Apply now for the annual SREB Conference. Oct. 31- Nov. 3, 2013. Deadline: August 31.

It’s time for the 2013 SREB Institute on Teaching and Mentoring, Compact for Faculty Diversity!

PROMISE Maryland’s AGEP has been invited to nominate scholars for the upcoming SREB Conference. Read about our SREB trips to:

YOU have a chance to attend in 2013 , but PROMISE has to nominate you. 

Here are some facts about the conference:

  1. The 20th Annual Compact For Faculty Diversity Institute on Teaching and Mentoring will be held at the Marriott Crystal Gateway Hotel in Arlington, Virginia from Thursday, October 31 – Sunday, November 3, 2013. We expect to exceed 1,100 in attendance.
  1. Scholars nominated to attend the Institute should be individuals who have an expressed interest in teaching at the post-secondary level. All of the sessions at the Institute will focus on topics and issues related to teaching at the postsecondary level. Consequently, scholars who are not interested in teaching at the postsecondary level would not benefit from attending this Institute.
  1. Nominated scholars must be minority or underserved STEM majors enrolled in a Ph.D. program. SREB will not accept nominations from students.
  1. The conference will be in Arlington, VA. Hotel rooms will be available at no cost to you. Single rooms will not be available for scholars. Students will be placed in double rooms. 




Write a comment to this post (below) with the following information, and in this order:


b) University & Department (no abbreviations)

c) Planned year of graduation for your PhD

d) One paragraph that describes the reason why you want to be a professor.

e) What PROMISE events have you attended, and what have you learned?

Our deadline is August 31, 2013. Please apply now. 

SREB Back in the day

Note that the SREB website features some of our former scholars when they were students! Dr. Chris Whitt (PROMISE Peer Mentor, College Park) is now a faculty member at Augustana College, and Dr. Robert Alexander (PROMISE Peer Mentor from UMBC) is now at the CDC. Dr. Alexander conducts the research and evaluation for the CDC’s anti-smoking campaign and TV ads.

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;

35 thoughts on “Apply now for the annual SREB Conference. Oct. 31- Nov. 3, 2013. Deadline: August 31.

  1. a) NAME: Marisa Franco

    b) University & Department (no abbreviations): Counseling Psychology

    c) Planned year of graduation for your PhD: 2017

    d) One paragraph that describes the reason why you want to be a professor.

    The professorship grants me everything I want in a profession: intellectual challenge, constant growth, flexibility, and independence. I see research is an outlet for creativity and impact. It is a way to ask the right questions that will better the lives of others. Teaching is an outlet for inspiration–introducing others to their passions. I see being a professor as the most fulfilling career choice I can make.

    e) What PROMISE events have you attended, and what have you learned?

    I have attended the SREB conference in the past and gained much. There, I was able to network with other brilliant minority scholars and use our knowledge across fields to hypothesize ways to improve the plight of minority communities. I also learned a lot about moving forward in academia–applying for grants, teaching, etc., which has ultimately prepared me more for the professorship.


  2. a) NAME

    Khadijah A. Mitchell, MS

    b) University & Department (no abbreviations)

    Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

    c) Planned year of graduation for your PhD

    December 2013

    d) One paragraph that describes the reason why you want to be a professor.

    In Latin vocare means “to call” and I believe my vocation is to be an academic professor that answers this calling through innovative and impactful research, exemplary teaching, and dedicated mentorship. As my teaching portfolio highlights (which can be found at, I’ve been fortunate to have excellent opportunities in both formal and informal settings throughout my MS and PhD studies. While teaching at the university level, I loved interacting with undergraduates and encouraging them to go further in higher education, especially the under-represented minorities. Among the most satisfying experiences for me were when students who lacked confidence at the beginning of the semester, mastered the material under my tutelage, and confidently debated with me based on sound logic and reasoning by the end of the term. As an informal educator, I believe the community is also my classroom. During my first year of graduate school, I founded a science mentorship and college and career readiness program for disadvantaged Baltimore City youth. Over the past 5 years, I have mentored 15 students who collectively participated in 10 scientific competitions and won a combined 21 ranked spots and special awards. I believe this success was due in a large part to my teaching and curriculum design for the program. In my opinion, teaching and mentoring go hand in hand. As a first-generation college and graduate student, two African-American female professors were instrumental in helping me pursue my doctorate. I want to become a professor and also give the gift of inspiration to other college and graduate students.

    e) What PROMISE events have you attended, and what have you learned?

    This year I attended PROMISE’s 10th SSI by invitation of AWIS. As a visiting student from another institution, this was my first time at a PROMISE event and experiencing such a supportive and encouraging environment. I am interested in being the principal investigator of my own molecular cancer prevention research laboratory. At this year’s SSI, I learned in addition to traditional academic positions, government and national laboratories have a process similar to the “tenure-track”. This still affords the opportunity to teach as an affiliate professor and mentor undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows (for example, the NIH Graduate Program Partnership).


