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9 Receive Awards from the Illinois Summer Predoctoral Institute

9 SPI REAPS Outstanding Scholars and Fellows

Nine University of Illinois graduate students have been honored as Outstanding Scholars and Fellows by the Illinois Graduate College Summer Predoctoral Institute (SPI).

"I am proud of all our SPI participants and their dedication to supporting one another this summer. SPI fellows commit to learning more about their research interests and developing community with one another that supports sustainable graduate school experiences," says Gabriela E. Vargas, research programs coordinator for diversity, equity & inclusion in the Graduate College. "Congratulations to our Outstanding Scholars and Fellows. There is no doubt in my mind that they will all continue to be leaders in their respective fields."  

The 2020 SPI Outstanding Scholars and Fellows are:

  • Savana Ammons, Mathematics, Outstanding Scholar
  • Veronica  Garcia, Kinesiology & Community Health, Outstanding Scholar
  • Catherine Jalomo, Chemistry, Outstanding Scholar
  • Michael Klajbor, Communication, Outstanding Fellow
  • Mahogany Monette, Psychology, Outstanding Fellow
  • Nina Owolabi, Education Policy, Organization & Leadership, Outstanding Scholar
  • Jessica  Palalay, Molecular & Cellular Biology, Outstanding Scholar
  • Déjà Rollins, Communication, Outstanding Scholar
  • Howard Weatherspoon, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, Outstanding Scholar           

The Summer Predoctoral Institute provides incoming graduate students with an early introduction to graduate study and an opportunity to work with a summer research advisor in their department. SPI assists participants in becoming socialized into the departmental culture, as well as allow them to prepare for the rigors of their graduate program.

“SPI strives to provide newly admitted U.S. underrepresented racial/ethnic minority (URM) graduate students with an opportunity to become quickly acclimatized to graduate study at the University of Illinois," says Avé Alvarado, executive director of diversity, equity & inclusion in the Graduate College, “making it possible for students to develop a sense of community within and outside of their graduate programs.”

Nominated by peers, Outstanding SPI Scholars pursue research that addresses critical issues and demonstrates leadership, collegiality, support, and mentorship to others on the transition to academic life.

Learn more about the Summer Predoctoral Institute and how the Graduate College at Illinois is achieving excellence through Diversity, Equity & Inclusion programs

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Photos of scholars and fellows (top, l to r) Savana Ammons, Veronica  Garcia, Catherine Jalomo, Jessica  Palalay (bottom, l to r) Déjà Rollins, Nina Owolabi, Michael Klajbor, Mahogany Monette, (bottom r) Howard Weatherspoon