Annual PROMISE Summer Success Institute: August 17-18, 2012 @ UMBC & The Hotel at Arundel Preserve

2012 PROMISE Summer Success Institute (SSI)

Theme: Pathways to Success

Registration Website (Click here for additional information about SSI attire, venue, directions, parking, and transportation.)


Dates: Friday and Saturday, August 17-18, 2012



  • PROMISE Orientation (For New/Incoming graduate students) Friday, 8/17, 9:00 AM
    • Location: UMBC AOK Library, 7th Floor (NEW Location)
  • The “Success Equation” (All invited), Friday, 8/17, 10:00 AM
    • Location: UMBC AOK Library, 7th Floor (NEW Location)
  • “ Succeeding in the first year, together” (For New/Incoming graduate students) Friday, 8/17, 11:15 AM
    • Location: UMBC AOK Library, 7th Floor (NEW Location)
  • Dissertation House for Advanced Graduate Students” (Friday, 8/17)
    • Location: UMBC Commons 329
  • “Writing Suite for Postdocs” and “PROMISE Writing Team Annual Meeting” (Friday, 8/17)
  • “Ph.D. Roll Call”  – Features PROMISE alumni, Mentors-in-Residence, Faculty, Co-PIs. (Saturday, 8/18)
  • “Mastering the Graduate School Process: Tips for Having a Successful First Year” (Saturday, 8/18)
  • “Pathways to Careers for Graduate Students: How to network, find a job, and build a career.” (For Continuing graduate students, Saturday, 8/18)
  • “Managing Career Transitions” (For Postdocs, Professors, and Professionals, Saturday, 8/18)



Friday, 8/17: UMBC Campus, The Commons, 3rd Floor, and the Library

Saturday, 8/18:  The Hotel at Arundel Preserve


  • Hotel cost: $109.00/night + tax (Option for participants who wish to stay overnight. Hotel rooms for guest speakers from out-of-town are complimentary.) [$109 rate sold out, 8/16/12.]
  • SSI Conference Registration cost: $Zero PLUS completion of evaluation and assessment materials.
Donation to memorial funds in lieu of registration fees, strongly encouraged:  Dr. Angela Grant Memorial (Math):, Jessica Soto Perez Memorial (Chemical Eng.):
Transport: Bus Transportation Between UMBC and The Hotel at Arundel Preserve
Saturday, 8/18:
A bus will leave UMBC at 7:30 AM from the front of the Administration Building (near the flagpole, across from the Retriever Athletic Center (RAC)). To reserve a spot on the bus, please email with the subject “RIDE for SSI 2012”.The bus will leave The Hotel at Arundel Preserve at 3:30 PM and is scheduled to return to UMBC’s Administration Building by 4:00 PM.



UMBC Commons, 3rd Floor (Postdocs, Dissertation House, Alumni Writing Group Only)


Albin O. Kuhn Library, 7th Floor Open Area  (New students, continuing graduate students)

Arrive at 8:15 AM for registration and light breakfast refreshments: 


Concurrent Sessions — Friday, August 17: 9:00 AM: Morning Sessions

Postdoctoral Writing Suite, Dissertation House, Alumni Writing Group, PROMISE Orientation for New Participants

These concurrent sessions will be held on UMBC’s campus in the Commons (Student Center), 3rd Floor and on the 7th floor of the Albin O. Kuhn (AOK) Library, the main library on UMBC’s campus. See full agenda at the bottom of this page.

Friday, August 17, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM:  “The Success Equation”  (Session for All)
In 2012, Renetta Tull and her husband, Dr. Damon Tull, both former professors, developed an equation for success using Dr. Shirley Jackson’s equation for POWER as a basis. The “SUCCESS Equation” has been presented at MIT, and will be published in Optics and Photonics News in September 2012. The equation looks at the momentum of variables such as mentoring and focus, and the workshop has been designed to help graduate students at every level to evaluate practices that can facilitate success.
NEW LOCATION: UMBC Campus, AOK Library Open Area, 7th Floor
Friday, August 17, 11:15 AM – 12:45 PM:  “Succeeding in the First Year, Together”  (Session for New Students)
Session Leaders:
  • Patrick Valdez, Director, College Access & Success Initiatives, Association of Public Land Grant Universities. Read his article: Patrick L. Valdez (2005), LATINO LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT: PROGRAMS AND CONTINUING CHALLENGES, in David Leon (ed.) Lessons in Leadership (Diversity in Higher Education, Volume 5), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.223-238
  • Jennifer Joyner, Assistant Professor, Economics, CCBC. Professor Joyner specializes on financial literacy.  Along with encouragement, students will receive information regarding managing budgets in graduate school. Joyner was featured on WJZ- CBS News Baltimore for her expo on financial literacy and planning.
Patrick Valdez was introduced to PROMISE by alumna Dr. Frances D. Carter (UMBC, Public Policy) at the 2012 Understanding Interventions conference in Baltimore. Jennifer Joyner works with Dr. Al Starr at the Community College of Baltimore County. Dr. Starr co-leads the Teaching Fellows program that is part of our PROF-it: Professors in Training program. 
NEW LOCATION: UMBC Campus, AOK Library Open Area, 7th Floor

Friday, August 17, 1:00  PM: Lunch Sections:

