G.W. Carver Program provides graduate opportunities

The George Washington Carver Program for Graduate Students allows Calvin Waldron to pursue his Ph.D. in food science and technology.

The George Washington Carver Program for Graduate Students allows Calvin Waldron to pursue his Ph.D. in food science and technology.

By Zeke Barlow

Calvin Waldron is most at home in a laboratory.

The self-described “nerd at heart” loves nothing more than being surrounded by Bunsen burners and beakers as he discovers novel solutions to challenging problems.

But when Waldron, of Roanoke, Va., was getting ready to finish his master’s degree in food science and technology earlier this year, it looked like his time in a university laboratory would soon end and he was headed for the job market.

Then he found out about the college’s George Washington Carver Program for Graduate Students. Now, Waldron is earning his Ph.D. with a full assistantship that will allow him to continue his work to develop new methods to prevent the spread of campylobacter bacteria in poultry processing plants.

“The George Washington Carver Program has meant the world to me,” said Waldron. “Without it, I wouldn’t have gone on to get my Ph.D. Now a much wider scope of careers await me when I graduate.”

Waldron is one of 14 students in the program that encourages students from historically black or tribal colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, students from the Appalachian region, and other nontraditional students to enroll in graduate programs. Since the program began, diversity in the college’s graduate student population has signifantly increased.

“This diversity allows for an interchange of cultural and intellectual viewpoints that we wouldn’t otherwise have,” said Randy Grayson, the program’s coordinator. “This lets all individuals in the college have experiences different from what they are used to, and it tears down some of the biases we have in our society.”

As for Waldron, he’s excited to continue his time in his research laboratory and looks forward to a career that will be enhanced by the advanced degree he is pursuing.

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