(Aug. 9, 2011)--In 1865, Patrick Francis Healy became the first African American to earn a doctoral degree when he received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Louvain in Belgium. Healy would go on to become the first African American president of a university when he took the leadership role at Georgetown University at age 39.
Over the last century the country has seen the number of African Americans receiving doctoral degrees rise, but the number of faculty openings at universities with African American Literary Studies programs has dwindled down to single digits nationwide in recent years.
To address the problem, The University of Texas at San Antonio launched the African American Literatures and Cultures Institute in January 2010 under the leadership of Joycelyn Moody. Moody funded the institute through her endowment as the Sue E. Denman Distinguished Chair in American Literature.
In June, the institute hosted a three-week summer program with eight African American students from across the nation. The students received $2,000 research stipends, rigorous mentoring, innovative academic training and encouragement to pursue academic careers in English and African American literary studies.
Workshops on various topics including race, poetry, and the student's personal experiences in academia, were led by Howard Rambsy II, professor of literature and director of the black studies program at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville.
This program gets students acclimated to pursue careers in academia and participate in extended conversations on big topics in African American Studies," said Rambsy. "I hope they will go back to their universities and get really motivated to make a formalized plan to follow up on their various career paths."
Rambsy, who's been teaching for seven years and is the third member of his family to receive a doctoral degree, would like to create a pipeline for students to earn their Ph.D's and join him in academia.
"I hope this personal experience allows them to go on and significantly change the trends that we have seen in the past, said Rambsy. "I want them to see a bigger holistic picture and go beyond their own personal narratives."
One of the students enrolled in the program was Simone Parris, a 21-year-old junior from Cornell University.
"I felt this institute would prepare me for graduate school by placing me with people who would motivate me to pursue my doctorate in a field that does not receive as much money or respect such as a doctor or lawyer," said Parris. "I feel like I have the support and opportunity to be around people that share my passions and interests."
Derrick Reed, a 21-year-old junior from Morehouse College, chose to attend because he is intellectually hungry and welcomes the discourse among students.
"We are learning some of the nuances of what it takes to become an actual professor and I am gathering interesting information that I can use later, such as statements of purpose, writing samples and recommendations I will need to continue into graduate studies."
The final highlights of the institute included students traveling to New York City to explore cultural attractions, and participating in a closing ceremony in the University Center Denman Room where they shared their personal experiences.
Selected students must be interested in learning more about how to become a professor of African American literacy and cultural studies, be a junior with at least one year of undergraduate studies to complete, and must select and work with a dedicated mentor through the graduate school application process through completion of a mentor-directed research program.
Successful first-year students at UTSA are those who learn how to utilize resources, recognize and resolve problems, and prepare themselves to take advantage of their time on campus. The Student Success Series promotes this achievement by offering workshops on the common concerns and questions first-year students have during their transition to university life.
University Center Retama Auditorium (UC 2.02.02), Main Campus
The Fraternity & Sorority Councils New Member Information Session gives students information about the diverse organizations, their membership requirements, the benefits of joining a fraternity or sorority, as well as discussing important information about hazing guidelines and the responsibilities of joining these types of organizations.
University Center, Retama Auditorium (UC 2.02.02), Main Campus
Come be a part of your official Class of 2021 picture! The entire freshmen class gather at the Recreation Field Complex which some may know as the UTSA Football Practice Field behind the Softball Complex and Alvarez Hall.
Recreation Field Complex, Main Campus
Come show your Roadrunner Spirit by joining our very own Rowdy, The Spirit of San Antonio Marching Band (SOSA), your fellow students, faculty and staff as we light the Monument at our Main Campus entrance at the stroke of midnight to mark the start of a new academic year.
John Peace Blvd. entrance, Main Campus
Join President Eighmy for this celebration to kick off the new school year. The event will feature live musical performances and a free BBQ dinner.
Convocation Center Lawn, Main Campus
Join fellow Roadrunners on the Downtown Campus for this free BBQ dinner.
Bill Miller Plaza, Downtown Campus
New and returning graduate students are encouraged to stop by before going to class to learn more about what UTSA has to offer, participate in fun activities, listen to music, connect with peers and enjoy refreshments.
Bill Miller Plaza, Downtown Campus
Students are invited to attend the Fraternity|Sorority Life Informational Sessions and Mix & Mingle. This is an opportunity for students to meet-and-greet members of the Fraternity/Sorority Life community, and get together with your new Roadrunner friends.
UC Travis and Harris Rooms (HUC 2.202 and HUC 2.212) then UC Lawn, Main Campus
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
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