Postdocs, Alumni, and Dissertation House participants: Skylight Room, UMBC Commons

Graduate Students and guests: “True Grits Cafeteria”, UMBC Campus (Cost $6 + tax)



The Hotel at Arundel Preserve, 2nd Floor

Arrive at 8:15 AM for registration and light breakfast refreshments: 


Saturday, August 18, 8:45 AM: Welcome and Overview


Saturday, August 18, 9:00 AM – 10: 30 AM: “Your Electronic Self: Pros and Cons of Living a Digital Life in Academia” (Morning Plenary – Presentation and Discussion)
Session Leaders:
Dr. Scott Roberts, Director of Undergraduate Studies and a faculty member in the Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park.  Andrew Roberts, Associate Director, Communications and Marketing, College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park.
Join brothers Scott and Andrew Roberts as they present research and lead an interactive discussion on digital media. “As you transition from being students to becoming academic professionals, you are challenged with navigating a new and rapidly changing digital world.  Leveraged correctly, your electronic self can help you to advance in industry and academia alike … but the dark side of cell phones, computers and social networks can be the barrier between you and your career.  We will present the research and considerations on how our devices and profiles can make or break us and discuss how to establish and maintain an effective electronic self.”
The speakers for this workshop were nominated by Dr. Kim Nickerson, Assistant Dean for Diversity, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, University of Maryland College Park. Dr. Nickerson has been actively involved with Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences AGEP community and participates in the NSF Joint Annual Meetings for all AGEP programs. 
Concurrent Session — Saturday, August 18, 11:15 AM – 1:00 PM:  “Managing Career Transitions”  (For Postdocs, Professors, and Professionals)
Dr. Lydia Villa-Komaroff was one of the founding members of the Society for the Advancement of Chicano and Native American Scientists (SACNAS). Dr. Villa-Komaroff is an internationally recognized molecular biologist. She was a key member of the team, directed by Dr. Walter Gilbert, that first demonstrated
that bacterial cells could produce insulin. This pioneering work is widely cited and is described in the book “Invisible Frontiers: The Race to Clone the Insulin Gene” by Stephen Hall. She is deeply committed to the recruitment and retention of minorities in science.  (Ref: WITI, 2000)
Dr. Villa-Komaroff will lead the session for Postdocs, Professors, and Professionals: “Managing Career Transitions.” Dr. Villa-Komaroff has been a professor, Vice President for Research Administration, and Chief Operating Officer of a company. She has been named one of the 100 Most Influential Hispanics in America by Hispanic Business Magazine.
Dr. Lydia Villa-Komaroff agreed to participate in this workshop after learning about PROMISE at the 2012 Understanding Interventions Conference in Baltimore. PROMISE leaders and alumni also participated a conference that Dr. Komaroff co-chaired at the National Academy of Sciences on women of color in academia

Dr. Ivan Esparragoza will join Dr. Villa-Komaroff for this special breakout session for postdocs, professors, and professionals. Dr. Esparragoza is a Mechanical Engineer, with degrees from Florida International University, Miami, FL,  and Universidad Del Norte, Barranquilla, Colombia.  Dr. Esparragoza has won teaching awards in the United States and abroad, and is leading international discussions in Engineering Education.  He is one of the leaders of the Latin and Caribbean Consortium of Engineering Institutions (LACCEI), and will discuss ways to allow your passion for teaching and mentoring contribute to tenure, awards, and participation in international initiatives, including upcoming conferences in Austria and Argentina. Dr. Esparragoza is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Penn State Brandywine.

Dr. Ivan Esparragoza learned about PROMISE during a seminar at the Latin American and Caribbean Consortium of Engineering Institutions in Panama.  Dr. Esparragoza was especially interested in modeling programs that PROMISE sponsors such as Horizons for prospective students, and PROF-it (Professors-in-Training) initiatives. 

 Concurrent Session – Saturday, August 18, 11:15 AM – 1:00 PM:  “Pathways to Careers for Graduate Students: How to network, find a job, and build a career”  (For continuing graduate students, those who have completed at least one year of graduate study.)

The following speakers will participate in  the session for continuing graduate students:  “Pathways to Careers for Graduate Students: How to network, find a job, and build a career”  on Saturday, August 18. Speakers will share their CVs and talk about their paths, from graduate school to their first job, and to their careers. Participants will be encouraged to take advantage of this unique mentoring and networking opportunity.*

  • Dr. S. Sonia Arteaga, Program Director, Clinical Applications and Prevention Branch, Division of Cardiovascular Sciences, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), National Institutes of Health; Moderator “Next Generation Social and Behavioral Science (2008)”; On the lead sponsorship team for the “Study of Latinos” – Hispanic Community Health Study (Formerly of The Association for the Study and Development of Community/Capable Community, now known as “Community Science.”)
  • Dr. John S. Davis, IIThe Rand Corporation (Formerly part of the Office of Management and Budget at the White House, Office of the President; The Washington Post; IBM; and co-founder of LingFling, Inc.)
  • Dr. Jaron Lockett, National Institutes of Health, Office of the Director (Formerly of the Intramural Research Program for the National Institute on Aging.)

Dr. Christine Barrow, Dean of Sciences, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, Prince Georges Community College.