  3. 1) Shanna L. Smith, Ph.D
    2) American Studies Department, University of Maryland College Park
    3) Graduation: December 2013

    4) I am a link on an enduring chain of black women academics, specifically women who demanded that I follow in their footsteps and encouraged me all the way. These women – Dr. Estella Conwill Majozo, Dr. Betty Sue Griffin, and Dr. Anne Butler – modeled for me the strong role that black women have in serving communities directly. They were my mentors before I even realized I would be following behind them. I want to be a professor most because I care about others coming behind me just as much as they do. I love mentoring and sharing my love of African American Literature. I have a responsibility to continue the legacy that they modeled for me. That understanding really hit home during my first interview to teach at a university. I could see myself there, doing the work. This is why I want to attend SREB — to gain final insights before I land the job I am meant to have.

    5) I have attended over the years the Summer Success Institute, PhD Completion Workshops, Retreats, Dissertation House, various workshops, and have participated in Reearch Symposiums and mentored incoming graduate students. All of these helped to equip, prepare, and encourage my growth as a doctoral student and scholar. They are directly responsible for my success during my dissertation defense in July. What I have learned most through PROMISE is that it truly takes a village to successfully see a doctoral student through to the end. We are all accountable to one another; we all support one another. The bonds made through PROMISE are unbreakable.


  4. a) Latasha Eley

    b) University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC); Language, Literacy, & Culture (LLC) doctoral program

    c) 2014

    d) I desire to become a professor because I want to have and be a positive impact on the lives of students and their development throughout college. What better way to accomplish this than via the professoriate? My research to date has revolved around issues of educational inequality, specifically the experiences and effects of being a 1st generation African American college student attending a predominantly white institution, as well as other challenges faced by underrepresented students. I am also interested in body politics and their manifestation and influence in the lives of African American men and women, especially throughout the various stages of college student development. I believe that, along with the research and publications I will produce to hopefully provide insight and guidance on these issues to those in academia who are otherwise unaware, my direct contact and engagement with such students in the classroom will make an even greater difference in their college experience and academic, personal, and professional advancement.

    e) What PROMISE events have you attended, and what have you learned?

    Since my enrollment in the LLC program at UMBC in 2011, I have attended several events including the Fall opening meeting, SSIs, SREB conferences, teaching workshops, and most recently the Dissertation House. I am never disappointed in any PROMISE event I attend. I always leave refreshed and ready for whatever the next steps are in my educational pursuits.

    At the SREB conferences, not only was I encouraged to see so many young people of color pursuing similar goals as myself, but networking with them to create a larger and further reaching support system was exciting and motivating. I especially appreciated the faculty recruitment fairs at which I met with several institutional representatives with a plethora of information about potential job opportunities, career options, and suggestions for increasing marketability as a student in an interdisciplinary program. I’m especially looking forward to this year’s conference because I am finally at the stage where I am seriously considering job prospects and the prospect of actually landing something, or making the right connections to do so, is more of a reality.

    At the SSI, I always come away feeling invigorated and reenergized for the upcoming semester. The teaching workshop provided me with valuable tools to utilize in my role as a TA, and in the future as a professor. Finally, the Dissertation House was one of the best PROMISE experiences I’ve had. By the time I attended, I was struggling with major writer’s block. Dr. Carter provided awesome strategies to overcome the writer’s block, and remain focused and productive even when I don’t feel like it. She also helped me perfect my two-minute “elevator speech” about my research, which I really needed. The four days of dedicated time to working on dissertation tasks brought me much closer to reaching imminent deadlines.


  5. a) Lakeya McGill

    b) University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Human Services Psychology
    (Clinical/Community & Applied Social Psychology)

    c) 2017

    d) I want to be a professor for several reasons, the first being that I love to learn. As a professor, I will have the opportunity to continue learning through my research and from students both in class and lab. My research interests focus on how health behaviors of racial/ethnic minorities and individuals from underserved communities impact their well-being and health outcomes, and I think it is very important that I continue to learn and contribute to this research area in order to help individuals from these populations. Furthermore, I think it is critical that I inspire and give other students the opportunity to get involved in this type of work. Another reason I want to be a professor is I want to help students be successful in college. As a first generation college student and African American woman from a rural area, the college experience was initially a huge shock for me. I would not be where I am today without the advice and support of my professors and mentors. In college, my professors were always available and willing to help me. They were one of my favorite things about my undergraduate institution, but my professors did not look like me. In fact, as far back as kindergarten, I have only had one African American female teacher, and that was during my last semester of college. This brings me to the final reason I want to be a professor. I want young ladies to see that African American women can be successful in academia, and I want to be there to help and support them.

    e) I have attended several PROMISE events since I started school at UMBC. I attended the Summer Success Institute in 2012 and 2013, numerous workshops (e.g., TA Training/Teaching and Learning Workshop, Life/Work Balance Lunch, “How to Fund your Graduate Education” workshop, “Pathways to Leadership” Lunch) and other fun gatherings such as the PROMISE AGEP Fall Harvest Dinner and Annual Cookout. I learned a lot at each event, but most importantly, I left feeling a strong sense of community and felt motivated to continue working hard.

