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Kari Copeland, Margo Montgomery, and Jeffrey Veals, University of MississippiAt the University of Mississippi (UM), a year-long initiative to increase graduates in fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) has paid off in epic fashion. Ole Miss News reports that three African-American chemistry students graduated on May 11 with doctorates, setting a school record.

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The trio who received their degrees was Kari Copeland (pictured left), Margo Montgomery (pictured center) and Jeffrey Veals (centered). A fourth African-American student, Shanna Stoddard, will earn her doctorate in chemistry this coming December. Professors at UM beamed with pride with this latest achievement for the university.

“On average, about 50 African-American students receive Ph.D.s in chemistry nationwide each year, so UM produced 6 percent of the national total,” said Maurice Eftink, associate provost and professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

This isn’t the first time UM has done well in the STEM arena. In 2006, the school had four African-American Ph.D.s in Mathematics.

“That was an even more outstanding achievement given that there are only 15 to 30 African-American Ph.D.s in Math granted each year, but the current achievement is still pretty noteworthy,” Eftink said.

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