April 03, 2009

Ceremony will recognize SIUC’s McNair Scholars

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE -- An elite program for top students from disadvantaged backgrounds will say hello to new students and goodbye to graduating ones during a special ceremony set for this weekend at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The McNair Scholars program is holding its Welcome Ceremony starting at 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 5, in the Student Center’s Old Main room. The event serves as an annual crossroads for the program, where the University congratulates graduating students, welcomes new ones and salutes continuing McNair scholars.

“It’s an important time in these students’ careers,” said Julia Spears, program director. “We will be honoring our 11 graduates, talking about the research projects of our10 continuing scholars and welcoming 12 new scholars.”

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and news crews are welcome to cover the McNair Scholars Welcome Ceremony. Contact Julia Spears, program director, at 618/453-4585 for more information.

Named for the late astronaut and physicist Ronald E. McNair, who died in 1986 aboard the space shuttle Challenger, the program provides an enriched education experience for low-income and first-generation college students who are members of underserved higher education groups. The program emphasizes a strong mentoring network and professional development and research opportunities aimed at promoting academic excellence, graduate school success and attainment of doctoral degrees.

The program prepares undergraduates for graduate studies and careers as professors and researchers. The federal government has funded the work of McNair Scholars at SIUC since 2004.

Students apply to the program following their sophomore year and participate during their junior and senior years. During that time, they take two specialized classes and work with faculty members who serve as mentors for their research. During summer, the participants complete an eight-week research institute that focuses on research, team-building and communication skills, among other things.

The program will begin with opening remarks from Spears, followed by a welcome address by Don S. Rice, interim provost and vice chancellor. SIUC Chancellor Samuel Goldman will present awards to the graduating scholars before officials introduce continuing scholars and incoming scholars. John A Koropchak, vice chancellor for research and graduate dean, will make closing remarks before a reception.

Graduating McNair Scholars, their majors, research project title and mentor and achievements, as provided by the program, include:

•Raquel Brown, biological sciences, who researched “Rhox Gene Expression During the Ovarian Cycle.” Her mentor was James MacLean, assistant professor in the Department of Physiology.

Brown applied to Northwestern University, Virginia Commonwealth, the University of Chicago and SIUC. She earned first place in the 2009 SIUC Undergraduate Research Forum. Her other awards include the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students Travel Award Recipient (2008) and the American Physiology Society Minority Travel Fellowship Award to attend Experimental Biology Conference (2009). Brown is also a member of the Illinois Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, Pre-Professionals Program, and Black Women Task Force.

•Conisha Brownlee, human nutrition and dietetics, who studied “Assessment of College Students’ Food Choices when Comparing Their Home Choices to Their College Campus Choices.” Her mentor was Sharon Peterson, assistant professor in the Department of Animal Science, Food and Nutrition.

Brownlee applied to Illinois State University and SIUC. She was on the Dean’s List, Fall 2008. Her memberships include the Illinois Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, Student Nutrition Academic Council (SNAC), RUA Healthy Kid Team, Students Promoting Educational Advancement and Research, Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences, and the Southern Illinois Dietetic Association (SIDA).

•C. Grant Cox, III, art-painting, School of Art and Design, who studied “Recycled-Repurposed-Revalued.” His mentor was Najjar Abdul-Musawwir, associate professor in the School of Art and Design.

Cox applied to Rhode Island School of Design, University of Texas San Antonio, and Syracuse University. He is the president of League of Art and Design. His work has been featured in several exhibits including the “Halloween Show,” Douglas School Art Gallery, Murphysboro; “Love at the Glove,” Surplus Gallery, SIUC, spring 2008; “Trash to Art,” Koken Art Factory, St. Louis, fall 2008; “C4 2008 Sculpture Show,” Surplus Gallery, Carbondale, fall 2008; “Recycled Reused Revalued,” Vergette Gallery, SIUC, summer 2008; “Accumulated,” Vergette Gallery, SIUC, spring 2009; and “Varsity Art III”, Art Saint Louis, St. Louis, spring 2009.

•Jennie Irwin McCormick, rehabilitation services, who studied “The Matrix Model of Hope: Does Attendance Affect Employment After Treatment?” Her mentor was Shane Koch, associate professor at the SIUC Rehabilitation Institute.