    At the Summer Success Institute, I learned that others endured the struggles and challenges that I currently face and were successful in their pursuit to obtain a doctorate degree. Seeing men and women who look like me accomplish such an amazing feat gives me hope. I also loved witnessing the joy and pride shown on the faces of the doctors during the PhD Roll Call, the knowledge that individuals who were once in my shoes were willing to now share with me, and mostly, the support filled throughout my room.

    At the various workshops I attended, I learned how to survive in graduate school. The workshops have covered every topic and problem that I can possibly think of or have experienced so far. Before even starting my first graduate class, I was able to attend the Life/Work Balance Lunch and received great advice about how to manage my new and demanding schedule, which inevitably helped me to get a great start. The “Pathways to Leadership” lunch was one of my favorite events given that was the first time I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Hrabowski speak. I felt inspired and confident, which in my opinion, is one of the main keys to being successful in graduate school.


  6. a) Bre-Onna DeLaine

    b) UMB, Molecular Medicine PhD Program

    c) 2016

    d) My undergraduate and graduate experience has provided me with a solid foundation that I would like to pass on to future students. I was fortunate to have professors that have inspired me throughout college. Not only did they teach me new and difficult material, they served as mentors who helped me grow professionally and personally. I am grateful for their support and the opportunities that were afforded to me. It will be an honor and a privilege to share my skills and experience with future students. I have the patience and compassion needed to educate students of all backgrounds. This opportunity will enable me to gain the insight needed to become a professor and offer me a path to live out my goal.

    e) I attended the Summer Success Institute in 2011 during my first year of graduate school. I have also attended the Fall Harvest Dinner in 2011 and 2012. At each event, I left with new friends and professional contacts. I heard from professionals within the careers I wanted as well as other students going through the same experiences. I struggled with “imposter syndrome” as a first year student; PROMISE was a vital part of building my confidence and finding a support system to make it through the rough patches of graduate school. The seminars during the Summer Success Institutes offered me resources that I can use throughout my graduate school career and beyond. I will continue to attend PROMISE events and encourage my peers to do the same.




    c) 2015

    d) At the most basic level, unclear goals can be problematic for academic writers who simply have no overarching research plan. For example, you may be having difficulty establishing your own research agenda independent of your dissertation adviser or post-doctoral mentor. Or it may be the case that you just keep reactively responding to opportunities that come to you instead of evaluating whether or not they make sense for your career. In other words, you react to other people’s agendas instead of proactively crafting an agenda that addresses your own substantive interests and research questions. But at a deeper and far more problematic level, resistance to writing that is driven by unclear goals is often rooted in a lack of clarity about your long-term professional goals. When I have tried everything I know to break through resistance, I typically end by asking: Do you REALLY want to be a professor?
    I imagine this as a direct and easy question for a tenure-track faculty member. By that time, an individual has gone through a decade or so of graduate education and training AND survived a horrible job market. But this question is often met with nervous laughter, long pauses, and surprising hesitation. I believe this is grounded in the way that top students get steered into the academy: professors meet bright students and encourage them to consider an academic path. Once committed to a Ph.D. program, the path to the professoriate is fairly narrow and the socialization messages (you are only successful if you get a tenure-track job at a research intensive university) are both restrictive and insular. Then, in well-intentioned efforts to help graduate students become marketable, many are encouraged to apply for programs, awards, and fellowships that further commit them to the academic path without corresponding opportunities to reflect on whether (or not) academe is the right fit.

    e) In the end, everything will be okay. No matter how tough life may seem sometimes, you always have to remember that there is always someone out there in the world that has it a lot worse than you do. And no matter what situation you get yourself into, it’ll be okay because life always goes on


  8. a) Jatia Wrighten
    b) University of Maryland College Park- Government and Politics
    c) 2014
    d) There are not very many black women with a doctoral degree in the field of American Politics. This is unfortunate on many levels, but I think the biggest travesty is that students of American Politics, often times do not get a varied perspective of the theories, culture, and opinions within Political Science because there professors are quite similar. This has been my undergraduate experience and I remember thinking that I would like to hear about policy and politics from someone who looked like me. This is one of the reasons why I am interested in becoming a professor. I know that it is important for students to get a varied learning experience in order to truly understand the complexities of Political Science.
    e) I have attended the SREB Compact for Faculty Diversity/ Institute on Teaching and Mentoring before and the networking opportunity in addition to the sessions the conference offer have been invaluable. I truly believe that these compacts are divine intervention because around this time every year I begin to question my choice in obtaining my PhD. Anyone in a doctoral program is aware of the difficulties and the obstacles that the program brings, but being a minority in a doctoral program is a unique experience unto itself.

