Graduate school establishes support system for underrepresented minority students

Jeffrey Pierre/Asst. News Director

Concurrent with receiving its fifth award, the University Graduate School launched the Academy of Graduates for Integrative Learning Experiences to aid minority and underrepresented students in graduate education.

The program aims to build a community of support within the University, establishing AGILE as a student group that will have access to support outside of their respective academic areas.

“The idea is to put together interpersonal and intrapersonal skills together for our graduate students to help them excel in academics and the real world,” said Dean Lakshmi Reddi.

AGILE, now in its second semester, looks to build a community of graduate students that will act as a support system to students outside of their respective academic program.

Reddi said students seeking graduate degrees often feel limited with the resources put in place to support them in their growth and development outside of coursework.

Reddi said a program like AGILE has been needed for decades.

“Our students are living perfectly executed academics lives,” Reddi said. “But repeatedly they are asking for training on areas like writing and public speaking.”

Reddi thinks that individual colleges cannot be the only ones expected to aid students in the building of essential skills outside of classes.

“The individual colleges cannot be expected to do it. They are occupied with administering the actual coursework and busy guiding students in succeeding academically,” Reddi said.

Though Reddi plans to structure the program specifically to cater to the underrepresented graduate student population with the resources of AGILE, he said it will not segregate students who do not fall under the category of minority or underrepresented.

Through AGILE, Reddi plans to provide the underrepresented students with beneficial resources but would like to make sure all types of students can play some role within AGILE.

[pullquote]“We wanted to reach out specifically to minority students to make sure they are successful after graduation,” said Reddi. “But we also recognize the need for diversity.”[/pullquote]

With the grant money award of $20,000, given by the Council of Graduate Schools and Educational Testing Services, AGILE plans to fund several beneficial programs for students over the next two years.

Reddi looks to host various lectures with well-known speakers who have excelled in a specific academic fields to motivate and inspire students. Also, potential members can look forward to assembling with students outside their respective scholastic programs to build skills and a stronger, supportive community.

Ultimately, AGILE will look to focus on the actual strength of the community of students rather than simply looking to build an office, building or organization.

Reddi does though see AGILE establishing a central location at the Modesto A. Maidique Campus and Biscayne Bay Campus upon the future success of the program.

Chaundra L. Whitehead, a doctoral student in adult education and human resources development, was one of ten selected for the first group of AGILE students.

Whitehead said she is excited to be a part of the first cohort of students and believes that the program can be very beneficial.

“In grad school the courses are smaller and you never get a chance to connect with other student outside of your program,” Whitehead said. [pullquote]“This provides us with a mechanism to connect and even share research with other students.”[/pullquote]

As the program’s architect, Reddi sees the potential in AGILE and how it can play a significant role in the lives of students.

“It’s a very holistic approach,” said Reddi. “We want to help students put everything together and, to see it all as pieces of a puzzle coming together.”


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