Hampton Alum named Cleveland Browns Executive Vice President


Khari Thompson | Staff Writer

Fresh off of a tumultuous, drama-filled season, the Cleveland Browns are the picture of NFL mediocrity.

The team regressed under head coach Mike Pettine from seven wins in 2014 to just three this past season, resulting in the organization parting ways with Pettine. Former first round pick Johnny Manziel was supposed to be the Browns’ long-awaited franchise quarterback and the Browns are likely to let him go as well, further establishing a new era for the team.

On January 3, the Browns’ began their rebuilding process by hiring Sashi Brown as executive Vice President of Football Operations.

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam describes Brown as smart, organized, strategic and a team player. Brown is also a Hamptonian. He graduated from Hampton University in 1998 with a degree in communications.

After graduation, Brown returned to his home state of Massachusetts to attend Harvard Law School where he received his Juris Doctorate in 2002. Brown later worked for Washington D.C. law firm Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale & Dorr, before joining the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars as general counsel, his last job before the Browns hired him.

While many dream of landing an NFL front office position, Brown admits that was not always the case for him. “I wish I could tell you there was some well-thought-out, sophisticated plan, but there really wasn’t,” Brown said.

“I was doing traditional corporate work. Venture capital and private equity. I got an opportunity to start working on some sports transactions.” And once he got his foot into the NFL door, Brown quickly gained a reputation as a savvy businessman with the ability to bridge the gap between business and football operations.

“Just having the opportunity to work with both sides of the organization is outstanding from my standpoint,” Brown expressed. “Personally, it can be challenging. But organizationally it has a tremendous amount of upside for the Browns as we move forward.”

Brown was named to the Sports Business Journal’s 40 under 40 list in 2015, confirming his status as one of the top young executives in professional sports. Surprisingly, Brown claims that he does not watch much sports outside of football but he has kept tabs on the Browns, who he says are making progress.

“I know there’s been some negative publicity, but the reality is we were a very, very competitive team in the division last year,” said Brown. “We are improving the roster. We’ve renovated the stadium. We’ve really transformed our game day experience with VP Kevin Griffin at the helm of that. We’ve taken the franchise in a lot of positive directions.”

Cleveland hopes that Brown can continue to build upon those transformations. The first step was to find a head coach and Brown accomplished this by hiring Hue Jackson on January 13.

Jackson served as the offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals for two seasons (2014-2015) and has been involved with four other NFL team in various positions dating back to 2001.

Next, Brown must address the Johnny Manziel situation. Jackson said he is willing to evaluate Manziel, but Brown has the final word. After that, it is up to Brown and the rest of Cleveland’s front office to chart the rest of the path for the future.

And if Brown can replicate the success he found at Hampton, Harvard, and Jacksonville, the Cleveland Browns will find themselves with a bright future under strong leadership.


HU Alum makes her mark with NBC ‘Dateline’

(t howard)
(t howard)

Mion Edwards | Staff Writer

 Yolanda McCutchen is the representation of a person who seizes opportunities when they are presented and uses them for personal growth. The South Carolina native has always been interested in journalism.

 “I’ve always loved writing and grew up in a household where we subscribed to several magazines and the local newspaper.” She especially became interested in TV news because she watched it with her dad all of the time.

 McCutchen reflected on the days she spent at her Home by the Sea. She excelled as a student and built relationships with her professors.

 While at Hampton she wrote for Hampton Viewpoint, a news show produced by students that aired on local cable in Hampton. Being a member of The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) showed her a window of what her career path could be if she worked hard and made the right connections.

“The media symposiums exposed me to professionals and career options. I was able to gain experience on campus that prepared me for internships,” McCutchen said.

 “I had great professors and I became aware of the NBC News Associates program through the career services office.”

With her persistence and guidance from her mentors she landed an internship with the shows CBS News Productions, and CBS “This Morning.”

 She said, “I’ve been very fortunate in my career and have had great mentors. My network has led me to great opportunities.”  This internship allowed her to build her network for new opportunities.

A year after graduating from Hampton in 1997 as a member of OphiO IX, she obtained a position as an associate producer at ‘Dateline’ NBC.

 While at ‘Dateline,’ McCutchen produced stories, conducted on-camera interviews, performed, researched and shot hidden camera video. Her best experience at ‘Dateline’ was when she was pitching a story about a man that was convicted of murdering a baby.

