Students meet with grad school visitors


Students from various majors gathered last week upstairs in the Student Union to receive information about upcoming summer research internships and graduate school opportunities with the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

For 15 plus years, Dr. J. Russell Willis, sociology and psychology professor at Grambling State University, with the help of Connie Walton, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs have been hosting these seminars with different universities, including Big Ten schools. 

Dr. Willis, a graduate of Big Ten University Ohio State, stated that “a big school like Ohio State afforded me huge opportunities, and that is what I want students at Grambling to be afforded the same as myself, this is why I’ve been hosting the events.”

Many students, like Nia Karriem, a management and French major, from Oakland Calif., attended the events in hopes of “learning valuable insight on what to expect post graduation and how to apply for graduate schools.”

The event kicked off as one of the three speakers, Francesco Puni, who has worked with UIC since 2002, gave a brief background of the university and some facts about Chicago. He went into detail about some of the programs that UIC has to offer and why UIC, is the school of choice. He said that UIC is one of the largest, most diverse campuses in the world and yet the graduate program has a smaller class setting with no more than 20 students per class.

 After Puni’s presentation, another UIC representative, Kenneth Morgann, Director of the Urban Health Program, pointed out key reasons why graduate school is important, and even more important for minorities. Morgann spoke about the under-representation of the minority community in the medical field and some challenges they face. “At UIC many minorities at first tend to feel uncomfortable being that the school is predominate white, so I, upon others are there to raise the students comfort levels and help guide them through their years at UIC.”  

The speakers encouraged students to ask questions, and some that arose were about financial matters and picking the right discipline to chose for graduate school. 

The speakers briefly spoke about fellowships and assistantships. Fellowships include tuition, some fees and even stipends being paid with no work requirement other than to maintain a good GPA, while assistantships receives the same benefits however, you are required to work with the university as a graduate assistant. 

Another major question asked was how to decide which discipline or area of study to enter. A third representative, Denise Y. Yates, Director of Programs, for the College of Medicine, answered the questions in a nutshell by suggesting that students stop looking at titles but instead do research on what exactly a discipline entails.  

Denise went on to say that minority students should never minimize what they bring to the table, as minority students you have to have confidence in who you are, what you have and what you can do.

After the representatives explained to students why UIC is the school that they should consider and answering questions they ended the event and begin to talk one on one with students about UIC

Furthermore Morgann, wanted to say to GSU students before his departure that “our reaching out to Grambling is legitimate, we have real opportunities available for students interested.”

For more information about UIC, you can check out their website at