Diverse Scholars, Diverse Talents

Minority undergraduates from across the nation visit LSU with their eyes on Ph.D.s

Kristen DufauchardKristen Dufauchard is pursing a degree in mass communication at LSU. Dufauchard will be working with Danny Shipka in the Manship School of Mass Communication.
Chelsea Wells Chelsea A. Hall is pursuing a degree in political science from Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans. Hall will be working with Troy Allen, a visiting professor in history and African and African-American studies.
Gregory Garcia HaywoodGregory Garcia Haywood is pursuing a degree in applied mathematics from North Carolina A&T in Greensboro, N.C. Haywood will be working with Yuri Antipov in the Department of Mathematics.
Nathan Kuhns Nathan Kuhns is pursuing a degree in computer engineering from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark. Kuhns will be working with Mort Naraghi-Pour in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
Alex Lopez Alexander Lopez is pursuing a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Lopez will be working with Mike Benton in the Gordon A. & Mary Cain Department of Chemical Engineering.
LaToya MorganLaToya Morgan is pursuing a degree in history from Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss. Morgan will be working with Troy Allen, a visiting professor in history and African and African-American studies
Darius Pandy Darius Pandy is pursuing a degree in mathematics with a focus in secondary education from North Carolina A&T in Greensboro. Pandy will be working with Frank Neubrander in the Department of Mathematics.
Michael Plater II Michael Plater II is pursuing a degree in biology and economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, N.C. Plater will be working with Marybeth Lima in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering.
Akia Scruggs Akia Scruggs is completing her degree in pre-medical chemistry from Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Va. Scruggs will be working with Zakia Wilson in the Office of Strategic Initiatives and the Department of Chemistry.

Nine ethnic minority undergraduate students from various institutions across the nation are participating in LSU's Pre-Doctoral Scholars Institute, or PDSI, for an opportunity to gain greater insight into doctoral education and pursuing graduate studies.

The scholars will participate in a series of workshops, seminars, roundtable discussions and other educational, social and cultural activities during their one-month stay. During their time in the program, the students will volunteer in the Old South Baton Rouge community with the East Baton Rouge Parish Office of Community Development; hear from LSU professionals, faculty and senior administrators; receive mentoring from current LSU doctoral students of color; and work with faculty and research mentors on projects in their respective fields.

"Since studies have shown students from underrepresented groups frequently find the transition from undergraduate student to graduate scholar even more difficult, we are especially proud that this institute has such a high success rate in sending minority students into prestigious graduate programs well prepared," said Malcolm Richardson, associate dean for the Graduate School, professor of English and director for PDSI.

Students participating in the program represent a diversity of academic fields, institutions and overall academic talent.

This year marks the 13th year for PDSI and the first year that the program is co-coordinated by the Graduate School and the Office of Equity, Diversity & Community Outreach, or EDCO.

"Collaboration between the Office of EDCO and the Graduate School is critical as LSU continues to advance the Flagship Agenda's goal of increasing the number of diverse graduate students and scholars. As we consider ways to diversify the faculty ranks, we have to also consider diversity along the entire educational pipeline from pre-college to the Ph.D. With the PDSI scholars visiting our university, we have the optimal opportunity to recruit high-caliber, astute students of color, while sharing with these scholars the rich history and culture of Louisiana and the academic accomplishments, social environment and cultural uniqueness of LSU," said Marco Barker, assistant to the vice provost for EDCO and coordinator of activities for PDSI.

In 2008, 13 percent of those students who enrolled in graduate and professional programs at LSU and who reported their ethnicity were ethnic minorities, including Asian-American or Pacific Islander, Black, Hispanic and Native American students. Of those doctoral degrees awarded at LSU in 2007-08, 25 percent of those who reported their ethnicity were ethnic minorities.

"Nationally, Black, Hispanic and Native American students are underrepresented among those with doctorates. Through PDSI, LSU is not only addressing diversity within the institution, but we are also addressing a greater diversity issue within higher education," said Barker.

In addition to larger governing organizations like Student Government and the Graduate Council, LSU has several organizations for affinity groups like the Black Graduate and Professional Student Association, or BGPSA; the Latin Student Association; and the International Student Association, which provides a network for both undergraduate and graduate students. Additionally, there are offices on campus including the Office of Multicultural Affairs, International Cultural Center, African-American Cultural Center and Women's Center that provide both physical space and cultural spaces for minority graduate students.

Several units and departments on campus have partnered with PDSI to provide the visiting scholars with value-added resources and experiences. These units include Career Services, the Center for Academic Success, the Office of Campus Life, Community University Partnership, the College of Education Educational Technology Services, Wellness Education, Finance and Administrative Services, Enrollment Management, Planning & Policy, Information Technology Services and program sponsors including the Graduate School; the Office of Equity, Diversity & Community Outreach; the Office of Multicultural Affairs; the Women's Center; and the Office of Academic Affairs. Students from BGPSA have also volunteered to serve as peer mentors for each scholar.

"The Office of EDCO proactively recruits top talent to strengthen a diverse living learning university community. It is my hope that the scholars' summer experience will serve as a catalyst for a serious consideration of LSU as their graduate school of choice. PDSI can be a transformational learning experience and an opportunity for our visiting scholars to demystify the graduate student process while working with first rate scholars," said Katrice Albert, vice provost for Equity, Diversity & Community Outreach.

For more information regarding the Pre-Doctoral Scholars Institute, please contact Malcolm Richardson at enmrich@lsu.edu or Marco Barker at diversity@lsu.edu.

Melissa Foley | Writer | Office of Communications & University Relations
June 2009