Tag: featured

“A Life I Love”: Open letters to my family during National Adoption Awareness Month


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Alissa Camplin (center) with her parents Norman (left) and Cris (right) (photo courtesy of Alissa Camplin)

Alissa Camplin, Arts and Entertainment Editor

I like to believe that I lead a fairly normal lifestyle.
I go to school full time to get a degree that I may not get a well-paying job for. I spend my Tuesday nights at Loco Mex for tacos and margaritas. I have an incredible dog named Liberty that I am obsessed with. I also am loved and supported by my family wholeheartedly and their light is guidance for most things I do.
The only difference? At the start of my life, my family had the chance to choose me. I am adopted, and both of my birth parents are dead.

My “story” is sad, but– in turn– my life is so, so, so happy.

To my birth mother:

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Alissa’s birth mother, Elva (photo courtesy of Alissa Camplin)

I’m sorry for the time I spent angry at you. For the times I assumed I was too much weight on your life, amidst your other decisions of drugs and alcohol. You never asked for me to be born. But to be fair, I didn’t ask for it either. I didn’t ask for my hair color to closely model yours or for our smiles to be the same. I didn’t ask to carry around the weight of wondering what I did wrong so much that my own mother couldn’t find the drive to keep me.

I also didn’t ask how you felt. How your heart must have ached to hug me for the last time before going home to an empty life and an empty house. I’ve learned that you couldn’t rationalize anything outside of your need for the next “fix.” You did what you had to, so for that, I say thank you.

Thank you for allowing me to have a second chance.
A life I would be proud of.
A life I love.
I think about you in the small moments of my life more than anything. During my morning coffee, I wonder how you liked yours and try to find a connection.

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Alissa as a baby with her birth mother, Elva (photo courtesy of Alissa Camplin)

Were you like me and a “tons of sugar and creamer” kind of person, or did you prefer the dark and bitter taste of t

he real deal? Are these telling of our personalities? Did you like to dance? I love to dance. I’ll find myself jazzing around in my kitchen while James Taylor plays and think for a moment that you’re twirling beside me. Are we alike? Did you like to read and did you like to cook? Did sweet gestures make you tear up? What was your favorite color? Mine is glitter. Would you find my sense of humor funny? Do I make you proud? This is the question that I will forever come back to.
I live my life on the daily hoping that I do.


To my adoptive father:
There isn’t a moment in my life I remember you being anything less than a superhero. Acts of service isn’t your love language, but you knew it was mine. I will never forget mornings where I woke up to random breakfasts of toast and jelly or days you would leave me an extra dollar with my lunch for a dessert. You are the sweetest soul I have ever met, Dad.

I am in awe of the things that you do for me and the family you lead. You work tirelessly to ensure I have everything I need to live comfortably and happily. Remember the time I had to call you because my car had died in the Sonic parking lot and I didn’t have pants on? You came from Gadsden at 10 o’clock at night when you had to be up for work the next morning to change my battery and to take me to my apartment to grab shorts. I’ll never forget the look of disapproval on your face or the laugh that came soon after. Or the two hours and three trips to WalMart it took for us to figure out how to change the battery.

You were my first best friend and I have never been more proud of a title than I am to be your daughter. Thank you for teaching me to be fearless in my pursuit of what I want.

I owe everything I am to you.

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Alissa Camplin (center) with her parents, Norman and Cris at Southside High School’s Senior Night in 2013 (photo courtesy of Alissa Camplin)

To my adoptive mother:
I’m sorry for the years I spent in my room, angry you didn’t tell me sooner that I was adopted. I’m sorry I fought you every step of the way when all you wanted to do was know I was safe. I was, and thanks to you, I am. I am safe in my choice to live my life confidently and independently, a trait that I learned from you. I am safe in who I am entirely because you always allowed me to be and accepted nothing less. I am safe because you love me fiercely enough that your voice could cause the trees outside to shake, but gently enough to lead me home for a date at Chili’s and a shopping trip to Birmingham.

