Feb 2, 2017 | Atlanta, GA
For 26 years, Georgia Tech has offered the Focus Program on the same weekend that the nation celebrates the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This program attracts and recruits the nation’s best and brightest diverse students to pursue graduate studies and careers in academia.
“The commemoration of Dr. King and the civil rights struggle is of great significance for the timing of this program, as we strive to broaden educational opportunities for all populations,” said S. Gordon Moore Jr., executive director of Institute Diversity’s Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion.
Last month, 176 minority students participated in the Focus Program from 92 colleges and universities and approximately 33 states. The number of participating colleges and universities has increased by 18 percent from 2016.
Lacie Pierre, undergraduate alumna of the University of California, Merced, remarked, “Applying to graduate school is such a huge process. I wanted to participate in the Focus Program to better understand how the process worked, and it was eye-opening to speak with Georgia Tech faculty, other students, and alumni during the program.”
More than 94 percent of the surveyed participants indicated that the Focus Program increased their desire to apply to Georgia Tech for graduate studies, and 30 percent of the senior applicants have applied to Georgia Tech’s graduate programs.
“These results suggest that the diverse future of graduate education will be enhanced by the efforts of our Focus Program staff, alumni volunteers, panelists, speakers, campus partners, and corporate supporters like Intel,” said Sybrina Atwaters, assistant director, outreach initiatives at OMED: Educational Services, a unit of the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion.
The three-day program includes campus tours; department and lab visits; panel discussions on graduate admissions, fellowships, scholarships, mentoring, and alumni insights; and the President’s Dinner.
“This unique program shows how Georgia Tech values diversity in higher education,” said Diego Huyke Villeneuve, undergraduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “Professors were eager to speak with us, and the department was open and welcoming.”
Since the program’s inception, more than 2,700 students from a wide array of colleges and universities across the U.S. have participated in Focus. Some 300 former Focus Scholars are among Georgia Tech alumni who have earned master’s and doctoral degrees. Focus Scholars is a component of the program designed to inform juniors and seniors about the benefits of receiving an advanced degree. Additionally, at least six former Focus Fellows are members of Georgia Tech’s engineering faculty; Focus Fellows encourages diverse doctoral students to consider an academic career.
“While fostering an inclusive, supportive environment, Georgia Tech is dedicated to creating the next – the next idea, the next technology, the next legion of diverse, agile minds who are well equipped to imagine and engineer our future,” Moore explained.
Currently, Georgia Tech is the nation’s top producer of doctoral degrees awarded to all racial/ethnic minority students (Diverse: Issues in Higher Education). The Institute also awards more engineering degrees to women than any other school, according to the American Society for Engineering Education.
To learn more about the Focus Program, visit www.focus.gatech.edu.