Michael Jackson wasn't the only young, extremely talented person of color to be memorialized in Los Angeles this summer. The Oakwood family is mourning the loss of Sheryl Annette Flowers – a young, beautiful, dynamic alumna -- who was remembered on July 8 by family, friends and co-workers. More than a few Oakwoodites attended Sheryl's memorial service in Los Angeles, including Dr. David Taylor, Cynthia Chea, Marla Thomas, Pastor Loren and Deidre Hodnett, David Person, Jonathan Slocumb (who emceed the event) and Pastor D.L. McPhaull of the Breath of Life Church in Los Angeles, who eulogized Sheryl along with Dr. Cornel West and Tavis Smiley.
Sheryl began her career in radio as an on-air announcer for the campus radio station WOCG-FM (now WJOU-FM) while attending Oakwood, where she majored in Mass Communications. During his recollections, McPhaull, who had hired Sheryl to work at WOCG, confessed to chuckles from the audience that he didn't realize her potential when he hired her, and years later didn't realize that the producer of Tavis Smiley's radio show was the same young woman. McPhaull observed wryly that while his omniscence was limited, Sheryl certainly more than lived up to her potential as a media executive.
Even though Sheryl went on to obtain a degree in journalism at Clark Atlanta University, Oakwood is proud to claim her as one of our own. During her career, she worked in all areas of the media, and her vision and direction helped The Smiley Group become what it is today. Tavis Smiley credits Sheryl’s vision, tenacity and enthusiasm with a major portion of his success. He announced that the radio studio at The Smiley Group headquarters building would be named in her honor, as well as a scholarship endowment at Clark Atlanta University. A copy of the memorial service program booklet and the video of the service can be found at http://www.tavistalks.com/sheryl-flowers .
Knowing the importance of taking care of one’s health, Sheryl began speaking on behalf of cancer awareness even before her diagnosis with triple negative breast cancer in January 2008. Because epidemiologic studies illustrate a high prevalence of triple-negative breast cancers among younger women and those of African descent, a physician in attendance at the memorial service indicated that young women of color need to begin having regular mammograms at age 30 (rather than the standard recommendation of age 40) due to the prevalence of 3/Neg breast cancer in that age group. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/134622.php
Sheryl’s contributions to the field of Communication, especially relating to African Americans in this professional arena, will be missed. We send condolences to her family and friends.
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