Thank you for taking care of my baby body when I couldn’t breathe on my own or when I would have another withdrawal episode. Thank you for letting me sleep on your chest until way past acceptable. Thank you for never telling me no when I wanted to dance. Or play softball. Or swim. Or take karate. Thank you for allowing me to grow up in an environment when I could be anything I wanted to be, even if that meant a ballerina MLB’er that swam to first base and got her black belt on the way there. “The world is your oyster” is what you tell me constantly, but you gave above and beyond to ensure I had the whole sea.

Thank you for saving me when I didn’t know I needed it.

Adoption saves lives. It saved mine.


If you are interested in adoption please visit one of the following links: adoptionnetwork.com





Cocky for LGBTQ+: Cocky Pride Parade brings campus and community together

JSU students and community members gather on the TMB lawn for the first annual Cocky Pride Parade on Wednesday, November 1. (photo by Grace Cockrell/The Chanticleer)

Cassidy SmithStaff Writer

The rain couldn’t stop the proud from celebrating the first annual Cocky Pride Parade on Wednesday, November 1. A crowd of over 70 attendees convened in the Theron Montgomery Building’s lawn to celebrate their sexualities or to be an ally to those they love.

Many members of the LGBTQ+ community, whether they were students at JSU or Jacksonville community members, gathered for the event, which came to a head in the town square with a parade at 6 p.m. Many of the attendees held or wore flags, umbrellas, clothing, hats and posters portraying the rainbow, the symbol for gay rights and pride. Other attendees, at the request of the event planner, brought their dogs to march with them.

A student holds a poster that reads, “Too much blood has flown from the wrist of the children shamed for those they choose to kiss.” (photo by Grace Cockrell/The Chanticleer)

The event was hosted by JSU Students for Equality, a student organization on campus. Through promotional advertisement, like Facebook ads and flyers taped up in dorms and academic buildings, the organization was able to reach much of the student body to invite them to celebrate themselves.

“The Students for Equality are here for any historical minorities,” said Adrienne Swindle, the president of Students for Equality. “Women, African-American, anybody who has been historically oppressed is totally welcome. We are active for Women’s History Month, Black History Month, LGBT History month; that’s actually what this parade was organized to celebrate.”

She cited the comedy show and the women’s discussion panel, both held earlier this semester, as two events that successfully showcased a minority group.

Swindle invites any and all students of any minority group, whether it be LGBT, racial or gender minority, to come to the Students for Equality meetings that occur every other Wednesday from 7:00-8:30 p.m. in Brewer Hall room 100.

According to their JSU organization page: “JSU Students for Equality is committed to diversity and inclusion through providing resources and advocacy for students from historically marginalized populations. Our goal is to help retain and recruit these students while enhancing their experiences through programming, workshops, support groups, education and social events.”

Some participants in the Cocky Pride Parade brought rainbow flags like the one pictured above. (photo by Grace Cockrell/The Chanticleer)

The organization will next be hosting “Pet the Stress Away” during finals week, providing a way for students to de-stress with dogs from the League for Animal Welfare.

The Students for Equality organization can be contacted through Facebook or by emailing jsustudentsforequality@gmail.com.

See more pictures from Grace Cockrell below:

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U.N. representative talks education and activism

Katie Cline, Editor-in-Chief 

RESULTS Jacksonville, a local chapter of the national non-profit RESULTS, hosted its first meeting on Friday, November 3. The headliner was guest speaker Selmawit Adugna Bekele, an education and gender activist and Ethiopian United Nations representative.

Selmawit Bekele spoke at the inaugural meeting of RESULTS Jacksonville on Friday, November 3 on the 11th floor of the Houston Cole Library (photo via RESULTS Jacksonville/Facebook)

RESULTS is a non-partisan organization that “focuses on changing the system that puts people in positions of poverty by advocating to local and national government for changes,” according to Amanda Beals, RESULTS’ grassroots expansion officer. One of the group’s primary concerns is providing universal access to education for children in developing countries.

