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Symposium 2004 - Taking the Next Step

"Taking the Next Step" at the Leadership Alliance National Symposium

"Taking the Next Step" was the theme of this year's Leadership Alliance National Symposium (LANS), held July 30-August 1, 2004 in Chantilly, Virginia. The conference was the culmination of the summer research experience for the 170 undergraduates participating in eight to ten-week Summer Research-Early Identification Programs (SR-EIP) and 130 other undergraduates from similar programs based at 17 of the 29 Leadership Alliance member institutions. A full day was dedicated to oral presentations, as 150 students presented preliminary results of their research to a national audience of peers, faculty and representatives from the public and private sectors. On the following day, 110 students participated in poster sessions.

The conference marked the inception of concurrent panel discussions and seminars for undergraduates and graduate students, with each track focused on taking the next step in their educational or career path. For the first time, graduate students attended seminars on "Careers for PhDs" and "Seeking a Faculty Position" as well as a workshop on "Negotiation Skills." Undergraduates participated in workshops on "The Graduate School Application Process" and "The Graduate School Experience" and received training and advice at several sessions on "PowerPoint Presentations". Topic tables on various areas of interest, as well as a graduate school recruiting and funding opportunities fair, were held on Sunday morning.

The keynote speaker, Vanessa Northington Gamble, M.D., Ph.D., Director, Tuskegee University National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care, opened the conference on Friday evening with the presentation "Taking the Professionally Uncharted Path: Reflections of a Scholar-Activist." Dr. Gamble spoke about combining her career in medicine with her research interests in sociology to focus on the roles and contributions of African American medical institutions and scholars. 1993 SR-EIP alumnus, Glake Hill, Jr., Ph.D., Assistant Professor at Jackson State University, gave the closing session Sunday afternoon, entitled "Directing Our Future" in which he reminded the students to aim high in their forthcoming research careers. At the conclusion, Valerie Wilson, Ph.D. Executive Director, charged the students with their responsibilities to become the ‘leaders' that they are meant to be and to make use of the robust ‘alliance' by remaining connected to the network of scholars past and present in the Leadership Alliance.

The Leadership Alliance National Symposium is generously supported by NIH grant T36 GM063480 from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, Minority Opportunities for Research Enhancement (MORE) Division.