Tyesha Dwight-Higgin, a member of UD's Class of 2005 and former NUCLEUS program student and McNair Scholar, delivers the keynote address.

Celebrating success

NUCLEUS marks a year of program expansion and student achievement

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3:49 p.m., May 15, 2012--The University of Delaware's NUCLEUS program this month celebrated its 19th year of providing academic support for underrepresented students—for the first time, including undergraduates majoring in a variety of non-science subjects.

NUCLEUS, the Network of Undergraduate Collaborative Learning Experiences for Underrepresented Scholars, traditionally was designed to offer mentoring and enrichment services to students in the natural sciences. Beginning this academic year, the program, now housed in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), has expanded its mission to encompass students in any CAS or College of Health Sciences major.

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With the expansion, the program this year served 220 students representing more than 20 majors, said Jacqueline N. Aldridge, assistant dean for access and academic development programs in CAS. Aldridge and Rosalind B. Johnson have worked together to implement the NUCLEUS expansion. 

"We've certainly grown during the past year, but our mission remains the same," Aldridge said. "We work to ensure the academic success, retention and graduation of underrepresented, first-generation and low-income students. We provide academic support to prepare them to be successful here and then in their careers or graduate school."

NUCLEUS marked the achievements of its current students with a year-end banquet on May 6. The audience of about 80 students, family members and faculty in particular celebrated the 14 program members who are graduating seniors. 

"The fact that NUCLEUS has expanded its infrastructure to support students in the social sciences, arts and humanities is key to our growth as a college and, indeed, as a University," CAS Dean George Watson said at the banquet. The program, he said, is a key part of efforts to make UD "a more diverse, more equitable, more inclusive institution."

Watson also praised the program's 600–plus alumni, many of whom have gone on to earn advanced degrees and to achieve professional success. One of those alumni, Tyesha Dwight-Higgin, returned to campus as the banquet's keynote speaker. Dwight-Higgin graduated from UD in 2005 with a bachelor's degree in biological sciences and then earned a doctorate in physical therapy from the University in 2008. She now practices in Delaware.

A special guest at the banquet was Tom Hofmann, a UD alumnus who is a donor to the program, providing a gift that allows students to pursue undergraduate research and internship opportunities. Hofmann's support also provides a reminder that there are those outside the University itself who are "cheering and rooting for your success," Watson told the NUCLEUS students.

"I'm impressed by the success of the program and the impact you have on the lives of the students," Hofmann wrote in an email after attending the banquet and meeting students. "I'm also happy to see that my gift is enabling students to do internships in their chosen field of study."

In addition to recognizing all graduating seniors, special awards were presented at the banquet.

  • Academic excellence awards went to the student in each class with the highest GPA: Ricardo Nieves, senior; Hamza Bhatti, junior; Dylan Kahler, sophomore; and Shaivi Patel, freshman.
  • Students who earned a 4.0 GPA during fall semester were Enoch Cheung, Amanda Grigoli, Dylan Kahler, Michelle Ma, Tara Mitchell, Angelica Montes, Shaivi Patel and Kathleen Seip.
  • Honored for academic perseverance were Ashley Lewis, Kristine Nguyen and Ayana Randolph; the Peer Mentor and Service Award was given to Akash Patel; and special appreciation awards were presented to Turquoise Abdullah and Sharonne Temple.

Article by Ann Manser

Photos by Duane Perry

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