The Rhodes Scholarship is one of the most prestigious scholarships that allows awardees the chance to study at Oxford University in England. Only 32 Americans are awarded the scholarship every year, and this time, a fellow Portlander received this award.
JaVaughn T. “JT” Flowers was a student at Lincoln High School. He did not perform well academically and even stayed a fifth year in high school at a boarding school in Connecticut. His efforts payed off, and he went on to study at Yale, founding an organization called A Leg Even to assist low-income Yale students by offering mentoring and tutoring services as well as connections to faculty. During his years at the Ivy League school, he studied in six different countries to examine the various cultures and politics. His thesis investigated Portland’s sanctuary city policy for immigrants undocumented in the United States. His academic excellence also resulted in receiving the Truman scholarship in 2016, which gives gifted students graduate support to help them prepare for government or public service careers.
He currently works for Representative Earl Blumenaur in Portland. “I’m essentially getting paid to learn about all the incredible work going on across all these different silos in Portland,” Flowers said in an interview with The Oregonian.
The competition for the Rhodes Scholarship is intense and involves a difficult, time-consuming application process. Finalists were flown out to Seattle for several events, including standing in front of a seven-judge panel. Rhodes Scholars have their tuition and all expenses covered to study for two or three years at Oxford.
Flowers was floored by the news. “I really don’t know how to attach words to it. I’m really at a loss. I’m so humbled.”
Blumenaur was thrilled by Flowers’ success. In an interview with the Associated Press, he stated, “He’s just an outstanding candidate for the Rhodes. He’s a very quick study, very good wth people, an incisive listener who is able to translate that back to people who contact him and to the staff in our office. We’re excited for him, and we’re excited for what he’s going to do when he’s back.
Flowers plans to earn degrees in Comparative Social Policy and Public Policy in order to give back to his hometown, Portland. “Portland is home for me and will always be home for me. I was born and raised here in the heart of Northeast Portland. I want to set up permanent shop here. I’ll be gone for a couple years, but then I’ll be right back here.”
Working in the medical field is certainly stressful and reducing the strain of saving lives is much needed by doctors, nurses, and other such workers. Most will turn to the average stress relievers such as exercise and reading; however, a certain group of doctors joins together once a month to blow off steam in in a much more nonconventional way: through a band called the Providence Hospital Stage Band.
The band formed in the 1960’s and has remained strong in Portland, Oregon for over half a century. Larry Morrell, the music director of the band, said in an interview with Oregon Live: “They [the players] all started playing music in high school. Maybe they were in a rock group or the school band. At a certain point, they had to get serious about making a living. They knew music wasn’t the way. They were drawn to medicine and went to college and then to medical school. They never lost their love of music.”
Dr. Mark Loveless, a guitarist in the band, is a testament to how the band has brought doctors together to diffuse the stress while enjoying a much-loved hobby. Loveless was part of a team working on HIV research. “Early in your career, you quickly find out you can’t do it all alone,” he stated. “In our HIV research, I was part of a great team. When we did something good for a patient, the team celebrated. I feel the same way when I don’t make mistakes in the bad. I’ve done my part.”
The band has a variety of gigs around the Portland area, including a dance party for disabled adults and a prom for dental students. The Providence Hospital Stage Band will be performing on December 2nd at the Oregon Convention Center in the Providence Festival of Trees.
Veteran hiker Nathan Mitchell has walked trails in Peru, Panama, and all over the Pacific Northwest. So, when Mitchell ventured into the Mt. Hood wilderness for a solo hike, his family expected him to return safely. The weather, however, had other plans: wind and rain forced Mitchell to seek shelter and attempt a retreat to his car. Ultimately, he was forced to spend the night on a ridge above the Salmon River drainage.
When Mitchell woke, he couldn’t find the trail. “Mt Hood is a jungle,” the hiker’s father explained. “Once you get in there you can get disoriented because everything looks the same.” For the next five days, Mitchell battled trench foot and fatigue while he waited for help to arrive.
It did arrive, in a big way. Over 100 volunteers joined Mitchell’s friends and family to comb the area around his vehicle. Becky, Mitchell’s sister, described the moment when rescuers finally located her missing brother: “We just ran as fast as we could,” she said. “We slid down the ravine. It really was a beautiful moment.”
In the wake of his ordeal, Mitchell displayed the resilience which carried him through four long, cold nights. “He walked out himself,” Becky explained. “He didn’t want to be carried.” Mitchell’s parents, meanwhile, felt joy and gratitude for the support they received while waiting for news about their son. His mother, Gay, summed up the family’s feelings about the reunion with Mitchell: “It truly is an amazing miracle.”
