2013–2014 Bouchet Scholars
Utibe is a doctoral candidate in Cellular and Molecular Pathology at UW–Madison. She gained her first research experience in the summer of 2005 at UW–Madison through the Exceptional Research Opportunities Program (EXROP). This and other research experiences that followed solidified her decision to enroll in the Cellular and Molecular Pathology graduate program where she is currently a dissertator in the laboratory of Dr. Timothy Yoshino. The laboratory investigates several aspects of schistosomiasis, a neglected tropical disease caused by infection with parasitic worms and is regarded as the second most devastating parasitic disease worldwide, after malaria.
In her early years, Utibe lived in Nigeria. Being surrounded by poverty and many unhealthy individuals, one of whom was her own grandmother, left Utibe in search of answers to unsettled questions about healthcare. After completing her undergraduate degree at Louisiana State University (LSU), the questions she had, along with other experiences served as motivation for her pursuit of a PhD degree.
Upon receiving her degree, Utibe plans to pursue a career as a professor at a research-intensive institution. She hopes to add to the number of female scientists and serve as a role model, promoting science to students from diverse backgrounds.
Marla is a doctoral candidate in Counseling Psychology at UW–Madison. Her research examines psychological, social, and cultural factors that influence academic persistence for marginalized communities in higher education. Specifically, she has been examining Latina/os in higher education. Her dissertation is exploring psycho-sociocultural processes within mentoring relationships that influence academic persistence decisions for Latina/o undergraduates. She has been a product of mentoring which has influenced her research.
As an undergraduate, she helped to establish the first historically Latina-based sorority, Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc. on UW–Madison’s campus as well as establishing the Multicultural Greek Council that now comprises 10 multicultural-focused Greek-lettered organizations. Additionally, she served as one of the Executive Staff member of the Multicultural Student Coalition (MCSC) that served over 5,000 students in educational, cultural, and political programming during the 2004–2005 academic year.
Growing up, Marla recalls how her mother always taught her to be humble. This instilled in her the value of hard-work and integrity. Everything she does, from involvement with student organizing to research on marginalized communities, she always reminds herself that had it not been for those who came before her, she may not have found herself in the places and spaces she now occupies.
Marla hopes to be a student affairs professional who works with marginalized college students to obtain their college degree. Additionally, she wants to continue her work as a researcher/scholar and provide genuine care for those with whom she works.
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Shannon is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. She believes in supporting and advocating to ensure diversity exists in STEM fields. Shannon serves the academic community through activities associated with Graduate Engineering Research Scholars (GRS) program and through the WARF Ambassador Program to promote and encourage underrepresented students to enter the STEM fields.
Shannon believes that character is “what you do when no one is around”. Upon receiving her Bachelor’s degree from MIT she decided to further her education by attending graduate school to obtain a master’s degree. Once she was exposed to academia in a more intimate manner, she began to re-evaluate her career goals. Shannon was reminded of all the teachers who made a substantial impact in her life by igniting her passion to learn.
Shannon also recruits graduate students from her undergraduate institution of MIT. Each fall, she travels to Boston and speaks with members of various students groups, such as the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), about the benefits of attending graduate school.
Upon receiving her Ph.D., Shannon intends to continue in academia as a professor at a research university. As a professor, she hopes to have a broad impact in the community by continuing her dedication to mentoring, teaching, and academic excellence.
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Michelle is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology. Her research explores the construction and reproduction of educational inequality. She has had the opportunity to approach this issue from a variety of angles through research using data collected from large-scale randomized field studies and secondary national data on children and schools. With this research she has explored the impact of data-driven school reform on student achievement, the importance of teacher and parents perceptions of one another for understanding parent engagement and the role of family and school characteristics for unpacking the causal effect of social capital and childrearing.
Faculty, staff and student members of the Minority Recruitment and Retention Center (MRRC) and the solidarity group lovingly refer to Michelle as the “mother” of solidarity because of the sheer amount of time, energy and commitment she has consistently put into developing and maintaining these organizations over six-years time.
As an interdisciplinary researcher, Michelle desires to cultivate relationships with scholars from a variety of fields which could develop into fruitful academic and professional collaborations. She welcomes the opportunity to be a part of a community of scholars who, because of shared experience, can support her and whom she can be supported by.
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