On the heels of the #1 ranking for producing Black male doctoral students by the National Science Foundation, Morehouse College, the nation’s only college dedicated to educating and developing men of color, is proud to announce the academic accolades of its 2022 valedictorian Jeffrey White and co-salutatorians Joshua Curry, Jaeden Johnson and Garret Oatis. Representing four separate academic divisions at the College, the emerging Morehouse men have demonstrated the summits of intellectual discovery and research as they continue their academic pursuits post-graduation. They were honored at the College’s commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 15, 2022.
Class of 2022 valedictorian Jeffrey White is a biology major with a passion for scientific inquiry. His research interests lie in neglected tropical diseases that are endemic within low-income subpopulations of developing regions. The Suffolk, Va. native is particularly interested in visceral leishmaniasis, a parasitic disease found in tropical and subtropical areas “and the biochemical modalities that underpin its pathogenesis.”
“The department of biology, and the culture of assiduous scholarship and mentorship therein, facilitated my acquisition of requisite skills, which proved auspicious during my matriculation at the College,” said White. “They helped me to grow as a nascent researcher capable of contributing to the corpus of knowledge in my subdiscipline of interest.”
Three graduates share the co-salutatorian honor this year: software engineering major Joshua Curry from Atlanta, Ga. by way of The Bahamas; political science major Jaeden Johnson of Texas City, Tx.; and international studies major-Spanish minor Garret Kahlil Oatis of Chicago, Ill. Each scholar has participated in on-campus and off-campus research internships and fellowships. Two of the three will continue their education, pursuing doctorates in their chosen fields of study.
With a deep passion for technology paired with an incredible work ethic, Joshua Curry was able to secure multiple software engineering internships at companies including Autodesk, Twitter, and Google to name a few. Curry is seeking opportunities to further his promising career and to establish himself as a pillar for young students seeking representation in the computer science field.
“Morehouse’s Culturally Relevant Computing Lab has been the most integral to my success,” said Curry. “The lab, along with Dr. Kinnis Gosha, Dr. Naja Mack, and Dr. John Porter, have offered me a multitude of opportunities to better my technical skills in an environment that fosters learning and collaboration with both undergraduate and postgraduate students.”
The second 2022 co-salutatorian Jaeden Johnson applied his political science studies through advocacy work with student organization AUC Shut it Down, which works toward ending sexual violence, queer and transphobic violence, police violence, gentrification, and houselessness in Black communities. Johnson’s work led them to research roles with the Leadership Alliance Mellon Initiative, the University of Virginia’s Department of Politics, and the University of Minnesota’s Interdisciplinary Collaborative Workshop Public Scholarship and Teaching program. Following graduation, Johnson is pursuing a doctorate in philosophy at Emory University.
“Morehouse, the AUC, and Atlanta offered opportunities to grow politically and intellectually,” said Johnson. “Cross-registration within the Atlanta University Center and the Atlanta Regional Council for Higher Education has been most integral to my success at Morehouse. Through both programs, they have been able to take full advantage of Atlanta’s rich inter-institutional scholar community.”
The third 2022 co-salutatorian Garret Kahlil Oatis developed an affinity for scholarly research within the field of humanities that led to summer research roles at the University of Virginia as part of the Leadership Alliance Mellon Initiative First Year Research Experience Program, becoming a UNCF Mellon Mays Research Fellow, presenting at the 2019 Leadership Alliance National Symposium, and the 2020 University of Florida Political Science Research Symposium at Tuskegee University. Upon graduation, Oatis will take his international studies and Spanish studies to Northwestern University in pursuit of a doctorate in African American Studies, where he intends to contribute to the advocacy and activism surrounding albinism, an inherited genetic condition that reduces the amount of melanin pigment formed in the skin.
“I chose Morehouse College because I wanted a place that would allow me to build community and deepen my passion for education and scholarship,” said Oatis. “I can confidently say that I have done both things in my time at Morehouse College. Additionally, the UNCF/Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship was instrumental to my current success as it provided me with invaluable resources and connections that aided in the application process and the overall expectations of pursuing a career in academia.”
Morehouse College’s 138th Annual Commencement occurred on Sunday, May 15 on the College’s Century Campus with the commencement address delivered by Morehouse alumnus U.S. Senator Dr. Raphael G. Warnock ‘91. The 138th Commencement was livestreamed and can be viewed on the Morehouse College YouTube channel. For more information about Morehouse, visit morehouse.edu.