A national organization committed to recognizing high achievers recently awarded two Fort Valley State University students the National Role Model Award.
Minority Access Inc. honored FVSU seniors Xavia Taylor and Cleveland Ivey, both majoring in plant science with a concentration in biotechnology, at its 18th annual conference in Washington D.C. The students also presented their summer internship research work.
Taylor, 21, said she feels honored by the recognition. “I was really excited because I had never been honored on that level,” Taylor said. The Moultrie native presented her research on investigating the in vitro of Cas1 and Cas2 proteins of the streptococcus thermophilus CRISPR-Cas (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) immune system. After graduation, she plans to attend Morehouse School of Medicine and become a pediatrician.
She advises for students interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) to be committed. “Research itself is very demanding. If you want to pursue it, you have to go in headstrong. Biotechnology is a great major and it can bring many opportunities. It has been really rewarding,” Taylor said.
A recent recipient of the Georgia Crop Production Alliance (GCPA) Scholarship, Ivey, 21, said it meant a lot receiving the National Role Model Award, but the true honor is the work that he put in and the people who helped him along the way.
“It’s not really showing what I’ve done alone. It is highlighting what my advisors were able to take part in, as well as the Lord. My family is also big supporters of the research that I’m able to do,” he said. Ivey presented his research on the use of entomopathogens in the postharvest management of the maize weevil.
A Coolidge native, Ivey said after graduation, he plans to pursue a master’s degree and a doctorate in entomology. He is interested in a career involving research and possibly teaching, as well as working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
His advice to students is to make the most of their time while in college.
“Make sure you sow the best seeds so you can reap the best harvest,” Ivey said. “It all depends on you. Keep the faith.”
Dr. Sarwan Dhir, an FVSU professor of plant biotechnology, nominated Taylor and Ivey for the National Role Model Award due to their outstanding academic and scholarly activities. He serves as the director of multiple National Science Foundation (NSF) science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs at FVSU.
As their academic advisor, Dhir said he is proud of both students and believes they will have bright futures. He added the award displays their commitment to academics and community service. Taylor and Ivey have conducted summer internships at FVSU and made presentations at national scientific meetings. “They have exhibited scholarly excellence and are extremely involved on campus, making them top role models for others,” Dhir said.
Minority Access is a nonprofit organization committed to increasing diversity, decreasing disparities and reducing incidences of environmental injustices. The organization received national recognition for advancing education, research and employment opportunities through the National Role Models Project, National Role Models Conference, student internship programs, college readiness and access programs and other enriching programs.
For more information about Minority Access, visit http://bit.ly/2j3dQ4f.