*Please consider bringing business cards to share among peers, speakers, mentors-in-residence, and guests. (You can get cards made that say “Graduate Student.” If you have passed your comprehensive exams, proposal, and other doctoral milestones according to the policies of your academic department, you can have “PhD Candidate” written on your card. See this discussion on the forum from the Chronicle for Higher Education for ideas:
This session was inspired by the 2012 Council of Graduate Schools Report: Pathways Through Graduate School and Into Careers. 
 Concurrent Session – Saturday, August 18, 11:15 AM – 1:00 PM:  “Mastering the Graduate School Process: Tips for Having a Successful First Year  (For new/incoming graduate students who are about to begin their first experience in graduate school.)

Session Leader: Sundiata “Sunji” Jangha

This session is essential for all new graduate students in every discipline. Using some of the information from Dr. Howard G. Adams’ books on mentoring, Sunji Jangha will take new students through exercises that will prepare them to have a successful year in graduate school. Jangha, an SSI speaker in 2010, returns by popular demand and will share some of his own experiences as a graduate student at Georgia Tech. Jangha is the Director of Math/Science Upward Bound at UMBC. In addition to topics on mentoring from Sunji Jangha’s talks at Georgia Tech, Northwestern University, and MIT, this session will cover the following topics for new graduate students from Dr. Adams’ book:

  • Transitioning to Graduate School
  • Goal Planning Worksheet
  • Sins of Graduate Students
Saturday, August 18, 1:00 – 3:00 PM : LUNCHEON
1) PROMISE: Maryland’s AGEP PhD Alumni and University System of Maryland Professors Serve as “Mentors-in-Residence” and Host Lunch Tables
2) Remarks from visiting deans
3) Operatic Selection by Marvin Carr
4) Recognition of PhD Candidates (Lead: Dean Janet Rutledge)
All PhD Candidates (all schools, all disciplines) will be invited to approach the podium to share name, school, research, and plans for graduation. This is a time-honored “rite of passage” for the PROMISE SSI.
5)  Merengue “Community Building” Activity (Leads: Patti and Gustavo Rozo, Miguel Nino, and Alexis Williams)

2012 SSI Luncheon “Mentors-in-Residence” 

  • Dr. Karsonya “Kaye” Wise Whitehead, UMBC, Language/Literacy/Culture. Current: Assistant Professor of Communications. Loyola University. TABLE TOPIC: How to Get a Book Contract.  Dr. Whitehead has book contracts with the University of South Carolina Press, and with Routledge. She is also the guest editor for a special anniversary edition of the   Black History Bulletin (ASALH) to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington. Her emmy-nominated documentary films include: Twin Towers: A History and Life Lessons Learned in Last Place: The Zoe Koplowitz Story.  


Dr. Angela McRae, UMCP, Human Development. (2012 Distinguished Teaching Assistant Award) Current: Lecturer at UMCP teaching undergraduate and graduate courses.  TABLE TOPIC: Maintaining Family/School/Work Balance

Dr. Patricia “Patti” Ordóñez Rozo, UMBC, Computer Science. Current: Developing Curricula at UMBC Training Centers.  Patti has been participating in PROMISE since she started graduate school at UMBC. She is an extraordinary teacher who has taught several classes at UMBC for the Computer Science and Electrical Engineering Department, and for Continuing and Professional Studies. She has innovative research collaborations with the Pediatric and Neonatal Intensive Care Units at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.  One of her unique projects includes using her collaborative clinical support decision tool in Colombia, South America and using telemedicine to provide clinical decision support to impoverished areas of Colombia.  Starting August 31, 2012: Dr. Ordóñez Rozo will be Assistant Professor of Computer Science, University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras. Research: Computing and Medicine. TABLE TOPIC: Returning to Graduate School After Working.
  • Dr. Alycia Marshall, UMCP, Math Education. Current: Professor of Mathematics, Anne Arundel Community College (AACC), Principal Investigator on a $598,000 NSF grant  for AACC: “Engineering Scholars Program: Increasing Access and Diversity.” TABLE TOPIC: Become a Professor at a Community College
Dr. Sophoria Nicole Westmoreland, UMCP, Mechanical Engineering. (Former National Graduate Student of the Year for the National Society of Black Engineers.) Dr. Westmoreland is a former LSAMP Bridge to the Doctorate Fellow, and was awarded the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Minority Ph.D. Program Fellowship sponsored by the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME).  She presented her research on Capitol Hill in 2010, and after receiving faculty offers within and outside of Maryland, is looking forward to starting her new position this fall. Dr. Westmoreland and colleague, Dr. Alexis Williams, were among the leaders of the online blogging “revolution”  for the PROMISE Dissertation House. Blogging almost daily, Dr. Westmoreland, along with others, regularly encouraged students to finish their dissertations.   Current:  Assistant Research Professor, U.S. Naval Academy, TABLE TOPIC: The Academic Job Interview
  • Dr. Karen Watkins-Lewis (Psychology Faculty, UMBC @ The Universities at Shady Grove) TABLE TOPIC: The Power of Being Published
Dr. Stacy Nicholson, Maryland Chiropractor, TABLE TOPIC: Avoiding Consequences of Stress
Luncheon roundtables were inspired by alumni of PROMISE from UMBC, College Park, and UMB who wanted to mentor and share experiences with new and continuing students.

