Ph.D. Threatened

Dear Editor,

I am currently a graduate student at Washington University pursuing a Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics. I have invested 3 successful years into my studies and thesis proposal. I am well on my way to becoming one of the few (if any) Black female FAMU alumni with a Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics. However, one thing stands in my way…no Bachelor’s degree.

As a Distinguished Scholar at FAMU, I received a living stipend. Unfortunately it was always delayed, and eventually I had to work full time to avoid eviction. One semester I attended a “full” lab I could not get an override for (because I was not a graduating senior at the time). Needing all the extra time I could get as a working student, I gladly accepted a deal from my trusted professor: I would register for the same lab as a senior, and he would simply transfer the grade I earned before so that I would not have to re-take the class. Apparently the “deal” fell through. I received an “F” for that lab, and as a result I was denied graduation…because of one credit.

I received the rejection notice after the graduation ceremony and after I had been accepted to graduate school. There wasn’t much I could do. The registrar’s office told me to talk to Biology, and the Biology office never returned my queries. Fortunately, Washington University was very forgiving and did not demand proof of graduation when I registered there. However, I can’t get my Ph.D., even after 6 years of work, if i do not have my B.S.

This is not a letter pertaining to the FAMUan itself, but to an issue that I need help bringing to the forefront, as I have been blatantly ignored by those who can help me. Is this newsworthy? Who can I turn to?

—Karmella Haynes