UMass Amherst Alumna Sandra Jackson-Opoku to be Eleanor Bateman Visiting Scholar in Residence

AMHERST, Mass. - University of Massachusetts alumna Sandra Jackson-Opoku will be the Eleanor Bateman Alumni Scholar in Residence at the University Wed. Feb. 2 through Fri. Feb. 4. Her visit will inaugurate a series of events scheduled in honor of Black History Month at UMass.

An award-winning poet, fiction writer, scriptwriter, and journalist, Jackson-Opoku attended the University during the mid-1970s. In 1997 she published her first novel, "The River Where Blood Is Born" (One World/Ballantine Books). An epic story of the trials faced by a group of African and African-American women over two centuries, the book won the Black Caucus of the American Library Association Award for Fiction in 1998.

Jackson-Opoku has also won numerous other awards for her fiction and non-fiction including: a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction; a Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines-General Electric Fiction Award for Younger Writers; and a Ragdale Foundation U.S.-Africa Writers Fellowship. A world traveler, who lived for many years in Nigeria and other parts of West Africa, she writes frequently on culture and travel in the African Diaspora for a variety of publications.

In addition to her writing, Jackson-Opoku is the owner of a small communications consulting firm in Chicago that provides editorial, scriptwriting, and corporate communications services for Chicago-based clients such as the Mayor''s Office of Special Events and the Chicago Association of Commerce and Industry. She also teaches a variety of literature and creative writing courses in Chicago at Chicago State University, Columbia College, and the Robert Taylor Housing Projects special programs division.

During her visit to the University, Jackson-Opoku will meet with students and faculty and take part in a number of lectures and classes. Her public lecture Feb. 3 will be followed by a booksigning and reception from 5 to 6 p.m.

The Eleanor Bateman Alumni Scholar in Residence program was established in 1989 in honor of Eleanor Willard Bateman ''23, and brings two distinguished alumni to UMass each year for lectures and interaction with students and faculty.

NOTE: Jackson-Opoku will meet with reporters Thurs. Feb. 3, 9-10:30 a.m. in the Bateman Suite, Van Meter Residence Hall. Contact the News Office, 545-0444 to schedule an interview and/or photos.