Georgia Tech’s Focus Program Grows by More Than 20 Percent in Female and Ph.D. Candidate Participants from Previous Year

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For 25 years, Georgia Tech has offered the Focus graduate recruitment program on the same weekend that the nation celebrates the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr. This program attracts and recruits the nation’s best and brightest diverse students to pursue graduate studies and careers in academia.

Last month, 191 students participated in Focus — up from 160 participants in 2015. Among this year’s participants,105 students were female and 143 were Ph.D. candidates. This marks a 28 and 21 percent respective increase from 2015.

“We are proud to have accepted 55 percent women to the Focus program this year, and this trend mirrors Georgia Tech’s record-setting freshman class being 41 percent female — the first class to ever top 40 percent,” said Andre Dickens, assistant director, outreach initiatives at OMED: Educational Services, a unit of Institute Diversity.

In addition, this year’s Focus program participants represented 78 colleges and universities from approximately 25 states and U.S. territories. Morolake Omoya, undergraduate student at UCLA, remarked, “Before Focus, I had no idea that there was such a welcoming place for me in the United States. Georgia Tech has always been my dream graduate school, and I am thankful to all the organizers of this program for opening my eyes to a bright future.”

The four-day program includes campus and city tours; department and lab visits; panel discussions on graduate admissions, fellowships, scholarships, mentoring, and alumni insights; and the President’s Dinner.

“It is our hope that prospective graduate students will take away these lessons from Focus: a better understanding of the graduate school process and life at Georgia Tech; the importance of networking, particularly making valuable connections with professors; and how empowering it is to be part of a like-minded community,” said Georgia Tech Alumnus Cedric Stallworth, assistant dean for outreach, enrollment, and community in the College of Computing.

Focus President’s Dinner Keynote Speaker Rosalind L. Hudnell, vice president and director of Intel Corporation’s Corporate Affairs Group and president of the Intel Foundation, offered advice to the program participants: “Sometimes, the real world will take away your confidence or treat you like you’re not smart enough. Throughout your life, always remember to advocate for yourself.”

Since the program’s inception, more than 2,500 students from a wide array of colleges and universities across the U.S. have participated in Focus. Some 300 former Focus Scholars are among Georgia Tech alumni who have earned master’s and doctoral degrees. Focus Scholars is a component of the program designed to inform undergraduate juniors and seniors about the benefits of receiving an advanced degree. Additionally, six former Focus Fellows are members of Georgia Tech’s engineering faculty; Focus Fellows encourages diverse doctoral students to consider an academic career.

“Increasing diversity in higher education through programs like Focus will contribute to the preparation of a diverse workforce equipped to meet the complex challenges of the 21st century and global community,” said S. Gordon Moore Jr., executive director of Institute Diversity’s Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion.

Currently, Georgia Tech is the nation’s top producer of doctoral degrees awarded to all minority students (Diverse: Issues in Higher Education). The Institute also awards more engineering degrees to women than any other school, according to the American Society for Engineering Education.

To learn more about the Focus program, visit



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