SSI 2012 Agenda

  • Friday, August 17 @ UMBC
  • Commons, 3rd Floor
  • Albin O. Kuhn (Main) Library 7th Floor
  • Saturday, August 18 @ Hotel
  • Ballroom, 2nd Floor
8:15 AM Light Breakfast (Commons and Library)
  • Registration
  • Breakfast
  • (8:45) Welcome and Opening 
9:00 AM
  • PROMISE AGEP Orientation(All invited) Host: Dr. R. Tull –  NEW LOCATION: Library 7th Floor Open Area (Changed from Commons 331)
  • Alumni Writing Group Host: Dr. Jennifer Bacon – Commons 332
  • Morning Plenary: Professional Development Seminar (Part I)
  • Speakers: Dr. Scott Roberts, Andrew Roberts
  • Title: Your Electronic Self:  Pros and Cons of Living a Digital Life in Academia
10:00 AM The Success Equation(All invited)Speakers: Dr. Renetta Tull with Dr. Damon TullBased on a talk given at MIT, and an upcoming article in “Optics and Photonics News”, Renetta and Damon Tull will discuss variables in an equation for success that can be used to examine progress in graduate school.NEW LOCATION: Albin O. Kuhn (Main) Library – 7th Floor Open Area
  • Morning Plenary: Professional Development Seminar (Part II) with Scott Roberts and Andrew Roberts
  • (10:30) Successful Mentoring: Academic Genealogy

Lead: Dr. Shawn Bediako, UMBC, Psychology

  • (10:45) PhD Roll Call

Lead: Dr. Idalis Villanueva, UMCP, Bioengineering

11:15 AM “Succeeding in the first year, together” (New Students)

  • Patrick Valdez, Director, College Access & Success Initiatives, APLU
  • Jennifer Joyner, Assistant Professor, Economics, CCBC

NEW LOCATION: A. O. K. Library – 7th Floor Open Area

Breakout Sessions

  • New Students (1st year in any graduate program):
    • Mastering the Graduate School Process: Tips for Having a Successful First Year
    • Location: Washington Room – 2nd Floor
  • Continuing Students (1 or more years in a graduate program):
    • “Pathways to Careers for Graduate Students: How to network, find a job, and build a career”
    • Location: Ballroom – 2nd Floor 
  • Postdocs, Professors, Professionals:  
    • “Managing Career Transitions”
    • Location: Baltimore Room – 2nd Floor
1:00 – 3:00 PM Lunch 

  • New students + Cont. Students: True Grits Dining Room
  • Postdocs: Skylight Room
  • Alumni Postdocs & Writing Group: Skylight Room
  • Cost: $6 + tax – All you can eat buffet
Lunch Program

  • PROMISE: Maryland’s AGEP PhD Alumni and University System of Maryland Professors Serve as “Mentors-in-Residence” and Host Lunch Tables
  • Remarks from visiting deans
  • Operatic selection by Marvin Carr (UMBC GEM Fellow, Gates Fellow, MS in Systems Engineering from UMBC, current PhD student in Systems Engineering at George Mason University)
  • Recognition of PhD Candidates – Moderator: Vice Provost and Dean, Dr. Janet Rutledge, UMBC
  • Merengue Community Building Activity – Leads: Patti Ordonez-Rozo (UMBC) and Gustavo Rozo, Miguel Nino (UMBC), Alexis Williams (UMCP)
  • Adjourn

About the Summer Success Institute (SSI)

About PROMISE: Maryland’s AGEP 

Orientation: UMBC’s President, Dr. Freeman Hrabowski talks about PROMISE:

Follow @PROMISE_AGEP on Twitter for articles, advice, and up-to-the-minute information.


Please stay tuned to this page for regular updates on speakers and logistics.

Last update: August 16, 2012

The primary sponsor for the 2012 PROMISE AGEP Summer Success Institute is The National Science Foundation, Division of Education and Human Resources, Directorate of Human Resource Development, Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) “PROMISE Pathways”  grant #1111217 . Co-sponsorship is provided by The Graduate School at UMBC, The University of Maryland College Park Graduate School, and The University of Maryland Baltimore Graduate School.

Published by Renetta Garrison Tull

Dr. Renetta Garrison Tull is the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) at the University of California Davis. She previously served as Associate Vice Provost for Strategic Initiatives at The Graduate School at UMBC, and was Professor of the Practice in the College of Engineering & IT. She was Special Assistant to the Sr. Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs & Director of Graduate and Professional Pipeline Development for the University System of Maryland (12 institutions). She is the Founding Director of PROMISE: Maryland’s Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) –, and Co-PI for the USM LSAMP. Her research on global diversity in STEM continues, and she is an international speaker, covering nearly all continents, for groups and conferences such as the World Engineering Education Forum, the International Federation of Engineering Education Societies, and the Pacific Sciences Congress. Her personal website is: Connect with her on Twitter: @Renetta_Tull;

56 thoughts on “Annual PROMISE Summer Success Institute: August 17-18, 2012 @ UMBC & The Hotel at Arundel Preserve

  1. This is an opportunity of a lifetime. I encourage minorities and diverse students to register and attend. I’m a returning attendee & gained valuable advice & experience to help me push through my first year at Salisbury University. Hearing others stories up success & failures; triumps & trials made me realize what I may face during my first and second year of matriculation through Graduate school. Knowing how to handle the unexpected ups & down and having network with many friends at the conference was one of the many things I took back with me to the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I’m sure this year will be even better and I’m looking foward to hearing from the guest speakers and the PH.D roll call. Thanks alot and keep up the great work!