 “It was discovered that there was actually no baby. The mother faked the pregnancy and lied about the murder. I pitched the story, and was one of the producers.

 It was the season premiere for ‘Dateline’ that year. After the story aired the case received more national attention for the release of the wrongly accused man. He was later released,” expressed McCutchen. Since her days at Dateline NBC, McCutchen has gained a lot of experience and knowledge along the way.

 A former professor at Howard University, McCutchen’s advice for college students who want to get ahead in the media industry is to start early and always remain professional.

 “Having a great professional reputation is important because industry circles are small. Media jobs are highly competitive therefore gain as much experience as possible. Master key skills such as writing, shooting and editing.

All media outlets are now multimedia including newspapers.

 Professional social media skills are needed as well and understanding web analytics,” said McCutchen. Currently, McCutchen is the public relations manager for the D.C. Housing Finance Agency. Hampton University instilled in her the value of networking and maintaining your network and professional reputation.

 The legacy McCutchen wants to leave is she wants people to always remember to stay positive.

 She advised, “Keeping a positive attitude, looking for the solution rather than dwelling on the problem.  Plus working in media is motivating, I still love it although I’m working in a different aspect than I started. There’s always something interesting and new.”

How an HU Alum uses his profession to give thanks

(Marshal Cusaac)
(Marshall Cusaac)

Kadidja Dosso | Staff Writer

Thanksgiving is a special time of the year in the U.S. where families, friends, and loved ones come together to bond, share their love, enjoy one another’s company, and most importantly feast. Marshall Cusaac  an alumnus of Hampton University’s class of 1985, who was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA is an example of this.

Cusaac only applied to Hampton University and “Thanks to prayer, confidence, and hope,” Cusaac remarked, he was accepted. He graduated from Hampton with a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing. Marshall Cusaac holds an occupation in which he is able to assist communities as well as families who are in need. Cusaac currently resides in Washington, D.C. where he works for the U.S. Government Department of Housing and Community Development as a Housing Regulation Specialist.

This profession allows him to reflect upon how thankful he is for his family. “Thanksgiving to me is every time I get a chance to see my family,” Cusaac stated. 

Marshall’s favorite memories of Thanksgiving are all tied to his family’s preparation of the actual feast.

“We season, we cut, we stir, we fuss all while ‘Mom’ scolds us about how we’re preparing some of her specialties, and we still manage to have a great time and enjoy one another!”

Cusaac’s favorite meal to prepare is his famous lasagna, although he rarely prepares it. What excites him the most about it is the unique flavor and twist that he adds to lasagna.

You may be used to a plain and simply prepared pan of lasagna, but, for Marshall Cusaac, lasagna is a production. There is a series of steps that he must complete to prepare the dish and there is specific chronological order that the steps must occur in.

While at Hampton, Cusaac was a member of the Beta Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. as well as Student Special Services, now known as Student Support Services.

Post-graduation, Cusaac was a flight attendant for a major American airline, Trans World Airlines (TWA), for 6 years. This career allowed him to travel the world and to gain exposure to a plethora of cultures.

Cusaac includes; sautéed mushrooms, sautéed spinach, pork pepperoni, ricotta cheese, feta cheese, ground turkey, a series of spices, oregano, basil, and his secret herb that adds the perfect blend of flavor that will linger on your taste buds for a week.

He learned about one of his special ingredients of adding pepperoni to the lasagna from his experience as a flight attendant.

While at Hampton, Marshall’s favorite day of the week was Fried Chicken Sunday’s. But, once a semester he skipped out on his favorite day at the cafeteria and prepared a T-bone steak in the toaster oven that he kept in his dorm room.

His creativity and resourcefulness played a pivotal role in his love for cooking.

“Food brings life to gatherings. I love when I’m able to prepare a dish with love and skill and in return I am shown appreciation that allows them to keep coming back for more.”

Cusaac gains his inspiration to cook from watching PBS, The Cooking Channel and Food Network faithfully every Saturday and continues to learn more about the world of food.