McCormick applied to the master’s program in Community Counseling at Columbus State University. Her accomplishments include receiving a Research Enriched Academic Challenge (REACH) award (2008) and presenting her research at the National Rehabilitation Association’s fall 2008 St. Louis conference. She was on the Dean’s List, a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, a member of STARS, a student organization in Rehabilitation Services, and fund-raising chair for the Student Chapter of the National Rehabilitation Association. She also spent the 2007 spring semester studying abroad in Finland.

•Vernon Johnson, healthcare management, School of Allied Health, who studied “Communication Breakdown: A Critical Assessment of Type 2 Diabetes Education Efforts Directed Towards African-American Students at a Midwestern University.” His mentor was Mark Kittleson, professor in the Department of Health Education and Recreation.

Johnson applied to Purdue, Penn State, and John Hopkins universities. His honors include Honorable Mention in 2008 Summer McNair Research Symposium, Dean’s List spring 2008, and the 2007 Leadership Award as Saluki Peer Mentor. He is a member of Underground Arts, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, Black Affairs Council, Black Togetherness Organization, Saluki Volunteer Corps, Black Men's Round Table, and the SIUC Mentorship Academy. He also is the Undergraduate Student Government Finance Committee vice chair, a Progressive Masculinities Mentor, and an American Public Health Association member.

• Chasity Love, chemistry, who studied “The Effect of Support, ZnO, on the Structure and Properties of Cu Clusters.” Her mentor was Lichang Wang, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Love has been accepted with funding to attend Purdue, Indiana University, and the University of Madison-Wisconsin. Her accomplishments include Dean’s List (three semesters), College of Science High Academic Honors (seven semesters), working with the Illinois State Police Student Internship Program, and being a participant in the Illinois Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Program. Her awards include Research-Enriched Academic Challenge (REACH) research assistantship, fall 2008-spring 2009; National Science Foundation-Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) Internship at SIUC, summer 2007; Southern Illinois University Edwardsville East St. Louis Center Exemplar of Success Award, fall 2006; and the Black Togetherness Organization Future Leader Award, spring 2006.

• Monica Mason, journalism-news editorial, who studied “Narrow Casting or Narrowly Casting? A Qualitative Analysis of Marketing Strategies Used on the Popular Social Networking Website Facebook.” Her mentor was Novotny Lawrence, assistant professor the Department of Radio-Television.

Mason was accepted into the University of Minnesota with a fellowship. Her honors include being named a Top 25 Distinguished Senior, Dean's List (summer 2008 and fall 2007), the Marcia Bullard Scholarship, Harvey and Trish Welch Scholarship, and the Short-Term Study Abroad Scholarship for Egyptian Architectural Tour. She earned second place at the 2008 McNair Research Symposium. Her memberships include University Honors Program and the Sigma Alpha Lambda National Leadership and Honors Organization.

• Sarah Owusu, physiology, who studied “Expression of the Foxd1 Gene in Pituitary During Embryonic Development.” Her mentor was Buffy Ellsworth, assistant professor in the Department of Physiology.

Owusu applied to the University of Chicago, Rosalind Franklin University, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis and SIUC. She is a member of the Illinois Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Program, the Endocrine Society, and the Pre-Medical Minority Enrichment Development (PMED) program. She is a student research assistant in Ellsworth’s physiology lab where she conducts immunohistochemistry staining, beta galactosidase staining, frozen sectioning and paraffin sectioning. This summer she will present at the Endocrine Society Conference in Washington, D.C. She also was a resident assistant (2007- 2008), Saluki Peer Mentor (2006-2007), and physiology/ biology tutor (2005- present).

• Kandace Vallejo, history, who studied “Perceptions and Reflections of Democracy: A Qualitative Study.” Her mentor was Kathy Hytten, chair and professor in the Department of Educational Administration and Higher Education.

Vallejo earned a McNair Scholars Recruitment Fellowship to attend University of Texas Austin in fall 2009. Currently, she is a recipient of the Davis-Putter Foundation scholarship (August 2008). In 2007, Kandace joined fellow social justice organizers at the Escola Nacional Florestan Fernandes in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where she studied international political economy. In 2009, she returned to Brazil to study democracy and globalization. She is a member of the Student Farmworker Alliance (SFA) National Steering Committee and has been the National Council Coordinator for the Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC).

* Stacie Wallace, psychology, who studied “Perceptional Play: An Investigation of the Perception and Motive of Playful Aggression in Intimate Heterosexual Relationships.” Her mentor was Rebecca Weston, associate professor in the Department of Psychology.