      1. This is Tina Townsend’s dad. I truly enjoyed the the sessions I attended today (August 18, 2012). They were very informative and openned up the vision of returning to school to fullfill my deams at this age in my life. A lot of questions were answered. I am looking forwartd to networking with the members of Maryland Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professions and their guidance into returning to my dream of obtaining a graduate degree culminating with my Doctorate. Thank you again.


  2. Posting for Nahom Beyene

    This is Nahom from the University of Pittsburgh asking you to bring my dissertation to life in full animated glory.
    No, I’m not negotiating a deal with Disney or Pixar…..but just as good!…a contest by PhD comics!!

    So you are the KEY TO VICTORY…I need 200 votes to go from 4th to 1st place!!

    “The Synthesis of NAViSection”

    I will meet you at the Summer Success Institute on Friday and Saturday!
    Please take a moment to be inspired and entertained by my 2 minute thesis explanation.
    I think you’ll like it!

    Vote Today:
    Vote by Monday, Aug. 20th for my doctoral dissertation to be animated in PhD Comics!!!!

    ***please be patient as the site loads all the contest entries

    There is NO login or registration to vote
    please use laptops or desktop computers as smartphones/tablets have typically had problems loading the site.


    1. In case of any user difficulty with the web site, here is an alternate link:

      Thank you so much to Dr. Tull and essentially all of you that came to gather at SSI for sharing and dialogue. I am truly walking away with some new tools to mentor others AND secure my own success. The passion and enthusiasm that everyone had in speaking with me strengthened my resolve to maintain a balance in all that I am expected to do.

      I was especially grateful for the early morning introduction to all the PhD’s in roll call at the start of the day. That activity helped me to focus on talking with everyone I was interested about before the end of the day.

      rehab the researcher
      a.k.a. Nahom Beyene
      University of Pittsburgh


  3. Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2012 PROMISE SSI! I’ve seen some of the comments on Twitter (@PROMISE_AGEP, #PROMISE2012). I’m especially grateful to all of the speakers who served as mentors for this event.

    Thanks to all of you — speakers, mentors, staff, graduate students, postdocs, professors, professionals, family members, and guests — for your time and for sharing yourselves with all of us!


    1. Thank you Renetta for the invite! PROMISE SSI is always so inspiring! I loved the speakers and the topics selected for this year’s events. The mentors were wonderful and provided real insights to both graduate students and early professionals. I look forward to next year’s event.


  4. I loved the SSI conference this year. I enjoyed learning about the equation for success since it caused me to reflect on my graduate school career thus far. Also, the session for returning students on Saturday allowed me to hear valuable advice from others who already have their PhD. Lastly, I liked meeting other students and PROMISE alumni at the Friday and Saturday sessions. Hearing from other students who have reached candidacy helped motivate me for this upcoming year and to complete the PhD program.

    Great job PROMISE staff!


  5. I enjoyed the SSI this year, but found myself a little disappointed that there are never any speakers who have Ph.d in sociology. It is my hope that Patricia Collins from College Park can be presented in the future. It appears that “STEM” students get all the attention.


  6. Kudos to Doctors Tull and Tull for a very inspiring “Promise” workshop! A support program like this is a benefit to graduate students as they navigate the important steps in becoming professional researchers and teachers. As a graduate student, it is great to know that you are not alone, and that you can reach out for assistance, validation, and support.

    Wendell English
    Asst. Professor, Coppin State University
    Doctoral Student, UMDCP


  7. I liked the SSI this year. Each presentation was engaging and I learned something from each one. The success equation started to make me think about how I could improve my position in the graduate program. It was great to be reminded that there is plenty of support to be found if you seek it and to be reminded of the importance of having a social life and building networks. I also found the mentoring session to be useful as well. I listened to different perspectives of how to get a PhD and learned about the various paths that people took after obtaining their PhD to become successful. It was inspiring to see the vast variety of PhD Candidates and inspiring to hear the stories of PROMISE alumni as well. Thank you for the opportunity.


  8. Dr. Tull,

    Thank you, again, for another awesome SSI experience!! Last year SSI left me feeling energized and prepared for my first year in the UMBC LLC program. I was able to combat the impostor syndrome and other barriers to student success due to much of the information I gained during the Institute. Yesterday’s sessions are proving just as beneficial as I am taking a lot of the information the mentors relayed to us and already applying it to my future study and work plans. It was also inspiring to see many of the same people again an entire year later, congratulating me on my progress thus far, and encouraging me to keep going. I wasn’t sure I would be able to attend, but am glad I made it!


    1. Hi Latasha, I’m so glad that you made it and that we had the chance to experience such a great workshop with other graduates and post docs. Very nice seeing you again. Best Wishes in the future.

      Tina Thomas, B.S


  9. The session on “Managing Career Transitions” was both informative and motivational. Ivan and Lydia were outstanding presenters and told their stories with depth and candor. Faculty at PROMISE institutions who missed this year’s SSI really missed a treat! This was an engaging and well-organized event.


