Xavier University will use a $2.5 million grant to convert the dorm that housed Freedom Riders into a STEM center

Xavier University in Louisiana will use a $2.5 million grant to transform a renowned on-campus residence hall into a STEM center that will focus on science, technology, engineering and math.

St. Michaels Residence Hall will house a counseling center for students entering health professions, including medicine, research and laboratory sciences, and a tutoring center, according to NOLA.com.

St. Michaels was once a haven for the Freedom Riders as they busked through the South, defying segregation.

“While we will be back many years from now, this building, which housed the Freedom Riders, will also be the place that will house the…future medical professionals who will care for people like me, and many in this community, and also will be a beacon for young people,” said the president of Xavier University, Reynold Verret.

The 60th anniversary of the Freedom Rides took place last year. Greyhound restored a bus to mark the event. The bus was dedicated to the Alabama Historical Commission’s Freedom Rides Museum of Montgomery.

Rep. Troy Carter presented the university with an oversized check noting that the STEM center “will provide the opportunity to further develop our young minds in these hard science areas.”

Xavier reportedly sent more black students to medical school than almost any other college or university in the country. A student of Xavier, Noah Williams, who is heading to dental school, spoke at a press conference where he said it was important to have a dedicated counseling center for pre-health students.

“This effort may not diminish all of the barriers we face as minorities in medicine and health care, but it will continue to empower, support and encourage future Xavier students to become physicians. , nurses, dentists, engineers and researchers we need to make this world a better place.

Verret added that the center “will allow us to increase our ability to attract more practitioners of color into professions where, as we know, representation…is important both for trust and for mitigating disparities in health issues that exist in our country”.

The financing is part of the general appropriations of the State, which constitute the Community funding project, a $17.5 million government program that will fund seven more projects in the New Orleans area. The projects aim to provide mental health and public health research services and will make improvements to local parks.

Xavier is the only black and Catholic university in the country with only 3,300 students. According to its website, its College of Pharmacy is also among the top producers of African American pharmacists..

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