Scholars setting the standard at Hampton University

(Thomas (left) and Johnson (right) prepare for their next journey.) Brittany Bailey
(Thomas (left) and Johnson (right) prepare for their next journey.) Brittany Bailey

Averi Collins | Features Editor

Excitement has been buzzing throughout the Psychology Department at Hampton University because two of its students have been named finalists for prestigious scholarships. Tanesha Johnson, a senior psychology major from Yorktown, Virginia is a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship, while Ivana Thomas, a senior psychology major from Durham, North Carolina as a semi-finalist for the Schwarzman Scholarship.

Both have been preparing since the beginning of the school year, if not earlier, for these opportunities.

“Tanesha and Ivana represent the best of the Psychology Department,” said psychology professor Adam Johnson. “They are sweet, outgoing and responsible. I am not surprised at all that they made it this far in the scholarship process.”

Johnson and Thomas were coached through the process by Dr. Sabin Duncan the Director of the Freddye T. Davy Honors College. Both have total support from the university and their parents.

Veronica Johnson, Tanesha’s mother stated, “We are just elated that Tanesha is a finalist for the prestigious Rhodes scholarship. She is such a determined young lady and her possibilities are limitless.”

 Johnson’s mother continued on to say, “As parents you always want the best for your children so you do the best you can and pray that some of the lessons carry them forward in life. Tanesha has gone beyond the goals that she has set for herself and this is just another step in her journey.”

Similarly, the chair of the psychology department, Leona Johnson, gave words of praise to the finalists on behalf of the entire department.

 “The department extends congrats to our psychology majors, Tanesha and Ivana for their phenomenal accomplishments,” said Leona Johnson.

Thomas and Johnson practiced for their interviews for an entire week with faculty on campus. The interviews for the scholarships will start on Thursday, November 19 for Thomas and Friday, November 20 for Johnson.

 Johnson will be traveling to Indiana to interview for the Rhodes Scholarship and Thomas will travel to New York to interview.

By the end of the weekend, both will know if they are winners for the scholarships. The scholarship finalists are also excited and surprised by their success in the scholarship world.

Although Thomas is elated that she is a semi-finalist for the Schwarzman Scholarship, she is not one to boast about her success. “I am humbled and beyond grateful for this opportunity. I believe the chance to pursue this degree on the other side of the world is in line with my life’s mission of expanding human understanding and empathy across seemingly ‘opposite groups.’”

There have been over 200 years worth of Rhodes Scholars and the scholarship is globally respected as a means to study abroad for higher education. Scholars who win the scholarships are awarded a two to three year, all expense paid graduate study at the University of Oxford, in Oxford, England.

Approximately 1,000 scholars in the United States receive a university endorsement for the Rhodes scholarship by their undergraduate institutions. Then 200 of the 1,000 are chosen to interview and finally 32 students from all over the U.S. are named Rhodes Scholarship Recipients and can study in England.   

This is the first year that the Schwarzman Scholarship is being awarded. If Thomas wins, she will not only be a part of the first group of winners for the scholarship, but she will also be the first winner from Hampton University. She will set the bar high for the ones to come after her.

The Shwarzman Scholarship winners will receive an all-expense paid graduate education in Beijing at Tsinghua University for one year. This university is one of China’s top institutions.

The scholarship selects only 100 students for this opportunity and within the year of study the students are completely immersed in Chinese culture. The classes are taught in English in different areas of study such as public policy, economics, business and International Studies.

As both individuals complete their journey for these prestigious scholarships, the university wishes Thomas and Johnson the best of luck.

Many faculty members that have come in contact with these two brilliant women speak highly of them and have the confidence that they will make it.

As Dr. Leona Johnson stated in regards to the girls accomplishments “The best is yet to come.”

Fedor Shirin’s transition from Russia to Hampton University



Mion Edwards | Staff Writer

When you first come into contact with Fedor Shirin, a 5-year MBA major and Hampton University tennis player from Russia, he may just look like a tall, athletic, gentlemen, but with further conversation he is so much more.

When speaking to Shirin, he goes back to the time when he first came to America. He was surrounded by the loud noises of Brooklyn, New York’s bustling streets, carrying a suitcase with a handle that broke in the midst of him trying to locate the bus to Hampton, Virginia.

“I almost got lost… where is the bus station?” Fedor said as he looked for the bus stop to come to his new “Home by the sea,” Hampton University. After a gruelingly long flight from his home in Novosibirsk, Russia, Shirin was more than excited to arrive on Hampton’s campus. The journey to America was a long one for him starting in a suburban town in Russia.