  10. When I arrived at UMBC for the first day of this year’s PROMISE SSI, I was expecting it to be exactly like last years, except I already knew we were not going to have another outdoor excursion. My assumption was incorrect, but this was not a bad thing. The first day, I enjoyed each of the presentations by Dr. Renetta Tull, Dr. Damon Tull, Mr. Patrick Valdez, and Ms. Jennifer Joyner. The SUCCESS equation really caught my attention that day because I had never seen anything like it before. I chose to spend some of my break time just to try to understand the interactions between the terms of the equation. The seminars about dealing with cultural and financial issues were also interesting and informative. One message I took home from Mr. Valdez’s talk was “I have what it takes to fix any internal issues I may have. Nothing from the outside can help me better than I can help myself.”

    I enjoyed the second day of the SSI at The Hotel at Arundel Preserve just as much as the first because of the talk given by the Roberts brothers about our electronic selves and the pros and cons of social media websites. Some of the statistics and observations that they shared were quite surprising; I did not know that only about 2.5% of the population can multitask without any serious negative influence on their performance. I found the existence of the Social Intelligence Corporation to be even more staggering than the statistics shared. The portion of the talk focusing on the corporation reminded me why it is always best to represent yourself in the most positive light possible, whether you are interacting with someone in person or even online.

    This entire seminar was a great form of motivation when it comes to staying on the graduate school track. Interacting with those who have already earned their PhD’s along with others who are at the same level as me at the table sessions was fun and reassuring. To me, it was more effective than the PhD roll call. The roll call was great, but I feel I could remember everyone better if they were introduced in smaller groups throughout the seminar. Overall, this year’s SSI was certainly a success! Thank you Dr. Tull and PROMISE staff for organizing this event and I also want to say thank you to all of the speakers who shared their experience and wisdom.

    I forgot to mention thanks for the dance lessons!


  11. Dear Dr. Tull,

    I greatly appreciate your open invitations to participate in programs and activities for Promise students and alums. I found the personal accounts shared by Drs. Ivan Esparragoza and Lydia Villa-Komaroff to very informative and insightful. I am looking forward to attending SSI in 2013.


  12. Dear Dr. Tull and PROMISE staff,

    Thanks so much for planning another great SSI! I enjoyed the new additions of the postdoc writing session, the electronic self session, academic genealogy, work transitions, the dance lessons and the new hotel!

    I wish I could have seen the talk by both Dr. Tulls and I hope that session will appear in multiple venues at a later date. I also anxiously anticipate the article when it comes out!

    I wish attendance was as large as in previous years and suggest that it be made clear to potential attendees to pull their registration as soon as they know they will not attend.

    Have a great year!


    Frances Carter-Johnson


  13. The word I would choose to describe SSI2012 is transformative. I want to thank Dr. Tull and the Promise staff for their hard work to put together SSI2012. I especially want to thank the mentors! What better way to learn about how to be successful then to stare success in the eye? My only regret is that I didn\’t attend SSI for the past two years. This seminar couldn\’t have come at a better time for me. I am motivated and re-energized to complete my degree. I will be sure to encourage new students to attend in the future and to return in my final years.


  14. I feel so privileged to have participated in this event. This was my first experience with the Promise SSI and would recommend that every beginning graduate student attend such an event. The presentation given by Dr. Tull, and “The Other” Dr. Tull made me take time to reflect on what personal factors are affecting my success. The one variable in the success equation that was prominent in my personal life was the “fear factor”. The self-evaluation administered during the presentation revealed that I could improve my score for that variable. I then made a commitment that I will prohibit fear from limiting my success. Hopefully by the end of the semester I can say that I kept that commitment. Another important point that stuck with me from Friday was “The Village” analogy that Mr. Patrick Valdez used in his presentation. I have the tools necessary to solve any personal issue better than an external source. “I possess the skills and tools to better myself,” could become a mantra for my upcoming semester.

    Unfortunately I was unable to attend the sessions that were held on Saturday. Based on the previous comments, I am sure that it was inspiring as the first day. I want to thank Dr. Tull and the PROMISE staff for hosting this event. I also want to thank all those who presented and shared their wisdom. This event has inspired me to continue to pursue excellence and motivated me to complete a Masters and PhD. I am looking forward to SSI 2013.


  15. My experience this year at the SSI was a very enjoyable one. I arrived on the first day of the conference expecting to hear a lot of the same things I heard last year with the exception of a few new speakers and possibly some new perspectives. I was pleasantly surprised to find that while the intent was very similar the messages being delivered were not. I found the first day of the conference to be a lot more practically relevant to my own experiences. There were a lot of points regarding financial planning which were very relevant to me and helpful to make me think about and reflect on my own life. The success equation was also very enlightening. The presentation allowed me to reflect on my past year and the goals I had set for myself this year.

    On the second day I arrived late to the conference but I was able to talk with a few people who had been there who found the content to be very interesting. I arrived in time for the PhD roll call which for me is always a great thing to see. Especially the new PhDs. Seeing them is continued motivation for completing my own degree and developing my own research. I found the career paths networking session to be useful but I would have liked to have been more prepared to take advantage of the speakers knowledge and experience. I always feel a little unprepared and find myself searching for questions to ask that are relevant to my own experiences. Overall, I enjoyed this years SSI but I hope for next year we are able to bring back the outdoor team building exercises.


