Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Ten Minutes, Seven Sisters, Eight Deaths

10 Minutes With Sam


My Google Alert told me that our younger son Sam was featured in an interview on “10 Minutes With . ”  This seems to be a website offering career advice aimed at university level students, whether primarily in Nigeria or elsewhere I couldn’t tell. The interviewee answers ten set questions. Sam is the Managing Director of Trace, a French entertainment company, in Anglophone Africa.

I loved his answer when asked about a memorable moment in his career with Trace. He said when he traveled to Trace headquarters in Paris to meet the staff, “I expected twenty people named Pierre or Jean, but I was excited to discover they were not just white French men but African, Caribbean, and others who brought something spicy to the company. I felt at home,” he said. “We’re all global citizens today.”

He offered advice to anyone hoping for a career in TV or indeed entertainment: “Learn about the entire process – writing, filming, directing, and sound. You need to understand all the parts to succeed.”  What fun to listen and watch!

Seven Sisters Seminar


Mount Holyoke, my and my daughter’s alma mater.

For thirty-five years alumnae of the Seven Sisters colleges in the area have presented an annual seminar on a timely and important topic. A group of volunteers plan and present the half day event.

Do you know the Seven Sisters? As I wrote their names, I got the first six – Mount Holyoke, Smith, Wellesley, Bryn Mawr, Barnard, and Radcliffe, and then got stuck. I had to look up the seventh – Vassar!

I was ashamed for it was my mother’s college! They were the early elite women’s colleges, mirroring the men’s Ivy League. Today only four of the seven are still independent women’s colleges.

This year’s Seven Sisters Alumnae Seminar, Crime and Punishment: Justice for All? was on Wednesday. About 120 women and a few men attended.

Professor David Weiman from Barnard and Columbia, who studies the political economy of contemporary U.S. criminal justice policy, was the panel moderator and a speaker. “Before the recession, this was the most pressing social issue of our day; now it’s among the most pressing, along with unemployment,” he said. I certainly agree.

Sean Pica

Sean Pica

Sean Pica gave a moving testimonial of his own experience of incarceration and re-entry. He now heads Hudson Link that provides college education, life skills, and re-entry support to incarcerated men and women.

Yesterday’s NYTimes had an article that highlighted the critical issue of the lack of opportunity for people who have a felony record. Apparently there is some rethinking and consideration of change – like removing the requirement for felons to check the box indicating they have a record in employment applications.

Am I the only one who thinks it’s obvious that someone who is barred from employment is likely to return to the criminal behavior that got him (more often him than her) in trouble in the first place?

“After more than 25 years of tough-on-crime laws and the incarceration of millions of low-level drug offenders, the effort is part of a bipartisan re-evaluation of the criminal justice system and reflects a growing concern that large numbers of people, especially African-Americans — who have been jailed disproportionately — remain marginalized from the work force and at greater risk of returning to crime.”

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander demonstrates powerfully how our laws and policies target men of color in unfair and unjust ways. I led a discussion of the book for the Racial Justice Committee at The Unitarian Church in Westport, CT.

Have you read it? If you want to lead a discussion yourself, I can give you some questions to use.

Eight Ebola Deaths in Nigeria

Dr. Adadevoh

Tribute to Dr. Adadevoh

I learned from Max Siollun’s website about Dr. Adadevoh, the doctor who was instrumental in keeping Ebola contained in Nigeria. She recognized the disease and insisted that the Liberian man be kept in the hospital, even though he tried to leave. According to the article, the Liberian embassy even lobbied to let him out.

“During those early days caring for Mr Sawyer whilst awaiting the result of the blood test, Dr Adadevoh came under intense pressure to let him leave – a move that could have had catastrophic consequences,” the BBC reporter Will Ross said. Thank goodness, she resisted.

But she was one of eleven staff of the hospital who contracted the disease and one of eight victims of Ebola who died in Nigeria.

You can watch the video about the experience; it includes her grieving son speaking about her. “Mr Cardoso [her son] says the outpouring of praise for his mother fills him with immense pride and has softened the blow,” the reporter tells us.

Late Note

I heard on public radio this afternoon that Boko Haram has kidnapped more girls, but I didn’t hear the full report. They certainly didn’t release the Chibok girls as the government had reported they would. How long will this go on?

Author: Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, blogger, speaker. Born in New York, grew up in mid west United States, lived in Nigeria for 24 years, back in U.S. since 1986. Advocate for racial justice.


  1. Corrected version:

    I agree with you that a released prisoner who has served his time should not be denied a job because of his completed prison sentence. That fact might come up verbally in the interview because there will be a blank time period in his resume, but it should not be the reason he is denied a job.

    • Thanks, BarbaraLee. There seems to be some movement on the issue – a few states are taking action to eliminate that question on job applications.

      I could only watch the full interview with Sam when I signed up and created a profile on the website, 10 Minutes With..

  2. I agree with you that a released prisoner who has served his time should not be denied a job because of his completed prison sentence. That fact might come up verbally in the interview because there will be a blank time period in their resume, but it should not be the reason they are denied a job.

    Enjoyed hearing Sam talk about his job, though I was able to access only 35 seconds of the interview.