“The first time I picked up a tennis racket I was 5-years-old and I became serious about tennis when I was 13.” Fedor described the neighborhood where he grew up. “My brother would tell me stories about our neighborhood. It was a dangerous area, that had drugs and crime,” he said. With guidance from his family, Shirin stayed on the straight and narrow path. While in high school, he was eager to accept a scholarship to come to America and receive an education.

With his application to Hampton University he sent video reel of his best tennis matches and was accepted not only to Hampton University, but Hampton’s tennis team as well. Once on campus, Fedor showed his commitment to the Hampton’s tennis team by playing in nation-wide matches. As the number five best performing player on his team he also enjoys supporting and bonding with his team.

“I organize activities outside of the matches so we can bond and continue to have school spirit.” As Fedor continues through Hampton he has come to love the students and the environment he is in. “In Russian culture it may take two years for them to open up but, the people here are friendly and open,” joked Shirin. “When people are friendly and open with me, I can open up to them.”

Shirin continued on to talk about his favorite thing about Hampton University, “I like being in a completely different culture. I wanted to come to an HBCU.”

Shirin relates to the Hampton student body in more ways than people may know. He has a genuine love for music. “I play the guitar and the piano. I do like Hip Hop as well. In Russia, they tried to have Hip Hop music, but Russian Hip hop is terrible.” The Russian resident assistant at Winona Hall, not only desires to leave his mark in Hampton athletics, but also on through fashion and social media culture on campus. Shirin is the founder and owner of his business “Shirin” which produces handmade custom t-shirts.

He describes his business as “… having your own masterpiece, I want to promote uniqueness through my clothing.” Fedor has more projects coming soon with “Shirin, to stay updated follow “Shirin” on Instagram: @brandshirin.

In addition, to being a business owner Fedor also has a Youtube channel named @Enjoylanguages, it is a collection of videos that he uses to bridge gaps between different cultures. One of his videos he teaches Russian language to English speaking people. “My most popular video so far is, what Russians actually think about Americans. It has gotten the most responses.”

Fedor believes the merging of different cultures is an experience everyone should have whether that is his friends back home in Russia or informing others through his YouTube videos worldwide. He is a true testament that learning and understanding a new culture can bring new experiences and understandings.

While being at Hampton Fedor has learned many things, such as, “If you don’t struggle in life, you’re not living life”, he goes on to say that you have to work hard for anything you want in life.  He says his purpose in life is simple, “My purpose is to change the world and make it better than the way I found it.”

Hampton’s ant man: Dr. Dash and his interest in insects

(Dr. Dash)
(Dr. Dash)

Nysah Warren | Staff Writer

The study of insects always intrigued Dr. Shawn Dash. As a child, he collected insects, snakes, turtles and other outdoor creatures. “They’re kind of creepy looking, but they do really cool things,” said Dr. Dash referring to insects. Dr. Dash is originally from Baltimore County, Maryland. He studied undergrad at the University of Delaware where he double majored in entomology—the study of ants—and wildlife ecology.

He received his masters from Louisiana State University and he got his Ph.D. at the University of Texas. While in college, Dash did a lot of research. During undergrad he volunteered with graduate students. He did not always study insects, however. “I was originally really interested in birds,” said Dash. “But getting up really, really early as an undergrad to study birds was really hard.”

Dash interest in ants emerged when a professor gave him a project in the study of ants. Dr. Dash has been studying the evolution of a type of ant called hypoponera—little ant—for about 11 years. He says that in the new world, meaning North America to South America, there are about 60 species of hypoponera. Dash looks at the specie’s diversity and its evolutionary relationships.

He is the only one thus far that has looked at these ant species and knows that they exist. “As you start to research things, you find out that there is a lot of stuff not known,” Dr. Dash commented. Dash says people are not quite sure of what the hypoponera ants do, and their place in the ecosystem.

“I’m going to name one species after Dr. Harvey because of him doing stuff with the environment, pushing stem [and] being supportive of environmental issues,” said Dash.

Currently, Dash is in the process of researching ants in Virginia. His research will help learn what ants are common to the area, what threats they pose, which species are endangered, the distribution of pest ants and a multitude of other important information. He includes undergraduate students in his research to teach them how to research like scientists and to discover the various ants that are present in Virginia.

