One of Xavier’s Mass Communication professors will visit Haiti this academic
year to investigate the roles of media and politics, while working with local Haitian students and the state government Second year professor Dr.Shearon Roberts will use her roughly $15,000 grant to travel to Haiti to research media’s influence on and engagement of Haitian citizens. That research is intended to help government agencies and be the topic for her next book, which will be centered on understanding Haiti in its post crisis situation.
Founded in 1995, the Henry C. McBay Research Fellowship provides funding support for faculty for advancing their research studies and challenging
themselves to continue work in their field. Kimberly Hall, the director for Donor Relations for the United Negro College Fund, said that the fellowship committee selected Dr. Roberts as one of eight awards given this year. Dr. Roberts is the latest Xavier faculty to receive this fellowship honor since 2013, Hall said. “Haiti has always been my favorite place in the world
growing up. The history of it I have always admired and had a passion for. It started when I began journalism,” Roberts said. “I have a love affair with
Haiti, that people don’t get to see and people in the Caribbean get to see. To tell the other sides of Haiti that people in America don’t know about. They are strong and proud,” she said. Five years ago, on Jan. 12, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti, destroyed several cities, and killed and
injured over 300,000 people. Half a decade later, Haiti continues to feel the effects from the devastating catastrophe. “Things do not turn to normal after a natural disaster, even after a decade,” Dr. Roberts said, who plans to spend most of her research time in the island’s capital, Port-Au-Prince, and
other small towns that were affected by the earthquake. “Haiti feels very much like the earthquake happened yesterday,” she added. Roberts has three project goals she would like to accomplish during her visits to Haiti.
One is to observe how Haiti’s largest news organizations in Port-Au-Prince have been working to advocate for its citizens. Next, she plans to work with Haitian university students to understand how socially conscious they are to the current circumstances in the country. She’s seeking to understand Haiti’s state media and how they benefit and support the Haitian government Xavier President Dr. C. Reynold Verret , a Haitian native, said he endorsed Roberts’post disaster research in Haiti. Verret added that Haiti and New Orleans share strong histories and the need to recovery from recent natural disasters. “Note that Haiti and New Orleans are linked by history and culture. This makes her work especially relevant to this city and university,” Verret said. “One need only look at images of the cathedral square of Cap Haitien to realize that it inspired the layout of St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square,” he said. Roberts said she is excited to return to Haiti to advance and share her research. “I was one of the first researchers to work with them [Haitian media] after the earthquake. I’m hoping to build on that relationship,” Roberts said. “The ending goal is to write for think tanks on what I’ve learned. My longerterm goal is to publish in scholarly journals on the things I have learned as well.
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