The University hosted the annual Summer Research Opportunity Program conference this weekend, drawing more than 560 minority students from around the country.

Paul Wong
Former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders addresses a research conference Saturday.<br><br>JOHN PRATT/Daily

“The enthusiasm, the interest and just the obvious good intent of everyone involved in this program is very inspiring,” said Barbara Allen, director of the of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation.

The conference was the culmination of a six-week program designed to raise the number of underrepresented minorities in graduate programs, Allen said.

The CIC is an academic consortium of the Big Ten universities. The Universities of Chicago, Illinois-Chicago, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Indiana and Purdue University sponsored the conference.

This year”s keynote speaker was former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders. “Each conference,” Allen said, “we like to select a speaker who will inspire both the students and the faculty and provide a role model as well.”

After being accepted to SROP, students develop a research project with the help of a faculty mentor. During the program students are able to given the opportunity to better understand the graduate school experience, Allen said.

At the conference, students from all participating universities came together to share their experiences, create alliances, and have fun, she said. “I hope some of the relationships established this weekend will last their entire academic and professional careers.”

Michigan State University SROP coordinator Nettavia Curry agreed that the program builds a strong support network amongst participants.

“Students remain involved in the program, even after they have finished,” she said.

Also, current students and recent alumni of the program had the

opportunity to present the results of their project. MSU alum Ronnie

Tyson, who participated in SROP last year, is back this year to present his research on chemical dependency counselors.

Tyson said his experience in SROP motivated him to enroll in a Masters program, because it provided him with exposure to research.

“In my neighborhood,” he said, “they didn”t talk about qualitative and quantitative research. I wasn”t exposed to that kind of stuff.”

Curry said SROP raises the level of motivation to pursue graduate work by giving students a realistic preview of what graduate school is like.

The CIC launched the program in 1986. Since then, over 7,500 students have participated. Over two-thirds of alumni have attended graduate and professional schools five times the national average.

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