When classes start at Kansas University this fall, a new program aimed at preparing minority undergraduate students for graduate studies will be in full swing.
The Dean's Scholars Program pairs faculty mentors with minority undergraduates from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences who are interested in pursuing advanced degrees in hopes of teaching.
"We're trying to gear this program toward students who want to get their Ph.D and go on teaching. There are very few minorities especially in the sciences and that is a very hot area," said the program's organizer, Kathleen McCluskey-Fawcett.
McCluskey-Fawcett, an associate dean of liberal arts, also said that "some proactive steps needed to be taken" in order to steer minorities toward graduate school.
The program will bring minority speakers to campus, and also will allow mentors to help students to network within the academic community.
"There are a lot of things in academia which are less formal than the classroom. We hope to get involved with networking and making contacts as well as with what goes on with the grad school application process," said mentor Kathleen Zanolli, assistant professor of human development and family life.
PARTICIPANTS are required to meet regularly with their mentors and take a one-credit-hour seminar in which specific skills such as time management, stress management, and graduate school application preparation are taught.
In an interview this summer, McCluskey-Fawcett said 13 students were in the program. She also said that recruitment has been one of the few problems with the program so far.
"We've had some trouble getting students to enroll. But it is a new program and numbers will increase once people hear about it," she said.
There is no cost for students to participate. Applications are available at the office of liberal arts and sciences. In addition, students are required to submit a transcript, three letters of recommendation, and a written statement of professional goals.
SCHOLARSHIPS are not awarded for the program, but McCluskey-Fawcett said she was seeking funding for participants.
Kristina Gonzalez-Redding, a sophomore majoring in social work, said she heard of the program after reading a story in the school newspaper last November.
Gonzalez-Redding said the program has broadened her academic prospects.
"I had planned on going to grad school, but not on working for my Ph.D. This just opens a few more doors for me," she said.
The program also opens doors for faculty mentors. Zanolli said she has wanted to help people pursue advanced degrees since she taught at the University of Tennessee.
"I'VE BEEN interested in encouraging people who might not consider themselves professional material to get involved. At (Tennessee), there were students with a lot of potential but not a lot of ideas as to what to do after they finished their undergrad work. This program can help students like that," Zanolli said.
For Gonzalez-Redding, the program will act as an academic guide for the duration of her education.
"Everything depends on how this works out for me. Getting into grad school (at KU) is competitive. If this helps me get in, I'll go as far as it will take me," she said.
Students interested in participating in the Dean's Scholars Program can contact the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at 864-3661.