“Knowing what is here, you can see how it’s changed and potentially protect those that are here,” said Dash. While many may not see the purpose of ants in our ecosystem, Dash lists many purposes that ants serve. He says there are about 12,000 known species of ants. “Ants are going to be major predators in the ecosystem,” said Dash, “so they’re eating other insects.”

He also says ants aerate the soil when they burrow to build their colonies which keeps the earth fertile and rich for plants to grow. They spread seeds and serve as food to other that may only eat ants. “Without ants, a lot of ecosystems are going to fall apart,” said Dash.

He said his research has been funded by himself and Nano HU. Dash has applied for other grants, but is awaiting to hear back on them.  The research he says, with the help of students and more grants, should take about two to four years. Dr. Dash says that if students want to partake in the research they can email him at shawn.dash@hamptonu.edu.

UnSCRIPTed Beauty of The Week: Maya Edmond

(Maya Edmond)
(Maya Edmond)

Kadidja Dosso | Staff Writer

Hampton University is known for  cultivating the most beautiful women in the world. It is a place where young women can flourish in so many ways and, if they are daring enough, can unapologetically allow their intelligence, dedication and perseverance shine from within.

Maya Edmond is a first year professional pharmacy student at Hampton University from Leesburg, Virginia. She is the eldest of three children and a fine product of two Hamptonians.

Edmond was born in Sterling, Virginia and moved to Leesburg when she was in the third grade. Leesburg is a small suburb that is 40 minutes outside of Washington, D.C. Although, it is predominantly white, there is plenty of diversity that can be found.

Edmond shared what it was like growing up in this unique city. “In Leesburg, a majority of the people are very spoiled, have a lot of money, and never had to work for anything. I’d watch these ritzy rich kids drive down the street in their brand new Mercedes Benz as if they didn’t have a care in the world but really were struggling with many problems in their home and from within themselves.”

Edmond’s parents made sure she knew the importance of hard work, respect and giving back because of their great success from their humble beginnings. Edmond said, “We never got everything that we wanted, even though my parents may have had the means to do so. They instilled in us the true meaning of hard work.”

Having the natural ability to work hard and the willingness to help others are the main reasons that Maya decided she would like to get a career in a community driven field called Compound Pharmacy. Compound Pharmacy focuses on tailoring medicine to meet the specific needs of the patient.

While in the eleventh grade Maya had a strange, but severe, reaction to pain medicine she was given after a jaw surgery. The drugs caused her to be awake for 72 hours straight. She contacted her surgeon, primary doctor and the nurses, but no one was able to help. It was not until she contacted her community pharmacist that she was able to find out why her body reacted the way that it did.

It was at this moment that Edmond knew she wanted to be a Compound Pharmacist. She knew the pharmacy program is very competitive and quite complex, but maintaining excellence both inside and outside of the classroom was nothing new to Maya.

Maya graduated from her high school in the top 10 percent of her graduating class with a 4.2 GPA. After her very first year at Hampton, she earned a 4.1 GPA and ended her second year with a 3.98. She has been on the Dean’s list since her very first semester.

Maya’s stellar grades allowed her to receive full scholarship for her first two years as an undergraduate and earned more money that covers her next three years at Hampton. She has earned the Hampton University Trustee Scholarship that covers tuition, the Lilly Endowment Scholarship for earning the highest GPA in her Pharmacy graduating class, and a recurring scholarship from the Hampton University Northern Virginia Alumni Association Scholarship for $2,000.

She has been very involved on campus since she arrived freshman year. Freshman year she worked with the Freshman Executive Council to help plan and execute the class events that occurred, as well as Women’s Caucus to empower the women on campus.

Maya currently holds the position of class Secretary, is a member of the American Pharmacy Association (APhA), and is the Chairperson of the first ever Mr. Pharmacy Pageant.

“I’d rather be loved for who I am rather than hated for who I’m not,” said Edmond. As Maya continues to let the beauty that lays within her be effervescent, and continues to work hard in her service, school work, and involvement on campus, she is determined to be unapologetically beautiful.

Join the movement where “Hate Won’t Win”


Mion Edwards | Staff Writer

Alana Simmons, a Newport News, Virginia native is the epitome of what it means to be passionate about a cause.

The former Miss Virginia is creating a legacy built on love. Her campaign “Hate won’t win”, grew out of the killing of nine church members by Dylann Roof at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church June 17, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina.

