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Released July 14, 2005


Hattiesburg– Cool, calm and collected. That's how Howard University student Christopher Newman imagines he will be when he heads off for graduate school.

The mechanical engineering major's confidence is being seeded and nourished while attending The University of Southern Mississippi's Alliance for Graduate Education in Mississippi's (AGEM) summer research program.

Now in its fifth year, the program started May 31 and ends August 1.

Its eight participants hail from Howard University, The University of Arkansas Pine Bluff, The University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University, Alcorn State University and Mississippi Valley State University.

Sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the goal of the program is to arm minority students studying science, engineering, math and technology with valuable research experience to assist in their efforts of earning a doctoral degree.

Teaming up with participants, university faculty mentors also prep students on the graduate school admissions' process and provide written and oral communication workshops to boost GRE scores, leadership and interview skills, plus enhance life-saving skills.

Besides the opportunity to perform graduate-level research and exposure to personal and professional development opportunities, AGEM gives participants a $3,500 stipend, free meals and board, and unlimited access to the Payne Center and Cook Library.

Newman-the youngest in the program this year-said he's learning many things, including the notion that it is never too early to start looking for graduate schools to attend.

He said the knowledge he's gaining is invaluable as he hopes to one day work for a major engineering consultant firm.

"I am gaining experience in the laboratory, including the proper method of recording and analyzing data," said the freshman who is currently researching the phase separation of liquid crystals and pre-polymers.

"The most important thing I have learned is what's expected from students when doing research in a laboratory, but the one thing I will remember most from this program is the people - both participants and faculty. The faculty and staff have been some of the most understanding and caring people that one could ever meet."

Newman said a few of the participants are now considering the Southern Miss graduate program, thanks to their experiences this summer.

Some of those experiences included visits to Stennis Space Center, Marine Life Oceanarium, and Gulf Coast Research Lab. More fun is to come as the group is gearing up for an end-of-year banquet and field trip.

AGEM summer project director Andre' Heath said, "The program has been very successful in reaching its goals. The past participants have presented their research at local and national conferences as well as entered graduate school, physical therapy school, nursing school, or have jobs in their related fields."

There is no fee to join the program. However, participants are selected based on information received from their applications and letters of recommendation.

For more information about the program, please contact Andre' Heath at (601) 266-6593.



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August 4, 2005 3:14 PM