In a sea of bad news concerning the lack of Black male representation on college campuses, an oasis of minority male scholarship exists at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, through the Meyerhoff Scholarship Program.
Launched in 1988 via the generous philanthropy of real estate entrepreneur Robert Meyerhoff and his wife, Jane, the Meyerhoff program was initially focused on increasing the number of Black males pursing higher education in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) but now has been expanded to include women and other underrepresented students.
In April, the Meyerhoff program held a two-day 20th Anniversary Research Symposium and Celebration, bringing back many of the 200 alumni who have completed doctorates, medical degrees and other STEM graduate degrees.
Meyerhoff alum Dr. Kafui Dzirasa, who is on the verge of adding a medical degree to the Ph.D. in neurobiology he's already earned while enrolled in a dual-degree program at Duke University, attended the Meyerhoff 20th anniversary celebration and called it "absolutely amazing, just to see the summation of 20 years. Everyone in the room seemed to be a doctor of some sort. I've never seen anything like it."
Dr. Crystal Watkins, a Meyerhoff alum who went on to earn a M.D./Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University and recently wrapped up a stint as chief resident in psychiatry at JHU, says she felt "overwhelming emotion" while standing in a room with many of her Meyerhoff colleagues who are already trailblazing scientists and physicians.
"For the alumni it's just amazing because you have so many talented people that are this critical mass. And you're really saying, 'Wow, look at what kind of force we could be in changing the face of science,'" says Watkins, who has accepted an assistant professorship at Hopkins. "When I say the face of science, [I mean] not just the color of the people that are practicing it, but even...