One of the God fearing victims included Ms. Simmons’ grandfather, Reverend Daniel Simmons. Alana and her family watched the coverage of the story unfold on different news outlets. “I was in a state of shock” said Simmons. “He knew it was a historically black church. He wanted to start a race war”, said Simmons in reference to the killer Dylan Roof. Even though the killer’s intentions were malicious, the town of Charleston did not result to violence, but remained peaceful.

“When I went to Charleston, I was fearful of it being a race war; however, because of what happened people made an extra effort to speak to other people who were different.” The positivity continued with support from sympathizers nationwide of different races, different ages and different religious denominations. Simmons’ belief in love conquering all was tested when she and her family had the opportunity to confront the killer. Simmons and her family could have said negative things to the killer, but instead they forgave him of his actions.

The current Miss Black Virginia USA said “I wanted him to know that he did not have control of my feelings, emotions or actions. He had the wrong church, the wrong people and the wrong city.” The family continued to walk on a path of faith and forgiveness because even though their grandfather died at the hands of hate, they knew love conquered all hatred.

While confronting the killer, Simmons did not know that she was being filmed by CNN reporters. While talking to Roof she uttered the words “Hate won’t win.”

 “Before I could even reach the car hate won’t win was everywhere.” The phrase “hate won’t win” immediately began flooding timelines, dashboards, and mainstream social media within minutes.

Ms. Simmons’ phrase “Hate won’t win” was becoming a movement, a movement not restricted to just the U.S. but internationally as well. “We don’t have the power of national media but we do have the power of social media, this is how the Hate Won’t Win non-profit was started,” says Ms. Simmons. As the #HateWontWin began to form, new ideas were cultivated out of the movement.

A social media challenge emerged. The challenge was to do something nice for someone that is different from you or you may not know that well, to create a since of community and unity. Hundreds of people participated in this campaign and shared their stories via social media. The social media challenge caused an out pour of unity and love.

The movement Ms. Simmons created is one she defines as a movement of the heart. “Politicians don’t have the power to change people.”

She explains how African Americans during the Jim Crow era fought for laws and marched for freedom and equal rights. However, now that these laws are in place some people still hold prejudice thoughts and views and instead of embracing diversity they shun it.

This is why Simmons believes the new method of changing the heart. “No one culture can survive in this country on their own.” Simmons was honored at Hampton University’s 73rd Opening Convocation with the Presidential Citizenship Award for the impact her non-profit organization has had on the nation.

You can follow the movement and get more information about how you can help the organization on the website hatewontwinmovement.com. In August she plans to run for Miss Black Virginia USA. She wants her legacy to be one of inspiration.

“I want to be remembered as a leader who inspired other people to be good people”.


Going Up on a ‘TwoZZDay’


Nysah Warren | Staff Writer

Growing up, Chazz Owens never imagined that he would become a designer.  

As a senior electrical engineering major from Chesapeake, Virginia, Owens discovered he had a passion for  entrepreneurship and design when he began customizing his own personal hats.

“I would usually customize my own hats like I used to make ‘one of ones,” said Owens. “And I was on YouTube one time and I saw an interview of a guy who made $60,000 a month making hats.”

After watching the interview on YouTube, Owens calculated how much money that man made in a year and was surprised. Owens decided to experiment in the design world and design custom made hats. Owens came up with his brand name, “TwoZZ” and got to work designing hats. He began selling his hats in April 2015, and they could only be bought on campus.

When he first launched his line of hats, he only had 12 physical hats. The number has grown since then.  “Ever since then it’s kind of just been expanding on its own” said Owens. He said he decided to do a line of hats because there are only a few out there. “A hat line is kind of different. Everybody wears hats, but you don’t see too many hat lines besides the sports teams,” said Owens.

Some of his hat designs are generic and simple, however, there are a few that have a deeper, often historical meaning.“The hat I’m wearing now is a Malcolm X tribute hat,” said Owens. His hat line includes a vast variety of colors, designs and fits for both men and women, the most popular being the baseball fit.  Owens’ plan is to eventually expand his brand to include more than just hats.

“I don’t plan on doing hats forever, I just want[ed] to make the start of the brand,” said Owens.  Although designing hats was not originally in his future,  he chose to design headgear instead of clothing because he believes that clothing trends go out of style quickly. With that, he also wants to eventually incorporate aspects of his engineering background into his line.

