April 28, 2006

SIUC honors Chicago-area McNair Scholars

by K.C. Jaehnig

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale bid farewell to its first graduating group of McNair Scholars, honored those continuing on in the program and welcomed its newest recruits in a ceremony held April 9 at the Student Center.

The Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program, named for the African-American physicist who died in the Challenger explosion, channels federal dollars to 155 universities across the country to foster graduate school aspirations in college students who are the first in their low-income families to attend college or are among those minority groups whose members don’t usually go on to earn doctoral degrees.

Fourteen of them come from Chicagoland.

SIUC, which has a long tradition of educating minority and first-generation college students, began the five-year program in 2004. New scholars take part in an introductory orientation covering such topics as graduate school selection, preparing for the Graduate Record Examination, time management and teamwork. In the fall, they enroll in a class that focuses on helping them succeed as undergraduates, graduate students and new faculty members. All work with faculty mentors on individual research projects.

Acquiring funding to recruit and retain graduate students is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the University’s development by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.

Here’s a brief look at Chicago area Scholars at SIUC:

Folasade Ajayi, a continuing junior in health care management, mentored by Student Health Center Director Cheryl Presley. Ajayi hopes to enter a graduate program in health administration. She is the daughter of Mosonmade Ajayi (3423 W. 72nd Place).

Esteban del Valle, a new senior in art and design, with Assistant Professor Najjar Abdul-Musawwir serving as mentor. del Valle’s research will focus on landscape painting, taking as his subjects large cities at different points of the day. He is the son of Miguel and Lupe del Valle (2218 N. Lamon).

Christine Guerra, a new senior with a double major in political science and philosophy, mentored by Chair Robert L. Clinton. Her research will focus on the role of black women in leadership and social movements and the relationship between blacks and the American school system. She is the daughter of Hugo Guerra and Gwendolyn Arnold (5757 N. Sheridan).

Jami N. Jackson (1506 71st Place), a graduating senior in psychology, mentored by Associate Professor David L. DiLalla in research examining influences on academic motivation. She will enter SIUC’s graduate program in counselor education. Her parents are Jeffrey L. Jackson and Staci E. Bass.

Danita D. Little, a graduating senior in English, mentored by education college Research Project Specialist Susanne C. Ashby in research examining what college students and professionals think about using proper grammar. Her parents are David L. Little and Pamela Hammond. She is the ward of Chicago resident Detra A. Jones Crudup (10227 S. Wallace).

Nadia Lopez, a new senior in zoology, with anthropology Chair Susan M. Ford serving as mentor in research examining how captive animals benefit from zoo enrich programs and to do comparative studies on the behavior of two species of South American primates. She is the daughter of Plainfield residents Julian and Rosa M. Lopez (21515 Georgetown Drive).

Levell Mables, a new sophomore in physical education, whose mentor has yet to be chosen. His research will focus on the effects of a sedentary lifestyle on the increase of obesity and other metabolic diseases. He is the son of Lemont Mables and Charlotte Willis.

Adebowale “Debo” O. Osisanya, a graduating senior in journalism, mentored by Assistant Professor Laura E. Hlavach in research examining the reasons Congress and the FCC seem more interested in regulating televised “indecency” than in violence. He is the son of Akintunde Osisanya of South Holland (16300 Kenwood Drive) and Olayemi Osisanya (4640 N. Sheridan Road).

Antonio Rodriguez, a new junior in political science, with Assistant Professor Celeste Montoya Kirk serving as mentor. His research will focus on Latin American political behavior, voting patterns and the ability of government institutions to provide for their communities. He is the son of Antonio and Carolina Rodrequez (2700 S. St. Louis).

Naketa M. Ross, a new sophomore in psychology, whose mentor has yet to be chosen. Her research will focus on the factors influencing young adults who must choose between following in their parents’ footsteps or pursuing their own dreams. She is the daughter of James L. Buckner and Eloise C. Ross.

LaQuita D. Smith, a continuing senior in industrial technology, mentored by Materials Technology Center Director S. “Max” Yen. Smith hopes to enter a graduate program in manufacturing engineering or engineering management. She is the daughter of Ulysses C. and Debra J. Smith (1466 W. 107th St.).

Willie Walker, a continuing senior in industrial technology, mentored by Assistant Professor Mandara Savage. Walker hopes to enter a graduate program in safety and quality control. He is the son of Bellwood Alicia M. Walker (626 Eastern).

Deanese A. Williams, a graduating senior in journalism, mentored by Chair Walter B. Jaehnig in research examining how the news media reported stories on Chicago public housing. She is the daughter of Billy Harris and Marianne Tidwell-Harris (4752 S. Evans).

Toya K. Wilson, a new sophomore in food and nutrition, with Professor William J. Banz serving as mentor in research attempting to determine the potential of a soy protein diet in treating people with Type 2 diabetes.