  16. I enjoy and benefit from attending SSI every year! As I’ve grown through my academic career I feel that SSI has grown with me and has been able to accommodate my needs as I’ve matured from budding graduate student to mid-level post doc fellow. I’m so glad I decided to attend this year. I was able to reconnect with colleagues, learn new skills and get re-energized towards taking steps in order for me to move on to my next career goal. I’m looking forward to future programs!


  17. I love the “Pathways to Careers for Graduate Students: How to network, find a job, and build a career” session this year very much. Thank you PROMISE for the opportunity to talk to the successful speakers! I am definitely inspired to continue working toward my goal of completing the PhD degree. Cannot wait for the next SSI!


  18. This was my second year at PROMISE’s SSI, and I am entering my second year of a PhD program. Even though there were not as many attendees this year as there were last year, I appreciate that this allowed me to make more meaningful connections with the people in attendance. There was enough time to adequately network, and it was interesting that all of the PhDs stressed how important networking is. All of the mentors were extremely helpful, and they took the time to answer all questions. What a great event! The staff is awesome. Thanks to Dr. Tull for allowing me to conduct research with attendees, and thanks to the attendees for participating!


  19. This was my first year attending the PROMISE’s SSI and I absolutely loved it! The orientations, speakers, and networking have greatly reduced many of the anxieties I had about starting grad school. I could not imagine starting grad school without attending the PROMISE SSI. Seeing and getting to speak to a few of the PhD Candidate’s during the recognition lunch on saturday has inspired me to follow in their footsteps one day!


  20. Dear Dr. Tull and PROMISE Staff,

    In the past, The Summer Success Institute always gave me a burst of energy just before the beginning of a new year, when I was often at my most anxious about making progress on my dissertation. This year I was able to celebrate the realization of a vision that pulled me through many challenges in the dissertation process: the standing among other Ph.D.s, sharing my victory of being on the other side. It meant so much to be able to reflect and celebrate with my PROMISE family.

    I also received so much good advice on the next phases of my career. In particular, the Managing Career Transitions talk for post-graduates was so amazing. I was blown away by the candid advice and stories, and I am encouraged to keep an open mind about tenure-track positions – maybe one day… I also have been thinking about my online presence because of the excellent talk by the Roberts brothers.The venue and other details that I haven’t mentioned – the opportunities to network, the small discussions, the food – all were so well-done. It makes me feel special to be part of PROMISE, and I hope to give back as much as possible over the coming years.


    Dr. Alexis Y. Williams


  21. As a returning student I went on Saturday only and I found it to be just long enough to get a lot of good information but not feel overwhelmed or tired and to give time for a little mingling/networking after the event. I loved the idea of having smaller sessions (including the lunch tables) where you can interact more intimately and personally than you can during a presentation (although those sessions were just big enough to even do that). I love this event to give me a jolt before the school year. I also enjoy hearing how people’s paths have taken interesting and unexpected turns since I’m someone who doesn’t quite know what I want to do after I finish. Great job once again and I’ll continue coming each year while in school and would love to come as an alumni when that day comes.


  22. I had the wonderful opportunity to be a part of the inaugural Postdoctoral Writing Suite at SSI this year. Outside distractions simply slipped away as I sat down with other postdocs and Dr. Pollack to tackle our writing goals for the day. It was just the recharge I needed, and it was very meaningful to be able to connect with other postdocs who are also struggling to meet research, publication, work, and family goals. Dr. Pollack’s advice on aligning our passions, strengths, and earning potential will be useful going forward. The Postdoctoral Writing Suite is a valuable addition, especially because it responds in productive ways to the isolation that postdocs often experience. Thanks to Dr. Tull and the SSI staff for many jobs well done!


  23. Conference was excellent. Really enjoyed the Ph.D. roll call… but I would like to see similar thing be done for the “future Ph.D.s” in the room! I think that all attendees are here to really recognize the current Ph.D. But I think it would be motivational for the next generation of Ph.D.s to stand up and say, “Good Morning, I am “Future Dr. Johnson”!!

    But and overal excellent experience and I look forward to next year and other PROMISE Events


    1. Oh my goodness!! What a great idea! I would absolutely view my chances of completion more positively if I were forced to introduce myself as “Future Dr…”! Thank you for your great advice at SSI, Dr. Lockett!


  24. This was a wonderful conference with very interesting components and people. I was only able to attend the Saturday session but I looked forward to the SSI–as I do every year. I enjoyed learning about Dr. Lydia Villa-Komaroff and Dr. Ivan Esparragoza’s experience in science. The idea of an academic genealogy was new and appealing to me. During lunch, my table discussed how to balance family/personal life with graduate school. I was impressed by our discussion leader’s experience in having children during graduate school and the discussion was helpful. The SSI is an amazing conference that every graduate student should attend.


  25. I was a first-time attendee and absolutely enjoyed the event! I was only able to attend the Saturday sessions but found all the information, the guest speakers and other attendees to be interesting and informative. I can honestly say I am able to apply much of the information and materials presented to my personal situation. I really enjoyed the small group sessions during lunch. The difficulty there was deciding which group to join because many of them appealed to me! Excellent job and I look forward to future PROMISE events!