    I have also attended the most current dissertation house and learned tips and strategies that have kept me writing and motivated through the tough times. To date, PROMISE has been one of the most positive organizations in my journey to obtain my PhD.


  9. a) Michelle Beadle Holder

    b) University of Maryland, College Park, Sociology Department

    c) 2013

    d) I have always enjoyed teaching and doing research. As a PhD student, I have had the opportunity to teach students at the college level. Moreover conducting meaningful social scientific research particularly related to social inequality and health disparities has been one of my greatest passions. It is for these reasons that I have considered being a professor.

    e) Over the course of my studies at the University of Maryland, I have had many exciting opportunities to develop and grow as a scholar. PROMISE has played an essential role in this development. For example, the Dissertation House has helped me to create structure in the unstructured period of the dissertation writing process. I have also learned useful tips about proposal writing which I know will be important to my future career. PROMISE offers a workshop called “When Professor Says X They Mean Y.” The presenters of this workshop are professors who share valuable information about communicating and working with an advisor. This information has taken away much of the frustration that has come from not understanding my advisor’s expectations. In addition, the Summer Success Institute (SSI) has exposed me to strategies that minority professors in different fields used to successfully enter and navigate the academy. The knowledge I obtained from the SSI has helped to take away some of the mystery of the hiring and tenure process.


  10. a) Robert Holder

    b) University of Maryland Baltimore County

    c) 2013

    d) My teaching career started in middle school as a volunteer for the tutoring center. I enjoy the challenge of expressing complex and nuanced topics in an accessible manner, and the rewards of helping others to appreciate those topics are immense. As a professor, I would look forward not only to teaching, but also to developing those topics through novel research. As a professor, I would have the opportunity to direct that research towards our most critical challenges. I’ve spent the last year trying to incorporate my computer science training to medical, energy, environment, and educational needs. The role of a professor would allow me to direct research in a wide range of fields more than I could ever do as an individual researcher.

    e) I’ve attended many PROMISE events including PROMISE retreats, Dissertation House, SSI, various workshops and meetings, and Fall Harvest, after which my wife and I went on our first date. PROMISE taught me how important community and mentoring is when accomplishing a goal as challenging as earning a PhD. While acquiring my BS and MS I tended to be an academic loner, and the nature of those degrees will tolerate such behavior. However, a little over a year into my PhD work I felt isolated, and considered leaving the program. A friend of a friend who happened to be at UMCP encouraged me to attend the 2005 PROMISE retreat, and there I met the PROMISE community who turned out to be a source of networking, support, and friendship that has sustained me during my long tenure as a part-time PhD student.


  11. a) Charity Wallace

    b) University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB); Pharmaceutical Sciences

    c) 2016

    d) As a first generation graduate student born to immigrant parents, I learned early on how important it is to pursue an education, as they were never afforded a good education. Throughout my 20+ years of schooling, I’ve had amazing teachers and professors that gave me the guidance and support in order to pursue my dreams. Unfortunately, there are not many educators that are as strong, caring, and as supportive as some of my former mentors. Therefore, I feel that there is a need for professors that will not only fulfill their job requirements as educators, but will not hesitate to mentor students that needs guidance. As an inner-city African-American child, I held on to those mentors because they believed in me when I wasn’t sure that I believed in myself. Now as a graduate student, I am forever thankful to those educators that gave me inspiration, as I would not have gotten this far without them. A professor has the capabilities to make a difference in someone’s life, and my intention is to do the same.

    e) The PROMISE events that I have attended were Fall Harvest in 2012 and Summer Success Institute in August 2013. The most important aspect of both events is community. It is important to have a group of individuals or an organization that can be used as a support system throughout graduate school and professionally. Even though I only have been exposed to Fall Harvest and SSI, seeing all of my fellow peers in different disciplines come together because of one common goal is inspiring. Through these programs I have learned how important it is to form lasting relationships with my peers, and encouraged me to get out of my introverted nature. I’ve learned that, even with the immense struggle that comes with graduate school, the end result will be greatly rewarded. Through SSI 2013, I was able to speak to former PROMISE mentors that are in academia and industry, and I was amazed at all of the opportunities afforded to PhD students in the STEM field. SSI has given me great advice on figuring out my career path based on my past and present interests.


