University of South Carolina

Making a statement: USC Doctoral candidates hone their presentation skills with seminar

Sharla Benson-Brown has seen how South Carolina public school students growing up in poverty are treated in classrooms and she wants to change it.

The daughter of a schoolteacher with a master’s degree in secondary education, Benson-Brown says she always knew that teaching was not her passion. After four years in a classroom, she decided to return to USC for a doctorate in social foundations in education.

As a graduate assistant, she tries to impress upon young teachers that children living in poverty have skills and assets that can be tapped in the classroom and that the children should not be defined by the resources they lack.

Her doctoral dissertation focuses on first generation college graduates who have made it out of poverty and into the middle class. She wants to know whether they identify with living the “American dream.”

Her research along with that of 10 other presenters will be shown this week at a graduate research seminar sponsored by the African-American Professors Program and the South East Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate. “It will give me practice in presenting and get my research agenda out there,” said Benson-Brown, a scholar in the African-American Professors Program.

The seminar’s goal is to bring awareness to the academic scholarship being done by people of color at the University of South Carolina, said John McFadden, the Benjamin E. Mays Distinguished Professor Emeritus and director of the African-American Professors Program and the South East Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate.

“We want to establish a foundation for future research and scholarship and to broaden the potential visibility of these programs within the university and the state,” McFadden said.

The presenters will receive critiques from several judges after their presentations.

Richard Milner, Vanderbilt University associate professor of education, will be the keynote speaker at the conference and will lead a roundtable discussion on research, writing and publishing.

Legna Torres-Garcia has already published her research on the balance between rivers and ocean tides that she conducted at USC’s Baruch Institute on the South Carolina coast. With a master’s degree in astrophysics, Torres-Garcia is a year away from her Ph.D. in physical oceanography.

“I’m driven to the ocean,” said Torres-Garcia, a native of Puerto Rico and fellow in the South East Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate. “I could be a mermaid.”

After completing her doctorate, she hopes to continue her research into the physics behind oceanic weather phenomena.

The African-American Professors Program was created in 1997 to expand the pool of African American professors in critical academic and research areas of colleges and universities. As of May, 34 students have graduated through the program.

By Web Communications

Posted: 11/13/12 @ 12:00 AM | Updated: 11/13/12 @ 3:15 PM | Permalink

Graduate research seminar

  • When: 8:45 a.m.-3:15 p.m., Friday (Nov. 16)
  • Where: Room 135, USC Law School
  • How much: Free and open to the public
  • Registration: You can register online or by calling 803-777-5553

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