World's Only Minority Higher Education College Student Blog Inspires Under-Represented Students to Pursue Graduate School

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GradPortal.org's minority higher education college student blog has the power to inspire minorities to apply to graduate school.

Only 17 percent of all current graduate students belong to an under-represented group, according to the U.S. Department of Education. But a minority higher education college student blog is looking to change all that.

GradPortal.org, the only graduate school directory focused on helping under-represented groups find programs and financial aid, has created a minority higher education college student blog that chronicles the experiences of minority students in the process of earning a graduate degree.

The purpose of this minority higher education college student blog, which is available at http://www.GradPortal.org/mentoring-channel, is to show members of minorities (which includes race, sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.) that it is possible to earn a graduate degree as part of an under-represented group.

"The GradPortal.org mentoring channel lets people know that if these students can do it, so can they," says Mark Shay, president of GradPortal.org, a project originally started through a FIPSE grant. "There is nothing like this minority higher education college student blog currently available anywhere else, and we truly believe it has the power to inspire more students to pursue degrees."

The site is entirely free to use, and anyone can read the posts and comment on them, creating a dialog with the students and becoming a part of their journey.

The first two minority higher education college student blog participants are Jason Rivera, a PhD candidate and McNair Scholar in Social Psychology at Claremont Graduate University, and Cathryn Blue, a PhD candidate in Experimental Psychology at St. Louis University.

As a resident assistant, Rivera has experience offering advice to graduate students. He also had a hard time deciding whether to attend graduate school at all, and looks forward to sharing his story with others going through the same process.

"When I first considered graduate school, I had a hard time making the appropriate decisions," he says. "I hope this minority higher education college student blog will give future students a resource to make their process easier than mine."

He goes on to say, "As a resident assistant, I learned that it was never helpful to simply give the answers, but far better to give students the ability to understand their options so that they could make the choice themselves, while modeling the behavior all along the way." He plans to use this method in his blog, letting readers learn from him instead of just telling them what to do.

Blue also has a great deal of experience mentoring people, both through a program called SOJOURN, which is organized through the department of African American Studies at SLU, and Nia Kuumba, a Catholic-based program focusing on the empowerment of African American women in the St. Louis community.

Blue says, "It is important for potential grad students to know what's going on in current grad students' minds. I wish I had something like this when I was an undergrad."

She adds that she feels she can learn as much from the readers as they can learn from her.

GradPortal.org aims to enlighten minority students and show them that they are not only capable of getting into a great graduate program, but that they can receive financial aid, fellowships and scholarships to help them afford it. The students on the minority higher education college student blog will share their stories with prospective students in an attempt to inspire them to pursue a degree. Look for more bloggers to be added in the future.

After reading Rivera's latest post, an entry about preparing for final exams, Shay smiles and says, "With this minority higher education college student blog, we believe we can alter the statistics and give under-represented groups a greater presence in graduate school."

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MATTHEW ULMER
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