  12. NAME: Cherre Jefferson

    University & Department:

    University of Maryland, Baltimore County
    Department of Mathematics and Statistics
    Doctoral Program in Applied Mathematics

    c) Planned year of graduation for your PhD: 2018

    d) One paragraph that describes the reason why you want to be a professor:

    The initial reasons that ignited my desire to be a mathematics professor were the many classes I have taken from professors/teachers who have either lost their passion to teach or never learned how to. Over the course of my academic journey, I have watched too many of my peers gradually fall astray because the instructors could not adequately relay the information to his/her students. Getting tired of the same cycle repeating itself, I began tutoring mathematics and mentoring on all levels from middle school to the collegiate level; hobbies that I hold very dear to my heart. Upon graduating from undergrad I had the pleasure of experiencing first-hand what it is like to teach my own classes. I soon discovered how much I love being in front of my own classrooms in addition to working with the children. The joy that I get when watching my students reach that “Ah-Ha!” moment during instructional time is immeasurable. However, to me teaching is much bigger then spreading mathematical knowledge. You also get the wear the hat of a mentor, a role model and depending on the circumstances, a caring guardian; all roles that I am more than willing to play. From being a grade school teacher to being a professor, I feel that educators, in many instances, are THAT difference in a student’s life which makes them either mediocre or great contributions to everyday society and I want to be one of those differences that will push for greatness in my students.

    e) What PROMISE events have you attended, and what have you learned?

    I am a new BD fellow, so I have only attended three events thus far. I have been to the 2013 Summer Success Institute which was my first PROMISE event and the one that had the most impact. Not only did I receive a lot of helpful tips about

    a.) staying motivated while in graduate school

    b.) the necessary steps to take to be successful in graduate school and

    c.) the emotional, mental and academic hurdles that must be met when transitioning from undergrad to graduate

    but it was extremely eye-opening to see so many African American PhDs in one room who are so willing to lend a helping hand to those who are trying to walk their same path. The last two events I have attended are the BD meet and great dinner, where I got the chance to meet most of the other BD Fellows and the “Funding Your Graduate Education” Success Summit. The summit this past Saturday helped me most with building confidence to apply to these fellowships, key points to put in my personal statements, how to successfully formulate a personal statement and the best way to go about requesting recommendation letters. I have only been a BD fellow for two weeks and PROMISE has taken me under its wing and began aiding me with enhancing my weaknesses and highlighting my strengths.


  13. a) Adegboyega Akinsiku

    b) University of Maryland Baltimore County (Human-Centered Computing)

    c) 2018


    A professor has the unique opportunity to develop future leaders of the academy. I am firm believer in laying a foundation for students in the pipeline. The pipeline I am referring to is education, research, leadership, and various aspects of life. Research professors expose their undergraduate/graduate students to the culture of groundbreaking research.
    A professor who only lectures has the opportunity to create the foundation for students to further advance a field of study in the far and near future. A professor is not a glorified “teacher”, but an expert in their field with the opportunity to create a new world through their students. A professor has the capacity to be an educator, mentor, and everlasting catalyst and that is what attracts me to the position.


    Saturday Success Seminar “Funding Your Graduate Education”:

    -Roughly 17% of all who apply for the NSF GRFP are actually awarded the fellowship. After attending “Funding Your Graduate Education” I firm believer that I can be part of that 17%. Outside of the valuable hints and tips that were given throughout the seminar, I was motivated and encouraged that I can be awarded the fellowship.

    -Information about various fellowships I am eligible for.


  14. Darrian McCarter
    University of Maryland, College Park Department of Teaching, Learning, Policy, and Leadership
    Graduation year of 2016
    My professional goals include being in a position where I can affect positive change in students achievement in urban public schools by providing relevant and appropriate teacher preperation and professional development. When I martriculated through my Mathematics Education program I didn’t find a single class that prepared me for the challenges that come with working in an urban school district such as DC Public Schools. Then once in the classroom finding relelvant professional development opportunities was very hard and few inbetween. I would like to become a professor of Education for this exact reason.
    This would be my first Promise event.


  15. a) Christye Brown

    b) University of Maryland College Park, Department of Behavioral and Community Health

    c) 2014

    d) I have desired to become a college professor since completing undergraduate studies in Biology Education. Although I have transitioned to the field of public health, I believe that teaching while in public health practice will provide a mutually beneficial learning experience. I will be able to serve in a capacity of great interest and passion, allowing the student to fulfill their quest for knowledge in the process. Moreover, the field is so vast and will require bright thinkers, researchers and leaders in the years to come; therefore, I believe it is even more critical to broadly cultivate young minds and provide the tools for their success in whichever public health path they choose to pursue.

    e) I have not attended any events.


  16. 1) William Easley
    2) Human Centered Computing, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
    3) Graduation: 2018

    4) I believe that everyone should have access to an extraordinary education with professors that truly take the best interest of their students into consideration. I am interested in joining the professoriate because I feel as though I would not be where I am with the help of some of my professors that have been there to both educate and motivate me. In the future, I have aspirations to help motivate others to reach their full potential and to make their dreams come true. Everything is made possible with the right supporters behind you (one of the great things about PROMISE is the support system that it offers). Professors have the ability to change the people that will one day change the world. I would like to be a part of that.