“I got to achieve what I wanted to achieve because of my education,” Bekele, who has degrees in both economic development and gender studies, said.

Bekele was born in raised in the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa and moved to the United States four years ago. A majority of Ethiopians live below the poverty line, meaning they make less than $1.25 per day, and cannot afford schooling for their children. Bekele’s family was fortunate in that she and her siblings were able to attend school.

“Both of my parents are educated, and they really prioritized our education,” Bekele said. “I had a neighbor who got polio. He never got the vaccine. He’s paralyzed now. But, because my mother is a nurse, I got the vaccine. The only thing that kept me from being a statistic was her education.”

Selmawit Bekele meets with media representatives after her presentation at RESULTS Jacksonville’s first meeting (Katie Cline/The Chanticleer).

After graduating college in Ethiopia, Bekele began teaching primary school, where she saw firsthand the hardships facing impoverished families: many of her students could not afford the pencils, paper and other school supplies necessary for their education. Young female students particularly struggled.

According to Bekele, there are 263 million children around the world who do not attend school, and many of them are girls. Girls who are not in school are more susceptible to contracting HIV/AIDS, being victims of street violence, human trafficking, child marriage and teen pregnancy and are more likely to die in childbirth and have children who die before the age of five. In South Sudan, a girl is more likely to die in childbirth than she is to finish secondary school.

Bekele is currently the U.N. representative for the Moremi Initiative, a Ghana-based, pan-African organization that meets with local African leaders to work together to prevent child marriage and other issues that affect children’s ability to go to school.

One program that Bekele and RESULTS work closely with is the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), which pairs developing countries and donor countries together with the goal of improving access to education. The member country, like Ethiopia or Kenya, devotes 20% of it national budget to education. If more funds are needed, the donor country, such as the U.S., the U.K., or Australia, “fill in the gaps.”

Programs for each country are tailored based on the country’s needs, Bekele explained. In Ethiopia, where the lack of physical school buildings and supplies are the main concern, GPE works to build schools and provide students with a sufficient environment. In Kenya, many girls cannot attend school while they are on their periods, because they do not have access to sanitary pads and menstrual supplies, so the GPE allocates funds for providing those materials. Other countries have instituted meal programs to combat malnutrition, which Beals says is a factor that keeps many children out of school.

The GPE is currently active in 65 countries and hopes to expand to over 80 countries in the next year.

Selmawit Bekele (left) and Amanda Beals (right) speak with the media following their presentation on Friday with Kristen Carlisle (center), the campus representative for RESULTS Jacksonville (Katie Cline/The Chanticleer).

“I am closer to the issues than any of the experts out there,” Bekele said when asked about why she got involved in her career of activism and politics, “[and] big passion makes more progress than facts and numbers.”

JSU’s RESULTS chapter formed in August 2017. It is now one of three chapters in the state; the other two are in Birmingham in Huntsville. Membership is open to students, faculty, staff and community members. Sociology professor Dr. Tina Deshotels is the faculty sponsor for the group; Allie Mosey serves as the community representative, and Kristen Carlisle serves as the campus representative. For more information on RESULTS, visit results.org, and for information on joining JSU’s chapter, contact Deshotels at tdeshotels@jsu.edu or Carlisle at kcarlisle@stu.jsu.edu or see the group’s Facebook page: RESULTS Jacksonville.


Gamecocks race past Murray State

Roc Thomas piled up 138 rushing yards and two touchdowns in Saturday’s victory over Murray State (JSU Athletics)

Daniel Mayes, Chanty Sports Reporter

After a bit of a rocky start that led to Jacksonville State trailing after the first quarter, the Gamecocks recovered to blow out Murray State 59-23 for their 30th consecutive Ohio Valley Conference victory on Saturday.

The story of the game, as has become usual for Jacksonville State, was their dominant defense.

The Gamecocks held the Racers to just 153 yards of total offense and -3 rushing yards, which was a school-record low for JSU.