He said, “I’m still an engineering major so it can go into technology.” More specifically, he would like to create watches similar to the Apple Watch to compliment his hat line.  Currently, Owens does the majority of the creative and business decisions on his own. He is not making a profit on his hats yet. The money he makes gets recycled back into his brand, to help the company grow bigger.

One of his biggest role models is Pharrell Williams. He says Williams is a major influence in his life because they both come from the same area. Owens said one of his most successful business ventures was during the rapper Future’s concert at the Hampton Convocation center this fall.  

One of his friend’s threw his hat onto the stage and the rapper picked it up and started dancing with it. Owens emphasizes the power of networking when giving advice to others looking to start and expand a brand. “You never know who knows the same person that you do” said Owens “So I just say take this advantage.”

Owens says he will be releasing new hats in December 2015 and in February 2016 for his Black History collection. Along with this, he will be debuting his website at the end of the year. If anyone would like to purchase a hat, they can contact him through Instagram @chazztwozz.

Breeon Buchanan beats the odds at Hampton University

(Breeon Buchanan)
(Breeon Buchanan)

Mion Edwards | Staff Writer

Breeon Buchanan’s dynamic presence is undeniable. This charismatic 20-year-old man grew up in North Philadelphia, where he experienced the growing pains of a rough neighborhood and living in a single parent home with his brother.

“My mom was raising two boys on her own, My community was like a crab barrel of people trying to pull other people down to reach to the top,” said Buchanan. Due to this unfortunate community dynamic, Buchanan always dreamed of a more positive environment for younger individuals to grow up in. One that was conducive of success.

It may come as a shock that Buchanan was timid child in his early years. “I was shy growing up. I got bullied, because I stood out.” Also, with racial profiling being prevalent in his neighborhood, Buchanan was almost shot twice and has been stopped and frisked in front of his entire neighborhood. To this day Buchanan still questions the situation, “The [police] treated me like I was not human. What if I was the next Trayvon Martin? What if they really shot me?” Despite the negativity Buchanan faced, he did not let that stop him from surrounding himself with positive role models. His mother and best friend are his biggest supporters for all of his endeavors.

Buchanan is the creator and visionary for two initiatives he has developed for his community. “Too Busy Dreaming” is his first initiative that he uses to create positive music and uplift his audience. His second initiative, “215 on the Rise” is a youth-run theater organization that allows others to display their talents, such as poetry, music and acting.

Buchanan not only spreads optimism in Philadelphia, but at his “Home by the Sea” as well. His vivacious personality has even landed him the opportunity to host the coveted “Battle of the States” competition in March 2015, as well as the Hampton Idol competition during Homecoming Week. However, during the 2014-2015 spring semester, Buchanan was awestruck with the news that to continue attending Hampton, he needed to pay the university susbtantially more money than he had.

Being the ambitious person he is, Buchanan explored all the avenues he could think of to produce the money, never settling on the idea of not returning to Hampton.

“I felt a little reluctant when I didn’t receive any callbacks from the jobs I applied too, but I talked to my best friend Zeph and I decided to make a Gofundme account… I prayed about it, then I did it.” Within the first hour he received  $170. He also handed out flyers in his community and at church.  By the end of the summer, he reached his goal and made more than he needed to pay Hampton on Gofundme.

The Hamptonian believes he overcame his obstacle with his faith in the Lord. “I don’t want to take the credit, it was everybody who believed in me and most importantly it was God.” Buchanan encourages other students who may find themselves in a similar position to not let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.

“Find a solution and do everything you can to make [finding the resources] happen. Your [desire] to succeed should be greater than your will to breathe.” He had faith that things that things would work in his favor and that God would turn his situation into a blessing.

Buchanan believes that his situation made him a better person and more appreciative of his education, and he does not believe that anyone should take their education for granted.

“This education is not given to us, it is earned and no amount of money in this world can buy you knowledge. Don’t take anything for granted because it can easily be taken away.”

With last summer being a humbling and successful experience Buchanan has a greater appreciation for Hampton University, its current students and alumni.

The Hampton community lifted him up and helped him come back to his “Home By the Sea.” The legacy Buchanan wants to leave is to touch everyone that he comes into contact with through his life experiences and his initiatives.