    5) I have had the opportunity to attend the 2013 end of year picnic, the 2013 Summer Success Institute, the 2013 opening meeting, and the NSF GRFP application workshop. Through these events, I have learned a lot about making the transition to graduate student. I now have a better understanding of what is expected of me as a graduate student as well as the study habits that I should picking up. I also gained invaluable insight into the process of applying to the NSF GRFP fellowship in particular but I have also learned a lot about applying for fellowships in general. I have a solid understanding of what makes an applicant stand out to a reviewer. Through these PROMISE events, I also have had the opportunity to interact with a community of people with PhD’s who have already been through the process that I am just beginning and are willing to offer stories and advice.


  17. a) Isaac Mativo

    b) University of Maryland Baltimore County, Computer Science

    c) 2014

    d) Through becoming a professor, I can both positively impact others and be self fulfilled. A lot of what I am now is because of the professors who have taught me. I realize the power that professors have over young eager minds, and I would like be a professor in order to help mold these minds into their full potential. Being computer scientist, I realize the potential there is in information technology, and how this can be used to better serve humanity, and especially the minorities.

    -UMBC Grad Students/Postdocs/Faculty/Staff of Color: PROMISE Dinner @ UMBC
    -Understanding Impact Factor & Avoiding the Demon of Perfection
    -Free UMBC Grad Student Lunch May 8 about marketing yourself and “How to Shine in Tough Times”
    -PROMISE Cookout, Sat. May 4.
    -Thesis or Dissertation Completion + Public Speaking Workshops – Saturday 2/23 @UMBC
    ..and a few other events.

    I have learned to be confident in networking with others, to refine my elevator speech, and not to procrastinate. There is much more that I have learned and continue to learn from these PROMISE events.


  18. a) Kenisha Ford

    b) Howard University – Department of Physics and Astronomy

    c) May 2015

    d) I would like to become a professor because I represent a very small group in my field and I think that helps me bring a fresh perspective to the material and a different sphere of influence. I have been teaching introductory lab courses for since I have been enrolled in my program and as I go into my third year I have gained valuable teaching experience and a greater appreciation for the role of instructors. Before I began working as a TA I had not seriously considered a professorial position a fit for me, but I now believe that it could be a very exciting and fulfilling position. I have never had a Physics professor who looked like me and only one woman at the graduate level. I believe this has to change and it would like to be a part of that change.

    e) Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to attend any PROMISE events outside of the 2011 SSI. I thoroughly enjoyed that experience and the knowledge I received and have desired to attend more, but my schedule has not allowed for that to happen.


  19. a) Bryant Best

    b) University of Maryland, College Park. Sociology.

    c) 2017

    d) Being a “good professor” requires three key components: producing quality research, teaching undergrad and graduate students at a consistently high level, and being an outstanding leader in terms of community service. I am proud to say that my life experiences have led me to believe that nothing would make me happier than being a good professor. In particular, my background as a working class Black male from rural America have exposed me to the need both for leadership and scholarship that brings attention to our country’s often misunderstood, sorely undervalued, and undeniably under-resourced minority and low-income populations. Although this task is a difficult one, I am confident that I can make significant contributions to this effort based on the quality mentorship I am surrounded by at the University of Maryland. As a professor, I would relentlessly confront social ills related to race, class, and gender oppression in hopes of leaving the world a better place in which I found it.

    e) To date, the only PROMISE event I have attended has been the 2012 Thanksgiving dinner. While I was there, I was inspired by the organization and the way it could bring such a diverse assortment of strangers together and create a harmonious, thought-provoking environment. I would desire nothing more than to engage with this program on an academic and professional level. I know it has a lot to offer, and I would love the opportunity to be a part of it.


  20. a) Nur Majida Shahir

    b) University of Maryland, Baltimore County & Department of Mathematics and Statistics

    Planned Graduation for M.S.: Dec 2013
    Planned Graduation for PhD: TBD(2019?)

    d) I want to be able to actively shape the future generation of researchers. One of the key roles of a good professor/research is mentoring. People have a variety of different ways to choose who to mentor but often one of the criteria is common background, more specifically common ethnic and/or racial background. To put it frankly, there are very few people of color in bioinformatics and other STEM fields, let alone women of color. While I have been extremely fortunate to find mentors in my field that have encouraged me, it is still discouraging at times to realize that in many cases you will be the only “one” in the room. For many student of color in STEM, this fact is amazingly discouraging and is an active deterrent for many of them. This is one of the reasons why I wish to become a professor. I wish for other students of color to see professors of color in STEM, like David Blackwell and Richard Tapia, not as random occurrences but as a consistent reality.

    e) This year I attended the PROMISE Dinner on the 6th of Sept. In previous years, I’ve attended seminars on Life/Work Balance, teaching and career opportunities for students after graduate school. One of the themes I’ve garnered from these events is that the road to PhD is not a race as much as a journey. It’s not how fast you finish it but what you gain along the way.


