Friday, May 27, 2011

The Wall of Scholars

Newman Scholar portraits hang on the wall at Lyke House.

Before the seniors at the Atlanta University Center marched to the sound of “Pomp and Circumstance” and the underclassmen returned home, Lyke House – the Catholic Center at Atlanta University announced its 2011 Newman Scholar. Since 1992 a Newman Scholar has been named at the end of each school year. The student members of Lyke House recommend three people to the chaplain, Father Edward Branch. Then Father Branch chooses the candidate who best exemplifies the qualities of service, scholarship and spirituality.

This year Christopher Lamb was the center’s twenty-first Newman Scholar. The 21-year-old native of Portsmouth, Va., is a Clark Atlanta University student majoring in film. The honor was bestowed upon him on May 1 following the 10:15 a.m. Mass. “It was humbling to get the honor,” said Lamb. “It shows the love and respect I earned from my peers and Father Branch,”

“He’s constant in his service at the Catholic Center. In terms of leadership and growth development, he’s outstanding,” said Father Branch speaking about his selection of Lamb. “He has developed a confidence when it comes to talking about his faith and defending it around campus, especially in the face of ignorant and false accusations made about Catholics.”

For his or her recognition the Newman Scholar receives a small stipend and a sitting for a hand-drawn charcoal portrait by artist James Adair. Adair has drawn all 21 Newman Scholars. The first seven were done from a photograph, but since then the rest have been live sittings. Adair is an Atlanta native and retired public school art teacher who has also been a professional artist for 50 years. “It’s always a pleasure and a personal test as an artist,” said Adair. “It’s a successful endeavor when I have the opportunity to engage in conversation and talk to the student.” Through conversation with the students he is able to acquire various personality traits, strengths and interests, which he uses beyond their physical appearance, to compose the drawing. Each sitting takes an average of 45 minutes to an hour.

Artist James Adair draws 2011 Newman Scholar Christopher Lamb.

Nineteen framed drawings (two are still in the process of being framed) of Newman Scholars hang on the wall of Lyke House’s Sister Thea Bowman Library. Many of the past Newman Scholars have gone on to earn Master’s and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees like Francis Insaidoo, who earned a doctorate in biochemistry last year at the University of Notre Dame. Alessandra Ennett-Shepard, the very first Newman Scholar, received her Ph.D. in physics and currently works for Eli Lilly and Company.

Others like Desmond Drummer and John Phillips have gone on to pursue religious vocations. Drummer is a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Atlanta and studies at Mundelein Seminary near Chicago. Phillips is known today as Brother John Paul Phillips, an Order of Preachers, Dominican friar who is pursuing a Masters of Divinity and Theology degree at the Aquinas Institute of Theology.

Michael Alexander, Staff Photographer

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