August 31, 2018 | Erin Bluvas, firstname.lastname@example.org
Akeen Hamilton, a Ph.D. student in the department of health promotion, education, and behavior (HPEB), has been selected by the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) to join its State Doctoral Scholars Program. As a recipient of this prestigious award, Hamilton will receive a living stipend for three years, all expenses paid to attend the annual Institute on Teaching and Mentoring, access to professional development funding, and participation in the SREB’s online scholar directory—an interactive tool designed for networking, recruitment, etc.
“The financial support that SREB offers is more than a blessing, and it allows doctoral students, such as myself, the peace of mind of not having to figure out how we will make ends meet as we go further into our respective academic programs,” says Hamilton. “Furthermore, for me, the importance of having been selected for the award has made me thankful for the members of SREB who have now expressed their commitment and support of my studies and success by selecting me for the award. I admire their dedication to helping us minority students achieve our career goals.”
According to SREB, more than one-third of America’s college students are people of color, yet only five percent of faculty members nationwide are African American; three percent are Hispanic, and one percent are Native American. Through a partnership between SREB and participating states and universities, the SREB-State Doctoral Scholars Program aims to increase the number of minority Ph.D. students who seek careers as faculty members on college campuses.
“I am looking forward to attending the Institute on Teaching and Mentoring that will take place in Arlington, Viriginia in late October,” says Hamilton, who will participate each fall as a member of the program. “The potential to meet and network with other past and present awardees, scholars, and mentors will be an invaluable experience.”
Around the Arnold School and on the USC campus, Hamilton is already known for his networking prowess. “I take networking very seriously, and I am quick to jump at any opportunity that will allow me to interact with new people,” he says. “We as people cannot reach our zenith by ourselves; this is especially true for those of us who are in the field of public health.”
Hamilton also plans to take advantage of the mentorship opportunities that accompany the award. “The power of mentorship has been instilled in me from working with Dr. Ronit Elk on her palliative care research projects for the past seven months,” says Hamilton, whose own research focuses on HIV prevention methods for black males.
“She has taken me under her wing and completely changed my outlook on research and, for that, I am forever grateful for her having come into my life. She has provided me with a great understanding of the world of research and what it takes to master this profession. Representation matters, and I am excited to meet African American faculty who have achieved great feats at their academic institutions.”
In parallel, Hamilton continues to make his mark on UofSC and the public health profession with his service, research and leadership activities. In addition to joining the SREB State Doctoral Scholars Program, he is a member of USC’s Graduate Civic Scholars and Grace Jordan Professors Programs. He is also president for the Black Graduate Student Association and HPEB representative on the Arnold School Dean’s Student Advisory Council.