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Keeping Connections Alive

Keeping Connections Alive

It appeared that the entire higher education community came together and reached out to students affected by Hurricane Katrina, offering to help in one way or another. But perhaps not included in the intense media coverage in the aftermath of the hurricane was the help that some Gulf Coast-area alums offered their alma maters.

Dr. Keith Amos was one of those people. A graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana, he granted us an interview in 2001, and told us about the top-notch preparation he received as a pre-med student. He went on to graduate from Harvard Medical School.

Completing a surgical oncology fellowship in Houston, Amos, like many volunteers, rushed to the Astrodome to help Katrina survivors. But in his role as an Xavier graduate, he is offering his time, mentorship and advice to the university’s pre-med students, who despite having to temporarily enroll at other schools last semester, appear to be on track to not only graduate, but attend medical school in the fall as well. As Pearl Stewart reports in “A Favorable Prognosis,” not only does Xavier’s esteemed pre-med program appear to be “back in business,” Amos’ outreach is a stellar example of how giving back to our alma maters can take meaningful paths.

On the topic of mentorship, the American Economic Association for the past 33 years has hosted a summer program for minority students to introduce them to the rigors of first- and second-year study in master’s and doctorate programs in economics. In a discipline where 1.4 percent of the faculty at the 106-doctoral granting economics departments are Black, as Jackson State University economist Dr. Gregory Price revealed earlier this year, the need for a pipeline program is very real. In “Diversifying the Economists,” senior writer Ronald Roach caught up with the students and organizers of the summer program while on a recent trip to Washington, D.C. to visit various federal agencies.

And if you sensed there was a graduate and professional degree theme, you would be correct. As many of you have already reviewed the rankings in our Top 100 undergraduate edition, Dr. Victor Borden in his “Interpreting the Data,” reports that the total number of graduate-level degrees awarded to students of color has nearly doubled over the past 10 years, from 73,000 in 1995 to just under 138,000 in 2005. The fastest growth rates overall and among minority students occurred at the master’s level, then doctoral and slowest at the first professional ranks. Victor’s piece includes more highlights and analyses and will give you a better sense of how the colleges and universities are ranked in this annual special report.

Hilary Hurd Anyaso

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