Program Focuses on Increasing Graduate Student Diversity

Prospective College of Computing graduate students were on campus last week as part of the Georgia Institute of Technology’s annual FOCUS Scholars Program.

The program began in 1991 with the goal of increasing the number of master's and doctoral degrees awarded to underrepresented minorities from Georgia and across the country.

Following a welcome dinner with the full group of students on Jan. 12, the 44 prospective GT Computing graduate students spent the following day learning about the College, its faculty and programs, admission requirements, as well as research and funding opportunities.

Among the group were two students from Ohio State University that have previous connections with GT Computing. Kamari Wright and Michael Johnson both worked supporting the College’s summer computing camps and other programs.

Wright, a graduate of West Lake High School on Atlanta’s southwest side, helped teach computer science fundamentals to campers between 2010 and 2013. He also helped to develop some of the projects for the series of weeklong camps.

“I’m excited to be here and I am looking forward to learning more about my next steps for my career,” said Wright. “I want to know more about the admissions process, what’s needed, and to find out what some of the faculty are looking for in their graduate students.”

More photos are available on GT Computing's Flickr

Johnson supported the summer computing camps in 2015. In 2016, he returned to the College of Computing to work on a summer research project for a professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

“Although it wasn’t a College of Computing project, I worked out of [Assistant Dean for Outreach, Enrollment, and Community] Cedric Stallworth’s office, so I learned a lot about the College from him and his team,” said Johnson.

“I really like the campus and it was fun working here, but I want to learn more about what it is actually like to be a student at Georgia Tech,” said Johnson.

Wright, Johnson and the other perspective GT Computing students had the chance to hear firsthand about being a Georgia Tech graduate student during a panel discussion Friday morning. Topics covered included campus life, course offerings, and financial choices.

“One of the biggest concerns for our prospective graduate students is funding,” said Jennifer Whitlow, director of computing enrollment for the College of Computing. “However, we always encourage them to not focus too much on funding. There are a variety of assistantships, external scholarships, and fellowship opportunities, not to mention an average starting salary of $105k for our MS graduates.”

“And of course, Georgia Tech is very well-known for supporting and investing in its Ph.D. students,” Whitlow said.

The agenda for the day also included a presentation from Associate Dean Charles Isbell titled Mentorship is Just the Beginning, a Q&A session led by Whitlow, and a luncheon with a number of faculty members.

“The luncheon is a great chance for prospective students to meet face-to-face with faculty to learn directly from them about their classes, research interests, and possible graduate research or teaching assistantships,” said Whitlow.

After the day spent with GT Computing, the prospective students joined the rest of the Georgia Tech prospects Friday evening for the Focus President's Dinner. Also attending were Rafael Bras, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs, Archie W. Ervin, vice president for Institute Diversity, the presidential cabinet, deans, faculty, staff, alumni, graduate students, and corporate representatives.

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Albert "Ben" Snedeker, Communications Manager

404-894-7253