The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news. This is one in a series of profiles showcasing some of Harvard’s stellar graduates.If one mission of a minister is to bring people together, Aric Bernard Flemming Jr., M.Div. ’19, was born to the role. Only, perhaps not precisely in the way he or his family envisioned.The son and grandson of pastors, Flemming began preaching in his grandfather’s Atlanta church during his freshman year at Morehouse College. Flemming’s father, for whom he was named, had been poised to take up the leadership of the church when he was killed by a drunk driver in October of 1993. His son was born five months later and, as he finishes his degree, seems destined to take up the family mantle.Flemming’s pastoral agenda is, thus, personal as well as professional, but, for a while at least, he has other plans. “For a long time, I have wanted to do music,” says Flemming, who both sings and composes. “But growing up, there was always a disconnect between being able to do music and do ministry,” he explains about his grandfather’s church, “If you were a preacher, you couldn’t sing, and if you were a singer, you couldn’t preach.”Flemming was musically active through high school, singing with a rap group that released an EP. When he went to college, however, he believed he had to put away such dreams. In their place, he looked for ways to turn individuals into reverent communities. At Morehouse, he befriended other young preachers with whom he practiced honing his ministerial skills.“Before I knew it, I was ready to actually develop a whole sermon,” says Flemming. “I had them inside of me. My grandfather knew it the entire time.”Flemming’s skill and determination flourished at Harvard Divinity School, in terms of both secular and spiritual leadership: he has served as vice president of the Harvard University Graduate Council and as a seminarian. When a group of students sought a black worship service, he helped create the Black Student Ministry, which is now sponsored by the Memorial Church. He cited the diversity of the Harvard community as helping him grow spiritually as well as intellectually: “Moving away from exclusive practices and seeing value in everybody, in the sacred dignity of every human being.” As Commencement approached, he talked about upcoming plans to facilitate a BGLTQ Bible study with the BGLTQ office.“Students are spiritually hungry,” he says, reflecting on his experience as a proctor and in the Office of Student Life. “I’ve seen students in need of spiritual spaces where they can engage.”Flemming had originally intended to continue this work by pursuing a doctorate. When he decided on a master’s, however, he realized he had a year to himself. Committed to another season as a proctor in Wigglesworth Hall, he is giving himself over to what he calls his “year of creativity.”“I’m just going to pour myself into my art and not really worry about the future,” he says. “Performing, recording, writing — just everything I can get my hands on, I’m going for it. I’ll probably never have a wide-open opportunity like this again,” adding that moving from the structure of academia to a world of artistic exploration is “scary, but I have to find courage to go forth in this. It’s a real leap of faith.”Flemming has already released several songs on Spotify and recently made the move to iTunes. He points out that music is an extension of — rather than a diversion from — his ministerial outreach.His music, he says, “is rooted in my gospel self. It’s rooted in where I come from and the preacher in me. I’m writing the songs but they’re really sermons.”Citing as influences the gospel-rooted soul and rhythm and blues of artists like Aretha Franklin and Luther Vandross, he has come to believe art can create another kind of sacred space.“What I’m realizing,” he says, “is that I want a spiritual experience for everybody who comes in contact with my music.”Preaching, he explains, is not that different from singing. “I want to bring those methods to a concert space,” he says, “where we can create a euphoria within a moment, a collective experience for everybody.“I feel like that is spirit. I feel like that is God. I feel like that is everything about just being in community with people and having a shared experience.”This upcoming musical year may not be what Flemming or his family had initially expected. It is in many ways, however, the culmination of his time at Harvard Divinity School. When he receives his diploma, he will see his father’s name in his. “I want to carry him,” he says, as he makes his own first steps into his future.“Harvard Divinity School has been very, very instrumental in working through my own identity,” says Flemming. “Harvard Divinity School has helped to not only shape my identity, but has helped to shape how I understand people and life, living, and spirituality.”
