Damond Jackson, a graduate student in the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in Leadership at the University of Central Arkansas, was selected as an Arkansas Scholar for the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) Fellowship Award. The fellowship assists minority graduate students interested in pursuing careers in academia.

The grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) provides support services from the SREB-State Doctoral Scholars Program to minority graduate students in the NSF Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) program, according to the program’s website.

The fellowship award achieves two goals — it increases the likelihood of scholars completing a Ph.D. in science, technology, engineering or mathematics and encourages and prepares scholars for a career as a successful college faculty member.

The three- to five-year doctoral award provides an annual stipend up to $20,000 for the first three years of the scholar’s Ph.D. program. The university, graduate school, or department provides an additional two years of stipend support if needed.

Jackson is UCA’s first SREB Doctoral Fellow.

"I definitely think it is an honor, particularly to be the first SREB Scholar at UCA, especially in the first Interdisciplinary PhD program in Leadership in the state," Jackson said. "It is a perpetual reminder of my passion to be a mentor and role model to African Americans, particularly males."

Jackson said a program such as the SREB Fellowship Award serves a great need.

"I think that a program such as this is virtually indispensable to addressing the disparities that exist between minority and non-minority scholars," he said. "The most important benefit, at least from my perspective for now, is the ability to direct all of my intellectual capital and physical energies into getting the most from this program so that I can develop into the best scholar I can be."