In this game however, the Jacksonville State offense proved to be just as dominant.

JSU marched right down the field in five plays on their opening drive, and Bryant Horn ran it in for a touchdown.

“I thought we played really well outside of turnovers,” Jacksonville State head coach John Grass said. “We’ve got to clean those up. But other than that, you have to be pleased.”

Those turnovers led to the Gamecocks’ early deficit of 13-7.

On the Gamecocks’ next drive, Horn was picked off, and Murray State immediately converted the opportunity into points with a touchdown pass from Shuler Bentley to Jordon Gandy to tie the game at 7-7. Then, Sean Rodriguez returned a JSU fumble 47 yards to make the score 13-7.

After that, the JSU offense came alive.

Horn, who got most of the playing time on the day at quarterback, threw three first half touchdown passes, a career high.

Horn found Demontez Terry for a 45-yard bomb early in the second quarter, then completed two touchdowns to Jamari Hester, with one coming just eight seconds before halftime, making the score 28-13 at the break.

On their second drive of the second half, the Gamecocks increased their lead with a Roc Thomas touchdown.

After a knee-injury scare in the first quarter, Thomas had a stellar day once again for the Gamecocks. The senior transfer from Auburn gained 138 yards and two touchdowns on just 17 attempts, good for an average of 8.1 yards per carry.

Thomas was named OVC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance, his fifth such honor this season.

Thomas was the catalyst behind a vicious JSU rushing attack, which piled up 323 yards on the ground, the highest total for the Gamecocks on the season.

After two more turnovers for Jacksonville State led to two more Racer scores, the Gamecocks added three more touchdowns in the fourth quarter to reach 59 points, the highest scoring output for JSU of the year.

The Gamecocks’ final two scores came after forced turnovers of their own, as a Randy Robinson-forced fumble was recovered by Darius Jackson and Charles Crawford intercepted a Murray State pass and raced down to the 15-yard line.

The Gamecocks hit the road to Martin, Tennessee next week to take on the Skyhawks of UT-Martin before returning to Burgess-Snow for their final regular season game on Thursday, November 16.

Charges filed in Mueller investigation

JoAnna Mitchell, Staff Reporter

An investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller has produced its first charges against several individuals connected with the Trump campaign on Monday, October 30. This is the first official confirmation that someone involved with President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign turned to Russia to obtain damaging information on his opponent Hillary Clinton.

George Papadopoulos, foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his meetings with an individual believed to have “had substantial connections to Russian government officials.” The investigation unearthed that this individual, a professor, offered him thousands of emails by and about Clinton.

George Papadopoulos (left) (photo via ABC News)

Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign chairman, and his associate Rick Gates were also indicted on charges of money laundering and illegally working with pro-Russian factions in the Ukraine. Both supplied a not guilty plea and were placed under house arrest. The bond for Manafort was set at $10 million and $5 million for Gates.

Manafort has been charged with 9 counts of conspiracy, money laundering, failing to register as a foreign agent, making false statements and failing to disclose foreign banking activity. Gates received 8 counts on the same charges. They could spend up to 40 years in prison and face millions of dollars in fines.

Paul Manafort (photo via The New York Times)

Both individuals were revealed to have used their illegally earned income to live lavishly, without paying taxes. One report from the New York Times estimates that Manafort spent over $800,000 on luxury clothing over a 6-year period, while Gates is alleged to have spent a good portion of his money on redecorating his home and paying for his children’s tuition.

Mueller has notified the White House that six more aides close to the president will be sought for questioning including former press secretary Sean Spicer and former chief of staff Reince Priebus.

President Trump tweeted about the indictments, in an apparent attempt to shift focus to his former opponent: “Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren’t crooked Hillary and the Dems the focus?????”

In another tweet, Trump reiterated his denial of any connections between him and Moscow: “Also, there is NO COLLUSION!”

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The tweets issued by President Donald Trump in response to Mueller’s indictments on Monday, October 30 (photo via Twitter)