  21. a) Name: Rita Shewbridge

    b) University & Department (no abbreviations): University of Maryland Baltimore County, (School of Engineering & Information Science); Human Centered Computing

    c) Planned year of graduation for your PhD

    d) One paragraph that describes the reason why you want to be a professor.
    I currently work in industry and am extremely interested in going into academia. I am passionate and dedicated to my research and field and always seek to impart whatever knowledge I have on others. Becoming a Professor for me would mean shaping the future of our world by starting with those who are just starting to dream and envision what it will become. Our current academic model is not simply about research or teaching courses it is investing the time to know the people whose lives you will shape as you reflect and impart the knowledge you have, it is a profession I can see myself thriving in.

    e) What PROMISE events have you attended, and what have you learned?
    I have not attended any PROMISE events yet, I am currently in my second year of my PhD and am interested in finding ways that I can become a more active and integral part of the UMBC community.


  22. a) NAME:

    Victor M. Torres

    b) University & Department (no abbreviations):

    University of Maryland at Baltimore County (UMBC), Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering

    c) Planned year of graduation for your PhD


    d) One paragraph that describes the reason why you want to be a professor.

    Encourage minorities to pursue graduate education, in particular the STEM fields. Give back to the community.

    e) What PROMISE events have you attended, and what have you learned?

    Attended seminars, Harvest Fest, Summer Success Institute and many other activities.
    I learned the importance of networking and mutual support during higher education career.


  23. a) M. Anthony

    b) University of Maryland Baltimore County, Information Systems

    c) MS, 2015; hope to apply to the PhD in the future.

    d) “It’s because of you I now want to become an epidemiologist” a student told me at the end of my first semester of teaching as an adjunct lecturer at Lehman College in New York. It’s been more than 4 years but these words are still music to my ears. Sharing my story that includes my technical knowledge and field experiences to future practitioners gives me a satisfaction like no other. In fact, I find myself sharing knowledge to anyone that will listen. My personal mantra is simply this, if I can help advance your educational pursuits and/or career goals, I am committed to making a difference in your life. I look forward to one day becoming a Professor that seeks to serve the student to bring out their true potential.

    e) I’m excited about what PROMISE has to offer. Can you believe this is my first semester and I’ve managed to attend three events! my first event was the 1 day workshop that encouraged attendees to attempt a PhD. This workshop was so amazing because I got to see and interact with a robust group of minority high achievers. To have so many African Americans in one room that have completed PhDs, or passed their comp. exams, or were first years. What a testimony. What a possibility! The second event was the grad student dinner at UMBC. I learned so many interesting facts about fellow students, ate great food, and networked with a professor and student in my department. The third event I’ve attended is the workshop to apply for grant funding. I learnt that if you take time to plan and be patient, you can possibly be awarded grant money to fund your education. I am looking forward to Dr. Tull’s scheduled future events– the PROMISE of PROMISE is priceless!


  24. a) Lenisa Joseph

    b) University of Maryland College Park College of Education Department of Counseling Higher Education and Special Education

    c) December 2013

    d) One paragraph that describes the reason why you want to be a professor.
    Professors have a unique position at the upper tier of the education ecosystem and able to make a tangible impact on society as a whole. As a professor in the field of special education specifically, I will model best practices in teaching and mentoring. My research will assist in developing ways to implement education policy so that practices come very close to realizing the policy goals.

    As an instructor it is important to me that everyone realizes that at some point or another in their day-to-day life they experience disability in various ways. I believe everyone regardless of career track should understand and be able to appropriately transfer the knowledge and practical skills of modifying and adapting environments, recourses and personal attitudes so that everyone can succeed. I want to continue to affect positive change not only in the lived experience of children in the school setting but their experience of society. I see my research, teaching, mentorship and community activity being instrumental in that process.

    e) What PROMISE events have you attended, and what have you learned? I have attended events such as
    ALL the Dissertation Support Workshops cosponsored by Promise
    As a whole these workshop prepared me to craft my dissertation. The workshops which focused on building the professional have served me well in interactions as an employee (graduate assistant) and I know will be beneficial was I begin to seek out faculty positions. I have kept every handout they are invaluable.

    Promise Dissertation House:
    Strategies to break the dissertation into smaller chunks to get it done.
    Self-Supervising skills in time management and accountability
    Costing out the process

    When Faculty say X what they Mean is Y:
    These workshops gave me tips to manage better my relationship with faculty and advisors. As a result of one of these sessions I was emboldened with the courage to approach another faculty to ask for assistance as I recognized I as stumbling in darkness attempting to relate to my advisor. I now have co-advisors and have made more progress on my dissertation in one year as opposed to the 4plus years before having that uncomfortable conversation.

    Obtaining Funding for Graduate Research:
    I learned of many avenues to explore funding and key terms to use when applying for funding. I also benefited from being reminded of the importance of reading the instructions.

