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UofL welcomes four new Southern Regional Education Board Doctoral Scholars

October 24th, 2006

As part of the nationwide effort to increase the number of minority college and university faculty, four minority students have received scholarships to pursue doctoral degrees at the University of Louisville. They are among Kentucky’s 2006 Southern Regional Education Board Doctoral Scholars and joins nine other SREB doctoral scholars already pursuing degrees at UofL.

The SREB program’s goal is to increase the diversity of students who earn PhDs and seek careers as college faculty. The program particularly encourages applicants who seek a PhD in a field with low minority representation, such as science, mathematics, engineering, and science or math education.

UofL’s recent recipients are studying in the Kent School of Social Work, the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Medicine.

Andrea Ascuena is a first-year doctoral student in the College of Arts and Sciences. The Nampa, Idaho, native is pursuing her work in English rhetoric and composition.

Having earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Boise State University, she said she came to UofL for doctoral study because of the reputation of the Writing Center, where she now volunteers.

“They have a great Writing Center here,” she said.

Ascuena said she is particularly interested in the online work done at the center, as she developed an e-mail consultation program while in Idaho.

“I think in the very near future there will be a lot of scholarship on online writing center work,” she said.

Adrienne Bratcher is working on her dissertation in physiology and biophysics at the School of Medicine, where she is researching the role that high-salt diets play in the development of high blood pressure.

“The exact mechanisms of hypertension are not really known, so I’m using animal models to examine the functions of various vaso-active agents like nitric oxide,” Bratcher explained.

Bratcher said she became interested in the field during childhood because many of her family members suffer from chronic hypertension and diabetes.

“I was the only one in my family who really didn’t have those issues, so I felt as a youngster that it was my duty to find out what was going on.”

After earning a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Tennessee State University, Bratcher came to UofL to complete a master’s degree in physiology and biophysics. She decided to stay in Louisville for her doctoral work because staff members made her feel truly welcome.

“It seemed like they really did want me as a student, and I can say now that it’s been a wonderful experience,” the Memphis native said. “The department treats me just like family.”

Michael Allen Robinson graduated from the Kent School master’s program in May and plunged right into his doctoral program. He ventured to Louisville after earning an undergraduate degree in finance at DePaul University in Chicago, where he grew up.

“I plan on staying here in Louisville. I like it here,” Robinson said. “I’m glad I made the transition. This now has become my hometown.”

Robinson said he is considering a couple of areas of research as he pursues his doctorate. One topic — grandparents raising grandchildren — would be an extension of work he did on a master’s research project in Kent’s marriage and family therapy program.

Another possibility is the study of substance abuse, specifically crack cocaine, and its effects on communities, he said. This draws on his work at The Healing Place in Louisville. “I’ve seen a lot and how it (drug abuse) has devastated families and communities.”

For Doraine Slaughter, the SREB opportunity allowed her to take educational leave from her 13-year post as director of undergraduate social work at Texas Southern University and continue her education at UofL.

The step, she said, brings her full circle, as she started her secondary education at UofL before completing her bachelor’s degree in sociology at Kentucky State University, her master’s degree in social work at the University of Kentucky and a post-master’s certificate in social work education at the University of Houston.

Slaughter’s professional experience in child welfare has sparked her interest in researching aspects of social welfare administration.

“It (Kent’s doctoral program) will equip me with the research skills to do a real thorough assessment of what’s being offered,” Slaughter said, adding that she is looking forward to learning new approaches to evaluating programs. “There’s always room for improvement.”

Related Link
Southern Regional Education Board

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