HBCU Writers's Project
For Immediate Release
November 16, 2012
Contact Information

Rabia Muhammed
Florida A&M University

(BPRW) McKnight Fellowship Program Increases Higher Education for FAMU Students

(BLACK PR WIRE/FAMU-TALLAHASSEE) "" Florida A&M University has a long-standing reputation for creating outstanding individuals. Through the McKnight Fellowship Program, FAMU has created some of the most influential people in the community.

The McKnight Fellowship Program was established in 1984 with the intention of increasing the amount of African American students that earn a doctoral degree in fields in which African Americans are underrepresented. This program is available in nine Florida state schools, FAMU being the historically black institution. Each year, 50 students are awarded an annual scholarship of $5,000 for their tuition and an additional $12,000 stipend. For those who are in programs that last an additional two years, their institution then provides them with financial assistance.

The McKnight Fellowship Program holds an annual conference for the Fellowship candidates. This year, the conference was held in Tampa, Fla., from October 19-21. FAMU had seven fellowship candidates in attendance. Obie Abakporo, a Mechanical Engineering major from Palm Bay, Fla., was one of the candidates at the conference. "The entire conference maintained an environment of love and appreciation for everybody involved that appeared genuine," said Abakporo. "To feel that from an entire organization was very admirable."

The McKnight Fellowship Program puts emphasis on making the participants feel that they not only have the financial support, but also the moral support that they may need throughout their doctoral studies. FAMU has a great support system for their students in the program. Many professors were McKnight awardees and continue to support the participants throughout their studies as well as after.

Dr. John Warford, an assistant professor in the department of history and political science is one of the outstanding supporters. While in the program, he studied international studies at Florida International University and has been a part of the program since. He has been a keynote speaker at various conferences and has been a mentor and support system for many FAMU students throughout their stay in the program. "The McKnight Fellowship is the reason I have a Ph.D.," said Warford. "Funding for higher degrees are at a low but the McKnight program has made it more feasible. This program generates 40 scholarships annually."

Like many of the candidates, Saundra Wheeler, an entomology/agbiosecurity major from Dublin, Ga., was drawn to the program when she learned of the great scholarship and support opportunities the program had to offer. "The McKnight Fellows Program is a family that offers funding, guidance and training to its fellows," said Wheeler. "They really get to know you and care about your progress as well as your struggles."

Through the program, she hopes to build her skills in grant writing, research and teaching. After completing the program, Wheeler hopes to use her talents to work with the McKnight Achievers, a program made available to students from kindergarten to grade 12. This program is used to encourage students to excel academically and culturally. "This program grows with you from middle school to high school to college and onward," said Wheeler. "It is an amazing opportunity for students in Florida."

The deadline to apply to the program is January 15, 2013. In order to be eligible for this program, the applicant must be an African American or Hispanic U.S. citizen. They must also currently have a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. Applicants must also have intentions of being a full-time student in the doctoral program and submit their GRE or GMAT scores. "I'm just a living testimony," said Warford. "If you do your part, McKnight will help you do the rest."

For more information about the McKnight Fellowship Program, visit http://fefonline.org/ or visit Dr. Verian Thomas, Dean of the College of Graduate Studies.