    Fall Harvest Dinner:
    Benefit of this even for me has been to build my network of support and fellowship.

    Promise Summer Success Institute
    The institute helped me to understand better what was required of me as a graduate student. Some institutes have encouraged me a female in the field to be more assertive in as I manage the balance between my assistantship and dissertation.

    Rocky Gap Retreat
    The Meyers Briggs events helped my to learn more about myself and the value I bring to the community and the resources within the community that I can draw on for my success.

    This event like the Fall Harvest Dinner provides a opportunity to build my network of support and fellowship. It extends it however in that I get I meet my colleagues (I should say friends they are all friends) family members. The outdoors help us get to know each other in a more intimate way….I think the cookouts help make the family of PROMISE stronger.


  25. a) Damian Waters

    b) University of Maryland, College Park Department of Family Science

    c) Expected Graduation: 2014

    d) One paragraph that describes the reason why you want to be a professor.

    Social determinants have long been acknowledged as an important factor that health outcomes for individuals and contribute to health disparities. More recently, researchers have begun exploring how family processes, as a social determinant of health, contribute to health outcomes. Men and fathers, however, are largely absent from health research. My research aims to elucidate how family processes and men’s participation in these processes contribute to health outcomes for family members. The Academy offers a setting where I can build a body of research that helps us better understand how family factors, dynamics, and behaviors affect health. The findings from my research will inform health programs as well as policy. Similarly, a professorship will allow me to train budding scholars, policymakers, program designers, and health professionals to consider family dynamics in their work. Ultimately, I hope that my research and teaching career contribute to the reduction on health disparities for vulnerable and overlooked populations.

    e) I attended the PROMISE Summer Success Institute during my first year at the University of Maryland. The information presented at the Institute prepared me to navigate graduate school and helped me understand faculty expectations. Attending the Institute also allowed me to begin building a professional network of scholars in various fields. I have continued to build that network by attending the Summer Cookout. The informal nature of this event provided a venue to nurture meaningful relationships with my colleagues that extended beyond professional settings.


  26. a) Damian Waters

    b) University of Maryland, College Park Department of Family Science

    c) Expected Graduation: 2014

    d) One paragraph that describes the reason why you want to be a professor.

    Social determinants have long been acknowledged as an important factor that health outcomes for individuals and contribute to health disparities. More recently, researchers have begun exploring how family processes, as a social determinant of health, contribute to health outcomes. Men and fathers, however, are largely absent from health research. My research aims to elucidate how family processes and men’s participation in these processes contribute to health outcomes for family members. The Academy offers a setting where I can build a body of research that helps us better understand how family factors, dynamics, and behaviors affect health. The findings from my research will inform health programs as well as policy. Similarly, a professorship will allow me to train budding scholars, policymakers, program designers, and health professionals to consider family dynamics in their work. Ultimately, I hope that my research and teaching career contribute to the reduction on health disparities for vulnerable and overlooked populations.

    e) I attended the PROMISE Summer Success Institute during my first year at the University of Maryland. The information presented at the Institute prepared me to navigate graduate school and helped me understand faculty expectations. Attending the Institute also allowed me to begin building a professional network of scholars in various fields. I have continued to build that network by attending the Summer Cookout. The informal nature of this event provided a venue to nurture meaningful relationships with my colleagues that extended beyond professional settings.


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  28. The highlight of my time at SREB came as a reminder during the “chalk talk” session. The moderator asked for volunteers to give a chalk talk, aka elevator pitch, about their research. Dr. Carter and others over the years have honed such skills into us, so it was nothing new. After I gave the talk, numerous people came up to me to either encourage me to apply for a job at their institution or as potential research collaborators. Two lessons: 1) have a good elevator pitch 2) when presented with an opportunity to present your work in front of a large group of people, take advantage. As it turned out, there was only time for three volunteers out of a room full of people, so I’m glad I didn’t wait!

    Robert Holder
    Computer Science


  29. The 2013 SREB conference in Arlington Virginia exceeded my expectations in many ways. There was the opportunity to network with peers and recruiters and to learn from experts. The highlight for me, however, was the recurring message echoed by many speakers about the need to never give up. As I understood it, my pursuit for higher education is bigger than me. I have this opportunity because of those people who never gave up before me. Those coming after me are looking at me to successfully complete the program, and I should not fail them. This awareness gives me perspective and helps me keep going.

    Isaac Mativo
    Computer Science


  30. The highlight of SREB for me this year was a session entitled: Being the only ________ in your department. The talk discussed ways to thrive as a professor: having a productive academic life and social life. What I particularly liked about this presentation, in addition to the content, was the presentation style. The presenter was comfortable and confident bringing herself and her experiences to the talk. Her presentational style became somewhat informal, but still engrossing. She helped me realize that there is room for academia for diverse experiences, and for “being yourself,” even when your experiences seem outside of the “norm.”


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