After 16 years of providing support to doctoral students of color, the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB)–State Doctoral Scholars Program has produced its 456th doctoral graduate, an achievement noted Tuesday at the SREB’s annual meeting. Having recently surpassed the milestone of 450 doctoral scholars, SREB officials celebrated the program, which was created in 1993 to help alleviate the shortage of minority faculty, particularly in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines, at college and university campuses.
“Passing this milestone means that hundreds of students who are African-American, Hispanic and from other minority groups now have their Ph.D.s and have become college and university faculty members in the South and across the country,” said Dr. Ansley Abraham, director of SREB–State Doctoral Scholars Program. “This means a broader pool of talent is available to strengthen and improve the quality of the educational experience provided by our colleges and universities.”
The 456th graduate, Dr. Christina Romagosa, a 2009 graduate of Auburn University in Alabama was honored for her accomplishment during the SREB 2009 Annual Conference in Lansdowne, Va. Romagosa earned her doctorate in zoology. Previously, she received a bachelor’s and master’s in wildlife ecology from the University of Florida in Gainesville. She currently serves as a postdoctoral researcher at Auburn.
To date, SREB has provided assistance and training to nearly 900 doctoral scholars to help them complete a Ph.D. and encourage them to join college and university faculties. Seventy-nine percent of program graduates now are employed in education, and 76 percent of them work in SREB member states.
At the crux of SREB’s method is meaningful support, financial and otherwise.
“We provide more than a check and a handshake. SREB’s program provides support for students who are likely to be the first in their families to earn a bachelor’s degree, much less a Ph.D.,” Abraham said. “It’s still a lonely road for many minority graduate students in many fields and at many schools. Our program provides financial support, but Dr. Christina Romagosa, a 2009 graduate of Auburn University just as important — it provides mentoring, advocacy, professional development opportunities, skills and knowledge-training on becoming excellent faculty members and researchers.”
At 456 doctoral graduates of color, said Abraham, “We are further down the road to debunking the myth of who possess and dispense knowledge on our college campuses. We are closer to celebrating passing the 500 mark of minority Ph.D.s produced by our program.”
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