Beaverton couple, Melanie Blake and Brian Cook met over MySpace ten years ago when Melanie reached out to him. “I lived in Connecticut and he was out here and I wanted friends before I got out here,” she explained in an interview with KOIN 6 News.
However, soon after they began dating, Melanie was diagnosed with both thyroid cancer and a brain tumor. She tried to break up with him because of the diagnosis, but he refused to leave her side. “I didn’t want Brian to go through all that,” she stated. “I didn’t want him to be with someone who was sick all the time, but he wouldn’t let me.”
After multiple surgeries that included a craniotomy, she was left unable to talk or perform basic functions; even so, Brian stuck by her side. After eight months of intense rehab, Melanie was finally herself again.
On October 26, 2016, the couple got engaged. Unfortunately, several weeks later, Melanie discovered the tumor had grown back even larger, and she was started on chemotherapy and radiation.
Even with such a heavy diagnosis, the couple was still able to have their dream wedding with the help of Wish Upon A Wedding, which is a non-profit organization that provides weddings for couples with serious health issues. A spokesperson from the non-profit, Kasey Conyers stated, “We are honored to have this opportunity to assist such a deserving and loving couple.” Local vendors also donated their services as well, adding to the amazing generosity shown to the couple.
When discussing how she copes with her health, Melanie stated that “You just need to love everyday because you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow . . . I’m so happy. Yeah, I’m so happy.”
Over 800 teenagers have been participating in a work camp and have been working on 104 different projects throughout northern and central Virginia this summer. The Diocese of Arlington is sponsoring this camp.
“I didn’t even think we had people like this in the world anymore,” said Kevin Curtis. Curtis, 59, has been the beneficiary of the teenagers’ hard work. They’ve built him a deck extension and a ramp so he can get out of the house. Due to his disability, he has been unable to leave without being carried by two strong men for the past 15 years.
“It’s so wonderful to have somebody come to you and help you. I’ve never reached out for any kind of help in my life,” Curtis said. He has multiple health issues stemming from a car accident he suffered in 2003. “I crushed every bone in my body, in my chest. Both collarbones were broken. All my ribs were broken. My back was broken. My leg was broken in several places.”
Contractors oversee all the teens’ projects but the teenagers do the majority of the work.
“We have to dig the holes first, put the posts in, then the concrete,” said Monica Castro. It is her third summer participating in the work camp. “All three years I’ve been building decks. So I’ve gotten pretty good at the whole ‘dig the holes, mix the concrete, pour the cement and let it set.’ And then the measurements that come afterwards.”
“I’m so excited! I’ve got a doctor’s appointment…that I won’t miss because I will be able to get out of the house,” said Curtis. He recalled that after he met the kids, he bent his head. “And I prayed. I asked God to bless them all, deeply and fully.”
The deck and ramp were completed in time for Curtis’s appointment.
The Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy recently published an article which argues that, under the fourteenth amendment of the US constitution, unborn children are considered persons. In the article, Harvard law student Joshua Craddock challenges both pro-choice philosophy and pro-life interpretation of the Constitution. He sums up both as “constitutionally unsound.”
Craddock looks at the Supreme Court’s pro-choice decisions since the 1973 case Roe v. Wade and their supposed refusal to decide whether or not an unborn child is a human being with human rights. He states that the justices considered other matters to be more important than this decision and thus decided to take no action on the matter. Craddock also examines the idea through the lens of pro-life legal scholars, who either claim that the Constitution doesn’t say anything about abortion at all or that it is important to consider the issue from an “originalist” perspective, which advocates that people should look at what the Constitution meant to those who wrote it and interpret it accordingly.
Craddock then argues that people on both sides of the abortion issue misinterpret the Constitution. He uses the fourteenth amendment to prove that the Constitution’s original meaning includes an unborn child’s right to life. It says that no state shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” He then provides three pieces of historical context to back up his argument: what the word “person” meant at the time, the anti-abortion laws of that period, and what the people who wrote the amendment said about it.
Craddock concludes that states that allow abortion violate the Constitution. An example of this statement is if a state allows abortion but prosecutes murderers of other age demographics, it denies the unborn the equal protection of the laws. “Congress or the courts must intervene,” he writes. “The Fourteenth Amendment was to be a new birth of freedom for all human beings.”