The Excel! Research Scholars Program Celebrates 12 Cohorts of Success!

A Message from the Director,

In March I began watching our nation launch into the deep in search of strategies and ways to address a pandemic that is plaguing the world. COVID 19 can make you ill and it has killed. While education, organizations, businesses and industries are still grappling with how to no longer discriminate against people, COVID 19 got it right. COVID 19 knows no race, no age, no gender, no socioeconomic background, no neighborhood, no religion, it knows nothing but to attack if and when it wants to and where. COVID 19 is a force to be reckoned with.

Another challenge plaguing our nation is race relations and like COVID 19 while black and brown people appear to be the ones greatest under attack, there is no one person excluded from this problem for you are either a part of the solution or the problem feeding it. 

A term that I’ve been seeing in action and in writing during these challenging times is resilience.  Resilience is an action predicated on what we do rather than what we say. How can we be resilient during this very turbulent time in our history? When I think about resilience, I think about Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King who was adamant about peaceful, nonviolent campaigns for fairness, equity and equality instead of firing back the hurtful stones that were thrown at African American people. He challenged everyone to use their minds and not their fists.

I believe this is the time when good, appropriate, and accurate action must mirror our words. The director of the CDC, Robert R. Redfield said we can save more lives if we just wear a mask. Something that can be purchased for less than $1 in a grocery store or obtained for free with a student ID at St. Thomas is action and not just words. It’s an action that demonstrates the conscious commitment to save someone else’s life as well as that of your own.

This year the Excel Research Scholars Program will invite students who want to engage the action of scholarly study pertaining to Race in America. I am excited about this because the study of race in America is not just predicated on research in history, sociology, psychology, etc., but, inclusive of any discipline or major field of study.

Negative race relations in America are impacted by isms that plague America today and can often be found imbedded in the beliefs of one’s culture driving thoughts, decisions and the establishing of systems that can be hurtful, wrongful, discriminating and even cause death. To address systemic racism, we must first study and address the cultural beliefs and attitudes that drive them. Change has to start at the root in order to impact the process that leads to systemic racism.  

The next Cohort #14 Scholars will each study race in America within whatever discipline they choose. All disciplines are invited. Applications are now being accepted for 2021/22. Excel is inviting young budding scholars to be a part of a platform where they can share their educated voices from what they learn from their research to discuss issues pertaining to race in America while preparing for graduate school education. The research they will conduct, under faculty mentorship, will help them lead critical discussions to influence and enlighten, positively, culture in a way that will help bring about the necessary systemic changes that are needed in all industries and communities. Topics can include issues pertaining to equity, equality, fairness and discrimination in healthcare, education, housing, employment, food disparities, and clean water.

Applications are now being accepted! Be a part of this exciting “special edition” of the Excel Research Scholars Program.

Cynthia J. Fraction, Director