Community, Engagement, Belonging and Access; Graduate School

Making the case for graduate study: Men of Color Summit 2021


As Clemson University’s Men of Color Summit celebrates its fifth anniversary this fall it will continue the tradition of closing the opportunity gap for African American and Hispanic males, from cradle to career.  

Historically, much of the summit programming has been directed to the 2,000 young high school men from organizations across the country. This year, though, a unique graduate track is being developed for undergraduate attendees about the benefits and possibilities of pursuing a graduate degree.

Through a series of workshops and panel discussions, this track will provide information for prospective students to help them better understand requirements to apply, have an opportunity to meet with and talk to current graduate students, and discuss programs of support with faculty.  Community college students will have the opportunity to learn about B.S. to M.S. programs.

80th United States Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez was one of the keynote speakers for the 2020 Men of Color National Summit.

Tonyia Stewart, director for graduate recruitment and inclusion in the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences is leading an intercollege effort to interact with these undergraduates.

“The summit gives us the opportunity to engage the best and brightest students attending historically black colleges and universities and Hispanic-serving institutions in South Carolina and across the country,” says Stewart. “We want the students to hear from industry leaders and alumni concerning the purpose and benefit of working towards a master’s or Ph.D.”

A college fair will provide a showcase for participating colleges to share information about programs and opportunities. Each will have current graduate students, faculty and staff on hand to engage and share backgrounds and experiences.

Often summit attendees don’t have graduate school on their radar. Sometimes well-meaning family and friends have told them that such a pursuit is beyond the realm of possibility because of financial concerns.

Consequently, the graduate track will cover three areas:

  1. Funding graduate school – how fellowships and assistantships work
  2. Finding faculty whose research matches the students’ interests and abilities
  3. Preparing the graduate application

“Once the financial component is addressed, we can share specifics about the nuts and bolts of the application process,” said Stewart.

The graduate track would also provide participants the opportunity to interact with deans and associate deans who will share information about their colleges. Faculty, staff and current graduate students will also be on hand to engage and interact with students.

“We give them information so they can make an informed decision, and we certainly hope they’d consider Clemson University to pursue their graduate study,” Stewart says. “But even if they choose to go somewhere else, we will have made a significant contribution to their summit experience and its success.”

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