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Focus on leadership appeals to scholar

Jade Gardener has a younger brother back home. On campus, she has a close circle of friends she considers her “sisters.” They keep each other motivated and challenge each other to aspire to new heights.

It’s that very culture of achievement that drew Gardener to the University. “I came to Binghamton because of the leadership spirit here,” she said. “I knew I could advance as a leader here.”

Gardener, who was born in Jamaica, grew up a three-sport athlete in the Bronx. Now she keeps active as a student manager at FitSpace. She’s also a resident assistant, tour guide supervisor, XCEL Center mock interviewer and vice president of the Binghamton Association of Mixed Students. She plans to start a college search magazine this fall.

“I don’t sleep too much,” said Gardener, who wants to graduate from a cell phone to a Blackberry sometime soon. “People always wish there were more hours in the day, and I try to carve out as much time as I can.”

Gardener participates in the McNair Scholars Program, which is designed to increase the number of low-income, first-generation and/or underrepresented minority students attending graduate school and receiving doctorates.

Gardener, a junior who arrived at Binghamton with 32 college credits, expects to graduate in 2009 with three bachelor’s degrees: one in nursing, one in human development and another in sociology. Gardener hopes to pursue a doctoral degree after that, possibly in family science or public health.

“I think there’s a lot to do with women and minorities that doesn’t get researched,” said Gardener, who’s Cuban-Indian-Jamaican. She’s especially interested in diseases such as HIV/AIDS and human papillomavirus, or HPV.

She recently undertook a research project focused on urban literature and how it deals with sexual development in African-American girls and Latinas. Last week, she presented some of her findings at a conference in New Mexico.

“She’s got really good critical thinking skills,” said Ann Merriwether, lecturer in the Psychology Department and Gardener’s adviser for the project. “She can come up with a question and figure out how to investigate it. It’s something you see more often in graduate students.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08