More than twenty (20) years ago, on the campus of Georgia Institute of Technology, there was a major problem. The problem was not enough racial diversity among the recipients of advanced degrees, specifically at Georgia Tech. In hopes of increasing the minority numbers, Dr. William Wepfer and Dr. John White accepted the challenge of increasing minority numbers. In acceptance of this challenge, Dr. White and Dr. Wepfer assigned Mr. Robert Haley as the director of Special Projects in the College of Engineering. From Haley’s newly appointed position birthed the FOCUS Program. The FOCUS Program would act as a connector between delivering the usefulness of receiving an advanced degrees and how especially beneficial it is to minority students. All the while delivering the message about advanced degrees, Mr. Haley was also trying to increase the acceptance and graduation rates of Georgia Tech’s minorities.
In the first year (1992), the FOCUS Program was held during the celebration week of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday Holiday. It is held annually around this time because the vision for the program was inspired by Dr. King’s quote, “Education without social action is a one-sided value because it has no true power potential. Social action without education is a weak expression.” Twenty-one years (21) later, the FOCUS Program still exists.
In 2013, Rust College had the privilege of having Mr. Sana Sise, a Computer Science instructor, escorted three (3) students that were granted the opportunity of to attend the FOCUS Program: Cherlinca Boyd is a graduating senior mathematics major; Zackline Mendy is a graduating senior Computer Science major; and Demitrius Moore is a graduating senior Mathematics major as well. These students traveled to Georgia Tech and were introduced to the various opportunities of receiving an advanced degree from that institution. They were also shown around in their respective departments. Since their attendance of the FOCUS Program, Cherlinca and Demitrius have applied to the Ph.D. program in Mathematics and Zackline has applied to the Ph.D. program in Bioinformatics.
From the first ever FOCUS Program that attracted forty-three (43) students, it has now grown to attract hundreds of students. In 2013 alone, there were one hundred & thirty-six (136) FOCUS participants. From the humble beginnings of only focusing of engineering majors, the FOCUS program now accepts minority students of all majors and disciplines.
|Cherlinca Boyd||Zackline Mendy||Demitrius Moore|