FOCUS program, held each year over the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday,
is designed to encourage African-American students to pursue advanced
degrees in science and engineering.
FOCUS is first
and foremost a graduate school marketing program. The program's
goal is to make minority students aware of the benefits and the
increased opportunities of a graduate degree, then recruit them
to pursue a graduate degree at Georgia Tech. However, if students
do not choose to enroll at Georgia Tech, the hope of FOCUS is that
they will at least choose another graduate school. The program is
open to all students who meet the academic criteria and will find
the program beneficial.
From the beginning,
student participation in FOCUS has been by invitation only. FOCUS
administrators and volunteers contact universities across the nation,
asking for nominations to the program. This process enables Georgia
Tech to attract those most highly qualified. Through the years,
Tech has developed a strong network with the historical black colleges
and universities, and majority institutions have been supportive
and cooperative in identifying their top students.
with Georgia Tech’s King Week Ecumenical Service on Sunday.
Saturday, January 17, Mr. Sundiata Jangha, a Ph.D. candidate in
Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech, spoke at the "Alumni
Breakfast" on "Why go to graduate school?" In a nutshell
his answer was " A B.S. degree today is like a high school
degree for our parents. It will get you by, but it's just not enough."
Other pointers that he gave us were to "Be prepared,"
and "A Ph.D. is not for everyone." He mentioned that "One
thing that will keep you [grounded! is your sense of spirituality.
For those who were interested in obtaining doctorate degrees, he
said that "Obtaining a Ph. D. is a mental marathon. People
run marathons to finish, not to come in first." Finally he
left us with a motivational quote from Jesse Jackson: "It is
your attitude not your aptitude that will control your altitude."
Later on that evening we were taken on a tour of the Dr. King Center
and to bring the night to an end, there was a party.
Graves, ONR Research Student
day two, there was a break out session in which we were separated
into different groups according to our major. We heard from the
graduate school coordinator and some faculty members in the department
of Computing and Mathematics. Then, we attended student panels in
which students from our prospective department spoke on their experiences.
Later on that night, we were honored to attend the President's dinner.
We heard from Dr. G. Wayne Clough, president of Georgia Tech. We
also heard from America's Wireless Strategic Marketing Manager,
Dr. Dannellia Gladden- Green
On day three, we attended the Alumni Breakfast. Its speaker Sundiata
Jangha, Ph.D Candidate in Mechanical Engineering, spoke on why you
should attend Graduate School. He stated that a bachelor's degree
will eventually be what a high school diploma was for our parents,
if they even received one. "A PhD is not for everyone".
"It is for those who want to contribute something new to their
field and for those who plan to branch off into researching".
"If you're not one of these people then a PhD is not for you"
according to Mr. Jangha. Later on, we visited the King center. On
the last day, we attended the King Celebration Ecumenical Service
where we heard from Dr. Stewart Bums. Dr. Bums is one of the foremost
experts on all the source materials on Dr. King and the Civil Rights
Movement. He has written the only published history of the Montgomery
bus boycott. Daybreak of Freedom, which he helped develop as the
award winning HBO dramatic film, Boycott. This concluded the end
of the conference.
This conference was all that I expected and more. I left this conference
with motivation to the tenth power. Now, I have enough motivation
to feed the entire ONR family. In the future, if Georgia Tech does
not end up to be the institution in which I will pursue graduate
studies, I will always remember FOCUS 2004 and the impact it made
on my life!
Baptiste, ONR Research Student