  26. This was my first SSI and I wasn’t sure what to expect. On Friday, I was very impressed with the speakers and the success equation made me think a lot about my strengths and weaknesses as a graduate student. I now know which areas I have to improve and which I need to dedicate a bit more attention. On Saturday, I was very inspired to see all the PhD Candidates, and very motivated to continue on with my studies. The academic genealogy made me think about the times I have had the chance to meet my PI’s former mentors. Also, during the lunch session, I got the experience to talk about the importance of publishing and got some tips on how to manage time between research, publications, classes and family time.


  27. This was my first experience at the Summer Success Institute and I enjoyed every minute! I honestly hate that I wasn’t able to attend the conference before I started graduate school, but I was definitely able to learn helpful information for now and after graduation. The first session I attended was Dr. Tull’s “Success Equation” seminar, which was an excellent self-evaluation and a good way to prioritize for the upcoming school year. Then, all of the sessions on Saturday were very interesting and held my attention the entire time because of the non-traditional format. Both professional development speakers had a sense of humor and enlightened me about some shocking statistics to be mindful of. The round table discussions were my favorite because I attempted to choose physical scientist with different demographics that ultimately led them into different career paths. Overall, I learned some helpful information for contribution to my graduate success and I look forward to next year’s conference!


  28. Even though I missed some parts of the event, it was really great and I’ll like to attend more of these activities. Next time, I’ll be on time. Thank you Dr. Tull for the good planning.


  29. This was my 6th SSI! Like every year, I always leave SSI feeling rejuvenated and motivated to get back in the lab/ back in front of my computer and work away. It’s always nice getting to meet new graduate students and ease their worries and let them know that “it’s literally going to be okay”! Thank you again to the Promise program for an amazing event.


  30. This was my first Promise SSI and it was an enjoyable experience. One thing I really liked about Friday’s session was the opportunity we got to interact with other students and learn about who they are. I also found the “Success Equation” very interesting. It made me think about various factors of success and how those factors applied to me. The finance talk on Friday provided me with a lot of useful information, some of which I ended up sharing with my friends and family.

    The events on Saturday were also very exciting. The one seminar that stood out to me was Mastering the Graduate School Process. Mr. Jangha was a wonderful speaker. The advice and information he gave about being in grad school was both useful and real. His humor allowed for a very enjoyable talk and his use of real life examples drove all the concepts home. I will recommend every student going and listening to him talk at least once. He motivaed me to attack graduate school head on.

    Seeing others who have actually gone through the process of graduate school successfully was incredibly inspirational.

    I enjoyed this Promise event and look forward to attending again next year.


  31. Dear PROMISE Staff,

    I have enjoyed all PROMISE activities, and especially the Summer Success Institute for several years. SSI has always been a full experience of preparing for a new academic year, getting mentally motivated for a new set of challenges, and reconnecting with friends & colleagues. It is something I look forward to. This year I participated in dissertation house with Dr. Wendy Carter, who challenged me to stay focused as I near completion of my program. It is more than a pep rally, it is encouragement, support, mentoring, and academic boot camp. It is exactly what I need, and I am so fortunate to be a part of it. We need PROMISE and all of its outreach to continue.


  32. The PROMISE Success Institute was exceptional as always. I appreciated the financial planning seminar given on Friday. I definitely learned how to budget and allocate a specific amount for bills, books, tuition, etc. The Success Equation gave me perspective of where I am weak academically, and what I can do to strengthen these weaknesses. I will definitely utilize the strategies given to ensure a successful semester.

    Saturday’s round table sessions allowed me to see many different job opportunities I can attain. I enjoyed the informal discussions about resume writing, transitioning from research into administration, and networking. I found the managing stress lunch discussion helpful, especially since I did not manage stress very well last year. I know I will take these lessons learned and use them to be successful.


  33. This is my second year participating in the Promise SSI and like last year I feel fully prepared to tackle the semester and year ahead. I really enjoyed the table talks on Saturday. I was able to take away the ways to stay actively connected to the right people. And as always, thank you Dr. Tull and the Promise staff.


  34. Thank you Mr. & Mrs. Dr. Tull, Dr. Sonia Arteaga, Dr. Wendell Hall, Dr. Isreal Cross, Dr. Judith Pollack, Dr. Angela McRae, Dr. Kaye and all of the guest speakers who have made a difference in my life! This program of alliance is a blessing to have and I commend the one’s that have made this happen each year by working endlessly behind the scene. Miguel you are a great dance instructor (smile). Dr. Renetta, I can not thank you enough for your passion, faith in others, willingness to give, kinder spirit and just everything you give of yourself to make sure that your graduate students succeed. “I once was lost, but now I’m found” is what I can say as I enter into my last year of graduate school with a clear mind and positive attitude. Thank You from the Eastern Shore MD, representing Salisbury University!


  35. I was extremely honored to participate in PROMISE this year. The students at my table were wonderful and I enjoyed the connection and communication that took place. The entire seminar reminded me of how I was inspired when I was a student and how wonderful an experience that was for me. It was great to listen to the other speakers and hear their stories as well. Thank you again to all that I had a chance to meet and I look forward to speaking with you soon. Thank you Dr. Tull for including me in the memorable conference again.


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