Minority Access presents National Role Model awards to high achieving faculty, higher education leaders, and professionals in a variety of fields each year. “Our aim is to identify inspirational role models in various categories to inspire others to emulate them and thereby increase the pool of scholars and professionals who will find cures for illnesses or solve technological problems or address social disparities in society,” says Minority Access president, Andrea D. Mickle.
Converse President Krista Newkirk accompanied Erturk and Moore to the awards gala. “Opportunities to lift up and celebrate those who provide inspiration to our youth – particularly to youth who struggle to find positive role models to emulate in their daily lives – are tremendously important,” Newkirk said. “It is my great honor to celebrate the accomplishments of these Converse women and their commitment to mentoring the next generation.”
Neval Erturk is a Professor of Biology and chairs the Biology, Chemistry and Physics Department at Converse. She is also Co-Director of Undergraduate Research and Director of the Science, Technology and Research Scholars Outreach Program for high school students in the Upstate South Carolina region. An award-winning science educator dedicated to promoting science among preK-college students, she has established research partnerships, grant collaborations and visiting scholar programs with other South Carolina higher education institutions; designed and led outreach activities for Upstate K-12 students and teachers; supported regional and international science fairs; designed curriculum for teaching science in informal settings; and developed strategies and special programs for recruiting underrepresented groups to STEM fields. Many of her research projects with underrepresented students have led to national awards for the students, and her own research projects have received numerous grants and awards at the regional and national levels.
Dr. Erturk believes the lack of local role models at the university level is a major obstacle for the engagement of minority students in the sciences. Throughout her career, she has aimed to fill this need by recruiting and mentoring students from underrepresented populations and inviting them to collaborate with her on research projects. Her efforts have touched students of many different ethnicities, first-generation college students, students from low socio-economic backgrounds, and students with disabilities.
Erturk is a recipient of the South Carolina Independent Colleges & Universities Excellence in Teaching award, has been recognized by the South Carolina Upstate Research Symposium, and received the Scholarly and Creative Achievement Award and the Student Service: Above and Beyond Award from Converse College.
Candy Moore serves on the Converse College Board of Trustees and has long been a role model for Converse students and for underserved populations more broadly. She is Senior Vice President and Community Development Manager for Wells Fargo in Atlanta, where she is responsible for the company’s community lending, service and investment strategies and goals for a four-state region. Her team spearheads efforts to provide free resources to schools and nonprofit organizations, and to provide financial education that enhances the lives of moderate-to-low-income families. Moore has served in leadership roles for many civic and philanthropic organizations, and currently serves on the boards of the United Way of Greater Atlanta and the Atlanta Business League. Moore also takes special time to meet with Converse students, including student-athletes, and encourages them to begin their professional development and networking capabilities.
As the first African American to serve on Converse College’s Board of Visitors and the first African American to give a commencement address, Moore is a trailblazer for her alma mater. In her remarks to the graduating class, she focused on the value of mentorship, sharing, “The most influential women in the world have a board of advisers … you have to prepare to be great … you do not need to do it alone.”
Moore is among Who’s Who in Black Atlanta, has been named one of Atlanta’s 100 Most Influential African-American Women, and is a graduate of Leadership Atlanta. The Atlanta Tribune selected her as a 2015 Superwoman.
Minority Access, Inc. is a nonprofit organization established in 1995 to improve the higher educational, professional and managerial utilization of minorities. Headquartered in Hyattsville, Md., Minority Access has recognized more than 500 faculty, students, administrators, alumni and renowned innovators worthy of emulation through the National Role Models Project.