”
The new PODUS group includes: DeSirer Bailey of Bossier City, business administration; Shakyra Beasley of Clarksdale, Miss., biology; DeAndre Bell of Houston; Alexis Bolton of Lithia Springs, Ga., film; Anthony Brooks-Ervin of Monroe; Tamia Brown of Shreveport; Alexis Campbell of Bossier City; Shyanne Cazeau of Medford, Mass.
Jailen Doyle of Marrero, chemistry; Jerika Edwards of Eight Mile, Ala.; Yasmine Fontenot of Lake Charles, psychology; Jazmine Gerard of Destrehan, nursing; Victoria Hardy of Montgomery, Ala.; Brandie Hayes of Baton Rouge; Jared Ingram of Greensboro, N.C.; Kaila Johnson of Luling, biology; Spencer Jones of Marion, Ark.; Destiny Keys of Angie, social work; Natalie Linney of Collierville, Tenn., film.
Chandler McBride of Renton, Wash., mass communication; Kyra McWhorter of Atlanta, biology; Kennedy Musgrave of Nashville; BreOn Perkins of Maple Grove, Minn., criminal justice; Italia Ravasio of Baton Rouge, mass communication; Velesha Rhodes of Memphis, political science; Jaylah Richie of Prairieville, criminal justice; Alaina Robinson of Prairieville; Kalaya Sibley of Duncanville, Texas, mass communication.
Schyler Smith of Cordova, Tenn., psychology; Nailah Starks of Gretna, English; Julia Tippen of Plano; and Paulina Webber of Little Rock, English.