It was becoming an ugly trend. Before Syracuse hosted Loyola in the Carrier Dome Friday night, Syracuse had lost three games to ranked opponents by just a goal apiece. With SU trailing the Greyhounds in the second half, it appeared as if the Orange was in for another disappointing finish.But on this night there was a different feel down the stretch.The No. 10 Orange (9-4, 4-1 Big East) was able to stand its ground on Friday, defeating No. 13 Loyola, 13-11, in front of 412 fans at the Carrier Dome. Though SU dismantled Villanova (7-6, 0-5) Sunday, 18-3, the real challenge of the weekend came on Friday night. Coming off a heartbreaking one-goal loss to No. 11 Notre Dame last Sunday, Syracuse needed to prove to itself that it could defeat a fellow Big East power, especially in a tight contest.‘I think we came in today knowing that we had to come away with a win,’ senior attack Halley Quillinan said. ‘We knew that we were going to face a strong Big East team looking to come in here and upset us in the Dome. At the end, we kept our composure,’ The Orange came out of the gate with a vengeance, scoring three quick goals in the first eight minutes to take an early lead. Loyola responded with three goals of its own before senior midfielder Christina Dove gave the Orange a lead with her first goal of the game. The Greyhounds scored three of the last four goals in the half to take a 6-5 lead into the break.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSU had been here before. Deadlocked in tight games against quality opponents, the Orange has found itself on the short side of the stick more often than not this season. On Feb. 27 SU fell to No. 4 Virginia, 14-13. Then on March 21 the Orange was narrowly denied what would have been a monumental upset, losing to No. 1 Northwestern, 13-12. And then there’s the Notre Dame game, which proved especially damaging considering that it came at the hands of a Big East opponent.Syracuse knew that it couldn’t let another close one slip away.The second half didn’t begin as the Orange would have liked, as Loyola scored a little more than two minutes in for a two-goal lead, the Greyhounds’ largest of the evening. But about seven minutes into the half, the momentum began to turn.The Orange was outshot 18-8 in the first half as its offense rarely had the ball in its own territory. But suddenly Syracuse began to play a quicker game, moving the ball effectively and giving itself ample opportunities to score. After numerous missed shots, freshman attack Tegan Brown broke the ice with a free-position goal at the 20:29 mark.‘I think we just got our composure and our confidence back,’ Brown said. ‘We brought it together. We started talking and communicating again and decided to go at full pace.’Following Brown’s goal, the Orange began to wake up. SU scored three of the next five goals before freshman attack Michelle Tumolo scored what would be the eventual game-winner on a picture-perfect pass off a fast break.The Carrier Dome crowd erupted louder than it had all season, and the Orange never looked back en route to a victory.‘I think we were in a bit of a funk coming off the Notre Dame game,’ head coach Gary Gait said. ‘And I think they had a little bit of self-doubt. We just had to play the game, and instead of stopping to make passes and cutting at three-quarters speed, they decided to go at full speed.’Though Syracuse has not had a wealth of success in close games thus far, Quillinan admits that she enjoys when the games are tight. She believes that it brings out the best of her ability and gives her team a chip on its shoulder.Luckily for the Orange, that chip finally resulted in a win.‘I like close games,’ Quillinan said. ‘I like a battle. I like being competitive. I like walking in knowing that the other team is ready for a fight. To see the fire in some of my teammates’ eyes — like Michelle (Tumolo) and (freshman midfielder) Bridget Daley — that just makes me better and pushes me harder.’[email protected] Published on April 18, 2010 at 12:00 pm Comments Facebook Twitter Google+
Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error “There was no pressure,” Grandal said. “I got traded. I was happy to get traded. You have to know that they wanted you for a reason.”One reason is most teams love trading with San Diego.Trea Turner, Washington’s rookie leadoff man who might be a monstrous problem for the Dodgers in the Divisional Playoff, was a first-round pick of the Padres. He was involved in a convoluted deal that brought Wil Myers to San Diego.Anthony Rizzo, who will be high on NL MVP ballots, went from the Padres to the Cubs in exchange for scattershot right-hander Andrew Cashner, who is now in Miami.Baltimore’s Brad Brach has become one of the top setup men in baseball, since San Diego dealt him for minor leaguer Devin Jones. There are others.Luck is always nearby. One of Grandal’s uncles had escaped Cuba by boat and began setting up the papers for the family to apply for the Special Cuban Migration Program. That was set up to boost Cuban immigration to 20,000. It was a simple lottery, and the Grandals were among the fortunate. It no longer exists.“Without it, I don’t know what would have happened,” he said. “My parents would have tried to come by boat. It wouldn’t have been the first time.”In Miami, Grandal was a housebound kid for a while, fascinated by all the different TV channels, gaining weight. But when a friend found a baseball team for him, Grandal took off. In one of his first youth games, he slid into second and jammed his cleats hard into the shortstop’s knee. That’s the only way he knew.“It was almost shocking to people,” he said. “They almost had to slow me down. In Cuba they teach you how to do every little thing. I remember going a full day just catching fly balls. Then another full day just bunting. You don’t see 8-year-olds bunting over here. Then another day just baserunning.“For homework, you’d throw the ball against the wall if you were an infielder, learn to backhand balls, learn to use two hands. It’s the way they taught you. You had to be good to make the Cuban national team. If you did, then you had a chance to get out.”Baseball people always wondered how Cubans might jolt the major leagues. Now you see the outline: Aroldis Chapman, Yoenis Cespedes, Aledmys Diaz, Jose Abreu, Yasmany Tomas, Yasiel Puig.And Yasmani Grandal.Not that they had a choice.Three facts:1. The Dodgers have a .213 average against left-handed pitching, worst in baseball, as is their .627 OPS against lefties.2. The Dodgers went into Saturday’s game 2 1/2 games behind Washington in the battle to get home-field advantage in the Division Series.3. Yasmani Grandal’s .554 slugging percentage is second to Justin Turner among full-time Dodgers after the All-Star break, and he leads the club with 15 homers in that span. LOS ANGELES — On the fields of Yasmani Grandal’s youth, nobody brought juice boxes. Nobody got participation trophies. “Play ball” was merely an expression.“They taught us how to play hard all the time,” Grandal said. “You had to slide hard. If you didn’t, you get screamed at. When I came over here, I felt I was ahead of the game, pretty much.”“Over here” was Miami. Back there was Cuba. They didn’t play for fun, although fun was not prohibited. They played for their lives.Grandal came to the U.S. when he was 10, went to the U. of Miami and was Player of the Year in the ACC. Cincinnati drafted him 12th overall, traded him and Yonder Alonso to San Diego for Mat Latos, and the Padres sent Grandal to the Dodgers for Matt Kemp at the winter meetings of 2014. It was one of Andrew Friedman’s first trades and far from the most popular. Kemp was a prime-time slugger. Grandal was mainly known for his 50-game suspension for PED use in San Diego. Kemp moved on to Atlanta this summer. He has exceeded 100 RBIs for the fourth time. But the Dodgers have fortified their outfield defense without him, and Grandal hit his 26th and 27th home runs of the year Thursday night against Colorado, the second one a grand slam.That’s six more homers than any other National League catcher has hit, and Grandal’s OPS of .825 is second only to Washington’s Wilson Ramos. These particular bombs dissipated any worries over an elbow problem, which brought flashbacks of a 2015 shoulder problem that bit Grandal deeply on every swing.“He’s usually very good about knowing the strike zone, but recently he’d been swinging at pitches outside it,” manager Dave Roberts said. “He had worked some counts tonight until he got a chance to click one.”Grandal has also muted concerns about trading A.J . Ellis, Clayton Kershaw’s sidekick and a clubhouse stabilizer. Kershaw, now healthy, is putting up zeroes for Grandal as he did for Ellis. The tradeoff is a longer lineup card for the Dodgers, maybe the 1-through-8 offensive presence they’ve lacked.