Emory’s James T. Laney School of Graduate Studies names 2021 Kharen Fulton Award for Diversity winner

Nov. 15, 2021

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Pictured from left-to-right: David Katz, PhD; Juan Rodriguez; Kimberly Jacob Arriola, PhD, MPH, Dean of the James T. Laney School of Graduate Studies; and Jamaal Fulton, son of Kharen Fulton.

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Juan Rodriguez was recognized for his commitment to setting others up for success in STEM careers.

Juan Rodriguez, a PhD student in the James T. Laney School of Graduate Studies studying Genetics and Molecular Biology, has won the Kharen Fulton Diversity Graduate Award for 2021.

The award, which was established in 2016, is named for Kharen Fulton, the longtime Director of Recruitment, Diversity, and Admissions at James T. Laney School of Graduate Studies. It is presented annually to a graduate student who demonstrates an unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion in her/his/their academic community. 

Juan’s commitment to diversity and inclusion runs deep. He has created a path to college for middle school students in San Juan, Puerto Rico; prepared students in an English as a Second Language course in his community for the math and science portions of the GED; and helped many graduate students find a home at Emory.

Throughout his career and academic journeys, Juan has looked for ways to include people from groups that have long been underrepresented in scientific communities. One of his nominators – David Katz, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Cell Biology – wrote, “Juan feels strongly that if every student were exposed to the same opportunities, we would see many more decide to pursue STEM careers.”  

Upon accepting his award, Juan talked about the importance of helping others along the way. “No one can do it alone,” he said. “If you can, help someone who needs it.”

Juan is known for lending a helping hand on campus. Another of his nominators (and a former Kharen Fulton Award winner) Taína Figueroa, Assistant Director of Emory’s Office for Racial and Cultural Engagement, wrote, “Juan’s work in mentoring other Latinx and Black students through their doctoral programs comes from a fundamental commitment to community building and dismantling barriers to equitable opportunities for all. This is a commitment that guides everything Juan does – it is who he is at his core.” 

Congratulations, Juan, and thank you for your kindness and commitment to helping others succeed.