High school seniors honored as Promising Scholars by CURO

High school seniors honored as Promising Scholars by UGA’s Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia recognized 15 Georgia high school seniors as 2008 Promising Scholars at the spring undergraduate research symposium sponsored by the Honors Program’s Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities (CURO) in March.

The students, honored by CURO for their scholastic achievements, were invited to UGA for a two-day program, which included attending the 2008 CURO symposium where more than 200 UGA students presented their research projects.

“CURO Promising Scholars are heavily recruited by top colleges and universities across the country, including UGA,” said Pamela Kleiber, associate director of UGA’s Honors Program, who coordinates the CURO programs.”The experience of attending the CURO symposium and meeting current UGA students who are doing research with our premier faculty usually tips the scales toward their decision to come to UGA with a CURO apprenticeship and admission to the Honors Program.”

This is the fourth year that the Promising Scholars program has been in place at UGA.

“Promising Scholars has become a key part of our overall recruitment strategy,” said David S. Williams, director of UGA’s Honors Program. “We are able to meet top students early in their careers-even before they come to UGA-and help guide them to the right faculty mentors once they are here. As a result, they have been very successful doing important research across campus.”

Panel discussions with UGA faculty from the life sciences, social sciences and humanities were part of the activities. These selected faculty mentors introduced the Promising Scholars and their parents to the rigors and expectations of the undergraduate research experience, including the advantages of becoming involved with research as early as possible in college.

“Over my 12 years at UGA, I have mentored dozens of students, including five or six through the CURO program,” said Katarzyna Jerzak, an associate professor of comparative literature. “It is evident that getting into research early helps undergraduates, especially if they are going to continue on to graduate school. It invariably increases their chances of being admitted to the best master’s and Ph.D. programs in the country.”

Promising Scholar Michael Burel says he enjoyed the opportunity to interact with current UGA students involved in CURO’s apprentice program. He spoke about stem cell research with Tulsi Patel, a junior genetics major from Acworth, who was a former apprentice, and met Steve Stice, a noted biomedical cloning scientist and Patel’s current research mentor.

“I still cannot believe I was talking to someone who was as interested in stem cell research as I was,” said Burel, a senior at Carlton J. Kell High School in Acworth. “Even more so, hearing Tulsi talk about what she did and how she was progressing the field in cutting-edge ways was beyond thrilling.”

Dakia McCray, a sophomore political science and international affairs major from Lithonia, relayed her CURO apprentice experiences to the Promising Scholars. McCray says she saw the potential for undergraduate research when she attended the CURO symposium as a 2006 Promising Scholar. Now studying under the guidance of Victoria Plaut, an assistant professor of psychology, McCray is investigating African-American models of success.

“The great thing about this exposure to undergraduate research is that it allows the high school students to see how integral research is to the academic careers of the participants and the university at large,” said McCray. “By seeing real students participating in real research projects, the Promising Scholars may feel that their dreams of creating their own projects are more attainable, particularly within the environment at UGA.”

The 2008 Promising Scholars are:

Name; Hometown; High School

Amarachi Anukam; Athens Clarke; Central High School
Julian Booker; Madison Morgan; County High School
Michael Burel; Acworth; Carlton J. Kell High School
Jaharris Collier; Oglethorpe; Macon County High School
Dana Higgins; Adairsville; Calhoun High School
John Hobgood; Marietta; The Westminster Schools
Francisco Marrero; Columbus; Columbus High School
Amanda McKenley; Snellville; Saint Pius X Catholic High School
Patricia Mitchell; Tucker; Saint Pius X Catholic High School
Francesca Pefianco; Smyrna; Whitefield Academy
Akanksha Rajeurs; Roswell; Roswell High School
Al Ray; Lithonia; Dunwoody High School
Ibanda Ruhumika; Athens; Cedar Shoals High School
Donald Snyder; Albany; Westover High School
Jan van der Kuijp; Americus; Columbus High School

For more information on the Honors Program’s Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities, see http://www.uga.edu/honors/curo.