Wallace applied to DePaul University and the University of Illinois at Chicago. She received a Research Enriched Academic Challenge (REACH) award (2008) and won the People’s Choice Award at the 2009 Undergraduate Research Forum. She is a teaching assistant for Psychology 201 and is completing a senior honor’s thesis. She received an Illinois General Assembly Legislative Scholarship, the James E. Walker Presidential Scholarship, the Extraordinary Leadership Award for University Housing, and the Scholastic Honors Award-SIUC. She is a member of the Psi Chi National Honor Society for Psychology, National Scholars Honor Society, Golden Key International Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda National Leadership & Honors, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society and National Deans List.

•Toya Wilson, College of Education and Human Services, health education, who studied “Barriers to Physical Activity and Health Eating Habits for Adolescents at Risk for Type 2 diabetes: A Needs Assessment.” Her mentor was Sharon Peterson, assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Sciences, Food and Nutrition.

Wilson will attend the Master of Public Health program at SIUC on a PROMPT Assistantship. Her accomplishments include co-authoring an article with her mentor entitled “Barriers to Healthful Eating and Physical Activities for Low-income Families with Adolescents ‘at risk’ for Type 2 Diabetes” in the spring 2009 edition of the “The Health Educator.” She also serves as a Vince Demuzio Fellow with the Jackson County Health Department (2008-09). Previously she served as a research assistant for the “RUA Healthy Kid?” Diabetes Intervention Program in Southern Illinois. She is a member of Eta Sigma Gamma Health Educators organization and Gamma Chi Rho Christian Sorority.

Continuing McNair Scholars, their hometowns, majors and mentors, include:


• Jonaté Govan, Daytona Beach, health education. Her mentor is Mark Kittleson, professor in the Department of Health Education and Recreation.


• Elizabeth Patterson, Aurora, biological sciences. Her mentor is Buffy Ellsworth, assistant professor in the Department of Physiology.

* Catrina Barber, Cairo, special education. Her mentor is Morgan Chitiyo, assistant professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and Special Education.

* Levell Mables, Chicago, business. His mentor is Suzanne Nasco, associate professor in the Department of Marketing.

• Alec Perry, Chicago, communication disorders and sciences. Her mentor is Shawna Pope, clinical instructor, SIUC Rehabilitation Institute.

• Von’Dragas Smalley, Chicago, English. His mentor is Randy Burnside, assistant professor in the Department of Political Science.

• De’Angelo Williams, East St. Louis, cinema and photography. His mentor is Jyotsna Kapur, associate professor in the Department of Cinema & Photography.

•Tamara John, Hanover Park, radio-television and Spanish. Her mentor is Beverly Love, instructor in the Department of Radio-Television.

• Ashley Wilson, North Chicago, political science. Her mentor is Laura Hatcher, assistant professor in the Department of Political Science.

• Koleshcia Nelson, Springfield, psychology. Her mentor is Paul Etcheverry, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology.

New members of the McNair Scholars program for 2009, their hometowns and majors and mentors where applicable, include:

• Nefeteri Williams, Bellwood, social work. Her mentor is Laura Drueth Zeman, associate professor in the Department of Social Work.

• Ashley Jordan, Blue Island, psychology. Her mentor is Meera Komarraju, assistant professor in applied psychology.

• Malcolm Slack, Cairo, business. His mentor is Jim Musumeci, chair and associate professor in the Department of Finance.

• Charlie Dorsey, Carbondale, speech communication specializing in performance studies. Her mentor is Elyse Pineau, associate professor in the Department of Speech Communication.

• Antwuan Donley, Chicago, chemistry. His mentor is Mary Elizabeth Kinsel, associate scientist in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

• Krymese Frazier, Chicago, psychology. Her mentor is Peggy Stockdale, professor and director of Applied Psychology Program.

• Diamond Garner, Chicago, accounting.

• LaCharles Ward, Chicago, psychology. His mentor is Rachel Griffin, assistant professor in the Department of Speech Communication.

• Jere Mitchell, Chicago, sociology

• Patrick Smith, Chicago, speech communication. His mentor is Derrick Williams, doctoral student in the Department of Speech Communication and Elyse Pineau, associate professor in the Department of Speech Communication.

• Marcus Bailey, Naperville, psychology.

• Jeanette Coronado, Oak Forest, English for secondary education. Her mentor is Kathy Hytten, chair and professor in the Department of Education Administration and Higher Education.