William R. Harvey, president of Hampton University, has crafted a superior manual that every potential college student should read and in most cases implement.
“A Guide to Student Success in College” (Kendell Hunt Publishing, 169 pgs., $24.99) is a masterfully compiled roadmap for students and parents from the approach to the college admission process to important elements in the early college experience.
His guidance is both personal and educational.
Perhaps, Harvey’s most significant section reveals “significant life skills for success.”
Personal qualities “are listening, discipline, loyalty, perseverance and civility,” Harvey writes. “These qualities along with the character traits of honesty, integrity, respect, trustworthiness and responsible personal behavior are life skills which will lead to success in one’s personal and professional lives.”
President of Hampton University for the past 44 years, Harvey has become the national leader not only among historically Black colleges and universities, but also a successful, prominent, nationally recognized academic administrator.
It is with this background that his thoughts and visions of and for collegiate students becomes more meaningful.
Since finances are, perhaps, the most challenging aspect of college education for parents and students, Harvey spends some important time on what federal student aid programs are available, including Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants and Teacher Education Assistance for College and High Education (TEACH) Grants.
There are many more federal programs such as work-study programs and direct subsidized loans.
With many of the loan programs putting parents and students in a significant debt situation, Harvey takes the time to offer a series of solutions, some controversial, that he sees as important in helping to reduce and/or eliminate massive student debts.
Currently, he explains, student loans can be used to pay off car loans, support vacation travel or help pay family bills.
“Clearly, the student loan program was not designated for this purpose,” Harvey stresses. The loans should only be awarded for direct cost of college attendance, such as room, board, tuition and fees.
Harvey also takes the opportunity to examine various aspects of today’s life that have caused problems. He is concerned about the incivility in politics and the media. Again, he offers solutions — a three-step solution to be specific.
There needs to be a spending cap of $20,000 on any one candidate by an individual, their surrogates or their organizations, including their businesses. Next, there need to be term limits for Congress and the Supreme Court, he urges. Third, there need to be major changes in the way the media operates.
“The cable news organizations should be communication vessels, not propaganda machines. One rarely sees straightforward, impartial news anymore,” he says.
Likewise, “some news outlets allow reporters to inject their biases and past negative personal experiences into a present-day story,” Harvey adds.
This book provides experiences in modern-living and is valuable to many, many people in all walks of life, not necessarily just students. His personal quality traits are important to us all, regardless of our age, sex, or cultural background. Maybe the title of this book should be “William Harvey’s aid to coping with life’s experience.”
Harvey probably has one more book in him. He could write about his experiences at Hampton University — his successes and his failures. Such an introspective account would help college and university presidents and business executives across the country.
Entertaining Western novel
Harold Burton Meyers, a retired journalist and longtime Time magazine writer, has used his own western America experiences in a novel “A Hero of Brag” (The Smash-And-Grab Press, 324 pgs., $15) that captures the flavor of Mississippi and Texas in the post-Civil War decades.
Meyers, 97, now lives in Williamsburg, where one of his sons, Terry Meyers, professor of English emeritus at the College of William & Mary, has resided for decades.
The story of the book is as interesting as the story in the book itself.
In his retirement years, Meyers wrote the National Novella Award-winning “Geronimo’s Ponies” and, subsequently the University of Texas Press or possibly Texas Tech University Press became interested in this Meyers’ manuscript, his son Terry, recently explained.
Unfortunately, along came the 2008 depression, editors departed “and my Dad’s book was no longer under consideration,” he said. “My brother, Steven (of Richmond, Indiana), is a self-publishing novelist and took the manuscript and said he could publish it” through his Smash-and-Grab Press.
The Western saga is a case of braggadocios gone wild in a whole lifetime.
Amos Gower, a Mississippi teenager enlists in the Confederate Army at age 15; his war experience was a dismal failure, but he claims to have been a hero. Later, after impregnating a young girl, Minnie Wilkes, and marrying her, Gower suddenly finds himself the son-in-law of a real war hero.
After Maj. Wilkes dies, Gower gradually takes on the war images of his father-in-law and uses them in his own life. He brags about his war exploits and become a successful rancher in West Texas. Gower, however, runs into financial difficulties and loses his ranch.
Meyers’ wonderfully flowing prose, in a bright and light journalist’s style, carries the story line without the need of embellishments or any theatricals.
Gower’s own children and grandchildren always hears his false tales including the fact that Gen. Robert E. Lee pined medals on him for bravery. Much of his life is spent as a deputy sheriff, spending nightly drinking bouts in the jail where he is supposed to watch the inmates.
His wife never reconciles with him over their pre-wedding intimacy. She claimed her only recourse was to marry him. And their life, as it was, was marred thereafter. His bragging follows him all the way until his death.
This enjoyable, well written story, is entertaining, to say the least.